When he announced his administration’s plans to begin a gradual reopening of the state’s economy, Gov. Charlie Baker hedged his bets.
Some people, he acknowledged Monday, were going to say he was moving too fast with his four-phase plan. Others would complain he was not moving fast enough.
Whatever else people think, they can agree he was right on that.
Replies on social media to a Sun Chronicle request for reactions to the governor’s reopening strategy ran the gamut — from an angry voice mail denouncing his original “unconstitutional” lockdown order to an Attleboro resident’s Facebook post declaring, “Too soon, indeed.”
Others on The Sun Chronicle’s Facebook page fell somewhere in the middle.
Many among the nearly 90 replies saying they were happy the limits on business and gatherings were lifting, and added they were hoping for the best. One declared a hope people “don’t act like idiots.”
Baker’s four-phase process to emerge from the state’s two-month shutdown started with factories and construction sites being allowed to reopen this week, along with houses of worship as long as they practice certain cautions. Barber shops and hair salons can follow May 25 under Phase 1. Other phases will depend on the progress the state sees in limiting the virus spread.
Among those who submitted signed responses to The Sun Chronicle’s request for comments, Paul Jacques of Attleboro, president of Attleboro Firefighters Local 848, said he thought Baker was exercising the correct amount of caution.
“Whether the numbers of positive COVID-19 patients and deaths increase or decrease, people are still dying from the coronavirus,” Jacques said in an email. “This is not about survival of the fittest. It is about appealing to ones sense of humanity. Protecting our most vulnerable ... To get through this pandemic we need to continue looking out for one another.”
However, South Attleboro resident Linda Hill thought Baker was taking too big a risk. “I think it’s much too soon. Opening now is courting disaster,” she said in an email.
Hill noted she has friends — otherwise healthy — who had come down with the virus and are hospitalized.
“Much as I’m going stir crazy and I’d like to be out and about, I’ll continue to stay safe, only going to the supermarket, pharmacy and medical appointments I can’t do remotely,” she said.
One comment on The Sun Chronicle’s Facebook came from an Attleboro resident who said: “Just to keep things in perspective up until now the deaths from cv in Attleboro are ......27 yep that’s what you guys agreed to stop living your lives for, 27 ppl in a city of over 40 thousand.”
Besides sparking a sometimes acrimonious debate on the social media platform, the poster’s figures on coronavisus deaths appeared to be out of date.
According to a tally kept by Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, the city’s death toll from the virus stood at 41 as of Tuesday, and figures gathered by The Sun Chronicle — while trending downward — showed a total of 109 dead in the paper’s 10-community circulation area.
Beyond the local area, as Baker predicted, the plan has drawn critics from both sides.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Boston, swiftly opined that the state was reopening too quickly, and asked the governor to “re-evaluate his timeline.” An employee safety group said there was insufficient protection for workers and the public in the plan.
Meanwhile, retailers complained about the economic hardship the continued shutdown was causing them. And the head of Baker’s own Republican Party denounced the plan, as well as the governor and Lt. Gov Karen Polito on Twitter. Chairman Jim Lyons tweeted Monday that “Governor Baker & Lg Polito just put in place the most restrictive business requirements in history. These regulations potentially will crush our economy.”
However, a poll released earlier this month showed 84 percent approval for the governor’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.