Construction, hospitals and medical services, and curbside retail to reopen on state timeline
Citing regional differences in COVID-19 impacts, warnings from experts, and need for greater clarity on issues such as worker protections, City to review remaining State reopening plan before implementation
SOMERVILLE, MA – As previously announced, Somerville will adhere to a different reopening timeline than the general guidance announced today by Governor Charlie Baker. Some elements of the State plan will be enacted immediately, some will be modified, and some will undergo further assessment to make sure workers and residents are being properly protected from a potential increase in the transmission of the coronavirus — and that the local economic recovery is better insulated from a potential second surge of the disease.
The specific elements of what Somerville will and will not be reopening at this time are:
Non-essential construction starts phasing in today according to the plan Somerville announced two weeks ago.
Hospital and medical care facilities will be resuming high-priority preventative care visits as of today, and other medical providers will restart services on Monday, May 25, in accordance with the State timeline and safety guidelines.
Curbside retail also will begin on Monday, May 25, as allowed in the State plan.
All additional reopening steps remain on temporary hold as the City assesses the State plan in order to make sure those phases of the reopening are practical and safe for our community. This includes, for example, hair salons, houses of worship, and playgrounds.
“Our goal is to build on the good work that the Governor and the State’s Reopening Advisory Board have done and make sure each element of our reopening can be implemented successfully,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We have been told repeatedly by experts that we have to be extremely careful about large gatherings of people and to limit close contact as much as is humanly possible. We must also recognize we are a long way from having this disease under control. In a dense urban environment, we need to give careful consideration to every action we take. So we are performing extra diligence to ensure workers and worshippers can return safely to those activities.”
City officials will be focused on questions of equity and fairness to make sure there are not disproportionate health consequences to already vulnerable communities. For one, in what appears to be a complaint-driven system of enforcement, workers and consumers need to know how to raise concerns and be assured they have protections from retaliation if they do so. Additional issues the City is reviewing include but are not limited to monitoring, adequate testing for the returning workforce, safe public transit, gaps in sick leave coverage, access to protective equipment, and what kind of support the state will offer for enforcement.
“We must ensure that our businesses, workers, houses of worship, and families have all of the clarity and support they need to safely follow the path to reopening,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We are determined to prevent the deadly second wave that experts are warning will cost lives and disrupt our economic recovery if we move without caution.”
The City will release further specifics about the local reopening in the coming days as it establishes policies and timelines, and seeks answers from the state.
“Ultimately this is not a choice between public health and the economy,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Our economy will not thrive if the health of everyone is not adequately protected. The State has given us a lot to work through, and our aim is to do so responsibly but also quickly. We also will be working with neighboring communities to try to stay on the same page within our urban core. We must recognize that what works right now for the Berkshires is not necessarily right for metro Boston.”
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at http://www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.