No More Basketball? Massachusetts Governor Describes New World Order in Age of Coronavirus

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Authorized basketball is a thing of the past at the moment, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker isn’t sure when it might become a thing of the future.

“I have a hard time understanding when we’re going to be able to play basketball again, because it’s a very physical sport, with a lot of close contact between and among the participants,” Baker said during a coronavirus press conference yesterday.

The governor referred to basketball while answering a question about an incident that happened recently at an ice cream shop on Cape Cod.

Polar Cave, in Mashpee, opened for business Friday, May 8, but closed again after, according to the owner, many customers got impatient with the wait, derided his staff, and did not follow social-distancing guidelines. One teen-age girl whom the owner described as his best worker was so upset with the vulgar abuse she got that she quit after her shift was over. The incident made the mainstream media.

A reporter asked Baker about Polar Cave during the coronavirus press conference Monday, May 11. The governor addressed it but also went far beyond the incident, describing the outlines of a new social order in the age of coronavirus, including new far-reaching rules for businesses that he suggested might become permanent.

He didn’t get into details. The Reopening Advisory Board he formed is scheduled to issue a report Monday, May 18 proposing several phases of reopening.

A transcript of the exchange between the reporter and the governor is below. Near the beginning Baker briefly addresses the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Karyn Polito, who is also the head of the Reopening Advisory Board. Partway through he makes reference to a visual aid that had been removed by the time he mentioned it.

The transcript below begins at 22:46 of the video:


Reporter:  Governor, an ice cream stand down on the Cape tried to open up over this weekend. It turned out to be pandemonium down there.  Are you concerned that as these are phased in that that’s going to be commonplace?


Governor Charlie Baker:  You know, I’ve actually been to that ice cream place. I think you’ve been there, too.  I think anybody who’s ever been to the Cape has been there. It’s an enormously popular place.

I feel terrible for the owner, who everybody I know says is one of the most decent people you’d ever want to meet. I feel awful for the young kids, who were just trying to serve a product that people really wanted, which is kind of a rite of the arrival of warm weather and summer and all the rest.

And I guess what I would say is that:

As much as we all might not like some of these changes in the way things work – and I’d certainly put myself on that list. I’m a basketball player. I always was. I have a hard time understanding when we’re going to be able to play basketball again, because it’s a very physical sport, with a lot of close contact between and among the participants.

But I think – we have all gotta stand up and recognize that this is gonna put almost everybody in a somewhat different position than they have ever been in before. And, day in and day out, I believe the vast majority of the people of Massachusetts will stand up and accept their responsibility.

And remember – one of the biggest responsibilities here around face coverings and many of these other issues is to make sure you don’t give this thing to somebody else, because there’s such a high penetration of asymptomatic cases.

And that we have to hope and understand that that is the overwhelming response that people take to this. So far it has been.

But ahm — But I feel terrible for what happened to those folks.


Reporter:  How do you deal with people who just, who aren’t going to play by the rules?  Customers, folks on the street?


Governor Charlie Baker:  Yeah, I mean one of the things we did with our — I think signage is a big part of it. I think awareness is a big part of it. And I think there is a certain amount of socialization that comes with this as well.

And that’s part of the reason for estab—- — I keep pointing up there, it’s not there anymore.  This is part of the reason why the Reopening Advisory Board felt it was important to establish not just industry-specific guidance, but a set of criteria that we’re going to apply to all employers. So that it becomes for all intents and purposes something people think of as sort of standard operating procedure.

When you get talking to the colleges and universities about how their world is going to look in the fall, they aren’t talking about this on an individualized basis with us. I mean, they’re talking about it as a group, and saying, you know, ‘What is it that we as a group need to be thinking about?’

They’ve been spending a lot of time with the folks at Public Health and others. And they obviously have lots of people on their own campuses who have opinions about this.

But they’re trying to figure out what, you know, their socially acceptable, responsible way of operating is going to look. And I think – and I do believe most people will get there. I do. Because they did, in an incredibly short period of time, under, you know, incredibly difficult circumstances, from the time this all started in March.

But, ahm — But again, this is part of the reason we’re doing this on a phased basis. Makes it possible for us to track what’s going on, on the ground. It makes it possible for us to learn from the early movement that takes place here. And I honestly hope that for the most part people do what I would describe as the right thing for their neighbor, for their friend, for their colleague.

And I think they will.  And I hope that the socialization of that ultimately becomes sort of an important enforcement mechanism in this.