Business owners are scrambling to hire help as they prepare to open at max capacity by Memorial Day weekend following the latest update to Massachusetts' reopening plan.
All businesses can reopen at 100% capacity without restrictions on May 29 as part of Gov. Charlie Baker's plan to reopen Massachusetts fully two months ahead of schedule. The state's mask mandate and gathering restrictions will also expire on that date.
While small business owners have struggled to survive the financial blow of the coronavirus pandemic, many now say they’re not sure they’ll be ready to fully reopen by the end of the month.
"The temporary limits and restrictions imposed on the private sector and on individuals were the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," Baker said Monday.
Monument Restaurant in Charlestown is short-staffed, so they’re asking customers to be patient during the hiring process. Owners said they may not open for full capacity by Memorial Day weekend if they feel they can’t provide proper service.
Some businesses are offering major incentives to attract employees, like $500 and $1,000 retention bonuses and health benefits.
Big Night Entertainment is holding a job fair Thursday in an attempt to fill positions.
"It's going to be difficult to hire people back, I will say that, but we're going to get them back in," Edward Kane of Big Night Entertainment said.
All industries will be encouraged to follow CDC guidance for cleaning and hygiene protocols.
The Department of Public Health will issue a public health advisory urging all unvaccinated residents to wear face coverings in most indoor settings. Businesses may choose to set their own requirements for vaccinations or masking.
"Businesses are going to make decisions about what they think makes the most sense for their employees and their customers, and we should all be respectful of that," Baker said.
Baker cited the state's nation-leading vaccination process in his decision to hasten the reopening timeline. Massachusetts is on track to meet its goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June.