Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the details of the state’s reopening plan on Monday, May 18, and reopening restaurants for dine-in service was not included in phase one of the four-phase plan. According to the state’s website, restaurants will be allowed to begin reopening dining areas during phase two, though an exact date is not listed.
Baker said that each phase will last for at least three weeks, if not longer. In accordance with that timeline, the earliest restaurants can hope to resume dine-in services is some time during the second week of June. Bars — specifically venues that only serve alcohol and do not prepare food onsite — will be included in phase three of the reopening plan, which will begin in late June at the earliest.
In late April, Baker extended the state’s stay-at-home order through at least May 18. Until today’s announcement, bars and restaurants were slated for a possible reopening for dine-in service on May 19.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced today that the state has developed a new restaurant, accommodations, and tourism work group, which will work with the state to determine what industry-specific safety protocols businesses and customers will need to follow once businesses do reopen.
The updated timeline shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone — the governor has pushed back the date for the resumption of dine-in services several times since first announcing the temporary closure of dining rooms in the middle of March. Given the state’s comparatively cautious approach to reopening its economy, and given that restaurants are considered high risk for COVID-19 spread, it’s not surprising that Baker didn’t include dine-in services in phase one.
In recent weeks, a number of restaurant operators and workers have told Eater that they believed the governor’s earlier May 19 target was too ambitious. But a growing cohort of Massachusetts restaurant operators want to reopen for dine-in service as soon as possible. More than 100 restaurant operators — organized as the MA Restaurant and Jobs Group — recently sent a letter to Baker asking that restaurants be included in phase one of the reopening plan. That cohort will be disappointed by today’s announcement.
Whenever restaurants are given the green light to open, one thing is certain: Dining out in the Bay State is probably going to look a lot different than it did before the pandemic.
• The Massachusetts Restaurant Closure (Except for Takeout and Delivery) Will Continue Through May 18 [EBOS]
• All Massachusetts Restaurants and Bars Will Shut Down for Three Weeks, Except for Takeout and Delivery [EBOS]
• Massachusetts Restaurants Probably Won’t Reopen by May 18 — and Probably Shouldn’t [EBOS]
• 100 Restaurants Ask Governor Baker to Reopen [BG]
• What If Massachusetts Restaurants Reopen on May 19? [EBOS]