Governor Baker extends nonessential business order by 24 hours, paving way for reopening plan

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He called the extension a “housekeeping item … a technical extension that doesn’t change anything, it just allows us to move to the next step, which we will be outlining with you all on Monday.”

Baker also sidestepped a question on whether the statewide stay-at-home advisory for residents would be dropped or changed on Monday, saying, “We’ll have a lot more to say. That has to be dealt with in the context of the rest of the report that gets issued Monday.”

Walsh: Boston will not be lifting the public health emergency
Mayor Martin Walsh said Friday that the city would not be lifting the public health emergency declared on March 15.

Baker’s reopening advisory board is scheduled to release its report Monday, outlining a four-phase plan to open up the economy.

Baker said major employers, including Raytheon, Takeda, Wayfair, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Mass Mutual, are letting many people work from home or work remotely.

“We’re grateful for the private sector’s incredible flexibility and creativity” in permitting remote work, Baker said. He said in the weeks and months ahead, state officials are urging companies “to continue to promote remote work and work-from-home as much as possible.”

He said remote work will be a key factor going forward in combating the spread of the contagion.

“As we start to transition slowly to reopening our economy, it has become more and more critical for remote work to continue so that we can continue to fight COVID-19 and prevent the spread of infection,” Baker said, adding that social distancing in work spaces will be “a fundamental requirement for everybody” as the reopening process unfolds.

Earlier Friday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said during a briefing outside City Hall that Boston will move cautiously during the statewide process.

“We will continue to work in collaboration with the state as plans unfold. And we will continue to make decisions for Boston based on data and the needs of our residents and the workers in our city,” he said.

He said the city would not be lifting the public health emergency declared March 15. “We will not be lifting it up next week or in the near future. The same applies for our guidelines for physical social distancing and face covering,” he said.

The city’s public health advisory directs all residents besides essential workers to stay home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. In addition, all state residents over the age of 2 are currently required to wear face coverings in public if they can’t socially distance, except for people with medical exemptions.

The mayor said moving too quickly to loosen restrictions could result in a surge of new infections.

“We simply cannot afford any unnecessary setbacks,” Walsh said. “If we come back too soon, there will be a second surge.”

The virus had infected 11,395 Boston residents as of Thursday and killed 551 people in the city, Walsh said. “To all the families that lost loved ones, you’re in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.

Walsh said the city is continuing to expand testing access in Boston, which currently has 20 testing sites up and running.

He implored residents not to avoid getting tested if it’s deemed necessary.

“If you’re offered a test for any reason, it is a positive benefit to you and your family,” Walsh said, adding that “your immigration status will not be asked for.”

In a statement prior to the briefing, Walsh’s office said an antibody study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Public Health Commission found that 9.9 percent of city residents in four areas had developed antibodies for COVID-19, indicating past exposure.

More than 5,000 residents living in East Boston, Roslindale, or within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester were invited to participate. In the end, 750 enrolled and received the testing. Results varied by neighborhood. The highest percentage of people with antibodies was found in East Boston, 13.3 percent.

Walsh said during the briefing that the study demographics didn’t perfectly match the population but nevertheless drew “significantly from each of our different neighborhoods and communities.” He said a 10 percent antibody rate is lower than what city officials expected and showed safety precautions are working.

“But we must remain vigilant,” Walsh said, adding that “we could still be susceptible to another surge” if residents let up on measures such as social distancing and face coverings and staying home as much as possible.

Asked if the Celtics will be able to reopen their practice facility in Brighton next week, Walsh said he expects that question to be answered after the state reopening board’s report comes out Monday. He said the city will “have further clarity” on that and other questions next week.

Walsh said the city will treat pro sports like any other industry and ask franchises to submit safety plans for protecting their employees. He said he doubted games would be played in packed stadiums any time soon, but he hopes games could be staged at some point without fans.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com






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