MAY 18, 2020
     PHONE: 413-662-3614

The community liaisons working with the Northern Berkshire COVID-19 Operations Center are available to support communities by providing information and connecting people with resources.
"Today we lay out a roadmap to reopen Massachusetts while we continue to fight COVID-19."
- Governor Charlie Baker

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and his team released the Reopening Massachusetts report, and launched a Reopening Massachusetts website based on the work of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Advisory Board.

The report and site outline guidance around Phase 1 of the reopening plan, including workplace safety standards and sector-specific guidance that businesses must follow, especially for the construction and manufacturing sectors as well as for places of worship which are among the first sectors permitted to open.

The governor also announced a “Safer at Home” advisory to keep up the focus on physical distancing and continuing to protect our family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

The advisory and the safety standards are based in two very simple messages that will be key to our success in reopening our economy while continuing to reduce the risk of COVID-19. First, that the reopening will be driven by public health data that will determine if and when it is appropriate to proceed through the reopening phases.

Second, that we all have a part of play in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by staying home except for essential errands, wearing a face covering whenever you are in public, following hand washing and hygiene guidance, and remaining vigilant, monitoring symptoms, and staying home if you feel sick. Each of us has a personal responsibility to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our community safe.

As we move through the plan over the coming weeks and months, guided by data and our shared commitment, it's important to remember that this is a process of recovery. None of us can say yet what a "new normal" might look and feel like, but I am confident it will reflect the strength, spirit, and thoughtfulness of our community, as well as the losses, struggles, and sacrifices we all have made in response to COVID-19.

Phase 1 of the Massachusetts Reopening Plan keeps in place existing restrictions, advisories and guidance but provides exceptions for certain activities that can resume safely.

"Safer at Home" 

  • A new state advisory requests that individuals stay at home when they can.
  • All individuals are required to wear a face covering in most places when outside of the home. 
  • All individuals remain subject to the existing order limiting gatherings to no more than 10 persons, except in unconfined outdoor spaces. Note that this limitation does not apply to workplaces authorized to operate, but more specific capacity and meeting rules will apply. 
What Can Businesses Do? 

All operating businesses must comply with general mandatory workplace safety standards, as well as sector-specific workplace standards and protocols where applicable.  Note that some specific sector and workplace standards and protocols are mandatory (actions that “must” be taken), while others are best practice guidance (actions that “should” be taken). Just as individuals have personal responsibility, businesses also are responsible for understanding and following all mandatory general and sector-specific guidelines in order to keep their employees, customers, and the community safe.
  • Essential services have been allowed to operate prior to first phase or reopening. Currently operating businesses must come into compliance with new workplace safety standards by May 25.
  • In addition, the businesses listed below will be permitted to resume operations on May 18 or May 25. All other businesses and workplaces remain closed through Phase 1. No business is required to re-open and may not reopen until it is ready.
  • The Reopening Massachusetts page includes information on when certain businesses and activities can reopen. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all possible businesses that can open in each phase; it may be updated from time to time.
May 18
  • Essential businesses already operating must self-certify and comply with applicable standards by May 25 or July 1
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Retail curbside pickup only
  • Places of worship (40% occupancy limit)
  • Firearms retailers and shooting ranges 
May 25
  • Laboratories and life sciences facilities
  • Offices are limited to < 25% maximum occupancy; work from home remains strongly encouraged
  • Car washes exterior and self-service only
  • Hair salons/barber shops by appointment only
  • Pet grooming by appointment (curbside drop-off and pick-up)
  • Certain outdoor recreational facilities and activities 
Enforcement of Workplace Safety Standards
Only essential services and businesses specifically designated for reopening can operate in phase 1. In order to open or continue operation, all businesses must: 
  • Develop a written COVID-19 safety plan outlining how will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Self-certify that it will operate in compliance with all applicable and mandatory workplace safety standards. Templates are available here.
  • Produce their self-certification, if requested, by the local board of health, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).  Failure or refusal to produce the self-certification upon request is grounds for enforcement action.
  • Workplace safety standards will be enforced jointly by the local boards of health and DLS.
What's next?

Now that the plan has been released I will work with my team to review the plan to ensure North Adams and the Northern Berkshires are prepared to reopen effectively, safely, and in alignment with the state plan and guidance around protecting public health and safety. Again, as stated in the report, reopening will be driven by public health data, and the support of everyone in our community.

State update
Berkshire County update
  • Cases: 497 (+0 from 5/17)
  • Deaths: 37 (+0 from 5/17)
North Adams update
  • Cases: 40 (+1* from 5/17); 38 released from isolation
  • Deaths: 1 (+0 from 5/17)
* includes local case information not yet recorded in state data. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 Dashboard presents data in an easy to interpret way and enhances the information provided in the previous daily reports with trends and situational insights into the epidemic. 

The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. This statewide order went into effect on Wednesday, May 6. 

Instructions on how to make a cloth mask are available from the CDC here.


Today, Governor Baker announced the launch of a website with a map of testing sites so anyone can find a site near them: visit

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