78 more COVID-19 deaths in Mass.; Baker releases new guidelines for restaurants, lodging


BOSTON (WPRI) — Since mid-April, the seven-day average of the COVID-19 positive test rate in Massachusetts has dropped by more than 70%, Gov. Charlie Baker noted during his daily briefing on Friday.

The Mass. Department of Public Health reported 617 new cases out of 9,422 tests performed, along with another 78 deaths among people who’ve tested positive.

Full breakdown of today’s COVID-19 data (Mass.gov) »

The number of hospitals using surge capacity has also fallen by 57% since April 15.

As the public health indicators continue to decline, the state is getting ready to move into Phase 2 of Baker’s plan for reopening the economy. The start date for Phase 2 will be decided on June 6, according to the governor.

“Our public health experts will continue to carefully monitor the data between the first and the sixth of June in order to determine when exactly Phase 2 should start,” he said. “The public health numbers will guide the process.”

Baker said he plans to sign an executive order on Monday that will detail which sectors will be included in each phase, in order to give businesses time to prepare.

It will also allow professional sports teams to begin practicing at their facilities, as long as health and safety guidelines from each league are followed.

On Friday, Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also released workplace safety standards for restaurants and lodging businesses like hotels and motels, which are centered around four categories: social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting.

Outdoor dining will be permitted at the start of Phase 2, however, indoor dining will not begin until later.

“Even when indoor seating is permitted, use of outdoor space will be encouraged for all restaurants to increase ventilation and better social distancing,” Polito said.

The restaurant guidelines include keeping tables spaced at least six feet apart and limiting party sizes to no more than six people. Utensils and menus will either need to be single-use or be sanitized and replaced after each use.

Reservations and contactless payment are encouraged, and an establishment will have to temporarily close if there is a case of COVID-19.

More guidance for restaurants »

Lodging businesses will be able to expand their operations in Phase 2. Event spaces will stay closed but on-site restaurants, pools, gyms, spas, golf courses and other amenities can reopen.

Guests must be informed of the state’s policy urging out-of-state travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

The guidelines also include enhanced cleaning between guest visits and strict sanitation protocols for any room used by someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

More guidance for hotels, motels »

Visit Mass.gov to learn more about the Reopening Massachusetts plan.

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