HCN News & Notes

State Announces Targeted Measures to Curb Rising COVID-19 Cases

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Gov. Charlie Baker announced these changes at a time where public-health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures are meant to disrupt rising trends now, so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open for residents and prevent the need to roll back to an earlier phase of the state’s reopening plan.

All orders and advisories will be effective starting Friday, Nov. 6.

The revised stay-at-home advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs, and taking a walk.

Baker also issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 p.m. Effective Nov. 6, the following businesses and activities must close to the public each day between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.:

• Restaurants (in-person dining must cease at 9:30 p.m., but takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages, but not alcohol);

• Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales at 9:30 p.m., but may continue to sell other products;

• Adult-use marijuana sales (not including medical marijuana);

• Live theaters and movie theaters (including drive-in), and performance venues (indoor and outdoor);

• Youth and adult amateur sports activities, including golf facilities;

• Recreational boating and boating businesses;

• Outdoor recreational experiences;

• Casinos and horse tracks;

• Driving and flight schools;

• Zoos, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves, and nature centers;

• Close-contact personal services (such as hair and nail salons);

• Gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs;

• Indoor and outdoor pools; and

• Museums, cultural and historical facilities, and guided tours.

Baker also signed an updated order related to face coveringsrequiring all people to wear face coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain six feet of distance from others. The revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.

Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new order  limits indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings at private residences to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (such as wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m.

The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.