Are We Headed for a Second Shutdown?

"We're not at a point now yet, but we could be there in a week," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh warned Tuesday

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As coronavirus cases continue to surge across New England, it raises the question -- is the region headed for a second shutdown like the one it experienced in April and May?

Politicians have mostly avoided the subject when asked, with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker even saying he doesn't think the state is in the same dire straits it was last spring.

But Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was blunt when asked about the possibility on Tuesday, saying that if the current trend doesn't turn around, another shutdown may be necessary.

"We're not at a point now yet, but we could be there in a week" the mayor said. "We're not at a point yet where we have to shut everything down. The last resort would be to shut things down right now, and we're headed toward that last resort."

"Every metric tells us we're in the midst of a significant and concerning increase in COVID activity," Walsh added. "Daily cases are starting to look like the numbers we saw at our peak in April and May... We need to continue to stay focused on turning this trend around."

Four to five hour wait times have accumulated in Lawrence, where long lines of people have been looking to get tested for coronavirus over the past couple of days.

As they have for months now, officials continue to urge people to wear masks, socially distance, wash their hands and disinfect frequently used surfaces.

But even that isn't enough, and governors across the country and here in New England have started rolling out additional layers of rules and restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

In Massachusetts, Baker implemented an expanded mask mandate, a restaurant curfew and a stay-at-home advisory earlier this month.

His executive order requires anyone above the age of 5 to wear a mask in public, expanding on a previous order that urged people to wear a mask in public if they couldn’t socially distance. It also instructs residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and requires the early closure of many businesses and activities each night at 9:30 p.m., including requiring restaurants to stop table service and mandating liquor stores to stop selling alcohol.

Baker said Wednesday that he continues to track the public health data, but at this point he has no plans to implement any new restrictions beyond what he has already put into place.

Connecticut and Rhode Island have also enacted curfews and curtailed restaurant hours and capacity. Maine and New Hampshire, which have lower case numbers, have yet to take similar action, but Vermont Gov. Phil Scott recently issued a ban on multi-household gatherings, tightened travel restrictions and is forcing bars and social clubs to close earlier.

Anyone traveling to Vermont for leisure, including residents returning from time away, are now expected to quarantine.

On Tuesday, Scott defended the guidelines he's put in place and criticized those who have chosen to flaunt them.

"The skeptics are right: they can do what they want. But please don't call it patriotic," Scott said. "Don't pretend it's about freedom. Because real patriots serve and sacrifice for all, whether they agree with that or not. Real patriots stand up and fight when our nation's health and security is threatened.

The real hope, officials say, is that people will take things into their own hands, taking the necessary precautions to keep the case count from rising so that a second shutdown won't be needed.

"We have the ability within our own power to really look at not having that spread. It's within our own ability to get these numbers down," Walsh said. "We have to do everything we can. I don't want to be standing in front of this podium three weeks from now shutting down restaurants and shops and sports. We've worked hard to reopen society. We don't want to go backwards."

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