Authorities in Massachusetts have updated the commonwealth's travel restrictions list due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity in some areas. Per the most recent directives, anyone entering Massachusetts from international destinations or any US state or territory not designated as low risk for COVID-19 infection must complete a travel form and self-quarantine for 14 days. As of Oct. 19, no states have been removed from the list, but California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Washington have been added. Hence, the new list of low-risk states and territories consists of California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, 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. Persons traveling through the state, frequently commuting for work, crossing state borders to receive medical treatment, or working at essential businesses are exempt.

Otherwise, current restrictions remain in effect. All of Massachusetts, except 29 communities, are at Phase 3, Step 2 of the state's economic recovery plan. In locations at this level, 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, are allowed to increase their capacity to 50 percent.

Meanwhile, 26 communities remain under tighter restrictions as part of Phase 3, Step 1 of the state's recovery plan due to higher levels of COVID-19 activity. These communities are Attleboro, Avon, Boston, Chelsea, Dracut, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holliston, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, 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 up to a maximum of 50 people. 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 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.

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.


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