Many Massachusetts businesses could reopen by mid-May after coronavirus shutdowns, says Charlie Baker

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FALL RIVER MA. – MAY 5: Mass Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to the media at a press conference held at Merrow Manufacturing plant, on May 5, 2020 in Fall River, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

A mid-May reopening for Massachusetts businesses that have been closed for the past six weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus is a “goal” that Gov. Charlie Baker said hinges on virus-related deaths, hospitalizations and new cases trending downward.

“Our goal is on May 18 to begin reopening certain types of businesses in a limited fashion where it can be done more safely than under normal operations. This phased-in process, can’t begin until we see sustained downward trends,” Baker said.

Before any businesses can open up, Baker said his administration wants to see positive test rates, fatalities, hospitalization rates and hospital surge conditions decline — all have seen “encouraging” downward trends in recent days.

“We are cautiously optimistic about some of the data, but we should certainly not let up now. As I stand here with Gillette Stadium behind me, I have to say, no one quits. No one stops. No one slows down in the fourth quarter,” Baker said after making remarks at the swearing-in ceremony of 241 new State Police troopers.

Baker said the new troopers are “desperately” needed as the state continues to battle the highly infectious virus that has also impacted civil servant numbers.

The Baker administration on Monday took its first step in relaxing restrictions forcing non-essential businesses across the state to close as the state tried to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some retail businesses — including florists, jewelers and bookstores — as well as car sales, were allowed to resume for online and telephone ordering and delivery.