Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he will issue an executive order Monday allowing restaurants and other businesses scheduled to reopen in Phase 2 to begin bringing back employees in preparation for reopening.
He said the order will also allow the state's professional sports teams to begin practicing at their facilities.
"The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again and I think we all hope opening practices will make that happen a little sooner," Baker said. "For all of us, live sports and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again. It's not only a significant milestone for fans, but also a signal that we continue to do all the things we need to do."
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The Celtics said they will begin voluntary individual player workouts at the Auerbach Center in Brighton starting Monday.
“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center, and we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again,” said Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also detailed guidelines that have been established for restaurants and the lodging industry when they reopen, which could happen as soon as June 8 if public health data continues to trend in a positive direction.
She said restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor dining at the start of Phase 2 assuming they follow specific rules around social distancing, hygiene, staffing and cleaning and disinfecting. Hotels and motels will also be allowed to operate under a similar set of rules. Pools, gyms, golf courses and restaurants at lodging sites may operate only if those categories are authorized under the state's overall reopening plan.
Baker said he will make an announcement on June 6 on when Phase 2 will begin. He also said his executive order on Monday will include a more detailed list of sectors that fall into each phase of his reopening plan.
"Public health numbers will guide the process," he said. "It's the only way we know and the best way we know to get back to work and fight the virus."
The overall number of confirmed COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic climbed to 6,640 on Thursday as another 93 deaths were reported.
The number of individuals in Massachusetts diagnosed with confirmed cases of COVID-19 closed in on 95,000 with 675 new cases reported.
The number of people currently hospitalized with the disease stood at about 2,112, down from about 2,800 two weeks ago. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care stood at 529 — down from 781 two weeks ago.
Baker said Thursday that Massachusetts' coronavirus numbers are "heading in the right direction," as the state continues with its phased approach to reopening.
"We've seen several days in a row now of promising results as we've entered Phase 1," he said. He said the average positive test rate and number of hospitalizations are decreasing, meaning people are playing their part by continuing to social distance, wear face coverings in public and practice good hygiene.
"The science, as we know on this, is clear," he added. "Doing these things is how we stop and kill the virus."
Baker was also asked Thursday about the announcement that the postponed Boston Marathon will not be held this September, and will instead go virtual.
"Obviously the marathon in Massachusetts and in Boston is an iconic event and it's almost like a rite of spring, along with Opening Day at Fenway," Baker said. "I think we've all concluded -- and I know this is not the answer anybody would want to hear -- for the time being we are better off being careful and cautious when it comes to really big events like that."
He said he thinks the City of Boston and the Boston Athletic Association made the right call by "erring on the side of caution," and said everyone is hoping the marathon will return next spring.