Gov. Baker announced today he's extending the ban on "non-essential" businesses and on public gatherings until at least May 18, when an advisory board he named today will deliver a report on how various types of businesses can re-open under the new normal.
Although the Reopening Advisory Board, chaired by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, will consist in large part of representatives of "different verticals," public-health data will drive any decisions - among the board's members are state Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. Two other health experts were also appointed, as were three municipal officials, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and an aide to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and representatives of 11 different industries and businesses.
Baker said, as he has repeatedly in recent days, that the state cannot begin re-opening until data begins to show a reduction in rates of Covid-19 hospitalization.
"Believe me, I'm just as frustrated as anyone else," Baker said. But "we have to be smart about how we do it," because "there are.risks associated with going back too soon."
This is a phased opening," he said. "Phased. We're not going to open everything all at once."
Polito said that a key reason to include municipal officials is to come up with new regulations that not only make sense, but which can actually be enforced.
Baker added that one topic for the advisory board is whether to shorten the current ban on childcare centers from June 29 if businesses are allowed to re-open before then.