Not Everyone Agrees With Baker On Some Aspects Of Reopening Plan

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh talks about the postponement of the Boston Marathon as Gov. Charlie Baker, left, looks on, during a news conference. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh talks about the postponement of the Boston Marathon as Gov. Charlie Baker, left, looks on, during a news conference. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Even though houses of worship can now open their doors to worshipers, don't expect to see Morning Star Baptist Church congregation in real life anytime soon.

Bishop John Borders and a praise team have been live-streaming services from an empty sanctuary.  He said lots of people are tuning in to his broadcasts and fellowshipping on social media. Bishop said he knows many faith leaders are using scripture to justify reopening, "but faith is one thing, public safety is another thing."

He said he's not trying to tempt fate or tempt God.

"Love is the primary requirement that we have to operate by," Bishop said. "And if we love the members of our congregation and love the body of Christ, we're going to do everything in our power to keep people healthy, and safe and out of harms way."

He said he doesn't want to welcome congregants of Morning Star Baptist Church until there's robust contact tracing and he can ensure congregants would be safe.

That sentiment was echoed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at a news conference Tuesday.

"I share your concern," Walsh said. "I encourage you to take every precaution and approach. If you have any doubts about being able to plan, implement guidelines I urge you to not reopen."

He said the same principle should be applied to small businesses and retailers. While some can open in Massachusetts on Monday, Walsh is delaying that opportunity by an extra week for Boston businesses.

"I am going to put the health and safety of Boston residents before any requirements or regulations and I know we'll work with the state on that," Walsh said. "And if we differ, I'm not going to have a public dispute about it. I'm just going to have a private conversation that they're going to have to adjust their plan to meet the specifications of the city in certain places."

But the mayor is glad construction can start soon. Suffolk Construction has reopened several sites in Boston. Jeff Gouveia, who heads the company, said the sites look a lot different than they did before the pandemic.

"There's masks and face coverings and face shields. There's also sanitizing stations," Gouveia said. "[There's] temperature testing in the morning before anyone gets on site."

Mayor Walsh said he likes the phased-in approach Gov. Charlie Baker has taken. Entering the new normal "has to be slow, conscious and steady," Walsh said, "because we can't afford another shutdown."

But not everyone is a fan of the governor's re-entry plan. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley tweeted that Massachusetts "isn't ready to reopen."

The state shouldn't think about reopening "until  we meet the guidelines established by experts for widespread testing and decreased infection rate," Pressley wrote in a statement to WBUR.

"We need stronger worker protections and further clarity on enforcement and investigations into businesses that are not adequately protecting their workers," she wrote.

Around the world and across the country, data isn't yet conclusive in showing a correlation between easing quarantine and spikes of COVID-19 transmission, but a death forecast from the CDC predicts a a rise in deaths in the coming weeks.

This segment aired on May 20, 2020.


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Quincy Walters Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Quincy Walters was a producer for WBUR Podcasts.



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