Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday said visitors from seven nearby states would be exempt from a 14-day quarantine advisory upon arriving the state.
In a news conference, Baker said he was able to lift the guidelines for travelers from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey starting Wednesday due to a "significant decline in cases and new hospitalizations" in those places.
"We believe this change reflects the facts in the ground, and is consistent with the Commonwealth's approach to COVID-19," he said.
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"Our hope is that many folks will still be able to visit their favorite places in our great state," he said, acknowledging that the summer would continue to be difficult for residents and businesses.
Visitors from outside the neighboring seven states should still comply with the 14-day quarantine, a guideline that his been in place for nearly two months. This does not apply to workers deemed essential coming into the state for work purposes, Baker said.
Baker said anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus is urged not to enter the state.
The governor said 14-day quarantine is an advisory, acknowledging there were "real constitutional issues" associated with restricting travel between states.
He added, however, that the measure has impacted travelers' decision-making process, including their willingness to book accommodations in the Bay State.
While cases are climbing in more than half of U.S. states, Massachusetts continues to see positive trends in its fight against the virus. On Monday, the state reported 35 fatalities from the coronavirus and 101 new cases, numbers sharply lower than during the peak of the state's surge.
While Baker said the change in travel guidelines reflect an improving situation in the region, but urged people to continue to practice social distancing and hygiene and wear masks.
"There's plenty of evidence, not just around this country but around the globe, of place where people have let down their guard and the virus has come roaring back," he said. "Continued vigilance with respect to this is the way you contain it."
To date, more than 10 million confirmed cases have been reported globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University researchers, with about a quarter of those having been reported in the U.S.
Massachusetts has long been one of the major coronavirus hot spots in the U.S., and on Friday, its death toll reached 8,000, third most in the country behind New York and New Jersey. But all three states have seen their daily numbers decrease substantially since the peaks of their surges.
As of Monday, Massachusetts had a death toll of 8,095 and 108,768 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases.
The state is in the second step of Phase 2 of the state's 4-phased reopening plan. It allows indoor dining to begin, increases capacity at offices from 25% to 50% and allows retailers to open fitting rooms, though by appointment only.
Amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide, some states are backtracking on reopening plans and ordering residents to wear masks in public. Arizona, Texas, Florida and California are re-closing beaches and, in some cases, bars.