Will the New Massachusetts Coronavirus Restrictions Be Extended?

The new rules for gatherings, business occupancy and hospitals are scheduled to expire on Sunday unless Gov. Charlie Baker takes action

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The new series of new rules enacted last month by Gov. Charlie Baker are set to expire on Sunday unless he chooses to extend them.

Given the anticipated post-holiday surge in cases, it appears likely that Baker could extend the restrictions, which went into effect Dec. 26.

But he wasn't ready to say on Monday which way he's leaning.

"We'll probably be back sometime toward the end of the week based on the data to make a decision whether to extend that beyond January 10th," he said.

The new rules announced last month crack down on gatherings and businesses and require hospitals to halt most elective surgeries.

Restaurants, movie theaters, performance venues, casinos, offices, places of worship, retail businesses, fitness centers, health clubs, libraries, golf facilities, driving and flight schools, arcades, museums, and "sectors not otherwise addressed" are required to limit their customer capacity to a maximum of 25%.

All indoor gatherings and events are limited to 10 people, while all outdoor gatherings and events will be limited to 25 people. Workers and staff are excluded from events' occupancy counts. The gatherings limit applies to private homes, event venues and public spaces.

Massachusetts hospitals were also forced to push back or cancel most elective inpatient invasive procedures that are nonessential, the state announced.

Gov. Charlie Baker details efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in Massachusetts.

The new restrictions came just a few weeks after Baker announced that the state would move back a step in his phased reopening plan. That rollback meant capacity limits were lowered across an array of businesses, some indoor recreation venues were ordered to close again, and rules around mask-wearing and dining out were tightened.

Some medical and health experts have said that Baker needs to take additional steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Abraar Kaan said on Twitter on Sunday that he thinks lockdowns are the next logical step as cases continue to spike in the state.

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths rose by 60 on Monday while the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 4,300. The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 12,401 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to more than 375,000.

"I think we are headed toward more lockdowns after holiday surge," Kaan said. "I suspect that the more people we have dying without access to hospital beds will at a point become politically incompatible with re-election for politicians, which is what seems to drive most action in this country."

Baker has said the steps he's implemented are more favorable to a complete lockdown across the state, like the one that was imposed earlier this year.

Business owners argue that the current restrictions are already making it nearly impossible for them to operate.

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