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Initial Chamber Response to Massachusetts Reopening Plan

May 18, 2020

Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Polito, Secretary Kennealy, and all members of the Reopening Advisory Board for their thoughtful work and dedication in developing the state’s reopening plan.

This plan begins to answer many of the questions employers and businesses have as they prepare for economic reopening. The Chamber previously laid out several areas on which businesses would focus:

Information: the plan lists the health indicators that the state will monitor to determine the appropriate time to move into each phase and this is helpful for employers and employees alike. However, there are no specific goals for each metric – whether it is a duration of positive trends or progress or a specific number to achieve – so it is still unclear precisely what will trigger each reopening phase. This information is necessary for employers, employees, and the public to plan and prepare.

Testing: the plan includes a strategy and goals for testing, which are priorities for businesses and employers for a strong economic reopening. The strategy, combined with the goals detailed last week, provides a clearer picture of the state’s ability to reach a point of testing anyone, anytime. The strategy also lays the foundation to build on in coming weeks for the state to communicate with all residents how, where, and when to get tests.

Childcare: the plans notes that work to reopen childcare is ongoing and that there is unused capacity right now. The state should immediately leverage the unused capacity and prioritize childcare access to essential workers and industries that are re-opening with limited work from home ability. The state should also detail how it will use the $45 million in CARES Act funding specifically allocated for childcare.

Transportation: the plan provides initial details on how the MBTA will shift its operations at each stage of reopening. More detail is needed, though, to help riders plan for impacts. The plan notes that there is a degree of uncertainty for what future phases will look like, and some of the ability to meet demand may depend on staffing. With that in mind, the T should begin creating a plan to manage staffing.

Guidance & liability: the plan relies heavily on guidance rather than regulation, which businesses prefer, and will allow employers some flexibility to manage the return to work in the way that best suits their business and workforce. However, without federal action to protect employers from liability, the state will need to address these concerns by adopting its own legislation.

About the Greater Boston Chamber

We are the convener, voice and advocate of our region's business community, committed to making Greater Boston the best place for businesses and people to thrive. We help our members and Greater Boston succeed by convening and connecting the business community; researching, developing and advocating for public policies that contribute to our region’s economic success; and providing comprehensive leadership development programs designed to grow strong business and civic leaders. Learn more at BostonChamber.com.