Following days of new coronavirus cases over 1000, Governor Charlie Baker on Monday afternoon announced several new guidelines and restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus in Massachusetts.
On Sunday, the state’s Department of Health (DPH) reported 1139 new cases, 613 people in the hospital, and 113 people in the ICU. He said the seven day average for the state remains at 1.8 percent.
Since Labor Day, which the governor pointed out was 55 days from the press conference, the number of daily new cases has grown by nearly 300 percent, and there has been a 145 percent increase in hospitalizations.
He said that the “data points to the need to do something about these trends now,” but that shouldn’t include closing schools, as “schools are not spreaders here or anywhere else,” he said.
“The simple truth is this: too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives,” Baker said. “If we do nothing, we’ll create capacity problems for our healthcare system by the end of the year,” he continued.
He said that Massachusetts remains one of the “most aggressive testers in the country,” and continues its contact tracing program.
Baker announced on Monday “a series of targeted interventions” to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including a new stay at home advisory between 10pm and 5am, where residents should stay at home except for purposes of work, grocery shopping, or healthcare reasons, as well as taking a walk.
Additionally, restaurants must stop providing table service at 9:30pm, and sales of alcohol at all restaurants and stores must end at 9:30pm. Also required to close between the hours of 9:30pm and 5am are adult-use marijuana dispensaries, indoor and outdoor events, movie theaters, performance venues, youth and amateur sports, casinos and horse tracks, hair and nail salons, gyms, pools, museums, and more.
Changes to the gathering order were also made, including reducing the gathering limit to 10 people. Outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The face covering order has also been updated to mandate that anyone over the age of 5 wear a face covering in public at all times. There are no more exemptions for maintaining social distance.
These guidelines go into effect on Friday, November 6 at 12:01am.
“The intent is to cut down on the transmission that we all know is occurring in social gatherings,” and Baker said that personal responsibility is also a key factor at play.
“I hope that we can encourage everyone to act responsibly,” he said. “Our message here is very simple: we can’t afford to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
Baker continued to advise residents to avoid gathering with those outside of their household, and to get tested.
“We want to do everything in our power to avoid reverting back to Phase One or Phase Two of our reopening plan,” he said. He said that employers should continue to have their employees work from home wherever possible, and urged young people to stop holding large house parties.
He said he would be working with local governments on ways to stop the parties from happening.
He said the gatherings, “especially unregulated gatherings, even if they’re small, where people let down their guard,” are “places where COVID spreads.”
Baker told residents that he is “requesting that you make real sacrifices” to help keep schools and the economy open.
“We all need to show it the respect that it demands,” the governor said in reference to the virus.
The full list of new guidelines and restrictions can be found at mass.gov.