Developing a playbook for reopening
Other states are taking a similar approach
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, Senate President Karen Spilka is trying to wrap her head around the idea of reopening the state’s comatose economy. In a speech delivered virtually to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, she wondered how reopening would work for a business that occupies the 39th floor of one of Boston’s skyscrapers.
Spilka said she doubted workers would be willing to walk up 39 flights, so would employees share elevators the way they did pre-COVID-19? Or would workers take turns riding up in the elevators alone?
“We don’t have a playbook for any of this,” she said.
Gov. Charlie Baker, after delaying any reopening of the state’s economy until May 18, appointed a 17-member Reopening Advisory Board on Tuesday to start developing a playbook.
Phases appears to mean the reopening will be incremental, meaning a business or an industry would be allowed to reopen and then officials would monitor how well or poorly that went before proceeding to the next phase. “It’s not going to be everybody all at once,” Baker said.
The governor ruled out geographical phasing, saying he has no plans to let parts of the state – western Massachusetts, for example, where the virus seems to be running out of gas – open ahead of other more densely populated areas.
He also suggested it would be quite some time before long-term care facilities would be open to visitors given the vulnerability of residents in those facilities.
Baker has also said many of the tools used during the COVID-19 surge – face masks, social distancing, restrictions on gatherings, and personal protection equipment – would probably all play prominent roles as the economy slowly reopens.
The issues involved in reviving the economy are endless. Churches, subways, buses, airplanes, movie theaters, museums, restaurants, schools, daycares, sports. Almost every facet of life as we know it will continue to face challenges in the face of COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed. It’s unclear whether Baker will set broad guidelines or get into the nitty gritty inner workings of hair salons and restaurant operations.
A look at the playbooks of some of the states that are beginning to reopen shows some different approaches. Here’s a sampling:
Georgia – For salon and spa owners, Georgia required the facilities to clean and disinfect their establishments before opening, remove all reading materials, and regularly disinfect all tools, shampoo bowls, pedicure bowls, and workstations. Employees are required to wear masks at all times and use face shields, gloves, and capes that can either be thrown away or washed after each use. Employees are also required to arrive at work showered and wearing clean clothes, and then change clothes before leaving the salon for the day. The Georgia guidelines recommend that customers wait outside the shop until the attendant is ready for them, maintaining a distance of six feet from other customers outside and inside the building. Customers are urged to wear masks while receiving services. The guidelines recommend taking the temperature of employees each day and every customer who enters the shop.
Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis is allowing retail shops to open on Friday as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines and require employees to wear face coverings and gloves. Under his order, real estate showings can resume, as can elective surgeries. Hair salons and massage parlors can reopen as long as the provider and customer wear masks and no more than 10 people are allowed inside the business at one time. Office-based businesses can resume operations May 4, but employees must be tested daily for fever, meetings of more than 10 people are prohibited, and social distancing must be maintained. Not allowed to open at this time are restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, concert halls, casinos, and off-track betting facilities.