Four-Step Plan to Reopen

Safety Standards Will Guide Four-Phase Reopening

[Story Developing] The first wave of businesses shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic could begin to reopen around May 18 if public health data continues to trend in a positive direction, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday as his administration unveiled a four-step plan to move from widespread shutdowns into a "new normal." One week before a panel tasked with laying out reopening strategies publishes its report, Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito offered an outline of how the process will unfold. It will start with industries that are best able to limit face-to-face interaction and transmission risks for the highly infectious virus. All businesses will face a range of new mandatory safety standards once they resume operations, and state officials will also lay out industry-specific requirements. During the initial stage, every workplace must ensure that all employees, customers and vendors stay at least six feet apart as often as possible, wear masks, and perform regular cleaning and disinfecting, Polito said. That first phase, which the administration titled "Start," could begin as soon as next week. Phases two, three and four -- dubbed "Cautious," "Vigilant" and "New Normal," respectively -- will follow. The timeline for those phases will depend on how well the state is able to contain COVID-19. "The goal is to begin this process around May 18, but it will be gradual and facts on the grounds will determine if we actually hit that goal," Baker said. - Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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