Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is setting the framework for the installment of "Phase 2" which is one step closer to returning towards a sense of normalcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has halted daily routines since March. Here is an outline of what to expect once this measure is approved in Boston:

RETAILERS:

Local and statewide merchants will be allowed to provide in-store browsing as every store MUST monitor ALL customer entries and exits and a limited occupation of up to 8 people (which also includes store employees) per 1,000 square feet of accessible, indoor space or 40% of the facility's maximum permitted occupancy, whichever is greater. They must also put markers outside the place of business to ensure social distancing guidelines for customers who are waiting outside to gain entry.

If the store offers delivery, curb-side pick-up capabilities or limited "appointment only shopping" customers are encouraged to use these options before entering the building. They must also mark one way directions to the store if possible and contactless payment is encouraged (i.e. debit or credit card) to make purchases.

Due to safety measures, ALL retailers are forbidden to allow customers to apply samples of perfume, lotion etc and if there any fitting rooms in that facility, they must remain closed as customers will be unable to try on new articles of clothing.

Stores MUST disinfect shared equipment including cash registers and high-touch surfaces such as door knobs and carts and steps are needed to improve ventilation for enclosed spaces when possible (i.e. keeping windows and doors open to allow fresh air in the building. They also have to provide hand washing facilities to all employees and provide hand sanitizer to workers and their customers.

Re-usable bags will NOT be allowed in the premises.

RESTAURANTS:

During Phase 2, ALL eating establishments will be allowed to provide outdoor table service. The option to "Dine-In" will NOT be allowed until a later date and customers can STILL pick up their orders for take-out. Delivery is also available. Check with your local restaurant if this option is offered.

HOTELS, MOTELS & LODGING:

Most facilities will re-open when Phase 2 is implemented, however there are certain restrictions that patrons must adhere to:

Guests should be informed at the time a reservation is made and at check-in of The Commonwealth's policy, travelers MUST self-quarantine for 14 days if they are arriving from out-of-state. This rule does not apply for visitors from within the Bay State.

Operators of unstaffed, individual unit lodging facilities including short-term home or apartment rentals are required to comply with various hygiene standards including cleaning requirements and minimum periods of separation between rentals.

Ballrooms, meeting rooms, function halls and all other indoor or outdoor event facilities MUST remain closed. Lodging operators are not permitted to host weddings, business events or other organized gatherings.

Worker and guest common spaces (i.e. break rooms, eating and sitting areas plus front desk check-in) MUST be re-configured to ensure proper social distancing guidelines and markers MUST be posted and placed on the floor to encourage separation of 6 feet or more for guests during check-in and check-out times.

Face coverings will be required in common areas (unless prevented by a medical condition)

Workers should NOT open the doors of cars and taxi cabs. Valet parking operations should be avoided unless necessary.

Lodging establishments should improve ventilation for enclose spaces where possible and contactless payment methods (i.e. debit or credit card) are encouraged.

NO buffets of self-service areas with multi-use items are allowed.

Dirty linens should be IMMEDIATELY removed and transported from guest rooms in single-use, sealed bags and pillow protectors on the on guest room beds should be changed in between guests at a minimum. Bagging of these items should take place inside the guest room to eliminate excess contact while being transport. All of these linens MUST be washed at a high temperature and cleaned according to CDC guidelines.

In the event any guest presents symptoms of COVID-19, the room used by that occupant MUST undergo an enhanced cleaning protocol in accordance with CDC guidelines before being used again.

For more information regarding Phase 2, log on the Mass Gov web site by going here

(The following information wa sobtained by WSBS via a press release courtesy of The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce for on-air and on-line usage)