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Springfield Not Planning To Tweak Baker's Reopening Plan

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WAMC
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Plans for reopening businesses and public buildings in the largest city in western Massachusetts are taking shape. 

As Springfield begins to emerge from a two-month long shutdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the city will follow the four-phase reopening roadmap laid out by Gov. Charlie Baker and not impose additional restrictions, according to Mayor Domenic Sarno.

" Got to get our economy going," said Sarno. "We're following the health and science guidelines, but we've got to get things going."

Starting next week, offices can reopen at 25 percent capacity.  Barbershops and hair salons can see customers by appointment only.  Retail stores can have curbside pickup.  Construction and manufacturing have restarted.  Places of worship can open with a 40 percent capacity cap.

There are universal safety requirements including social distancing, face coverings, frequent cleanings and hand washing stations.  Each industry has its own checklist of protocols.

As with the shutdown, enforcement of the state’s directives is up to the local municipalities.

"We are not looking to hammer anybody," Sarno said when asked about how the city would approach enforcing  the reopening rules.

Sarno said the city’s economic development office is in touch with small business owners to discuss resources they need.

" We are working with restaurants already and formulating a plan because they're gong to be ready to go," said Sarno.   Restaurants could return to dine-in service during phase two  of the state's  reopening plan perhaps as soon as June 8th.   But it is unknown what restrictions might be put on seating capacity.

City Hall will reopen to the public Wednesday.  To conduct business with a city department, an appointment will be required. Before entering, people will have their temperature checked by a city employee and will be denied entry if it is 100.4 or higher.   Halls and stairwells in the building have been labeled with one-way signs and there are social-distancing markers on the floors.

The city’s libraries will remain closed until at least June 8th when phase two of the state’s reopening plan is projected to kick in.   When the libraries open, there will be a curbside pickup procedure in place, according to Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

"The libraries will flesh this plan out more and we'll give you more details in the future," said Caulton-Harris.

Senior centers and neighborhood centers will remain closed until phase 3 of the state’s reopening begins.

Extra police patrols are planned in the city’s parks this weekend to remind people about social-distancing protocols and to watch for overcrowding, according to Springfield parks director Patrick Sullivan.

"If we should get too many people, we have actions in place to close the entrances until people leave the park," Sullivan said.

There will be more activity allowed now in the parks, which have been open solely for passive recreation.  Tennis courts will open. Concession stands will be opening and so will restrooms with attendants on duty for frequent cleaning.  Picnic grounds are open.  Kayak rentals will be available starting this weekend at Riverfront Park.  The Farmers Market at Forest Park will open for the season Tuesday.

Sullivan said people should remember to keep a safe social distance and wear face masks if they are not with members of their immediate family.

" We can all  enjoy these recreational resources, if we continue to follow those guidelines," said Sullivan.

He said there are no plans currently to open swimming pools and the fate of summer recreation and day camp programs remains a question mark.

 

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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