Baker tightens restrictions starting day after Christmas
Lowers gathering sizes; cuts admissions to stores, restaurants
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER issued an order that takes effect this Saturday further reducing the size of gatherings; lowering the number of people that can be admitted to restaurants, offices, and stores; and directing hospitals to cancel all nonessential, invasive procedures.
At a State House press conference on Tuesday, the governor said the order will be temporary, running from the day after Christmas until January 10. He said he saw the order as a way to curb COVID-19 infections and send a message to individuals to take the virus seriously over the holiday period.
“We would like to see people spend the next couple of weeks just with those they live with,” Baker said.
The governor said the latest crackdown was prompted by what happened after Thanksgiving when COVID-19 cases doubled and hospitalizations began to rise in a troubling way. “You literally had the heads of a number of hospitals say they could see the intergenerational transfer that was taking place,” he said, adding that the age of incoming patients went up dramatically and began to match up with the age levels seen during the spring.
The order cuts gathering sizes in homes, event venues, and public spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors – down from 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.
The order also cuts the number of people who can enter establishments to 25 percent of permitted capacity, down from 40 percent. At restaurants, barber shops and salons, houses of worship, and retail stores, workers and staff are excluded from the counts. At all other venues, including offices, casinos, movie theaters, libraries, fitness clubs, and arcades, staff is included.
Any establishment or host violating the gathering or capacity limits is subject to fines for each person over the limit.Marylou Sudders, the governor’s secretary of health and human services, said hospitals must postpone or cancel all nonemergency invasive procedures starting on Saturday to conserve hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. She said outpatient procedures can continue along with preventive care such as mammograms, pediatric visits, radiology, and cancer screenings.
Sudders said hospital officials should use their clinical judgment in determining what procedures can be safely delayed.