Authorities in Massachusetts have updated their coronavirus (COVID-19)-related travel restrictions list as of Nov. 2. Additionally, officials issued orders to tighten restrictions statewide effective Nov. 6 due to increases in COVID-19 activity. Per the most recent directives, anyone entering the commonwealth from international destinations or any US state or territory not designated as lower risk for COVID-19 infection must complete a travel form and self-quarantine for 14 days. Connecticut and New Jersey were recently removed from the lower risk list, and travelers entering from those states must follow the self-quarantine requirements. As of Nov. 2, the list of lower-risk states and territories consists only of California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington State.
Persons entering Massachusetts from a state or territory not designated as lower risk 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 test result. Failure to comply with the order is punishable by a fine of USD 500 per day. Persons traveling through the state, frequently commuting for work, crossing state borders to receive medical treatment, or working at essential businesses are exempt.
Moreover, starting Nov. 6, new restrictions will be in place statewide. Most nonessential businesses, including restaurants, theaters, event venues, gyms and fitness centers, museums, and personal care businesses, must close nightly at 2130 and remain closed until 0500 the next day. Gatherings at private residences must be limited to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors; they must also end by 2130 nightly. Authorities also advise all residents to remain at home daily between 2200-0500, except to perform critical tasks such as going to work and obtaining basic goods. Residents will also be required to wear facemasks in all public settings, even if social distancing measures are in place.
Other restrictions remain unchanged. Throughout Massachusetts, 39 communities remain in Phase 3, Step 1 of the commonwealth's recovery plan, under which gyms, museums, arcades, libraries, and lower-contact indoor and outdoor recreation businesses can operate at 40-percent capacity. Indoor performance venues must remain closed, and outdoor performance venues can open at 25-percent capacity up to a maximum of 50 people.
The 39 communities on Phase 3, Step 1 are as follows:
- Acushnet, Attleboro, Avon, Boston, Brockton, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Dracut, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holliston, Holyoke, Hudson, Kingston, Lawrence, Leicester, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Plymouth, Randolph, Revere, Saugus, Springfield, Tyngsborough, Waltham, Webster, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, and Wrentham
The rest of the commonwealth remains at Phase 3, Step 2 of the state's recovery plan, under which indoor and outdoor performance venues may operate at 50-percent capacity or a maximum of 250 people; gyms, museums, and libraries, as well as driving and flight schools, can operate at 50-percent capacity.
Statewide, retail stores can operate at 50-percent capacity; 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 could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
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.