When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the details of his administration’s reopening plan today one thing became painfully clear … it will be quite some time before any semblance of a dining and nightlife atmosphere return to this great state. That’s because reopening restaurants for dine-in service was not even included in Phase One of Charlie’s four-phase plan. According to the newly announced re-opening website, restaurants will be allowed to begin reopening dining areas during Phase Two, though that all depends on how things go during Phase One. Restaurants are still able to stay open for delivery and takeout only. And unlike neighboring states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island, restaurants in Massachusetts will not be allowed to reopen for outdoor dining just yet.
What did Governor Baker’s plan allow to get back to work? Manufacturing, construction and places of worship are being allowed to reopen immediately, as long as some strict guidelines are followed.
Retail establishments will be allowed to reopen as part of Phase 1, but only for remote fulfillment and curbside pickup. Limited personal services like hair salons, pet grooming and car washes will also be able to reopen at that time, under strict guidelines. The reopening date for these industries is scheduled for May 25.
Full opening of retail establishments, with some capacity limitations, are included in Phase 2 of the reopening plan.
With Memorial Day next weekend, Beaches are also included in Phase 1 of the reopening plan, and will be allowed to open with guidelines on the exact Memorial Day Holiday on May 25th. Parks, drive-in-theaters and some athletic fields and courts are also included in this phase. Campgrounds, playgrounds and community pools are included in Phase Two.
In detailing his plan, Governor Baker said that each phase will last for at least three weeks, if not longer, and the ultimate length will all depend on how the numbers look during that Phase. According to Baker’s timeline, the earliest restaurants might hope to re-open to offer dine-in services in Phase Two is some time during the week of June 8th and even then that will be with significantly reduced capacity. Bars — defined specifically as venues that only serve alcohol and do not prepare food onsite — will be included in Phase Three of the reopening plan, which will begin in late June at the very soonest.
Hospitality industry professionals and those who enjoy frequenting food and drink establishments have been awaiting this date – Monday, May 18th – for a long time now. In late April, Governor Baker decided to extend the state’s stay-at-hoe order through May 18th and it was then that most restaurants and bars hoped to be able to re-open for business on May 19th. Now it looks like it will be almost an additional month or longer.
In addition to making that announcement, the Governor’s office announced the creation of a new work group to oversee restaurant and tourism reopening and oversight. The working group will collaborate to create industry-specific safety protocols that both the businesses and customers will have to follow once venues are allowed to reopen.