December COVID-19 Rundown: Holiday Planning Meets Crisis Planning
Update as of Tuesday, December 8th: Due to Governor Baker’s recent announcement of a rollback on Massachusetts phased reopening, we have revised this blog accordingly.
While 2020 coming to an end is certainly cause for celebration, we’re not out of the woods yet. Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID is coming into the new year, and it’s bringing all its baggage, both medical and economical. Yet, there’s a bright point: a vaccine will start rolling out in 2021. In the meantime, let’s wrap up 2020 by looking at the current COVID-19 advisories and reviewing some of the more subtle developments since the beginning of November.
Massachusetts Commits to Rollback of Phased Reopening
Contrary to Governor Baker’s statement made earlier in December indicating he had no further plans for statewide restrictions, the severe increase in testing positivity rates has forced him to rollback Massachusetts’ phased reopening to step one of Phase 3. In a press release issued by the state, as of December 13th, the following are some of the restrictions that will be reinstated:
- Capacity Limits: The capacity for numerous industries, from retail and lodging to recreational facilities and fitness centers, will be reduced from 50% to 40%. Furthermore, outdoor venues can only host up to 25% of their normal capacity with a maximum limit of 50 people.
- Revised Restaurant and Venue Guidelines: Food courts in malls must remain closed, and musical guests are not permitted to perform in restaurants. Also, the maximum number of patrons seated at a table must not exceed six, and patrons must wears masks at all times, except when eating or drinking.
- Revised Office and Gym Guidelines: Staff members must wear masks unless they’re alone in their own workspace, and gym-goers must wear masks at all times. Furthermore, employers are asked to limit the use of breakrooms for their team.
Governor Baker continues to stress the importance of working from home if able and limiting interactions with people outside of your household. It will take a communal effort to rein in the resurgence of the pandemic.
Public Awareness Campaign Shines a Light on Public Responsibility
Governor Baker recently launched an awareness campaign encouraging residents to stay vigilant and follow safety protocols. If you’ve been following our blog, you’re no stranger to the revolving door of state-sponsored campaigns – such as Stop the Spread and My Local MA. But the newest initiative, “Get Back Mass,” aims to draw a connection between people’s behavior and the ability to achieve some sense of normalcy.
This series of digital and TV ads will encourage wearing a mask, social distancing, and testing in order to get back to social activities, such as birthday parties and sporting events. Taking on the responsibility as a business owner to enforce these precautions in your workplace will contribute to the community’s ability to scale back infection rates and chip away at the more stringent restrictions.
Latest Grant Program Endeavors to Keep All Fed During the Holidays
The Baker–Polito Administration approved a program designed to award over $4.7 million in grants to address the food insecurity experienced by residents. This is the fifth installment of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, and the grants will be awarded to farmers, fishers, and other food producers to ensure the availability of healthy, local foods to underserved communities. Some of the funds will also go toward the Community Tracing Collaborative to provide home grocery deliveries to quarantined individuals, which is a service you should inform any of your employees who test positive.
Unboxing COVID-19 Vaccination Plans
Governor Baker indicated that, although vaccines could arrive in Massachusetts as early as this month, it’ll take several months to roll out widespread distribution. The limited first round of vaccines will be reserved for frontline workers, high-risk residents over 65, and other essential workers. Despite the massive sigh of relief this news brings, Governor Baker cautioned against complacency, as he estimates the vaccine won’t be available to the general public until Q2 at the earliest. Until then, businesses and the community must continue to be safe. Find out more about the plan on Mass.gov’s dedicated page.
While the current COVID-19 advisories portend an increase in virus transmissions, the announcement of vaccine approvals is a reason for celebration this holiday season. However, it’s important to recognize that Massachusetts is breaking daily positive tests as of recently, so some semblance of normalcy is still far out of reach, which is why it’s important to execute pivoting strategies and specialized holiday marketing this month. At Vision Advertising, we’ve long since integrated COVID-19 strategies into our expert marketing services. If you’d like some help navigating these chaotic times, contact us today.