More stringent coronavirus restrictions are now in effect in Massachusetts, including a statewide curfew, expanded mask requirements and enforcement of gathering limits.
The new guidelines took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday with a goal of slowing the rise in COVID-19 cases and preventing the state from reverting to Phase 1 or 2 of reopening. Gov. Charlie Baker said they will likely remain in place for at least a month.
Baker announced a series of executive orders Monday amid a spike in cases across the state.
A stay-at-home advisory is now in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Residents are urged to stay home during that time frame except to go to work, for a walk or to the grocery store.
The updated face covering order requires everyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask in public.
The governor also reduced the limit on indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. All gatherings regardless of size must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m.
Fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit. The new rules give local governments more tools to end informal gatherings that violate the rules.
The measures could make the state safer, according to one Boston doctor, but it could be weeks before data would reflect the protocol changes.
"It takes at least two weeks - more like four weeks - to know if an intervention does anything," said Dr. Helen Boucher of Tufts Medical Center. "We’re coming into winter and we’re seeing rising infection rates around us. So I think we’re in for a period of hard work.”
Restaurants are required to stop providing table service at 9:30 p.m., although they can continue to offer carry out after that time. Liquor sales at restaurants and package stores will also shut down at 9:30 p.m.
Baker said he understands that the regulations are "disruptive'' to the restaurant industry, but added that it's better to take targeted measures now rather than suffer the consequences in several weeks.
The curfew will require dramatic adjustments for 24-hour business like the Encore Boston Harbor casino, which will begin operating under new hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Restaurant hours will vary at the casino and the hotel, which is already operating under limited hours, will not open until at least Dec. 15.
Encore Boston Harbor President Brian Gullbrants said that while they prioritize safety, the new state rules are a major blow not only to the business, but the staff.
"It’s a tough hit for us," Gullbrants said. "Our ladies and gentlemen have done an incredible job. We had 2,700 people back to work finally. And this could roughly impact 1,000 people of that 2,700.”