Phased Reopening Plan

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Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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64 Comments

    1. Certainly handymen and probably also house cleaners fit within a category of essential businesses

      Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, inspectors and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, health care facilities, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.

      1. hi Will-
        the question was about house cleaners, what do you think about that? Maybe not yet?

        thanks

        1. Yes. Handymen seem clearly to fall in the essential category. I’m reading house cleaners as in a gray area, but if they are essential for sanitation, they would be considered essential under this language.

  1. > Workers in a few select categories may go back to work this week.

    When I click on this I get an error message.

  2. Thank you for the summary. It is clear and helpful. However, the trend in rate of infections of those tested, once tests became so widely available and increased in daily number done, does not appear to be trending down and is at best fluctuating.

  3. Does anyone know whether/when RMV will expand the current definition of “essential transactions”?

      1. Wondering if/when street cleaning will resume? Living in Brighton. It’s VERY helpful having the service on hold for now. I would hope it would continue until later phases as we are all encouraged to stay home and thus, keep cars parked.

        1. In the City of Boston street cleaning has been ongoing throughout the public health crisis but without ticketing or towing. The City has not yet announced a date for enforcement to start.

      2. Thanks. I need to do business at the RMV and need to schedule it and inform my insurance company ahead of time and it would help to be able to get things done next week before I go back to work but I doubt it is technically considered “essential”.

    1. Here is the latest from the RMV on reopening:

      We are working on expanding the services we are offering and continually to grow the service center appointment capacity to help our customers. We are incrementally adding appointments when we can.

      We are also reducing the limitations on registrations (no essential/non-essential distinction). We are reviewing other transactions closely. We are focused on opening up permits and road tests with new safe practices and protocols in the coming weeks.

      1. Thank-you Andrew, this is helpful.
        As I’m sure you can imagine, it would be helpful to have timeframes associated with “We are … expanding, … adding, … reducing, … opening up, …” etc., but obviously things are in flux so we just do the best we can. Thanks again for your efforts.

  4. With the recommendation that churches might meet outdoors, will there be guidance for state & local parks about park permitting for church services? Many churches typically have an outdoor service in a park once or twice in a summer, with a park permit, but could there be a big increase in requests for use of parks?

    1. (Or is the recommendation for outdoor church services based on having services outdoors on church property, which is less common in the city of course. As I think about this question, an outdoor service in public would go against the restriction on [public?] gatherings with more than 10 people?)

  5. My motorcycle driving permit expired last October and I did not renew it. Is it known when the RMV will re open to the public for Driving permit renewal?
    Thanks

    1. Here is the latest from the RMV on permits:

      We are focused on opening up permits and road tests with new safe practices and protocols in the coming weeks.

      Not a firm date, but permit tests are a priorty.

    1. Some acupuncture may be practiced in Phase 1 of the Governor’s Reopening Plan, and some will have to wait for Phase 2 and beyond.

      Phase 1 allows “Other health care providers who attest to specific public health/safety standards can provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients… Services that may be performed are limited, based on the provider’s clinical judgment to (1) high-priority preventative services,including pediatric care, immunizations, and chronic disease care for high-risk patients and (2) urgent procedures that cannot be delivered remotely and would lead to high risk or significant worsening of the patient’s condition if deferred.

      Phase 2 and 3 of the plan allows for “Less urgent preventative services, procedures, and care (e.g., routine dental cleanings, certain elective procedures).

  6. excess capacity? re “Only selected emergency child care facilities are open, but these facilities have access capacity.”

  7. I am a dentist and cannot obtain PPEs. No order I have placed since Feb. has gotten fulfilled. Instead, I get a notice 2 weeks later that the order was cancelled (from both my regular vendors and others). I have gotten ZERO PPEs since the shutdown started. I spend all day every day searching the internet for PPEs. I will not be able to open until I have several weeks’ worth. I have 3 isolation gowns and 5 N95s in my office right now. What can be done to facilitate getting PPEs? So glad to see people walking down the street with N95s on and I, a health care provider, can’t get any.

  8. Do you know the rationale for approving barbers and hairstylists at this time? This does not allow for the 6′ social distancing advisory. It seems contradictory and may give mixed messages.

