All travelers to Mass. urged to self-quarantine

Initiative is voluntary, no enforcement efforts planned

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Friday asked all travelers arriving in Massachusetts from out of state to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.

The governor said information on the self-quarantine effort would be handed out to passengers arriving at Logan International Airport, Worcester’s airport, South Station, and rest stops and message boards along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Baker indicated the focus of his “instruction and advisory” is on travelers arriving from New York and points south, where COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly. Noting that the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are all urging their residents to remain at home, he said the self-quarantine request makes sense.

“We’re asking that folks considering travel to Massachusetts for whatever reason, do not travel to our communities, especially if you have symptoms,” Baker said at a press conference in Gardner Auditorium at the State House.

White House officials earlier this week for the first time advised travelers passing through or leaving New York, which has become the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the US, to self-quarantine for 14 days. “We have to deal with the New York City metro area as a high-risk area,” said Vice President Mike Pence.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed the White House lead on Thursday by issuing an order requiring visitors flying to his state from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the city of New Orleans in Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days. Governors in Florida and Maryland announced similar measures.

Abbott said his order would be enforced by the state’s Department of Public Safety, whose troopers will check the visitor’s self-quarantine location to make sure the person is complying. Those who fail to comply could face a fine of $1,000 or 180 days in jail, or both.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Thursday ordered anyone coming to her state from New York by any form of transportation to self-quarantine for 14 days. She said state troopers would pull over cars with New York license plates to impress upon them the need to comply, a move that prompted outrage from civil liberties advocates.

Baker’s approach, with no enforcement effort, is more cautious than other states. When asked about the enforcement measures being taken by other states, he said: “We are engaged in discussions with people about what we can and cannot do.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Baker said he and legislative leaders had also agreed to extend the state tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, matching the filing date for federal tax returns. The governor earlier had said the move would require legislative action, but his announcement indicated that may not be necessary.

In a press release, the Baker administration said legislation will be filed in the near future to finance the tax-filing extension to July 15. “Specifically, the legislation will authorize the CommonWealth borrowing flexibility to manage deferred revenue this fiscal year and repay it in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2020,” the press release said.