Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Massachusetts, US, order quarantine and nonessential businesses closures and ban gatherings through at least May 4.

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 06 Apr 2020 23:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Massachusetts (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 4
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions; heightened security

Summary
As of April 6, officials in Massachusetts have ordered all people arriving in the state to self-quarantine for 14 days as part of the state's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additionally, nonessential businesses have been closed and gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. The measures will remain in place through at least May 4. Businesses considered essential, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, healthcare facilities, banks, and those in the transport, security, and manufacturing industries will remain open, while restaurants can operate for delivery and pick-up service only. Nonessential businesses can continue to operate provided employees are not physically present at the premises. Officials also announced that hotels and motels can continue operating only for efforts related to the COVID-19 emergency. Authorities have also kept in place the advisory for residents to stay inside their homes, except to perform essential activities.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order 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.

Advice
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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Massachusetts Department of Public Health: www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health