coronavirus

Mass. Issues Mandatory Travel Order; $500 a Day Fine for Violations

New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and the other five New England states are exempt from the order

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a new mandatory travel order effective Aug. 1 requiring all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas, including students, to quarantine for 14 days or produce a recent negative COVID-19 test result.

The fine for violating this order is $500 a day, he said.

"We're not going to be stopping cars, but we're going to expect people to comply," Baker said.

States considered lower risk and not included in the travel order include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Hawaii. That list is subject to change based on public health data.

The order comes at the height of the summer tourist season and not long before tens of thousands of college students typically flock to the state for the start of fall classes. (Workers and students commuting to Massachusetts across state lines are exempt, according to the order.)

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"As we all know, Massachusetts was hit especially hard by COVID-19 in the early months. We all made tough decisions to close schools and businesses and issued a stay-at-home advisory to slow the spread," Baker said. "Since March, people have made great sacrifices and shown great discipline, and as a result, our state has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and gradually reopen."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a new mandatory travel order effective Aug. 1 requiring all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas, including students, to quarantine for 14 days or produce a recent negative COVID-19 test result.

"We now have a lower average for positive test rates than many states around the country, and we want to keep it that way as travel volumes increase from other states around the world," he added. "Every traveler coming into Massachusetts, no matter where they're from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth."

There are exemptions for people simply passing through the state, for people who commute across state lines for work, and for people traveling to Massachusetts for medical treatment or to comply with military orders.

Travelers and residents returning home must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” that includes their contact information.

Gov. Charlie Baker announces a new travel order requiring visitors and Mass. residents returning from high-risk states to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test.

The executive order is the result of an uptick in road traffic and airport traffic, including flights from hot spots Florida and California, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said.

Airlines, passenger rail companies, bus companies, some travel agents, hotel companies and short-term rental companies have been informed of the rule and are expected to inform their customers, the governor said.

The order includes new guidelines for lodging, higher education, office and more to incorporate the new travel order. Hotels and Airbnbs will be required to inform guests about the travel order upon booking and are encouraged to post information on their websites. And employers are being discouraged from sending employees on business trips to areas other than the low risk states mentioned in the order.

Gov. Charlie Baker talked Wednesday about what school will look like in fall as uncertainty continues to weigh on parents.

Massachusetts reported Thursday that 16 people with the new coronavirus have died and 270 more cases of the virus were confirmed. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now confirmed 8,265 deaths and 107,683 cases.

At his last coronavirus update on Wednesday, Baker said the state was doing a "deep dive" on all of its test results from the past few weeks, and hoped to have more to say this week on whether more people in their 20s and 30s are being diagnosed with the coronavirus in Massachusetts, a trend seen across the U.S. He said the early data seemed to indicate that more young people are being diagnosed with COVID-19 here as well.

"We have seen some of the same trends you're talking about with respect to younger people," he said when asked about the issue on Wednesday.

Photos from M Street Beach in South Boston last weekend showed large groups of people gathered with little to no social distancing.

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BOSTON - JULY 18: Thousands of beachgoers pack M Street Beach in South Boston on July 18, 2020. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

But Friday, Baker said the larger percentage of cases in younger people is only because the number of cases in older residents has declined and is not a reason for concern.

"A lot of what's driving the increase in cases coming out of the South was an astonishing run up in positive test rates in the under 30 crowd," he said. "We do not have that. Our under 30 crowd is a higher percentage than two months ago, but not because the positive test rate has gone up."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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