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Governor Says Economy Will Re-Open in Four Phases

Posted on May 11, 2020

Governor Charlie Baker said today that Massachusetts will re-open its economy in four phases beginning on May 18 as long as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to trend in a positive direction.

The four phases – called Start, Cautious, Vigilant and the New Normal – are designed to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.

The Start phase will allow the re-opening of industries that are best able to limit face-to-face interaction and transmission risks. All businesses will face a range of new mandatory safety standards once they resume operations, and state officials will also lay out industry-specific requirements. The Governor and Lt. Governor announced today that employers will need to attest that they are in compliance with these new rules.

During the initial stage, every workplace must ensure that all employees, customers and vendors stay at least six feet apart as often as possible, wear masks, and perform regular cleaning and disinfecting.

The remaining three phases:

  • “Cautious” – additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits.
  • “Vigilant” – additional industries resume operations with guidance.
  • “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal

The Baker Administration said that decisions and timing will be “influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases.”

Businesses and activities that provided COVID-19 Essential Services as defined in Governor Baker’s March 23 order, will continue to operate.

“We’re pleased that Governor Baker has outlined a roadmap that will get the economy up and running again while protecting the health and safety of all Massachusetts residents,” said John Regan, President & CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Separately, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, in consultation with the Reopening Advisory Board and based on feedback from industry, labor, and community coalitions, has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening.

These Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are applicable to all sectors and industries that will be open in phase one, and create new workplace requirements for social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning. These standards are being released to give workplaces time to plan and prepare for reopening.

For social distancing:

  • All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
  • Provide signage for safe social distancing
  • Require face coverings or masks for all employees

For hygiene:

  • Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
  • Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
  • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

For staffing and operations:

  • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
  • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan

For cleaning and disinfecting:

  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
  • When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
  • Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace