Updated 2:30 pm
During a press conference Saturday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that phase two, labeled “cautious” of the state’s phased reopening plan will begin Monday, June 8 — an announcement that paves the way for some businesses important to the tourism industry to reopen.
There will be two steps to phase two. Step one, which begins June 8, will include opening of retail stores, childcare, day camps, lodging such as hotels and inns, youth sports, and outdoor seated dining at restaurants. The lodging industry, which includes hotels, motels, and short-term rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO, is able to start taking reservations, but the hotel operator must tell the person making the reservation the state’s policy of urging self-quarantining for 14 days. It will be up to customers to self-comply. The lodging industry must also adhere to strict protocols on enhanced cleaning. Onsite amenities such as restaurants and pools must operate according to the phase two reopening guidelines.
Step two, which will start depending on positive public health metrics, will allow restaurants to serve guests indoors, as well as close contact personal services such as nail salons, massage therapy, and tanning salons.
Diane Carr, a partner at the Hob Knob Inn in Edgartown, told The Times it was great to get guidance ahead of the official reopening so those in the phase two industries could be prepared.
“We’re ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming and it had to be done properly, it had to be done safely,” Carr said.
Now Carr is focused on getting the word out that the Hob Knob Inn is open. While other hotels and inns are staying closed for now, Carr said they will open once they’re ready.
“We’re ready, we’ve followed the guidance, we have the checklist, we just need to implement it now.”
Similar to phase one there will be three levels of safety guidance for residents, businesses, and workers which are general social guidance, mandatory workplace safety standards, and sector specific safety protocols.
Before phase two businesses open they must meet all safety standards, create a COVID-19 control plan, and complete a self-certification. All of these resources can be viewed at mass.gov/reopening.
“We know the closures have been extraordinarily difficult and as governor these are in some respects the most challenging decisions ever imaging having to make,” Baker said. “But thanks to the cooperation of so many the trends have been moving in the right direction and were now able to reopen many of these businesses.”
Phase three, labeled “vigilant,” which could begin as soon as June 29, as long as public health data continues to trend in a positive direction. Phase three will allow for the opening movie theaters, museums, fitness centers, among others. Phase four, labeled “new normal,” will allow for parades, street festivals, and outdoor group athletic events and could begin as soon as July 20.
Baker said tremendous progress had been made in flattening the curve and public health data shows a downward trend, across the board, of COVID-19 cases. Since the beginning of May, the seven day average for positive COVID-19 tests is down 82 percent. The three day average for hospitalizations is down 55 percent and the number of hospitals operating in surge mode is down 76 percent. Baker also said the COVID command center upgraded the state’s COVID case numbers to “green” which designates a positive trend.
“We are clearly on the path to beat the virus, but as I said earlier until there are medical breakthroughs we have to continue to take the fight and play our part in fighting the virus COVID-19 is still very much with us,” Baker said. “We have a way to go to get to what we call a new normal.”
Expanded testing on the Island, which began this week, hasn’t resulted in any new positive cases.
Updated to include comments from Diane Carr. — Ed.