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'No Plans To Do Anything Different Yet': How Some Bostonians Are Reacting As Mass. Starts To Reopen02:56
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A man walks through a desterted Faneuil Hall marketplace. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A man walks through a desterted Faneuil Hall marketplace. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Julie Fawcett walked out of the post office on Center Street in the heart of Jamaica Plain, her mask hiding most of her smile.

She had just finished dealing with one of life's two great inevitabilities.

"I was mailing off some back taxes," she said, laughing.

Fawcett said she works in affordable housing but hasn't been to her Boston office since Gov. Charlie Baker's stay-at-home-advisory began months ago. These days, to delay life's second inevitability — death — she intends to strictly follow the precautions outlined in the governor's four-phase plan to reopening Massachusetts' economy amid the ongoing pandemic.

"I feel confident if I'm protected and being socially distant," she said. "I'm not in a rush one way or the other. I'm glad to be working at home. I'm not in a rush to get in the subway."

There's plenty of street parking along JP's main shopping district. Most of the stores seem closed, but Amy Bratskeir is out to buy things she needs.

"Toys for my daughter," she explained. "So I did a local pickup [at] this store: Boing! — if I may plug a local store — is doing curbside pickups, which is smart."

Bratskeir made sure her daughter, Clara, was snug in her carseat as she considered the governor's schedule for lifting restrictions and living with the virus.

"I have no plans to do anything different yet, to be honest," she said. When pressed about whether there is anything she has been yearning to do, she replies: "Oh, yearning to do? Oh yeah, I want to go to a bar — but I'm not going to yet. I'm yearning to do so many things, but not enough to risk how far we've gotten. We've been so lucky, so far, in our family."

Admittedly, this was nothing close to a scientific survey. A reporter, even at social distance — with a mask and a microphone wrapped in a sanitizing wipe — didn't instill confidence in many people in nearby Mattapan.

Most people hurried by along Blue Hill Avenue, but Juanita Buffong stopped briefly, as she exited CVS, to offer her takeaway from the governor's timetable for opening the economy.

"Be cautious. Don't rush into anything," she said. Not even attending church. It's now allowed, but Buffong said she's staying home.

Another churchgoer, Charles Freeman, who works at the fast-food restaurant, said he hasn't decided what he'll do yet.

"You don't go quickly. I'm scared," he said. "I'm very scared, but at the same time, you see me now, I'm talking with you, so I'm not too scared to come out. It's in the lord's hands, amen."

Those were just some feelings in Mattapan and Jamaica Plain along the road to the "new normal."

This segment aired on May 19, 2020.

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Bruce Gellerman Twitter Senior Reporter
Bruce Gellerman is an award-winning journalist and senior correspondent, frequently covering science, business, technology and the environment.

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