Gov. Charlie Baker must decide whether to accelerate the recovery to the next step by launching phase two of his economic reopening plan, which could begin on Monday, June 8, if he believes it is safe to do so.
Closed since mid-March, Framingham City Hall will open (some) doors to the public beginning Monday.
Limited in-person services from the city clerk and treasurer/collector’s offices will be available to residents, who will be required to wear face coverings in the building.
Mayor Yvonne Spicer closed City Hall, known as the Memorial Building, to the public on March 17, though some city staff have remained working inside.
People will be allowed to enter only through the rear door and the door on the Union Avenue side of the building.
Starting Monday, the Memorial Building’s hours will be:
Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In a press release announcing the reopening, the city said the reduced schedule will allow additional time to clean and disinfect the building.
The City Clerk’s Office will be open to residents by appointment from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Residents can schedule appointments to retrieve marriage, birth and death certificates, apply and pay for dog licenses, register to vote, apply for and receive business certificates and submit petitions for the November state ballot.
The Treasurer/Collector’s Office will be open for walk-ins to allow people to pay city bills.
The city also announced a new questionnaire available to restaurant owners interested in adding temporary outdoor seating as Massachusetts progresses through Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan.
“The goal is to make the reopening process as efficient and safe as possible for businesses while ensuring compliance with State and local regulations/orders,” the press release stated.
The questionnaire is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish, and can be found on the city’s website.
In the week ahead, Gov. Charlie Baker must decide whether to accelerate the recovery to the next step by launching phase two of his economic reopening plan, which could begin on Monday, June 8, if he believes it is safe to do so.
Baker said Friday that an announcement will be made on Saturday, June 6, about the timing of phase two and offered a positive assessment of “real progress” in fighting the virus.
“People are starting to get back to work,” he said. “Outdoor and recreational activities are starting to come back.”
The governor also announced that on Monday he will issue an executive order providing detail on sectors included in upcoming phases of reopening. Social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and disinfecting are part of the routine now, changes that officials are hoping will enable the economy to gain some steam without risking a second surge of the virus.
Scientists are also further along in their efforts to come up with a treatment or vaccine, creating hope that efforts to keep the virus down could transition seamlessly into a medical breakthrough.
For now, the small steps toward reopening are continuing, with Boston on Monday poised to allow companies to reopen offices at up to 25% capacity, a big step that will also test the MBTA’s ability to safely transport more passengers.
Baker got a haircut Tuesday morning and during his daily coronavirus press conference later that day detailed the safety measures in place at the barber shop and how the experience was different as a customer.
Hair salons and barber shops were allowed to take customers on an appointment-only basis beginning Monday, and Baker said that the “overwhelming sense” his administration has gotten from local officials “is that the process so far has gone as expected and anticipated.”
He got a firsthand look at one unnamed barber shop on Tuesday morning.
“I showed up at 7 a.m., they took my temperature, I had to sign an attestation with respect to a variety of things that I said I didn’t do and haven’t done, the place where I’ve gotten my hair cut had plexiglass between the chairs,” the governor said. “I had to wet my hair before I got there, I wore a mask the entire time, the gentleman who cut my hair wore a mask the entire time and a gown, and I was out in 20 minutes.”
In order to reopen, barbers are required to follow specific guidelines, including a requirement to maintain a log of all customers and workers to assist in contact tracing efforts in the event that a customer or worker is exposed to the virus.
Some not ready
One part of reopening that doesn’t get as much attention is that even as businesses start to reawaken, consumers may not be in the right head space to go back to life as they knew it.
A MassINC Polling Center survey released last week found that 44% of people were likely to take fewer trips outside their home than before the pandemic, and 28% said those trips were more likely to be alone in their car.
In fact, 67% said they weren’t fully comfortable with the idea of returning to public transportation, underscoring the challenge facing public officials of not just restoring services like the MBTA, but restoring confidence in their safety.
All quiet on more aid
Calls from progressive groups and economists for higher taxes are growing louder on Beacon Hill, where budget writers are watching the state’s tax revenue base implode and wondering how much aid they can reliably expect from the federal government.
As his counterparts in other states openly plead with Washington to rescue state and local budgets and ensure that government services are there for the planned economic recovery, an aide confirmed to the News Service last week that Baker has not formally communicated with Congress about his desires for the next round of aid.
The U.S. House passed a $3 trillion “phase four” aid package and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell last week said he’s considering a smaller package, in the range of $1 trillion. State senators from both parties are urging Washington to pass another significant aid bill to help Massachusetts “weather this crisis.”
Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “outraged” by video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man who died after being restrained, an incident that has sparked nationwide protests.
“I don’t know how anyone could watch that video and not be just outraged by it,” Baker told reporters when asked about the topic Friday. “I know I was and I say that as somebody who knows a lot of folks in law enforcement, and I believe in the important and critical role that law enforcement plays in keeping people safe.”
The Republican governor pointed to recent law enforcement award recipients in Massachusetts who were honored for cases in which they “de-escalate(d) the situation so that nobody got hurt.”
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer allegedly depicted in the video, was fired along with three other officers who were on the scene in the Monday arrest of George Floyd. On Friday, prosecutors charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter, according to news reports.
They said it…
“We need to demand justice be served. I am urging all of us that believe we all should have the right to breathe, to occupy space, to fight back. I particularly need my white allies to amplify your voice, and use your privilege to change a system that does not work for all.” — Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer, addressing Monday’s incident in Minneapolis in which an unarmed black man was killed after a white police officer knelt on him.
“I promise you, this is a promise from me, that we will make it up to you. I will get you your money later for those things, but I need your money now.” — Milford Finance Committee Chair Christopher Morin, addressing School Committee members as they plan coronavirus-triggered cuts for fiscal 2021.
Contributors to the Political Notebook this week include Deputy Director of Multimedia Dan O’Brien, multimedia journalist Jeannette Hinkle and the State House News Service.