Gov. Baker Provides Few Answers for Businesses Wondering About Mass. Reopening Plan

The governor also said Tuesday that he plans to file a supplemental budget to cover $1 billion in state spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

One day after unveiling the state's reopening plan, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was peppered with questions Tuesday about which businesses will be among those included in the first phase.

Asked when businesses will find out if they're in that first phase, he said, "They probably won't find out until [May] 18th."

Governor Charlie Baker hopes to begin the first phase to reopen the Massachusetts economy on May 18.

That's the day the Reopening Advisory Board will present its full report. Baker has 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.

"I think what we said yesterday continues to be the bottom line. The folks most likely to be able to operate successfully on the 18th are many of the folks currently operating -- essential businesses -- but they're going to have to operate under statewide guidelines issued in the report on the 18th," Baker said. "And the second group will be those who work in ways and in spaces that don’t have a lot of face to face interaction with customers as part of their regular business."

Next up, he said, will be the businesses that have more direct face to face contact with customers.

Gov. Charlie Baker says the first phase of the Bay State's reopening is expected to begin May 18.

Baker seemed determined Tuesday not to reveal any new information about what specific types of businesses might be allowed to reopen first. He was asked if needed services like hair salons and dentists might be considered essential and included in that first phase.

"I think that's certainly part of it," he said, without giving a yes or a no, "but we also want to make sure people can do what needs to be done."

Asked what business owners should do now, and whether they should call back their employees to prepare for reopening, Baker gave another vague answer, saying "the first thing they should do is take a look at the global standards and see how they would do against those."

"I get the fact that everybody would like everything to reopen sooner," he added. "The downside is you want to do this in a way that you can sustain the opening when you go forward. The other part is making sure as you put these general guidelines in place and industry specific guidelines in place that people are going to be able to deliver on them and that we have the ability to monitor how they do."

A walk-in testing site in Dorchester, Massachusetts is offering free food and care kits with face masks this week.

The governor was also asked if he plans to lift the state's stay-at-home advisory. He said he'll have more details on that on May 18, the day it's set to expire.

Also on Tuesday, Baker said he plans to file a supplemental budget to cover $1 billion in state spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expenses include payments for personal protective equipment, rate adjustments for human service providers, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National Guard pay, costs associated with the state's contract tracing program, emergency child care for essential workers, and increased costs of local housing authorities and of the family and individual shelter system.

Mayor Marty Walsh is looking ahead to how the city will reopen.

The governor's announcement came as he was touring MatTek Life Sciences, an Ashland company that is manufacturing personal protective equipment as part of the state's Manufacturing Emergency Response Team. The company typically focuses on in vitro human tissue models and glass-bottom dishes, but has shifted during the pandemic to producing hand sanitizer.

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.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

Contact Us