Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday outlined a phased-in approach to gradually restart the Massachusetts economy, which was largely shuttered nearly two months ago as the state ramped up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed nearly 5,800 lives.
In the first phase to begin Monday, manufacturing and construction will be allowed to reopen provided they follow guidance and standards meant to protect against the spread of the virus. Houses of worship will also be allowed to resume services if they can also follow social distancing guidance. Outdoor services are encouraged.
On May 25, lab and office spaces can reopen as well as some personal services such as hair salons, pet grooming and car wash locations. Retail business will be allowed to do remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up. On June 1, some office space can reopen in Boston.
Also as part of the first phase of reopening, hospitals and community health centers will be allowed to provide high-priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients and conditions.
Some recreation will also be allowed to reopen on May 25 as part of phase one as long as they adhere to social distancing guidance. That includes parks, drive-in theaters, some athletic fields and courts, most fishing, hunting, and boating, outdoor gardens, zoos, and reserves.
Baker said a key to a successful reopening is maintaining proper hygiene, practicing social distancing protocols, and continuing to mandate the use of masks or other facial coverings in public places.
The plan calls for people over the age of 65 and people who have underlying health conditions — who are at high risk for COVID-19 — to continue to stay home except for essential errands such as going to the grocery store and to attend to health care needs.
All residents are advised to leave home only for health care, worship and permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities, Baker said. Residents are also warned not to participate in close contact activities such as pick-up sports games.
Phase two will including the reopening of retail businesses, restaurants, hotels and other personal services such as nail salons and day spas.
The first phase and subsequent phases will last at least three weeks and could stretch longer. If health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions or the entire state may need to return to an earlier phase, Baker said.
Baker said there hasn’t been a decision made yet on when — and how — professional sports teams like the Patriots and Red Sox could begin playing games again.
The virus hasn’t disappeared and will continue to be a health threat throughout the reopening process.
“If we don’t keep up the fight and don’t do the things that we all know we have to do — and know we can do — we run the risk of creating a second spike in the fall,” Baker said.
The Republican governor closed all but essential businesses on March 23.
Massachusetts has had the third highest number of deaths of any state, after New York and New Jersey.
How best to reopen child care centers is still under consideration, according to the plan released Monday.
The departments of early education and care and public health are developing guidelines designed to balance families’ need for child care with health and safety, according to the plan.
In the meantime, an emergency child care system created by the state to support essential workers and vulnerable families is still in place and is currently only using about 35 percent of its 10,000-child capacity.
That system will be able to service more families as final plans are drawn up, Baker said.
The state’s small business are reaching the breaking point and need to reopen soon, said Christopher Carlozzi, director of the National Federation of Independent Business for Massachusetts.
Carlozzi said Monday that after nearly two months of closed doors, it’s encouraging to know that under Baker’s plan some businesses will soon be reopening.
“Retail shops will not last very long with pickup only, so the state must allow customers in stores sooner rather than later. Restaurants also cannot operate solely on take-out and delivery,” Carlozzi said in a press release. “Massachusetts should at least allow outdoor dining like other neighboring New England states.”
Carlozzi said among other challenges, business face what he described as “the hurdle of competing with overly generous unemployment benefits when attempting to rehire workers.”
The group represents more than 5,000 members in the state.
Boston-based rockers the Dropkick Murphys are planning a two-song set at an empty Fenway Park later this month to raise money for charity. The Dropkick Murphys will be joined remotely by Bruce Springsteen on May 29 for “Streaming Outta Fenway,” which will be simulcast live.
A text-to-donate campaign will support the Boston Resiliency Fund — set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic — as well as Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity.