BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said on Tuesday the state will not reopen on May 4. Instead, the date for non-essential businesses to remain closed due to coronavirus has been pushed back to May 18.
The stay-at-home advisory remains in place as well. The ban on gatherings of 10 people or more has also been extended.
“Today we’re extending the timeline for all non-essential businesses to keep the physical workplaces and facilities closed to all workers, customers, and the public until May 18, and the stay at home advisory also remains in place during this time,” Baker said.
Baker stressed that when the state reopens, it will be a “phased” approach and not everyone will get back to work at the same time.
On Monday, Baker said “we flattened the curve,” but added it would still take time for the number of cases to begin to decline.
“Our overall hospitalization rates for COVID-19 patients have not dropped,” Baker added on Tuesday. “They remain high – plateaued is the word I would use – statewide, and many healthcare facilities are still relying on their emergency surge beds to treat patients.”
Baker’s initial order was for non-businesses to stay closed was set to run through April 7, but it was later extended through May 4. That changed again on Tuesday.
Baker said May 4 was initially chosen based on the assumption that Massachusetts would be in the surge of coronavirus cases sometime in early April. Instead, he said, the surge arrived later than anticipated.
As of Monday, there have been 3,003 coronavirus deaths and 56,462 total cases in Massachusetts.
The state will consult with a Reopening Advisory Board that will include nearly 20 members from around the state.
“This group will work on a plan that occurs in phases to help industries navigate public health guidance and implement safety measures for the new rules of the road,” Baker said.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the board will be made up of three public health officials, three municipal officials, and 11 leaders from the business community, including Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
“This process must, and will, be guided by the public health metrics that we watch so closely every single day to inform us what a safe reopening looks like,” Polito said.
Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, Mass. DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Chief of Staff Catherine Burton are among the members.
Baker said he chose May 18 in hopes that there will be a downward trend in hospitalizations over the next several weeks.
“We have not seen a downward trend yet on a number of those key metrics,” Baker said.
The board will look at things like childcare solutions, since facilities are currently ordered to remain closed through June, and whether companies should stagger work schedules or encourage long-term remote working.
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