Starting Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker said all travelers arriving in Massachusetts will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days as the state continues its fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Right now, he said this order will mainly focus on anyone coming into Massachusetts airports or by train to South Station. All travelers will be handed pamphlets encouraging them to self-quarantine for two weeks. Drivers will see pamphlets at rest stops and see the message on digital highway signs.
"I would call it at this point instruction and advisory," Baker said. "There is no enforcement at this point."
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The governor also urged people not to travel to Massachusetts at all -- especially if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
"These are clearly difficult times," Baker said Friday. "Times at which disruption has become the norm."
But the governor said he remains optimistic that the state will get through this.
Baker also announced a new partnership Friday with buoy.com where residents can go online to get free medical advice.
On Thursday, Baker said he has submitted a request for federal disaster assistance to help provide support during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The governor said the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide additional federal assistance to cities, towns, state agencies and nonprofits beyond his March 13 emergency declaration
The governor said the state continues to make progress on expanding its COVID-19 testing, with 21 labs now testing samples in the commonwealth. As of Wednesday, he said 20,000 people had been tested, up from just 2,600 a week ago.
Baker said the state has increased access to tele-health options in recent weeks to allow patients to remotely connect with health care providers. That is now a covered health benefit, he said.
He also announced a new effort to ensure the care and safety of the Boston-area homeless population at the Newton Pavilion. The former hospital is now owned by the state and will be reopened to support the medical needs of the area’s homeless residents.
Earlier this week, Baker announced an extension of the closure of the state's school buildings and non-emergency day care centers through the end of April.
His previous order, made to mitigate the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, had only closed the facilities through April 6. The earliest that all schools, public and private, can now re-open is Monday, May 4. Only residential special education schools are exempt. Child care centers are allowed to remain open if they care for vulnerable children and those from families of essential workers and first responders.
All non-essential businesses have also been ordered to close for two weeks and a stay-at-home advisory is in effect for the state.
Baker has also ordered all grocery stories and pharmacies to set aside an hour when only seniors will be allowed to shop. They are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
There are now 3,240 cases of the new coronavirus in Massachusetts, including 35 deaths.