From the beginning it was clear Gov. Charlie Baker wasn’t going to be rushed through the coronavirus crisis and into a grand reopening of businesses – illness and death be damned. 

While some Southern states hurried to get salons, barbershops, restaurants and retailers open again – with little or no scientific basis for those decisions – Baker has plodded along, charting the rise, plateau and maybe the beginning of a decline in this dangerous virus that has left more than 5,000 people dead in Massachusetts. 

On Monday he outlined a vague four-phase plan to get people back to work, safely, but the details behind the unveiling will have to wait for recommendations from an advisory panel that could file in one week. Those recommendations and the trending of new infections and hospitalizations from COVID-19 will set the schedule for the slow reopening of businesses, Baker said in a press conference.

Get used to it. In spite of the impatience people are feeling and the skepticism about whether the coronavirus is really as prevalent and dangerous as we’re told, Baker isn’t going to listen calls for a quick return to “normal.” The plan announced Monday is incremental, first allowing businesses to open where person-to-person contacts are limited, then moving on to phase two – details to come. 

Human nature being what it is, some people don’t want to be limited or told they have to behave and be patient. The story from a Cape Cod ice cream shop last weekend, in which customers became so belligerent and profane toward the teenager ice cream scoopers that the owner shut the place down, offers a lesson in what can happen if people get too impatient and try to storm the barricades.

Baker made clear on Monday this reopening process hinges on the results of coronavirus testing and what those results -- and the track of the virus -- tell the experts. 

This state has been hit hard, as the daily Department of Public Health numbers make clear. Baker knows that reopening too quickly, without clear guidelines and testing benchmarks, could put more people at risk and bring on a second wave of COVID-19 infections. 

“That means we have to be flexible and honest about the fact that the timing and the details of these phases could change depending upon the track the virus takes,” the governor said.

Slow and steady might not win the race, but it should ensure our safety.


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