A look at Massachusetts’ phased re-opening plan

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Photo courtesy of the Town of North Attleborough FaceBook Page

On May 18, the state’s Reopening Advisory Board released its long-awaited plan for reopening businesses in Massachusetts. While all of us are anxious to get back to normal life, the realities of the pandemic have resulted in a very cautious approach to opening businesses. As expected, business segments will be opening in four phases:

Phase 1

May 18—essential businesses will be allowed to remain open. In addition, manufacturing facilities and construction in all localities be allowed to re-open. Firearms retailers and shooting ranges may also re-open

May 25—lab facilities, office space (not in Boston), and limited personal services-hair salons, pet grooming shops and car washes will re-open. Retailers may offer curbside pickup and deliveries

June 1—office space in Boston will re-open.

Phase 2—retail can offer in-store browsing, restaurants, lodging and additional personal services-nail salons and day spas will re-open.

Phase 3—arts and entertainment facilities (casinos, gyms and museums) can re-open. Also, bars will be allowed to re-open. All other businesses except nightclubs and large venues can re-open.

Phase 4—return to normal activities

There will be at least three weeks between each of the phases. The Baker-Polito Administration will judge the readiness of the state to progress through each phase by observing metrics such as new coronavirus infections, hospitalizations due to the virus, and ICU admissions. If it’s possible to move up the progression of phases, it will happen.

There are very strict requirements that will be placed on each business in the state as it re-opens:

  1. Mandatory safety standards for each business must be in place. The standards include social distancing, frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing, and the wearing of face masks.
  2. Each business will be required to complete a “COVID-19 Control Plan” and keep a copy of the plan on premise. A template for the plan can be found the state’s official web site, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts
  3. Each business will be required to post three posters:
    1. A Compliance Attestation Poster
    2. An Employer Poster
    3. A Worker Poster

Printable templates for these posters are also on mass.gov

  1. All businesses must purchase face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and keep them available for use. During the pandemic, 430 Massachusetts manufacturers converted product lines to manufacturing these products; a list of them is on https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts. All businesses are encouraged to buy the safety products locally, using the company list as a guide.

The “new normal” is still a distant hope for residents until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. However, the town is going to do all possible to ensure that businesses can return to operations while ensuring that customers are kept safe. Our Downtown Revitalization Committee will begin meeting again this week, discussing ideas about assisting local businesses in any way possible. Ideas and suggestions from residents are welcome, and the committee will consider them all.

Please email your suggestions to Lyle Pirnie, the town’s Economic Development Coordinator at lpirnie@nattleboro.com, or call 774-362-0701. By working together, we’ll be safely back in business shortly.