  9. Will, are people who hang window treatments (i.e. blinds, shades and drapes) now able to go back to work?

  10. Can you provide more guidance on the rules around kids playing together? It seems the guidance now is to “limit” play dates. What does that mean? Is it safe to have a friend over? Or should people limit “play dates” to outdoors? Thanks,

      1. Outside is safer when people remain physically distanced from each other. Playing basketball is the opposite of distancing: people sweating, panting, and literally getting in each other’s faces, without masks. It is NOT a safe outdoor activity during a respiratory pandemic.

    1. The guidance says that “parents should limit play dates for children”, though they are not banned entirely. There are risks for exposure with anyone outside the home, and parents should weigh these risks when making those decisions.

  11. I have the same question! With an only child, we want to go back to play dates as soon as we can, but have no idea what “limiting” them means. Closed loop with just one or two families? Only outdoors and trying to keep a mask on her?

    1. Dry cleaners had been classified as essential businesses for the duration of the pandemic. As such, they are not included in the re-opening plans as they will continue to function under the same guidelines.

  12. How about state parks? These seem to be open according to these guidelines. Will there be hand sanitizer in the bathrooms? What about the water fountains? Often these are not the new style where the water bottle is being filled from a spout above.

    1. Self-service food and drinks have been banned by an Executive Order, and there is no proposal to change this ban at this time, due to the number of physical touch points surrounding self-service.

  13. It’s hard for me to imagine what the justicifcation could be for opening places of worship and manufacturing centers.

    You will have read in our so called paper of record the concern epidemiologists have expressed regarding indoor church services.

    I’ve not seen much discussion of manufacturing. Could factories opening be influence in the Governor’s advisory committee from Carlo Zaffanella of General Dynamics or Wendy Hudson of Cisco Brewers? Or maybe Fidelity’s Pamela Everhart would see financial reasons for manufacturers to re-open so soon? When we get to the phase when restaurants reopen will we get to read what Steve DiFillippo of Davio’s input was, how he knows better than Erin Bromage, who rather clearly explained why eating indoors in a restaurant won’t be safe until the virus isn’t widely (like in roughly 1 in 40 people) circulating?

    The committee supposedly met with outside groups including unions. Can we see the transcripts showing what these unions said and how much of that made it into these reopening guidelines? I’m particularly interested in testimony from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union since they represent the workers who put the food I buy on the shelf and risk esposing themselves to the virus I may carry against my knowledge. Also the MBTA’s union, I’d like to know what they told the Governor since any increase in activity will put their people more at risk.

    1. Places of worship have been specifically identified as high-risk vectors: large groups of old people gathered in confined spaces. If the congregation sings as well–an extremely high-risk activity–they might as well skip the church and just hold services unprotected in the COVID ward. I would like to know specifically who pressured the governor into making this exception. Fear of lawsuits does not justify the inevitable deaths.

  14. States should not have shut down in the first place. I suggest the Gov. wants to turn us into a dictatorship with him as the rule maker.
    The “New Normal”should be renamed “THE NEW NAZI”.

  15. Urging seniors to stay indoors instead of going out to get healthy exercise in the sun makes no sense. Most of our vitamin D is made in our skin as sunlight reaches it, only a small part of the RDA comes from food. Vitamin D is known to protect the immune system and is essential for several other reasons. Most nutritionists are aware that a great many of us are vitamin D deficient. Corrective measures are, I believe, indicated. Walking outdoors is also very good for seniors’ cardiovascular health. It helps maintain muscle mass. It helps keep bones mineralized (in cooperation with vitamin D.) The psychological benefits of regular outdoor exercise are real. In Boston it’s easy to maintain physical distance outdoors these days…fewer people are outside. Our parks have plenty of elbow room. Aerosols carrying possible viral particles outdoors are diluted and dispersed by even a light breeze. You’re more likely to contract a viral illness by shopping inside a supermarket than walking outside. There are vastly more aerosol droplets and particles floating in enclosed structures, per cubic meter of space, than outside. I think the governor should encourage seniors to go out and exercise. Always with the caveat that they should be physically and mentally able to do so safely. Their primary care physician and any specialists who treat them would be able to advise on those issues. Even dangerous convicted criminals in solitary confinement get a certain amount of time to walk around outside in the prison yard every day. They go stir crazy if they are deprived of that time. Why should all of our seniors be treated worse than criminals?

