Katherine McCabe / Gavel Media

Governor Baker Announces New COVID Restrictions

On Monday, Nov. 2, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued two executive orders with measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Massachusetts’s COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks, with the seven-day average for new cases in the state last week up almost 339% from September. In addition, Massachusetts has seen over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 a day for the past nine consecutive days, and is now one of 40 states in the nation where cases are increasing, as well as one of 45 states seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

These factors and others led the Commonwealth to issue new COVID-19 guidelines effective Friday, Nov. 6. The first of these orders declared a stay-at-home advisory between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M., with exceptions granted for work, groceries, addressing health needs, and taking walks. The order also required restaurants to close in-person dining no later than 9:30 P.M., and that grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, theaters, and entertainment spaces must close by 9:30 P.M as well. Takeout may continue after that time.

Other measures included a limit on private gatherings, reducing capacities from 25 to 10 individuals for indoor events and from 50 to 25 for outdoor events; if anyone at an event is to later test positive for COVID-19, it is now the host’s duty to report this to local health officials for contact tracing. Additionally, a stricter statewide mask mandate has been put in place: individuals must keep masks on in public at all times, even when social distancing can be maintained. Those with medical conditions and disabling conditions who cannot wear masks are still exempted from this requirement.

Gov. Baker argued that these actions are preventative measures to keep COVID-19 cases at a minimum. “The simple truth is,” he explained, “too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives.” Baker also stated that by resolving potential capacity issues for hospitals now, the Commonwealth has a better chance at preventing further issues down the road.

Despite stiff measures being enforced, Baker has promised not to shut down in-person education, clarifying that schools are not the primary spreaders in the Commonwealth. Boston College saw 12 COVID-19 cases last week, down from 15 the previous week, with other major schools in the Boston area also seeing very few cases of COVID-19.

As always, The Gavel reminds readers to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, and to practice proper protective measures such as frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, and limiting the size of gatherings in accordance with the Eagles Care Pledge.

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