Gov. Charlie Baker announced a series of executive orders and advisories Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state.
In a press conference, Baker said key health metrics were pointing to a "clear need" to take action now, adding many residents had become too "complacent" as the pandemic stretches on.
The new guidelines take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, and Baker said they will likely remain in place for at least a month. The goal is to stem the rise in cases and keep from having to revert to Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state's reopening.
Here's what to know about Baker's new orders.
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Stay-at-home advisory to take effect
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A stay-at-home advisory will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with residents urged to stay home except to go to work, for a walk or to the grocery store.
Here's what you need to do to comply with the advisory, per the state's website.
- Only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking emergency medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up take-out food, or receiving deliveries. If you do leave home, practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others and wearing a face covering.
- Not have gatherings in your home with anybody outside of your household.
- Comply with all Governor’s Orders, including orders requiring face coverings, limiting gatherings, and mandating early closure of businesses.
- Practice social distancing and avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by others if you go outside to get fresh air.
- Use remote modes of communication like phone or video chat instead of visiting friends or family.
New Restrictions on Restaurants, Entertainment Venues
Restaurants will be required to stop providing table service at 9:30 p.m., although they can continue to offer carry out after that time. Liquor sales at restaurants and package stores will also shut down at 9:30 p.m.
Indoor recreational facilities like theaters and casinos, youth and adult sports and adult marijuana sales operations will be ordered to close at 9:30 p.m. as well.
The governor said his intention Monday was to announce measures that stop short of shutting businesses down while reducing "the number of opportunities and activities where people gather in groups and get them home with only members of their household."
"The goal here is to say all this stuff that's going on that's indoors, that's informal, that's not masked, that's close contact where people are sharing food and drink and a sofa is just exactly the wrong thing and it's a big part of why a huge part of the growth in our trend has been in young people who fall into that category," Baker said.
He added, "I think what we're trying to say here is by 10 o'clock people should use their heads and be with the people they live with instead of continuing to perpetuate this constant churning of folks, especially in informal settings in places and spaces where there aren't any rules and there isn't any guidance and people aren't adhering to any of the distance or mask rules that are effective at reducing the spread."
Encore Boston Harbor released a statement later in the day saying it supports and will adhere to the guidelines and as a result, will close the hotel until at least Dec. 15.
Stricter Face Covering Order
An updated face covering order requires everyone over the age of 5 to wear a face covering in public places. Baker was asked if student athletes would be forced to wear masks while playing, and said he will have more to say on that subject later in the week.
The order does not apply to those with "medical or disabling condition" or when coverings impede with a person's ability to communicate with someone with a hearing impairment or other disability.
Face coverings are not required when people are driving along in their cars.
Stricter indoor gathering limit
The governor also reduced the limit on indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. All gatherings regardless of size must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m. Fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit.
Massachusetts reported 725 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday and an additional nine deaths. It was the first day in over a week that the daily case count was under 1,000.
There have now been 9,797 confirmed deaths and 156,385 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 226 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases are up 278% and hospitalizations up 145% since Labor Day, Baker said Monday.
Massachusetts confirmed 22 new deaths and 1,139 more coronavirus cases Sunday, marking the ninth straight day the state has announced more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases.
There are 121 communities in the state considered at the highest risk for transmitting COVID-19, according to last week's report from DPH which included data on isolated outbreaks.
One such outbreak is at a church in Central Massachusetts that led to the shut down of in-person services earlier this week after a couple dozen people tested positive for COVID-19. Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg has now been connected to nearly 150 confirmed cases, according to the local board of health.
Officials have traced the source of the rising outbreak to services held at the church on or around Sunday, Oct. 18.
Twenty-eight cases had been linked to the church as of midday Monday, and that number grew significantly over the course of the last week, rising to nearly 150 by 3 p.m. Saturday.
Contact tracers have also pointed to ice and deck hockey as a source of more than 40 confirmed cases, the Fitchburg Board of Health reported.