COVID Crackdown: Details on All of Massachusetts' New Coronavirus Restrictions

Since Aug. 1, the state has implemented a new travel order, paused reopening, reduced the outdoor gathering limit, updated guidance for restaurants and given police the authority to enforce orders and issue fines due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases

NBC Universal, Inc.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday he was pausing the reopening of the state's economy and implementing new COVID enforcement efforts in response to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

He also announced several other steps, including reducing the limit on outdoor gatherings and tightening rules on restaurants.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced new restrictions as coronavirus cases tick up.

And all of that came just a week after the state's new travel order took effect.

Here's a quick look at all of the newly announced restrictions Massachusetts has implemented in recent weeks in an effort to help prevent a second spike in COVID-19 cases:

Pausing reopening

The governor said the second step of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan will be put on hold.

Movie theaters, gyms, casinos, museums and more were allowed to reopen in early July as part of Phase 3. The Baker administration referred to it as Step 1 of Phase 3, but did not fully detail what would be included in the second step. On the state's reopening website, it lists indoor theater or concert hall performances, and laser tag, roller skating, trampolines and obstacle courses as the activities that would be allowed to reopen in step two of Phase 3.

The local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business called Baker's decision to pause reopening "extremely disappointing," saying many of the businesses included in the second step of Phase 3 were patiently waiting to be able to open their doors.

“Instead of delaying the opening of certain businesses, many taking every step imaginable to keep workers and customers safe, the administration should pursue the private gatherings that are causing the problems," the organization said in a statement.

Governor Charlie Baker said that the new COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team will ramp up enforcement efforts and coordinate intervention efforts in high-risk communities.

Travel order

The mandatory travel order, which went into effect Aug. 1, stipulates that all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas must either quarantine for 14 days or produce negative COVID-19 test results upon return into the state.

Individuals who have not received COVID-19 test results prior to arrival are required to quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

Additionally, travelers who are over 18 or unaccompanied minors from high-risk areas will be required to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form.

Violators may face a $500 fine per day.

States considered lower risk, and thus exempt from the travel order, include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont New Hampshire and Hawaii. Other exemptions to the new travel rules include people passing through, people who commute across state lines for work or school and people coming to the state for medical treatment or military purposes.

Rhode Island was initially exempt from the travel order, but is now subject to Massachusetts' travel restrictions for higher-risk states. But Baker said it's fine for people on either side of the border to make trips back and forth, meaning it's OK for Rhode Islanders who live near the border to continue running their errands in the Bay State.

"There are exemptions, there's exemptions for people who commute to and from for work. There are exemptions for transitory activities, grocery shopping, banking," Baker said when asked about cross-border errands. He added, "Go to the store, do your shopping, wear a face mask, keep six feet apart from people and go home."

Starting Friday, most travelers entering Massachusetts from Rhode Island will have to quarantine for two weeks unless they recently tested negative for COVID-19.

Reducing the gathering limit

Amid reports of large parties and unauthorized gatherings, Baker said "some residents feel a bit too relaxed about the seriousness of this virus" and announced that he was lowering the outdoor gathering limit, effective Tuesday.

"People need to understand that big groups -- especially if people don't distance and don't wear face coverings, and don't do any of the things that have been talked about and discussed time and time again -- create, in many cases, spread," the governor said Friday.

He said the gathering limit for any outdoor event will be reduced to 50 as of Tuesday, but the limit on indoor gatherings will remain at 25. He said the limits apply to all types of locations on public or private property.

Ramping up enforcement

Baker said the new COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team will ramp up enforcement efforts and coordinate intervention efforts in high-risk communities. He did not release the names of those communities Friday because he said he wants a chance to talk with them first.

The governor said he is authorizing all state and local police to enforce the orders, and that people who host events -- even on private property -- that exceed gathering limits will be subject to fines.

He said enforcement will mostly be handled at the local level, and he did not say how much the fines might be.

After hosting a wedding with more than 240 guests, the Colonial Hotel in Gardner is in trouble.

Updated restaurant guidance

Baker also said he was updating restaurant guidance to make clear that alcohol may only be served for on-site consumption if it is accompanied by food prepared on-site.

Some bars have tried to skirt the regulation that allows restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks with meals prepared on site, according to Baker.

Just offering pretzels and potato chips doesn’t count, Baker said. Any bars that are only offering such items with people's drinks will not be able to open until Phase 4.

“Bars are closed in Massachusetts and bars masquerading as restaurants also need to be closed,” Baker said.

According to the updated safety standards and checklist page for restaurants within the site, a "restaurant" is defined as a place that has seated food service where the food is prepared on-site and in which the spot has a retail food permit issued by a municipal authority.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a halt in Massachusetts' reopening plan and a renewed focus on stopping people from violating the orders.

The Associated Press, State House News Service and Boston Restaurant Talk contributed to this report.

Contact Us