Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Massachusetts, US, extend closure of nonessential businesses, advisory for residents to stay at home, through at least May 18.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
  • Nantucket, Massachusetts
  • Cape Cod (Hyannis), Massachusetts

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 11:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Massachusetts (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 18
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker extended an order to for nonessential businesses to remain closed, and an advisory requesting residents to stay at home, except to perform essential tasks, until at least May 18, as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The order, which was set to expire May 4, stipulates that only businesses and services considered essential, such as law enforcement, utility services, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, healthcare facilities, fuel stations, and those in the transport, security, and critical manufacturing industries, are allowed to remain open. Nonessential businesses and services are allowed to maintain operations only with employees working from home, while restaurants can operate for delivery and pick-up service only. Lodging businesses can continue operating only for efforts related to the COVID-19 emergency.

The stay-at-home advisory strongly urges residents to stay inside their homes, except to perform essential activities, such as obtaining basic goods, caring for a person in need, attending a medical issue, or performing outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from others. Gatherings of 10 people or more will remain banned, and all travelers entering Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, and to not enter the state if they are displaying symptoms. In-person lessons at public schools will remain canceled through the end of the school year. Authorities recommend the use of protective masks when in public.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will likely deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the orders on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Massachusetts authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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