    1. I agree. I am in my 80’s, and I walk almost every day on mostly deserted streets, where either I or the other(s) cross the street when we are approaching each other on the same side, 25 or more yards apart, and in a nearby park, where we all avoid getting anywhere near each other and where singles, couples, and families are each in their own very separated spaces. The light, whether sunny or cloudy, and the air and the sheep in the meadow are precious.

  16. No mention of daycare and playgrounds? Just how do you expect people to get to work, with kids running amok indoors?

    1. Childcare centers remain closed during Phase 1, and Phase 2 will begin a phased re-opening of childcare centers across the state. The Department of Early Education and Care continues to refine these plans. More details can be found here.

  17. At what point can we go back to using our reusable grocery bags? It was never clear to me why they were considered a health threat (they don’t get shared with other customers, just the person who brought them to the store).

    1. This was imposed by an Executive Order, and to the best of our knowledge there is not a proposal to change this ban at this time.

    2. The health risk is from market employees handing your bags to load them in the checkout aisle. If you are shedding virus it could be on your bags and they could get it from that. The risk is small but not (as far as we know thus far) zero.

      1. Never understood that one. If the employee just hands each item back to you after “ringing it up” you should be able to bag it yourself. But more to the point, if you are shedding virus it could also be on the items you’ve just been handling in the store (maybe even picking things up and then deciding to put them back for someone else to then pick up) before bringing them to check out where the employee is still handling them. But since these employees are usually wearing gloves anyway, it should all be moot.

  18. Which state category do outdoor farmers markets fall into?

    The Copley Square Farmers Market is unable to open because they have not yet been granted a permit by Mayor Walsh.

    Is this because he is following guidance from the state?

    1. The City of Boston was able to secure a permit for the Copley Square Farmers Market following the rollout of Governor Baker’s re-opening plan. During Phase 1, only meat and produce will be allowed to be sold. Cooked/prepared food, and non-food items will not be allowed to be sold until the state enters into a later Phase of re-opening.

  19. When can we expect more specific guidance about summer camps? I can’t easily plan for a return to work without knowing if camps will run and what needs to happen at camp to mitigate risk. Guidance for indoor camps (like ballet schools and theater camps) and outdoor camps would be really helpful.

    1. Pursuant to the Governor’s re-opening guidance, day camps are Phase 2, and overnight camps are Phase 3. Because we are in Phase 1 and we will stay in each phase for at least 3 weeks before going to the next phase, the earliest that day camps could open are 3 weeks from now, and the earliest that overnight camps could open are 6 weeks from now, though these timelines could be lengthened based on public health data and trends.

  20. Let’s talk enforcement.

    Today we all read the story of the police chief who distributed a letter threatening to arrest department of health inspectors who tried to fine businesses who were violating the re-opening regulations. After one of the town Selectmen, an MGH physician, was outraged, the police chief did the lying toddler dance that was featured on Jimmy Kimmel, pretending he never meant to threaten anyone, no siree. The Board of Selectmen decided not to take up the topic at its next meeting.

    We also see a gaping hole in regulations that permit people to avoid wearing masks if they claim a “condition” that prevents them from doing so. No proof is required or can be asked for. This isn’t an ADA requirement. This is sheer laziness hiding behind the ADA in fear of confrontation. All the ADA requires is a reasonable accommodation, which can be met by requiring face shields (which don’t restrict breathing), having employees shop while the customers wait outside, and I’m sure many other methods. Severe alcoholics can’t safely stop drinking cold turkey; somehow we still manage to stop drunk people from being overserved in bars regardless of their disease status.

    Now let’s imagine a group of self-identified COVID-positive Islamist extremists decided to get together and walk into a grocery store with no masks. What would happen?

    Picture a bunch of BLM protestors violating all the regulations on purpose. What would happen?

    Picture left-wing socialists doing the same. Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine, there have already been arrests in various places.

    To sum up what’s happening: If you’re a right-winger, you’re allowed to flout the law and inflict the risk of death on vulnerable people, and no one will stop you.

    Does the governor and legislator imagine mainstream voters approve of this arrangement? Because we don’t. If the rules apply to us, they have to apply to everybody. I don’t know who politicians are listening to when they decide to chuckle and go easy on people, but it isn’t us.

    What we’re doing is letting minimum-wage workers–who are personally at risk from the disease–to bear the brunt of

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