KEY POINTS

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced a 4-phase plan to reopen his state as the novel coronavirus continues to affect his state’s economy
  • The latest data from Massachusetts are showing a decline in cases but the governor is urging caution
  • A critic from the Boston Herald wrote that Baker looked “uncomfortable” while “grudgingly” announcing the plan

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass) announced that the state of Massachusetts will implement a four-phase plan to reopen businesses and other sectors of the economy forced to stop by the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Baker called for a gradual opening of certain businesses “under severe restrictions” with guidelines on social distancing and hygiene which will be mandatory.

One critic has accused Baker of bowing to pressure, saying the governor  was “uncomfortable” as he “grudgingly” announced a plan that “isn’t really a plan.”

Joe Battenfeld wrote in the Boston Herald that the governor did not say when his plan will begin, how long each of the phases will last, and which businesses will have to implement the restrictions he has yet to define.

In a statement, the Massachusetts Governor’s Office said the phased reopening is meant to allow some businesses, services, and activities to resume in a way that limits a surge of new COVID-19 phases using public health guidance.

The statement also said that Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards has been developed by the state Department of Public Health and its COVID-19 Command Center applicable to all sectors when the first phase begins.

Baker acknowledged that “life will be different” as scientists are able to develop ways to prevent the spread of and fight the infection “but none of that is going to happen overnight.”

The four phases named “Start,” “Cautious,” “Vigilant” and “New Normal” will define which industries will be allowed to resume operations with state mandated restrictions on human interaction and service capacity limits.

The phases will reportedly be based on trends in health data in Massachusetts, culminating in a “new and regular routine” when a vaccine or a treatment has been developed.

Battenfeld also said that naming the phases “doesn’t mean you have an actual plan.” The state has released an explainer on each phase on the state website.

Massachusetts has seen 78,462 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, with more than 5,000 deaths attributed to it. State data shows that the number of cases in the state have declined.

Middlesex County is the worst hit county in the state, with nearly 18,000 cases and at least 1,200 deaths as of May 11. The state has performed almost 400,000 laboratory tests for COVID-19 on patients.