Massachusetts' 4-Phase Reopening Plan, Explained

The four phases of Gov. Baker's reopening plan, explained

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Under mounting pressure to lift restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Baker in May announced a four-phase plan to reopen the Massachusetts economy.

Like other New England states, Baker's plan for Massachusetts -- which began May 18 -- involves a phased approach that gradually lifts restrictions with the goal of reaching a "new normal" when most activities can safely resume.

Gov. Baker hopes to start reopening Massachusetts on May 18.

Here's what we know about each phase.

Phase 1: Start

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.

"Here were looking at industries that are more set up to have little face-to-face interactions and workplaces that are better able to manage face-to-face customer interactions with certain conditions," Baker said.

He said officials would watch data "to determine when Phase 1 start  of reopening begins and then when it's safe to move on to concurrent phases after that."

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.

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Phase 2: Cautious

On June 6, Baker announced the state was ready to move into the second phase on June 8.

Baker said the second phase, dubbed "Cautious," will include more industries with more face to face interactions resuming operations with restrictions and capacity limits.

The phase is being broken into two parts, meaning some businesses included in the phase guidance won't be able to open right away.

Step 1 of Phase 2, which begins Monday, June 8

  • Retail, with occupancy limits;
  • Childcare facilities and day camps, with detailed guidance;
  • Restaurants, outdoor table service only;
  • Hotels and other lodgings, no events, functions or meetings;
  • Warehouses and distribution centers;
  • Personal services without close physical contact, such as home cleaning, photography, window washing, career coaching and education tutoring;
  • Post-secondary, higher education, vocational-tech and occupation schools for the purpose of completing graduation requirements;
  • Youth and adult amateur sports, with detailed guidance;
  • Outdoor recreation facilities
  • Professional sports practices, no games or public admissions;
  • Non-athletic youth instructional classes in arts, education or life skills and in groups of less than 10;
  • Driving and flight schools
  • Outdoor historical spaces, no functions, gatherings or guided tours;
  • Funeral homes, with occupancy limits
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announces that the state will begin the first step of its second phase of reopening from the coronavirus lockdowns on Monday, June 8.

Step 2 of Phase 2, which will begin at later date to be determined when the data indicates enough progress has been made, Baker said Saturday

  • Indoor table service at restaurants
  • Close-contact personal services, with restrictions, including:
    • Hair removal and replacement
    • Nail care
    • Skin care
    • Massage therapy
    • Makeup salons and makeup application services
    • Tanning salons
    • Tattoo, piercing and body art services
    • Personal training, with restrictions
A mysterious illness that may be linked to COVID-19 is affecting children in Boston and elsewhere.

Phase 3: Vigilant

In phase three, "Vigilant," Baker said the state "can allow for loosening of some of the restrictions from some of the earlier phases if in fact the public health data continues to conform to the terms that were all pursuing as as we look at that going forward."

Phase 4: New Normal

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.

Although the state has been labeled a national coronavirus hotspot, it receives the second lowest federal funding per case in the country, according to the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Administration.

When will the state move on to the next phase?

Baker did not specify how the state would move from one phase to the next, but said: "All three phases will depend... on the prevalence of the virus and especially on the conditions in our hospitals.

"Our ability to move forward through these phases depends almost entirely on everybody playing their roles. Face coverings, staying at home when you feel sick, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, staying six feet away from others whenever possible and how well everybody... does these things, and others, will determine how we move forward and how successful we are."

What's Next?

The governor said the state will be releasing industry-specific guidance on these different phases in the coming days.

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.

Travel is increasing amid the coronavirus oubtreak, which exacerbates the risk of infection, officials say.

Tracking COVID-19 infections will play an important role in the transition out of crisis, Baker said, forecasting a "pretty significant growth in testing through the fall." He said he would offer more details on how testing will be deployed, including use of antibody testing, "when the package is fully developed."

"We certainly expect that testing has a major role to play in what happens going forward," he said. "The antibody piece has a role to play, too, but I think we would say for what people are saying it can do and how it can fit in, it has work to do."

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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