Massachusetts is loosening restrictions on some small non-essential businesses to allow them to fill online and phone orders. The rule changes to the state's earlier blanket ban on non-essential business operations are particularly welcome news for some florists ahead of Mother's Day this weekend.
Previously, only store owners were allowed inside non-essential businesses. The expanded guidelines now say several employees — between three and seven, depending on a business' square footage — may be allowed to come in to fulfill orders as long as several other rules are followed.
Those include regular facility sanitization and a requirement that employees wear face coverings and practice social distancing of at least six feet while they work. Employees are also mandated to check their own temperatures before they begin their shifts.
Gov. Charlie Baker said the state will unveil plans on May 18 to begin a phased reopening of the economy.
Many businesses, schools and public spaces considered non-essential have been closed for the last two months.
Baker said Monday any reopening plans will be done statewide — not on a regional basis.
"I don’t think it makes a lot of sense in a state that’s as small as ours, where people can move around, to think about any of this stuff on anything other than a statewide basis," he told reporters at his daily press conference Monday. "I don’t want a place that seems to be making progress and create a problem for ‘em."
More than 69,000 people in the state have now tested positive for the coronavirus, with about 3,500 people being treated in hospitals. On Sunday, the death toll in Massachusetts reached another grim milestone, with more than 4,000 residents who have died of the disease.