Municipalities tweak Baker’s reopening plans

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, cities and towns are taking reopening plans into their own hands, including in Gov. Charlie Baker’s own backyard.

The Select and Health Boards of Swampscott, where Baker lives, have passed a new emergency order that is, in some respects, stricter than the four-phase reopening plan announced by the governor on Monday.

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, the seaside town is taking the surprising move of not allowing any congregation on beaches, parks, or areas outside private households. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced Monday that the state will allow groups of fewer than 10 people on beaches–but spaced 12 feet apart.

The town is requiring that businesses submit plans for approval before reopening, specifically addressing how they will maintain proper social distancing and hygiene protocol. No such pre-approval exists on the state level, where Baker is asking that businesses compose their own plans, post them in a visible place, and have any protocols available in writing for possible inspections.

“All businesses and places of worship will be required to submit a work safety plan for approval of the town of Swampscott prior to opening,” Board of Health Chairwoman Marianne Hartmann told the Lynn Daily Item. “We say this not to impede any place from opening, you will be able to open on time. We’re not going to hold anybody up from opening.”

The requirement will be in place until the boards decide that coronavirus is no longer a public health emergency. Swampscott is not alone in taking a different approach from the state on reopening policies.

In New Bedford, a city hard-hit with 53 coronavirus deaths, Mayor Jon Mitchell says that Baker’s plan for church services limited to 40 percent of permitted capacity is “a little bit big for our view.” Mentioning that some houses of worship see attendance numbers of over 500, Mitchell is instead limiting attendance to 40 percent of permitted capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

New Bedford will open its beaches in compliance with the state’s reopening order, but only New Bedford residents will be able to purchase a beach pass until further notice. Mitchell said the more stringent guidelines are needed because the city’s hospitalizations and new cases are not declining yet.

Earlier this week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced his own parting of ways with the state, saying he has no plans to lift the city’s curfew and he has concerns about opening offices at a quarter of normal capacity, the level set by the governor. Baker did put off the Boston start date for reopening office from Monday to June 1.

Walsh indicated the city will also look into how restaurants will reopen during the second phase of Baker’s plan, set to start in a little over two weeks. Outdoor dining and shutting down portions of the city’s streets to make space for socially-distanced tables are in the works.



House Speaker Robert DeLeo announces new committees to focus on economic recovery and childcare. (CommonWealth) Meanwhile, the Office of the Child Advocate says it’s preparing for an influx of child abuse cases in September, following a significant drop off of reports during the pandemic. (Commonwealth)

Thirty-seven percent of the state’s nursing homes are not compliant with a 28-point checklist for infection control, but the numbers are a bit misleading. Relatively few scored poorly. Many failed even while passing 27 of the 28 requirements. And some nursing homes weren’t even checked. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial decries the Baker administration’s lack of transparency on coronavirus in Massachusetts nursing homes.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley presses her case that the state is reopening too quickly. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker identifies supply chain glitches as the reason why the state is doing 10,000 to 15,000 COVID-19 tests a day even though it has the test processing capacity to do 30,000. (CommonWealth)


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its website’s guidance information to say the novel coronavirus does not spread easily from contaminated surfaces or animals. (Washington Post)

Dr. Jarone Lee of Massachusetts General Hospital says his ICU is seeing fewer patients, but they tend to be sicker. (CommonWealth)

A new study of the anti-malaria drug being touted — and taken — by President Trump against coronavirus shows a significantly higher risk of death among COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine than those who did not. (Washington Post)

Pine Street Inn shelter workers take extra precautions to keep their families safe from COVID-19.  (DigBoston)


Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, according to the Department of Labor. The official unemployment rate in April was 14.7 percent nationwide. (WGBH)

The US has pledged to pay as much as $1.2 billion to get early access to 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed and tested in England. (USA Today)

President Trump declares that the country has “prevailed” over coronavirus, a claim that appears to carry considerable political risk. (Boston Globe)


What would a Biden-Warren ticket be like? (New York Times)


The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge lays off 450 of its 489 employees, dealing another crippling blow to the Berkshires economy. (Berkshire Eagle)

Cape Ann beaches are opening this weekend, with lots of restrictions, while Crane Beach is already open. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Gym owners are frustrated that they are not allowed to open until phase three of the state’s reopening plan, while large stores can open earlier. (MassLive)

Gun stores will now be able to forgo the capacity limits set by a federal judge’s order, as long as they comply with the workplace safety rules set out by Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening guidelines. (MassLive)

Massachusetts is now offering extended unemployment benefits — 13 more weeks after a claimant’s initial 30-week benefits period runs out. (MassLive)


Day care center reopenings may exclude infants under guidelines being considered by state officials. (Boston Globe)

Libraries are allowed to start offering curbside delivery and pickup on Tuesday, but they cannot open for browsing just yet. (Telegram & Gazette)

Today is the the seventh annual One SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce College Day—but this time, eager high schoolers will hear from local college presidents virtually. (Standard-Times)


Boston area museums may reopen soon, but will it be a diminished experience with all the restrictions that will be in place? (Boston Globe)

Cape Cod Theatre Project says its annual program for developing new plays will be completely virtual this year rather than based at Falmouth Academy. (Cape Cod Times)


As the state’s economy reopens, the MBTA intends to manage COVID-19 ridership risks with policies that strongly encourage but don’t mandate social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. The T’s even going with the European World Health Organization’s 3-foot yardstick for social distancing. (CommonWealth)

T notes: The Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a 7 percent spending increase for fiscal 2021 even though fare revenue has largely vanished…The T, which is already the state’s biggest consumer of electricity and about to get much bigger, is thinking about buying direct from offshore wind developers….COVID-19 puts means-tested fares on hold. (CommonWealth)


Investigators for the state gambling commission say Wynn Resorts has made improvements in dealing with workplace harassment and discrimination. (Boston Globe)


Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband will plead guilty and be sentenced today in the Varsity Blues college admission case. (Boston Herald)


The Atlantic is laying off 68 people, or 17 percent of its staff, as the coronavirus pandemic shreds advertising revenue that publications count on. Most of the cuts, however, came in the magazine’s marketing and live-events divisions, which have also been badly hit.  (New York Times)


In a moving tribute, Associated Press photographer David Goldman honors those who died at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. (Associated Press)