WHITMAN — The Town of Whitman and the Whitman Board of Health would like to provide residents with an update regarding the town’s plans to re-open select businesses and services relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The town has formed a Re-Opening Committee, which includes Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Timothy Grenno, Police Chief Timothy Hanlon, Board of Health Chair Eric Joubert, Board of Health Agent Alexis Andrews, Town Administrator Frank Lynam, Whitman-Hanson Regional School District Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak, Building Commissioner Robert Curran and Board of Selectmen Chair Carl Kowalski.
On Monday, May 18, Governor Charlie Baker will announce details of the statewide re-opening plan. Per Governor Baker’s orders, the Massachusetts economy will be reopened using a multi-phased approach, based on public health guidance.
Public health metrics will determine when the first phase of re-opening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into later phases.
In the meantime, the Whitman Re-Opening Committee is encouraging residents and business owners to review the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for steps that can be taken before re-opening begins.
Click here to download the CDC’s guidelines. It provides recommendations in several areas, including multiple phases for re-opening.
Recommendations from the CDC include the following:
For schools and childcare programs:
- Establish and continue communication with local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels; protect and support staff, children, and their family members who are at higher risk for severe illness; provide staff from higher transmission areas telework and other options as feasible to eliminate travel to childcare programs in lower transmission areas and vice versa.
- Follow the CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open.
- Ensure that any other community groups or organizations that use the child care facilities also follow the CDC’s supplemental guidance.
For small business owners and those with vulnerable employees:
- Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness by supporting and encouraging options to telework.
- Consider offering vulnerable workers duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees (for example, restocking shelves rather than working as a cashier), if agreed to by the worker.
- Ensure that any other entities sharing the same work space also follow this guidance.
- Provide employees from higher transmission areas telework and other options as feasible to eliminate travel to workplaces in lower transmission areas and vice versa.
For faith-based institutions:
- Establish and continue communication with local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels.
- Protect staff and congregants who are at higher risk for severe illness, encouraging use of options to participate virtually if possible.
- Continue to provide congregants with spiritual and emotional care and counseling on a flexible or virtual basis, or refer them to other available resources.
- Encourage other entities using the facilities to also follow this guidance.
- If the facility offers child care or educational programming for children and youth, follow CDC guidance for such programs.
Guidelines for all industries include establishing and continuing communication with state and local authorities to determine current mitigation levels. The CDC also encourages promoting proper hygiene practices by enforcing hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes and using cloth face coverings, as well as ensuring adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene practices.
The CDC guidelines also outline proper social distancing procedures.
“We ask that residents and business owners are patient as we prepare to re-open the town, as it is sure to be a slow process,” Board of Health Chair Joubert said. “We thank everyone in Whitman who has followed the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and other public health guidance up to this point. We are working hard to make sure the town can re-open effectively while also making sure everyone remains as safe and healthy as possible.”