Hingham officials working on reopening plan; Town Meeting June 22 date still stands

May 20, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

Following release of the state Reopening Advisory Board's plan yesterday, Hingham's reopening team is working on a plan of its own to reopen town facilities safely.

"We are reviewing the state’s guidance and reaching out to different sectors of Hingham’s economy to educate organizations about the new requirements and advise them on compliance," Town Administrator Tom Mayo told the selectmen last night. "We are meeting with representatives of Hingham’s houses of worship [Wednesday] afternoon to talk through their specific concerns and procedures."

The goal of the four-phase reopening plan is to methodically allow businesses, services, and activities to resume while avoiding a resurgence of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

"The reopening plan is driven by public health data, which means that key public health metrics will determine if and when the state decides to proceed through the reopening phases," Mayo said.

During a call with municipal leaders Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito noted that her team is working on guidance for how the state will manage its buildings, workforce, and public-facing services such as the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and that cities and towns may find this guidance useful in developing their own plans and procedures, Mayo reported.

Polito also mentioned that she expects guidance on summer camps will be posted next week, which will help the Hingham Recreation Department plan its programs.

"Our local reopening team is working on consolidating all state guidance as well as our internal procedures for town facilities and organizing that information into one Hingham-specific reopening plan that our residents, businesses, and employees can reference," Mayo said.  "We will have more details to report on that next week."

At the same time, the team continues to plan for the upcoming Town Meeting, which was postponed to Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m.There are no plans to change that date at this time. "That plan is being evaluated against the new guidance from the state, plans in other communities, new and proposed state legislation, and other considerations," Mayo said.  "We have a meeting planned [today, Wednesday] with Selectman Karen Johnson, Town Moderator Michael Puzo, Town Clerk Eileen McCracken, and Town Counsel John Coughlin."

As for residents, Hingham is currently operating under a “Safer At Home” advisory, which means that everyone should leave home only for healthcare, permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities," Mayo said. "Residents over age 65 and those who have underlying health conditions – and therefore are at a high risk for COVID-19 – should continue to stay home except for essential errands."

Frequent handwashing and social distancing remain critical, and face coverings are still required when a social distance of six feet or more cannot be maintained in public.

"Lt. Governor Polito stressed the idea of personal responsibility and asked everyone to do their part to make the reopening process successful," Mayo said.

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