How Mayor Mitchell Sees New Bedford’s Re-Opening Playing Out
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell gave us his analysis of the state's four-phase plan that Governor Baker unveiled yesterday.
"It's all a continuum. You start with the activities that are the least risky," said Mitchell, who cited an activity like golf as a low-risk example. "As time goes on certain non-essential businesses can reopen like Titleist. Making golf balls isn't essential, but if they can do it while social distancing, they can start to open."
The mayor said he sees the last phase of openings to be any events that draw large crowds like New Bedford's Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.
"People are crammed close together and that's exactly what you don't want right now or in the foreseeable future," said Mitchell.
One of the most brutal decisions will be how to deal with school for a number of different reasons: making sure our kids are getting the education they need, making sure parents that may be heading back to work have the childcare they need, and making sure the students and staff at the schools are safe. New Bedford is working on a number of different school scenarios including remote learning, split weeks, and normal school days. Mayor Mitchell believes that a decision will have to be made about the opening of schools by mid-July at the latest.
"When it comes to things like retail and restaurants, our hope there is that their openings can be done somewhat gradually," said Mitchell.
The mayor pointed out that Rhode Island is moving towards taking advantage of outdoor dining to reduce risk. Places like Federal Hill in Providence are proposing a shutdown of the city streets to allow for even more outdoor dining.
"Outdoor dining is not a bad idea," Mitchell said. "It might not happen in Massachusetts immediately, but it's something that as the weather gets warmer we'll want to be looking at. That could help some of our restaurants and we'll certainly push for that as time goes on."