Baker orders non-essential businesses shuttered
No mandatory stay-at-home; liquor, not pot, stores deemed essential
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is ordering all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts to shut their physical operations as of noon on Tuesday.
The order will remain in effect through April 7 at noon, although it could be extended beyond that depending on circumstances on the ground.
State officials are urging individuals to stay at home, but Baker stopped short of issuing a mandatory stay-at-home order.
“I do not believe I can or should order US citizens to be confined to their homes for days on end,” Baker said at a State House press conference on Monday. “It doesn’t make sense from a public health perspective and it’s not realistic, especially if people need to get to work at essential business or go to places like grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and health care providers.”
Businesses that will be allowed to remain open include: grocery stores and businesses that are necessary to support them, like farms and distributors; pharmacies; medical facilities; medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers; law enforcement and first responders; news media; utilities; and a long list of other essential services.
Medical marijuana facilities are deemed essential, Baker said, but recreational marijuana stores are not, in part because they tend to be crowded and attract people from out of state.
Stores that sell liquor are deemed essential.
(A full list of essential services can be found here.)
Restaurants will be allowed to provide and deliver take-out. Online commerce will continue to operate.
Businesses that violate the law will be fined up to $300 and can be subject to criminal penalties. Baker said the law will be enforced primarily by local officials.
Parks and public outdoor spaces will remain open, but organized sports and large gatherings will be prohibited. Baker is now limiting gatherings to 10 people, down from the prior limit of 25. State officials said that limit on gatherings would not apply to meetings of essential businesses.
“We urge people to stay home and avoid any unnecessary activities,” Baker said. But he added, “Everyone can still buy food at a grocery store, get what they need at a pharmacy, and take a walk around the block or at the park.”Residents over age 70 or those with underlying health problems in particular are advised to limit social interactions as much as possible.
“Acting now to prevent more person-to-person interaction will buy us more time so our health care system can better prepare for a challenge unlike any they’ve ever seen before,” Baker said.