BOSTON (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday he will announce on Saturday, June 6 when Phase 2 of Massachusetts reopening can begin, which will include a plan for restaurants.
Phase 2 can begin no earlier than Monday, June 8, depending on trends in coronavirus data across the state.
“Our public health experts will continue to carefully monitor the data between the first and the sixth of June, in order to determine when exactly Phase 2 should start. And based on that analysis on June 6, we’ll announce the plan with respect to when Phase 2 can begin,” said Baker.
At his daily media briefing Friday, Baker said he will issue an executive order on Monday, June 1 that will have a detailed list of sectors that fall into each phase.
The order will allow businesses in Phase 2 to bring back workers to get ready in for re-opening.
Outdoor dining will begin at the start of Phase 2, though it may look a little different. Restaurants must set tables six feet apart and the maximum party size is six people. Indoor seating plans will follow.
Tables won’t be preset with utensils and plates. Anyone moving around the restaurant, whether it be a worker or a patron, must be wearing a mask. While sitting at the table, patrons won’t need to wear masks.
“Workplace-specific safety standards are organized around four distinct categories covering social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in making the announcement with Baker.
“Even when indoor seating is permitted, use of outdoor space will be encouraged all restaurants to increase ventilation and better social distancing,” she said.
“Guidance for restaurants will also include specific hygiene protocols to keep spaces clean. For example, protocols to keep items like utensils and menus cleaner for single-use or sanitization guidelines.”
Reservations are recommended, as well as contactless payment.
Workers should not come to work if they feel sick.
“One of the reasons for pursuing an outdoor strategy to begin with is to — that’s an easier and a simpler way for somebody to reintroduce themselves to dining. And I think in some ways, based on the conversations I’ve had with some of my fellow governors, that has been in, in many ways, one of the reasons for going outdoor first is it creates a possibility for people in a slightly different kind of setting to sort of return to the restaurant or just returned to eating out generally,” said Baker.
In order to help restaurants open with outdoor dining even though they do not currently have the setup for it, Baker said to expect public spaces, such as parking lots to be converted.
The guidelines are just what North End restaurant owner Nick Verano wanted hear. “Frank Sinatra said he did it his way. Here we’re going to do it the right way and the safe way first,” Verano said.
He’s excited the state is working to streamline the process for restaurants to offer outdoor dining. “The idea of getting started with that is unbelievable. It’s going to be a fun experience, your walking down Hanover Street, you get to see people dining maybe a little music,” Verano said.
Although an exact date is unclear, many restaurants are already preparing. Martin Vasquez, owner of La Siesta in Winthrop, says his loyal customers are still supporting them through take-out. “They’ve been so great that I’m so blessed, so blessed to be here in Winthrop,” Vasquez said.
He’s thrilled their patio will soon be another option for diners. “It will be a big help and it would be great for our customers you know to start coming in little by little,” Vasquez said.
The Massachusetts Restaurant Association says a firm data will give the 16,000 restaurants in the state time get beverages and fresh food from their vendors.
“Without that date that’s the one piece that’s missing,” said Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “We’re going to make it work and we’re going to earn the trust of the guests and we’re going to open our doors real soon and we can’t wait to get everybody back in.”
The lodging industry received similar guidance along with specific instructions “on enhanced sanitation protocols between guest visits. After departures, lodging establishments are asking to clean and sanitize all surfaces. Wash linens and bedspreads and may consider leaving a room vacant for 24 hours when possible between guests for deep cleaning.”
Travelers will need to be notified that Massachusetts still recommends anyone from out-of-state self-quarantine for 14 days.
“I’m confident that the restaurant and lodging owners, managers, servers, bartenders, and staff and the many others who make up these industries will get back to work will be open their doors and their places to the residents across our Commonwealth and be able to offer the things from your places that people know and love so much in their communities, and will do so as safely and as quickly as possible,” Polito said.