‘We Stepped Into the Unknown': Mass. Businesses Await Guidance on Reopening

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You can still buy the homemade sandwiches, lunch specials, and European-style pastries at the Common Cafe and Patisserie in Norwood, but like countless restaurants across Massachusetts, it's takeout only.

"We stepped into the unknown," said owner Maria Avramidis.

Business was good for the last 12 years since she opened, Avramidis said, but then the pandemic came along.

"We didn't know if we were going to continue with our business as we knew it," she said.

Catering was 30% of the restaurant's revenue, and that dried up instantly.

"That doesn't exist anymore, and I don't even know if it will ever be what it was," said Avramidis.

She now waits to find out when she can reopen the restaurant for customers to dine in.

"I'm waiting to hear, officially, what I need to do and how to prepare for that," she said.

It all depends on what the new protocols will be, and she's eager to find out.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced this week that reopening the economy will happen in four phases, and businesses that don't have much person-to-person interaction will open up first.

"If we do this right and phase it in appropriately, people will be able to come back on a reasonable clock," Baker said Tuesday.

But what the clock looks like, exactly, is unclear.

Avramidis isn't sure which phase restaurants will fall into and when that will even be. She knows she'll have to follow general requirements for things like social distancing, but the industry-specific measures haven't been announced.

"When we open for business, I don't know if I'm required to have certain amount of tables or seating capacity here," she said.

The governor indicated Tuesday that business owners will find out on Monday if they'll be part of the first phase and what specific guidelines they'll have to follow based on their industries.

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