BOSTON, Mass. (State House News Service)– The State House will not have a “complete reopening” before the start of October, Speaker Ronald Mariano said Wednesday, adding that he is hopeful that the building will be at least more populated at that point as legislative leaders target some time in autumn to welcome the public back to Beacon Hill.
While introducing a package of House rules for debate Wednesday, House Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan, the chamber’s number-three Democrat, said their Oct. 1 effective date “will coincide with the timeline of the reopening of the State House.” However, asked if Hogan’s description was accurate, Mariano replied, “No, not a complete reopening.”
“The hope would be that we would have people in the building before then, and by Oct. 1, we should be able to give a pretty accurate prediction on when we would reopen the building,” he said. “It’ll be done in stages, I think, is the most intelligent way to do this.”
The state capitol has been mostly closed for more than 15 months due to the pandemic, during which the majority of elected officials have participated remotely in hearings, sessions and votes. Gov. Charlie Baker lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency on June 15, and more than three weeks later, the State House reopening plans are still murky. “It’s a pretty big task, a little bit bigger than people think,” Mariano told reporters, referencing the 40 senators and 160 representatives who will each have at least one staffer back at work. “If you’re bringing 40 people in with an aide, that’s a little bit easier than 320. I want to make sure there’s no significant mistakes.”
Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said on June 30 they were developing a “comprehensive and nuanced reopening plan” to bring more employees and outsiders back in the fall, but they did not offer more details on a date.