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How Mass. Businesses, Industry Groups And Others Are Reacting To Baker's Reopening Plan

A prospectve patron attempts to open the front door of Central Square Florist in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A prospectve patron attempts to open the front door of Central Square Florist in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Businesses and industry groups gave mixed reviews Monday to Gov. Charlie Baker's plan to reopen Massachusetts.

While some signaled relief and thanked political leaders and the working group tasked with drawing up the 29-page, four-phase plan, others expressed worries that businesses forced to close for two months due to the virus faced potentially insurmountable problems reopening under the new rules and timeline. Others said they were concerned that the plan doesn't offer enough detail for employers and workers.

James Sutherland, director of policy and research for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement Monday detailing the group's "initial" response to the Baker's plan. The group thanked the state's reopening advisory board for its work, saying the plan "begins to answer many of the questions employers and businesses have" — but also noted more details were needed on several topics.

"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," the statement said. "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."

The chamber also called on state leaders to say more about efforts to reopen child care options beyond emergency day care, and to better explain how each reopening phase will affect riders on the T.

The group praised the state's plans around coronavirus testing and noted it approved of the state's approach to rely "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." It warned, however, that the state may need to file legislation to protect employers from liability.

The National Federation of Independent Business's Massachusetts chapter said it is "encouraging to know some small businesses will soon reopen in Massachusetts," but added that many small businesses have to reopen soon or else they will close permanently. And The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance said the plan "doesn't reflect the sense of urgency currently pervading the small business community."

Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state's largest employer group and one of the most influential on Beacon Hill, said the plan strikes a balance between economic needs and public health realities.

"We realize that every employer in Massachusetts would love to hear that they can re-open immediately. But we also acknowledge that a phased re-opening balances the need to re-start the economy with the need to manage a public-health crisis that continues to claim 100 lives a day in Massachusetts," AIM President and CEO John Regan said.

With additional reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and State House News Service

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Lisa Creamer Twitter Digital News Editor and Producer
Lisa Creamer is a digital editor and producer at WBUR.

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