Massachusetts Begins Reopening Economy, Albeit Slowly

The Commonwealth’s phased in “return to normal” began Monday, with Gov. Charlie Baker announcing that manufacturing and construction sites, hospitals and houses of worship could reopen today, but most small businesses will have to wait a week to open their doors. Even, then, it will be far from “business as usual” for small shops since the pandemic struck the U.S. in March.

Starting Memorial Day, reopening with health and safety guidelines includes beaches, parks, hair salons, barbershops, retail stores, pet groomers, car washes, drive-in theaters, and outdoor recreation facilities. In addition, offices can reopen at 25 percent of capacity (except in Boston, which is June 1) and adult-use cannabis shops.

“The Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA), representing 80 percent of the state’s medical and adult-use industry, is pleased with the Baker-Polito Administration’s inclusion of the adult-use cannabis industry as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the Massachusetts economy,” commented David Torrisi, president of the CDA. “We have long maintained that adult-use retail facilities are uniquely prepared to safely operate as we combat the spread of COVID-19 as our industry has successfully done so on the medical side. In preparation for a phased resumption of adult-use operations, the CDA developed a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan, incorporating existing practices from medical operators, while looking to national best practice, federal public health guidelines, and input from all 38 CDA members to demonstrate exactly how this industry can safely operate.”

The Massachusetts cannabis industry employs 8,000 people and since 2017, has generated $120 million in new state and local revenues, added Torrisi.

A complete list of businesses and when they can open, by category, is listed here.

Baker said each phase is expected to last about three weeks, but could be longer, depending whether there is a spike in cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations.  He pointed out that Massachusetts is one of three states, behind New York and New Jersey, that has been most severely impacted by the pandemic, hence the carefully phase-in reopening plan.

Dates for reopening Phases 2, 3 and 4 have not been disclosed, as it depend on how well prior phases are conducted in accordance with public health metrics.

“If we don’t keep up the front, we run the risk of seeing a second spike [of the virus],” said Baker, asking for residents to be patient.

All sectors of the economy , whether large or small operations, will have to develop COVID-19 Control Plans for sanitizing workplaces and, like the public, workplaces must adhere to guidelines regarding wearing face coverings, social distancing, washing hands and surfaces often and vigilance. Baker advised that most businesses continue offering their workers to work remotely, if able to do so.

The entire reopening plan is available in detail on the Reopening Massachusetts website.



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