UPDATE FROM STATE REP. KATE HOGAN

COVID-19 Crisis in Massachusetts

State Rep. Kate Hogan, 3rd Middlesex District
Bolton Hudson Maynard Stow
Dear Friends,

I hope that you - and those you care about - are healthy and safe. This week, the 10th since our declared state of emergency, we are beginning to see signs of progress.

On Monday, Governor Baker unveiled his much-anticipated plan for reopening the State. The plan calls for a cautious reopening that occurs in phases (more detail below) and remains contingent on all of our efforts to curb the virus’ spread by continuing to practice social distance, wearing face masks in public, and washing hands. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home and contact telehealth through www.buoy.com.

This weekend, we’ll celebrate Memorial Day, a sacred day for commemorating the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. The pandemic has cancelled much of our meaningful Memorial Day observances this year, but around the district we’ll still have flags and memorial wreaths at cemeteries. Along with our reflections and thanksgivings on Memorial Day, the weekend also heralds the beginning of summer. We hope that this will also mark a steady, safe return to business and activities, while continuing to limit the spread of COVID-19.

We’ll continue to get through this together and our office is here to help. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at  kate.hogan@mahouse.gov  or 617-722-2199.  This email and phone number are the most efficient ways to contact us right now and the best way to ensure a prompt response to your inquiry.  I also post updates daily on Facebook.

Best,
Signature
Kate Hogan
State Representative
Third Middlesex District
(617) 722-2199
MASSACHUSETTS UPDATES
As of May 18, there are 87,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 5,862 deaths from COVID-19.   More than 48,372 people have been quarantined and 20,560 are currently undergoing monitoring/quarantined. 469,199 Massachusetts residents have been tested for COVID-19 by the State Public Health Laboratory, hospitals and commercial laboratories. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health  shares updated numbers on its website  each day.

Reopening Massachusetts The Governor’s four-phased approach outlines the cautious start to reopening specific workplaces as well as required safety protocols and guidance. Gov. Baker also announced a new “Safer At Home” advisory , which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities. Beginning this week, construction and manufacturing firms, as well as places of worship will reopen. Businesses to reopen on May 25 include salons and barber shops, retail stores and recreational marijuana shops (curbside pickup only), car washes, dog groomers, and office buildings with a limit of 25% staff (Boston office buildings will reopen June 1). Beaches will also be reopened next week. For more detail on what is permitted to reopen and when, go to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts

Reopening Requirements Businesses are not required to reopen, and may not do so if they are unable to follow safety protocols. Specific guidance has been developed so that each industry reopens as safely as possible. Businesses are expected to implement these protocols in addition to the more general Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards . In order to reopen, businesses  must  develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Required materials are located on mass.gov/reopening , and include detailed sector-specific circulars and checklists to facilitate compliance. 

Guidance for Businesses and Organizations Looking to Reopen The Baker Administration’s Reopening Plan is contingent on having businesses and organizations follow required safety protocols and guidance. Following are recently released general business guidance and sector-specific protocols and best practices: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts#general-business-guidance-

For those wondering when their business or organization can reopen: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-when-can-my-business-reopen

For information on purchasing hygienic or protective supplies for the workplace: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-purchasing-hygienic-or-protective-supplies-for-the-workplace

Mandatory Safety Standards These new standards will apply universally to all workplaces that are open in Phase 1, and are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers.

Workers at Large MA Employers Continue to Work from Home Fifty-four of the state’s largest employers have committed to having their employees continue to work from home past the reopen date.
MAIN STREET UPDATES
Memorial Day will look different around the district this year, as annual parades and ceremonies have largely been cancelled. Wreaths will still be displayed and commemorative and customary flags and flowers will decorate gravestones and flowers will adorn our war memorials. Some updates:

  • Volunteers needed in Bolton This year, volunteers are needed to help plant geraniums at marked veteran’s graves in 4 cemeteries: Friends Cemetery, South Cemetery, Pan Cemetery and West Cemetery, while maintaining social distance. The flowers will be available at the Baum residence at 125 East End Road after Sunday, May 17th. If you are able to assist in this effort, please contact Brenda Baum at 978 273-9825 for further details and information. 
  • Flags at Half Mast in Hudson Flags will be lowered to half mast until noon in Hudson.

  • Maynard's annual parade is cancelled Flags mark veterans' graves at Maynard cemeteries.

  • Virtual Ceremony in Stow Stow TV will broadcast a small ceremony from Brookside Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day 2020.
What’s Open & Reopening In addition to the links, resources and guidance mentioned above and available at Mass.gov , here is a run-down of what’s open and reopening around the district, compiled in part by the 495/MetroWest Partnership:

Week of May 18
Upon implementing new COVID-19 safety standards and completing a self-attestation checklist, the following sectors are permitted to reopen today, Monday May 18th:
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Places of Worship
  • Hospitals and community health centers who attest to meeting specific capacity criteria and public health/safety standards will be allowed to resume a limited set of in-person preventative, diagnostic and treatment services

Each business or Place of Worship will be required to meet the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards referenced above before reopening. Additionally,  each industry also has a series of Sector Specific Protocols , that detail the policies workplaces should enforce to maintain compliance:

Restaurants currently open for take-out and delivery include:
Since Memorial Day often heralds the unofficial start to summer, here is a special list of local ice cream spots that are currently offering takeout. Please double-check days & hours as they have been expanding with the good weather. 

