Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced a four-phase plan to reopen the Massachusetts economy. He said he hopes to begin the first phase on May 18 assuming public health data continues to trend in a positive direction.
"The goal is to begin this process around May 18, but it will be gradual and facts on the grounds will determine if we actually hit that goal," he said.
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The governor said the first phase, titled "Start," will have limited industries that are more naturally set up to have little face to face interaction resuming operations with severe restrictions. But before that can happen, he said he wants to see more evidence of declines in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and other key metrics.
"There isn't going to be a hard and fast on a lot of this," Baker said. "People are going to want to see what happens."
The numbers continued to trend downward over the weekend, but he cautioned that sometimes weekends can be a little misleading. "We need to see what happens today and tomorrow," he said.
Baker said the second phase, dubbed "Cautious," will include more industries with more face to face interactions resuming operations with restrictions and capacity limits.
Phase three, "Vigilant," will involve additional industries resuming operations with guidance and the final phase is what Baker calls the "New Normal," which won't happen until a vaccine or therapy has been developed to effectively treat COVID-19.
The governor said the state will be releasing industry-specific guidance on these different phases in the coming days.
Baker's administration also announced the development of Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase. These include social distancing, hand washing and keeping people who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms from reporting to work.
The Reopening Advisory Board will present its full report on May 18, the governor said. Baker said that will include the activities and industries that will be safe to resume in each phase, and the safety and cleaning protocols for how different industries should operate.
The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts surpassed 5,000 on Monday. Another 129 people have died, bringing the total to 5,108.
Officials also reported another 669 cases to give the state a total of 78,462.
The Associated Press and State House News Service contributed to this report.