Gov. Baker’s reopening plan met with mixed reviews by restaurant industry

Gov. Baker's reopening plan met with mixed reviews by restaurant industry

BOSTON — Back to business, but with caution. Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-phase plan for reopening Massachusetts, but was vague on the details for restaurants.

“It’s frustrating still that we can’t reopen all at once," said Bessie King of Villa Mexico Cafe in Boston. "But in the grand scheme of things, it has to be step-by-step for the safety of our own people and for our customers and for the general population.”

In a news conference Monday, Gov. Baker said restaurants could open as early as June in Phase 2 of the plan, along with hotels.

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But in the state’s 29-page published reopening plan, the only restaurant-specific mentions were, "restaurant-specific protocols will be drafted in advance of Phase 2,” and, “[the] Restaurant & Hospitality workgroup convened May 15 to develop procedures for opening.”

Hynes Restaurant Group owner Erik Hynes is part of a new coalition of locally-owned food service businesses and restaurants called the Mass. Restaurant and Jobs Group. He said restaurants should have been part of Phase 1, along with barbershops and hair salons.

“The fact that a packed Walmart and a packed Home Depot [are] open for business and the local businesses that call this state home are shut down with no guidance, no date, no information is sad and not right," Hynes said.

But kitchens are divided on the issue.

King is part of Mass Restaurants United; they’re in favor of a phased-reopening with more resources from state and federal governments, like a PPE bank.

“The biggest fear that we have is that, once we reopen, who’s going to come?" King said. "And my biggest fear is for my people. Where do I get my PPE supplies to make sure that they are covered all the time because I struggle to find basic items like masks and gloves?”

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