Critical Alert

Officials in Massachusetts, US, to ease additional COVID-19 restrictions in most areas of the state, starting Oct 5.

Alert Begins 03 Oct 2020 01:09 AM UTC
Alert Expires 19 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

 

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Massachusetts
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

 

Summary
Officials in Massachusetts issued an order to ease additional restrictions starting Oct. 5 in most areas of the commonwealth, due to a decrease in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. The new order will move all of Massachusetts, except 29 communities, to Phase 3, Step 2 of the state's economic recovery plan. Under the measure, indoor and outdoor performance venues will be allowed to open at 50-percent capacity or a maximum of 250 people; gyms, museums, libraries, along with driving and flight schools will be allowed to increase their capacity to 50-percent.

Meanwhile, 29 communities will remain under their current restrictions, as part of Phase 3, Step 1 of the state's recovery plan, due to higher levels of COVID-19 activity. The communities are Attleboro, Avon, Boston, Chelsea, Dedham, Dracut, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holliston, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Monson, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Plainville, Revere, Saugus, Springfield, Tyngsborough, Winthrop, Worcester, and Wrentham. Under their current guidelines, gyms, museums, and libraries can operate at 40-percent capacity, indoor performance venues must remain closed, and outdoor performance venues can open at 25-percent capacity but no more than 50 people. Statewide, retail stores can open at 50-percent capacity, and restaurants may offer indoor services, as long as they keep tables separated by at least 1.8 meters (six feet). Other businesses may also operate at 50-percent capacity, except bars and nightclubs, which must remain closed.

Authorities require residents and visitors statewide to wear protective facemasks when in public places and social-distancing is not possible. Indoor social gatherings of more than 25 people, and outdoor social gatherings of more than 50 people, remain banned.

A travel advisory also remains in effect. Per the most recent directive, anyone entering Massachusetts from international destinations or any US state not designated as low risk for COVID-19 infection must complete a travel form and self-quarantine for 14 days. As of Oct. 2, the list of low-risk states includes: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

Persons entering Massachusetts from a state or territory not designated as low-risk on the commonwealth's travel advisory list can avoid the quarantine requirement by providing proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 within the 72 hours prior to their arrival. Travelers can also be tested upon arrival but must remain in self-quarantine until they obtain a negative result.

Failure to comply with the order is punishable by a fine of USD 500 per day. Anyone traveling through the state, individuals frequently commuting for work, people crossing state borders to receive medical treatment, or anyone working at essential businesses are exempt.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

 

Advice
Heed the directives of the authorities. 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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