Re-Opening Plan an Encouraging First Step
Budget, Tax, & Finance
| May 18, 2020
By: Brooke Thomson
Associated Industries of Massachusetts said today that Governor Charlie Baker’s four-phase plan marks an encouraging first step to re-opening state economy in a safe and efficient manner.
The first phase of the four-stage re-opening plan will allow manufacturing and construction companies, along with houses of worship, to resume operations under a strict set of safety and health standards.
“We realize that every employer in Massachusetts would love to hear that they can re-open immediately. But we also acknowledge that a phased re-opening balances the need to re-start the economy with the need to manage a public-health crisis that continues to claim 100 lives a day in Massachusetts,” said John Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
Under a staggered approach, additional Phase 1 sectors of the economy will be permitted to open effective May 25 including:
- Lab space;
- Office space at 25 percent capacity, except in Boston;
- Limited personal services, including: hair salons, pet grooming, car washes;
- Retail: remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up.
Also permitted to open on May 25 with applicable guidelines, are the following:
- Drive-in movie theaters;
- Select athletic fields and courts;
- Many outdoor adventure activities;
- Most fishing, hunting, and boating;
- Outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations.
Additional sectors are expected to open on June 1 as part of Phase 1 include office spaces in the city of Boston with applicable guidelines.
Retail stores and restaurants will open their doors in subsequent phases of the re-opening plan.
Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer depending upon public-health data..
Non-essential companies seeking to open under the plan must certify compliance with both general workplace safety standards and sector-specific protocols before they open their doors. Companies operating as essential business have until May 25 to certify compliance.
Required materials for businesses to self-certify are located on mass.gov/reopening, and include:
- COVID-19 Control Plan template, which must be retained on premises and provided in the event of an inspection;
- Compliance Attestation poster to be posted in a location visible to employees and visitors indicating a completed COVID-19 Control Plan; and,
- Other posters and signs describing rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, as well as cleaning and disinfecting.
The Mandatory Safety Standards for Manufacturing require employers to ensure six feet of separation between workers, require the use of face coverings (except where doing so may introduce a safety hazard to workers or where an individual is unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability), close or reconfigure employee gathering spaces and ensure that workers have access to hand-washing facilities.
Many manufacturing companies working as essential businesses have been operating with similar protocols for several weeks.
“The materials are clear and concise and there are no curveballs. The standards are consistent with what the governor’s office has stated previously and there is nothing that would threaten the continued operation of an established essential business,” said Thomas Wesley, Senior Director of Facilities, Environmental Health & Safety and Real Estate at Waters Corporation, and chair of the AIM Re-Opening Task Force.
The standards for construction businesses similarly cover social distancing, hygiene and operations. Construction workers and supervisors are encouraged to avoid face-to-face meetings, wear cut-resistant gloves and drive to work sites in single-occupancy vehicles.
Regan indicated that employers are ready to work with state officials to ensure a smooth re-start of the state economy.
“We commend the governor and his team on putting together such a detailed and comprehensive plan for reopening the Massachusetts economy,” Regan said.
“Employers can’t wait to bring some of the one million Massachusetts residents who have lost their jobs back to work.”