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Baker: Massachusetts To Reopen In 4 Phases Starting May 18

BOSTON (CBS) – Gov. Charlie Baker revealed the structure of Massachusetts' coronavirus reopening plan, which will allow businesses to get back to work slowly. Baker said the state is hopeful the process can begin with Phase 1 on May 18.

READ: Massachusetts 4-Phase Reopening Structure

Baker initially ordered non-essential businesses to close due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 23.

"We're anxious to try to get everybody back up and going as soon as it makes sense," said Baker. "The goal of the reopening plan is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, protecting public health and limiting a possible resurgence of new COVID-19 cases."

Specifics on what type of business will be able to begin Phase 1 are expected to be released on May 18, "based on the trajectory of public health data."

"In the first phase you should probably start with the things that don't have a lot of direct contact with customers, or things where, if there is direct contact for customers, it's the kind of direct contact you believe you could really carefully manage," said Baker.

phased reopening plan
The phased reopening plan (Image credit: Mass.Gov)

The four phases are called "start, cautious, vigilant" and "new normal."

"These last couple of months have obviously been painful and difficult and frustrating for us all. We are seeing positive signs that the work everybody has done has been paying off, and that makes it possible for us to be serious about a phased reopening," said Baker.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito laid out mandatory workplace safety standards that all businesses will be required to adopt upon reopening.

All employees will be required to remain six feet apart "to the greatest extent possible" inside and outside workplaces.

Face coverings will be required, hand washing capabilities must be in place throughout the workplace, and "high touch areas" will need to be sanitized frequently.

Any time an active employee is diagnosed with coronavirus, the facility must be cleaned and disinfected.

"I would expect that the reopening is probably going to be somewhat uncomfortable … because it's all different," said Baker.

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