Some Getting Antsy About Massachusetts Governor’s Slow Rollout of Coronavirus Re-Opening

Printed from:

The governor should give business owners information about reopening much sooner than administration officials are currently planning, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance said.

The governor’s Reopening Advisory Board is scheduled to issue a report on so-called Phase One of the reopening of the Massachusetts economy on Monday, May 18. Administration officials have released only vague details about it so far.

For some, it’s not good enough.

Paul Craney, of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a spending and taxing watchdog based in Boston, said residents and business owners have largely cooperated with the sweeping emergency restrictions issued by Governor Charlie Baker to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including the forced shutdown in March of businesses the governor deemed non-essential.

“The people of Massachusetts were happy to answer the call of our Governor and State House leaders to ensure this was done; now it’s time for our leaders to answer the call of the people of Massachusetts,” Craney said in written remarks prepared for an online Zoom video conference with reporters Tuesday, May 12.

Craney noted that businesses have been shut down nearly two months, and now may get little advance warning from the state government about whether they can re-open, when they can re-open, and under what circumstances they can re-open.

“State House leaders can and should give them more information leading up to May 18, starting today,” Craney said Tuesday. “… Now is the time for State House leaders to be as transparent as possible in laying out the framework for which businesses can reopen and when.”

Questions about why business owners and residents aren’t getting more information about the reopening this week were a theme of the governor’s coronavirus press conference Tuesday, May 12.

Here’s one exchange:

Reporter: When will people that are in Phase One know that they are in Phase One?  Will that be on the 18th when the report comes out, or will that be earlier?

Governor Charlie Baker:  I think it’ll probably be on the 18th.

Here’s another exchange, later in the press conference

Reporter:  Are you anticipating the stay-at-home advisory will end Monday? A lot of people are asking about that.

Governor Charlie Baker:  I think on all of those various issues that people have questions about, we’re going to talk about all of those on Monday.


The press conference took place at MatTek Life Sciences, a biotechnology company in Ashland that is producing coronavirus test kits and hand sanitizer.

Baker said it’s important that when the economy re-opens that it be sustainable, so that more closings don’t have to take place in the future.

“I get the fact that this is — that everybody would like everything to be open sooner, right? The downside to that — and it’s an important downside – is you want to do this in a way where you can sustain the opening when you go forward,” Baker said during the press conference Tuesday.

He talked about the importance of testing more people for coronavirus and tracing how the virus is spreading.

“But the other important part of it is making sure that as you put these general guidelines in place and then the industry-specific guidelines in place, that people are going to be able to deliver on ‘em, and that we have the ability to monitor how they do,” Baker said.

A reporter asked the governor if business owners who are currently in the dark about their future can take any steps to prepare for what’s coming.

Baker pointed to general standards contained in four phases of reopening he introduced on Monday, May 11, which relate to cleanliness, social distancing, and limiting interaction. Earlier, Baker had said he expects to see more of the Plexiglass barriers now seen in many drugstores and supermarkets.

But the reporter noted that many business owners don’t know yet whether they’re in or out of Phase One, or what they’re supposed to do about it.

Here’s the exchange:

Reporter:  Is there anything business owners can do now, though, as they wait to find out which phase they’re in? Should they call back their staff?  Should they – what can you tell them?

Governor Charlie Baker:  Well, the first thing they should do is take a look at those global standards and see how they think they would do against those. I mean, part of the reason we put those out is to make clear that there’s going to be a standard that everybody has to abide by and comply to.