A lot of summer what ifs

What will the summer look like amid the COVID-19 threat? July 4 concerts are out, but will we be able to enjoy beaches and barbecues? What about pools, camps, and zoos?

That is the question all Massachusetts residents are asking, but nowhere is the question as urgent as on Cape Cod.

In Massachusetts’s premiere summer vacation spot, businesses and municipalities earn most of their revenue for the year in July and August, when vacationers eager to escape the city flock to the region’s seashores and restaurants.

Last week, the Boston Globe reported that town managers on the Cape were looking to Gov. Charlie Baker for guidance on how to reopen.

That guidance came Monday, when Baker said beaches could reopen, with restrictions, as soon as Monday, May 25 – marking Memorial Day as the official start of summer. The Cape Cod Times reports that towns on the Cape are all also developing their own guidelines regarding beaches, which could affect things like parking capacity.

Restaurants, however, cannot reopen until the second phase of the state’s reopening – at the earliest June 8, depending on public health data.

Restaurants are starting to prepare. In Falmouth, for example, the Board of Selectmen is asking Baker to loosen restrictions on liquor licenses and zoning to allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating.

Members of Cape Cod’s own reopening task force have expressed “cautious optimism” that the Cape can have some semblance of a normal summer season.

In a statement, the group said accommodations are cleaned and stocked, and hoping to reopen in June. (Lodgings cannot accept non-essential workers until phase two of Baker’s plan.) Restaurants are already offering takeout and hoping to begin with outdoor and possibly indoor dining in June.

The group notes that because Memorial Day falls early and Labor Day falls late, there is actually an extra two weeks of summer this year for businesses to make up some lost revenue.

And yet…will the ferry be safe? A Steamship employee who works at the Nantucket Terminal and commutes from the mainland just tested positive for COVID-19. The Cape Cod Times reports mixed news daily – the Heritage Museums and Gardens Rhododendron festival is on, but Chatham’s Independence Day parade, fireworks, and weekly Friday concerts are off.

In the LGBTQ hotspot of Provincetown, the Globe recently reported, some hope the town can be a site of healing this summer. Others worry about the devastating toll COVID-19 could take if it spreads in a community with many older and immunocompromised residents — Provincetown already has the state’s highest rate of HIV infections. Second home residents coming to Provincetown have experienced animosity from year-round residents.

And on the topic of animosity, it was a Cape Cod ice cream parlor that made national news after it was forced to close when rude customers harassed staff over social distancing guidelines.

And, of course, the biggest unanswered question lingers: Even if the Cape reopens, will visitors come?

SHIRA SCHOENBERG


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker emphasizes self-enforcement by businesses of new reopening standards. (Boston Herald) Part of the calculus in Baker’s lifting of a ban on gatherings of religious congregations: A looming First Amendment lawsuit threat. (Boston Globe)

Advocates say the Legislature needs to pass vote-by-mail bills now, not wait for the summer. (MassLive)

Even when the virus risk has been contained, do not shake Globe columnist Scot Lehigh’s hand, and for God’s sake don’t try to give him a hug.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The first settlement checks – averaging more than $8,000 – go out Friday for residents harmed by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. (Eagle-Tribune)

West Boylston Police Chief Dennis Minnich threatens local Board of Health officials with arrest if they enforce Gov. Charlie Baker’s business shutdown orders in his town. Minnich says he didn’t mean for his email to sound threatening. (Telegram & Gazette)

Some are calling for the president of the Malden City Council to resign after she held a large birthday gathering for her daughter. (Boston Globe)

Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham says Mayor Marty Walsh and Rep. Ayanna Pressley are hurting working people and blacks with their warnings against reopening the economy.

New England astronaut Jessica Meir reflects on returning to Earth during the pandemic. (WGBH)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Brockton physician who was on a ventilator and gravely ill with coronavirus is on the mend and credits the experimental infusion of plasma from COVID-19 survivors for his comeback. (Boston Herald)

Researchers at Columbia University say modeling shows a shutdown of the US with stay-at-home orders two weeks earlier, on March 1, would have avoided 83 percent of the COVID-19 deaths that have occurred. (New York Times)

Two lab studies in monkeys suggest antibodies produced by coronavirus infection do protect against reinfection, a key question looming over the pandemic. (Boston Globe)

The state shut down a temporary homeless shelter for people with COVID-19 at the Quality Inn and Suites in Worcester citing “environmental concerns.” (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Here’s how President Trump dominates every aspect of the news cycle: A big question now is whether he’ll wear a mask when touring a Ford factory today in Michigan, something the state’s attorney general has urged him to do. (Washington Post)

US-China tensions are growing as the Trump administration looks to pin blame for the pandemic’s toll on China. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Joe Kennedy is running for Senate like a Kennedy, says Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Rent payments are piling up for business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but creative solutions for landlords and tenants are difficult to craft. (CommonWealth)

Requests for food stamps and cash assistance surge in Massachusetts. (The Salem News)

Coronavirus-related job losses are hitting women disproportionately hard. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Baker’s orders prohibiting non-essential short-term stays leave a big question mark for those who have already rented summer vacation properties. (Herald News)

Construction is resuming in Boston, but work sites are operating very differently than before the shutdown. (Boston Globe)

While golf courses can reopen, golf driving ranges apparently cannot. (Eagle-Tribune)

An Oxford gym gets a written warning after it continues to open, defying Gov. Charlie Baker’s closure order. (MassLive)

It is up to employers and customers to report businesses that violate state safety standards when reopening. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

Higher ed leaders are expecting some combination of online and in-person learning this fall, but no one really knows. Online learning is definitely here to stay, they say. (CommonWealth)

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards says East Boston needs some straight answers from Eversource. (CommonWealth)

We cannot protect our environment — or protect against pandemics, racial injustice, and burdens on the working poor — while continuing to eat meat regularly, says author Jonathan Safran Foer. (New York Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Hey dude, drive up sales for recreational marijuana start on Monday. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret from Massachusetts who worked for the FBI and as a military contractor and has a history of dangerous assignments and legal troubles, is arrested for helping former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan, where he faces financial fraud charges. (Associated Press)

Norfolk County Sheriff Jerry McDermott said he credits early preparation and diligence by his staff and inmates for the low coronavirus caseload at his jail. (Patriot Ledger)

PASSINGS

Dan Boyle, a three-time Holyoke mayoral candidate, small business owner, and newspaper columnist, dies at 70, days after the passing of his wife of 32 years, nurse Angela Boyle, 61. (MassLive)