Economic reopening expands; new COVID-19 data bill signed

By MARK PRATT and STEVE LeBLANC

Diners eat outdoors at Mother Anna’s restaurant, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Restaurants in Massachusetts can start offering outdoor dining, with the restriction that tables be placed at least six feet apart, on Monday, June 8, as phase 2 of the state’s reopening during the coronavirus pandemic kicks in. less
Diners eat outdoors at Mother Anna’s restaurant, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Restaurants in Massachusetts can start offering outdoor dining, with the restriction that tables be … more

Photo: Steven Senne, AP

Diners eat outdoors at Mother Anna’s restaurant, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Restaurants in Massachusetts can start offering outdoor dining, with the restriction that tables be placed at least six feet apart, on Monday, June 8, as phase 2 of the state’s reopening during the coronavirus pandemic kicks in. less
Diners eat outdoors at Mother Anna’s restaurant, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Restaurants in Massachusetts can start offering outdoor dining, with the restriction that tables be … more

Photo: Steven Senne, AP

Economic reopening expands; new COVID-19 data bill signed

BOSTON (AP) — Versatility is the key for management at Joe Sent Me, a suburban Boston restaurant reopening for outdoor dining on Monday as the state continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re fired up about it. It’s about time,” co-owner Sandy McCullough said as he helped set up a tent in the Waltham pub’s parking lot, where staff was placing picnic tables that can accommodate up to six diners each.

“We can put six or seven tables in the parking lot, in addition to the six or seven we can fit on our patio,” he said. “We’re calling it our ‘partio.’ ”

Under phase 2 of Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic reopening plan during the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants across Massachusetts are allowed to offer al fresco dining only. They have been limited to takeout and delivery orders since mid-March.

Tables have to be placed at least six feet apart, dining is by reservation only, and menus must be either disposable or cleaned regularly.

Joe Sent Me’s menu has been revamped to give the eatery a more “outdoors” feel, with additions like potato salad and kabobs. “It’s stuff you’d have at a barbecue in your own back yard,” McCullough said.

He’s also prepared to change the menu on short notice based on the availability and price of some ingredients, he said.

Several people — mostly regulars — have made reservations for Monday night, he said.

Massachusetts Restaurant Association President Bob Luz tells the Boston Herald that roughly 80% of restaurants in the state don’t have patios and will have to wait until phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan.

Baker’s plan to restart the economy comes after the state Department of Public Health reported Sunday that key metrics around the outbreak are on the decline, including the seven-day weighted average of positive test rates, which dipped 5%.

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COVID-19 REPORTING BILL

A bill that would increase the amount of statewide, publicly available data related to the pandemic has been signed into law by the governor.

The new law requires the Department of Public Health to compile, collect and issue daily online reports on the number of people tested for COVID-19, positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths along with information about gender, race, ethnicity, occupation, disability, age and primary language.

The state already releases daily reports that include much of that information.

The law requires that the daily reports include demographic information from municipalities and counties with more than 25 positive cases, elder care facilities, as well as state and county correctional facilities.

The new law also creates a task force to study the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and make policy recommendations about how to address the disparities.

The task force is required to submit an interim report by June 30 with a final report August 1.

Baker signed the bill Sunday night.



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