  • Bolton Orchards is serving ice cream until 7 pm, weather permitting
  • Colonial Candies is open daily from 10 am-6 pm
  • Erikson’s ice cream has opened window service for the season from 12-8 pm Tuesday-Sunday. In addition, service for senior citizens only is available from 11 am-12 pm on those days.
  • New City Micro-Creamery is open daily from 9 am-10 pm; orders can also be placed online or over the phone
  • Reasons to be Cheerful is now open between 2-5 pm, Fri-Sun for takeout and grab & go only.
Starting May 25th

The following sectors, industries, and activities will be permitted to resume on May 25th:
Auto dealers and wholesalers (curbside pickup only)
  • Car washes
  • Hair salons / barbershops
  • General office spaces (except in the City of Boston)
  • Lab space
  • Libraries (curbside pickup and delivery only)
  • Pet grooming
  • Recreational marijuana (curbside pickup only)
  • Retail (curbside pickup only)
  • Certain outdoor recreation activities (including beaches; parks; drive-in movie theaters; select athletic fields and courts; most fishing, hunting, and boating; outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations)
  • Other health care providers (not included in the May 18th categorization) who attest to meeting specific capacity criteria and public health/safety standards will be allowed to resume a limited set of in-person preventative, diagnostic and treatment services

Sector Specific Protocols have been published for some of these industries;  please click the hyperlink to access the corresponding Sector Specific Protocols . It is critical to review the detailed guidance; for example, office space re-opening on May 25th will be limited to 25% of building capacity.

Public Health Metrics to Determine Advancing to Later Phases

Each phase will last a  minimum of three weeks  and could last longer before moving to the next phase; public health data will determine advancement to later phases. If public health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, and/or the entire state may need to return to an earlier phase.

Key public health metrics will determine if and when it is appropriate to proceed through reopening phases. They include:
  • COVID-19 positive test rate
  • Number of individuals who died from COVID-19
  • Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals
  • Health care system readiness
  • Testing capacity
  • Contact tracing capabilities

Later Phases

Sector-Specific Protocols for industries opening in later phases will be published in advance of future phases (example: restaurant specific protocols will be drafted in advance of Phase 2).

In publishing this information, the administration has stressed that  this is not an exhaustive list  of all possible businesses that can open in each phase; it may be updated from time to time.

Phase 2
  • Auto dealers and wholesalers (browsing inside the showroom with restrictions)
  • Libraries (browsing inside the Library with restrictions)
  • Retail (browsing inside the store with restrictions)
  • Casinos (hotel & restaurant portions only)
  • Driving schools (behind-the-wheel training or observation of another student driver; online instruction currently allowed)
  • Hotels (currently open to serve essential workers and vulnerable populations; reopen to serve other guests with restrictions)
  • Other personal services (such as nail salons, day spas, massage therapy, tattoo parlors, electrolysis studios)
  • Restaurants (can begin opening dining areas; currently open for takeout and delivery)

Phase 3
  • Casinos (gaming area)
  • Bars (establishments that only serve alcohol and do not have kitchen areas that prepare food on-site)
  • Gyms, fitness studios
  • Movie theatres
  • Museums
  • Performance venues (such as concert halls, theatres)

Phase 4
  • Large venues (such as arenas, stadiums, night clubs, race tracks, other sports venues)

To Be Determined
  • Amusement parks
  • Flight schools (specific plan being developed)


Child Care

Child care and summer recreation camps will reopen in a phased approach. The Departments of Early Education and Care and Public Health are developing guidelines that balance families' need for child care with health and safety. The initial reopening plan will focus on families who have no safe alternative to group care by increasing emergency child care capacity. EEC will also partner with industries returning to work to develop options specific to their workplaces.

In March, the Baker-Polito Administration stood up an emergency child care system to support children of essential workers and vulnerable families with extra virus mitigation protocols. During Phase 1, the emergency child care system we have already in place will be utilized to meet the needs of people with no alternatives for care. Currently, only 35% of emergency child care capacity is occupied, and the system has the ability to serve more families to provide care options as more sectors come back online.

Transit

The MBTA has been and will continue to implement measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the system to keep employees and riders safer.

While public transportation unavoidably creates some risk of transmission, working together the MBTA, riders and employers can significantly reduce that risk:
  • Riders are required to wear face coverings and must make efforts to distance Riders are asked to avoid riding transit if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
  • Employers are encouraged to stagger schedules and implement work from home policies to reduce demand, especially during rush hours
  • The MBTA will continue to take protective and preventative measures such as frequently disinfecting and cleaning vehicles and stations and providing protective supplies to workers

To mitigate risk while providing appropriate levels of service, the MBTA will:
  • Support the transit needs of essential workers and those returning to the workplace in Phase 1 while continuing with limited service to maximize employee and rider safety
  • Ramp up to a modified version of full service by Phase 3, although social distancing efforts will limit effective capacity on vehicles even after full service schedules are restored
  • Actively communicate public health guidance and schedule adjustments in-station, online, and over social media

Enforcement

Enforcement of new safety standards is a joint responsibility between the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), and local boards of health. Before reopening, businesses must self-certify that they will operate in compliance with the new safety standards and protocols. They will be required to complete a checklist and post a series of posters in a place where they can be viewed by employees and customers. The business must produce this self-certification, if requested by the local board of health, DLS, or DPH.

In some cases, business will also be required to develop a written COVID-19 control plan. Enforcement will scale from verbal consultation and redirection, to written redirection, to fines, and finally to cease-and-desist letters. Local boards of health that need assistance or guidance can call the DLS hotline at (508) 616-0461 x9488 or send an email to  safepublicworkplacemailbox@mass.gov .

If you would like to submit questions and/or comments about the reopening plan and/or report a non-compliant business, you can do so here: https://www.mass.gov/forms/submit-questions-and-comments-about-reopening-massachusetts