Governor Baker Needs to Provide More Clarity for Reopening the State

Governor Baker Needs to Provide More Clarity for Reopening the State

Miles Bowker, Staff Writer

On May 11th, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker unveiled his plan for a gradual reopening of our state. Though Massachusetts has undoubtedly been hit harder by COVID-19 than many other states, Baker aimed to finally provide some official guidance as to when exactly we can start resuming our lives. However, after reading a graphic provided by the Governor’s office, I find myself to be more perplexed than ever. 

Baker’s plan involves four phases, entitled “Start, Cautious, Vigilant, and New Normal.” Currently, we as a state have yet to enter Phase One, though Baker hopes to announce the start of said phase soon. 

Each phase of the plan is coupled with a description of which businesses will be re-opening, and some helpful colors to illuminate our steps; except, it feels like something is missing.

By “something,” of course, I mean “an ounce of useful guidance.” The graphic offers no specifics whatsoever. Baker fails to outline which businesses will be opening when, which is among the most pressing questions being asked of him. Instead of stating what will happen when, he sticks to murky terms of indeterminate consequence, terms that in some cases, are even synonymous. I may not be an English teacher, but “cautious” and “vigilant” fit better next to each other in a thesaurus than as a set of ostensibly different parts of a whole. 

He doesn’t even mention “businesses” in his descriptions of the phases. Instead, he refers to them as “industries.” Baker sets forth “guidelines” and “restrictions” in his plan, but instead of providing depth to either, he simply drops the words into a sentence with no explanation. These objections may seem overly semantic, or even silly, but in this writer’s opinion, they add up. 

In short, Baker’s plan is among the haziest pieces of public information I could imagine being published. Admittedly, it’s nice to have SOME guidance on this pandemic. It’s almost refreshing to hear some new buzz-words in lieu of “Flatten the Curve” and the others. Still, this plan leaves so much to be desired. Instead of a clear, deliberate, plan for the future, we are left with a nice little graphic of no real significance. 

In my opinion, this plan will only be helpful as a point of reference used to understand our bureaucracy’s latest declarations, and not as a compass for the resumption of everyday life. Perhaps, with the help of the Baker Plan, next time we catch a MA Department of Whatever press conference on Channel 5, it’ll all make a bit more sense.

Listen, I’m excruciatingly aware that our politicians are like most everyone else right now, in that they have no idea what to do. I’ll also acknowledge that Baker’s actions to this point have proven largely adequate and that many are happy with his performance thus far. 

However, as a point of reference for small business owners, wondering when they can resume their livelihood, this plan comes up short. For middle-class workers, wondering when they can start to provide for themselves again, this plan comes up short. For any person, wondering when they can once again do pretty much anything, this plan comes up painfully short. 

It’s my hope that tomorrow’s press conference on Monday, May 18th, will provide more clarity into just how we are going to do this thing. But I know one thing for sure: What we have now, from Governor Baker, is nowhere close to enough.