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We Need to Create Guidelines: State Senator Cyr on Social Interaction When the Economy Re-Opens

State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) is working on guidelines that could help ease Cape, Islanders, and visitors back into social interaction.

Massachusetts is still practicing extreme social distancing measures, but many businesses, including on the Cape and Islands, are planning for what life will be like when the economy starts to re-open.

State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) is working with businesses, hospital and town officials on guidelines that could help ease Cape, Islanders, and visitors back into social interaction. WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with him about what the guidelines ask of visitors.

Eident Good morning, Senator.

Cyr Good morning, Kathryn. Good to be with you.

Eident Thanks for joining us this morning. Tell us about these guidelines. These guidelines are aimed at tourists and second home owners for when they come back to the Cape for the summer season. What are you asking for them to do?

Cyr So, Cape Codders and Islanders appreciate, welcome, and really depend on our seasonal residents and visitors to make our life here.

And what the aim of this guidance that's being released today, guidance from the region's hospitals, our Chambers of Commerce and our elected officials at the state and congressional level, as well as Barnstable County, the aim is to make sure that we're speaking with one consistent message to our seasonal residents, many of whom live in Massachusetts, but many of whom don't, who may or may not be aware of the current orders.

Governor Baker's current executive order is in place until May 18th. And so, the intent of this is really to share what we know now, and then it's also to begin to provide a framework in how we're going to hand out information to seasonal residents and then ultimately visitors as we're able to reopen post May 18th.

Eident I see. So, this is kind of a first round of almost like a campaign, if you will, or a series of messages that this group is hoping to provide visitors, especially.

Cyr Exactly. So, you know, we actually saw a noticeable population influx in mid-March when this all started. And, there was a lot of actual concern about this influx would contribute to community spread, that we'd see adverse health effects in the region because of this. The good news was we actually did it to the people who came really adhered to cautionary measures, and it really kept everyone safe.

So, we need to do that same thing on a much bigger scale, particularly as-- well the weather's not nice today--but now the weather finally cooperates, you know, and particularly now that schools are canceled or closed for the rest of the year, people are going to want to come here, particularly those who are seasonal residents, either seasonal workers or or folks who are in second homes. We want to make sure that they get the information about what those precautionary measures are, what in the governor's order.

If folks adhere to those, I actually think, and I think a number of us thinks, that we can manage this population influx. We'll keep our communities safe. And, that's actually where some of our first economic activity and reopening business is going to come from. Yes, you know, folks who've been here all year, but also be seasonal residents, I think are going to, you know, likely are going to spend these warmer months with us in our communities.

Eident I think it's interesting because, you know, the Cape and Islands, sometimes we talk about it as one big monolithic region, but we know with more than 20 towns, almost two dozen towns, in this area that we have ... individual needs and ideas on things. And this week, we saw with both Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket an effort to to do this right? To talk to seasonal visitors and workers about what the expectations are and what they're trying to do. You know, Martha's Vineyard ended up pulling back. Is there a little bit of tension, or is it a challenge in a way, to kind of get this message out without, you know, scaring people? I know businesses are that are closed down, need to be able to reopen and have customers. How do you work with that?

Cyr So, it's always a challenge. And on almost any issue we work on, when we have we have this great sort of small "d" democracy, our small towns. But it does mean, right, that you have, three different counties, 23 different towns in the region. So, it can take a lot of work to speak with one voice.

I think what we need to remember is for our seasonal residents and visitors, they don't necessarily do to distinguish between Truro and Brewster, or Edgartown and Aquinnah. That they really view us as a region or islands, sort of don't necessarily understand or sort of closely follow sort of our parochial boundaries. And so, it's just really important that we're speaking with one message, and that message is consistent with what Governor Baker and the state government is putting out.

And so, you know, yes this week there was, in the fog of war, a mistake happened. Someone sent something out that they shouldn't. And that's been retracted. But really the aim of this is to make sure that we're reaching people who are not on Cape Cod or the Islands right now, who are, you know, out of state or elsewhere in Massachusetts or looking for this information, how they can go about making a safe decision to come back here. And so, what the guidance does is provides them with a roadmap through May 18th. Certainly, that's going to need to be updated. I

I'm really actually hopeful and optimistic that, you know, this guidance will actually have more information about, you know, as we work reopen up how people can keep keep themselves safe.

I'm also part of this--there's a regional taskforce that's been assembled between between the legislative delegation, the Cape Cod Chamber, Barnstable County. We have participation from Cape Cod, health care managers, community leaders. So, that's all coming together. A lot of work is happening. 

Eident That's right. And Senator, we will be talking with you, I'm sure, as these measures progress. Thank you so much, Julian Cyr, for taking the time to talk with us about this, this morning.