Gov. Baker has announced his re-opening plan to the cities and towns. I’m sure it’s the result of many informed conversations, but I can’t discern the rhyme or reason. In a bit of bravado that will have the opposite of its intended effect, Karyn Polito trotted out the cliché “tough times never last, tough people do”. Well, unless they die, which a lot of tough people have done.
– Why are houses of worship included? Don’t people sing there, and speak loudly? How do you impose distancing at a crowded church? (Easier in some churches than others, for sure.) Update: I wasn’t the only one concerned — the Globe interviewed a variety of experts who were especially skeptical that this was a wise decision.
— Hair salons? I get it: People really, really want their hair cut. (Raises hand.) Is this truly essential? You can’t distance inside a hair salon, nor can you wear a mask while your hair gets done.
– Construction: Well, construction never stopped at the Weymouth compressor, fossil fuel infrastructure being deemed “essential”. I’ve seen a lot of landscaping work and some house work that was dubiously-distanced; at least it’s outside, but riding in a truck is not!
— Manufacturing: Some plants will be fine; others won’t. Again, witness how certain indoor-warehouse environments (Amazon, Wal-Mart) have already been reported for inadequate worker protections.
— Recreational marijuana: I get this. One can pick up curbside; people are bored; liquor stores are open; so why not.
In other words, what were/are the epidemiological criteria? How does the state enforce all of this new activity with new restrictions?
A @MassGovernor reopening plan isn’t correct merely because some think it’s too slow and others too fast. This ain’t no fairy tale.— Tommy Vitolo (@TommyVitolo) May 18, 2020
We’ve heard that science will drive decision making, but there’s no science in a Memorial Day weekend reopening. There is simply money to be made.
Update: Mass. Budget and Policy Center has questions much along the same lines (via email):
As we look at the Baker Administration’s Reopening Massachusetts plan, it’s important to consider:
Do we have the resources to keep workers safe? Moving through the phases described in the Governor’s plan will require substantial additional public investment for PPE, cleaning supplies, in order to provide public education, transportation and countless other public services in a socially-distanced way.
How do we best support those out of work? About 1,000,000 people have filedfor unemployment benefits in the Commonwealth. Equitable direct cash assistance via the federal and state government will be needed to make sure we can get these dollars back into the hands of low and moderate-income people, regardless of immigration status.
What are the child care options available to working parents? In reopening our economy, parents should not be forced to work when circumstances such as lack of safe and affordable childcare make it impossible. We must ensure that early education and child care providers are supported and in place.
How can we collectively support an equitable and just reopening? As economists have reported, cuts to the state budget are more harmful than tax increases during recessions. We need more resources to address this crisis including using our state’s Rainy Day Fund, federal relief, and homegrown revenue solutions.