Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan began on Monday, June 8, after an announcement by Governor Charlie Baker over the weekend.
“This terrible virus and the terrible toll that it takes will be with us until there are medical breakthroughs with respect to treatments or vaccines. But thanks to your hard work and your sacrifices, we’re bringing the fight to the virus and we‘re moving forward and Massachusetts is continuing to reopen,” Baker said on June 6.
He said that since the beginning of May, the seven-day average for positive COVID-19 tests is down 82 percent, the three-day average of hospitalizations is down 55 percent, and the number of hospitals operating in surge is down 76 percent. “It’s good to see these stats continue to drop,” Baker said.
The Commonwealth has conducted a total of 630,000 viral tests so far, and the number of tests continues to increase each day, he added.
He said that since the “trends are moving in the right direction,” the state is in good shape to move onto Phase Two of the reopening plan.
“COCID-19 is still very much with us,” Baker said. “While we should all feel a certain sense of relief and progress with respect to the start of phase 2, we should also keep in mind that we have a way to go to get to what we would call the permanent new normal. Please do your part to continue to socially distance, wear face coverings, practice good hygiene, and stay home if you feel sick.”
Phase Two includes the expansion of outdoor recreation activities, as well as marks the beginning of preventative health care services such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and heart screenings, all of which were put on hold during the worst of the outbreak.
Secretary Mike Kennealy provided more information about Phase Two, including that it will be in two steps. The first step, which began on Monday, allows for the reopening of retail stores, childcare, day camps, lodging, youth sports, and outdoor seated dining at restaurants, with specific safety giuidelines.
Step Two, “the start of which will be determined based on continued improvements in public health metrics,” Kennealy said, “will allow restaurants to serve guests indoors,” as well as allow for the opening of “close contact personal services” like nail salons, massage therapy, and tanning salons.
Kennealy explained that there are three levels of safety guidelines for residents, businesses, and workers for Phase Two, as there was in Phase One: “general social guidance, mandatory workplace safety standards, and sector specific safety protocols,” he said.
Last week, the state released guidelines and protocols for retailers, restaurants, and lodging, as well as pools, beaches, and outdoor sports ahead of the start of Phase Two so those businesses and activities could prepare to open safely.
“Today, we released protocols on close contact personal services as well as protocols for what we’re calling ‘sectors not otherwise addressed,’” Kennealy said, which are “businesses with unique operations that don’t really fit into other categories.”
Kennealy said that in order to reopen, businesses “must meet all safety standards, create a COVID-19 control plan, and complete a self-certification.”
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito asked residents to support local businesses in their communities.
“When you buy from the local and small businesses that make up the fabric of your community you support our Massachusetts economy,” Polito said. “Go to the corner stores and shops in your town centers; they need you.”
She also said that the full list of businesses that can open, along with guidance for specific sectors, can be found at mass.gov/reopening. “As we reopen, we know that we can count on you, that we’ll continue to partner with you and together we will continue to fight the spread and help out economy recover, rebound, and grow in our Commonwealth,” Polito said.