State Announces New Initiatives to Stop Spread of COVID-19
Today, Governor Baker announced a new set of initiatives aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, especially in higher risk communities that have seen a recent uptick in cases. While Massachusetts has seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since May, there has been a slight uptick in certain communities in recent days. Due to the recent increase in positive cases, Step Two of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan has been postponed indefinitely. Starting next week, additional reporting for town-by-town data will be published weekly to show the spread of COVID-19 at a community level.
1. Governor Baker is signing an updated gatherings order, effective Tuesday, August 11, which will:
- Reduce the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 people (indoor gatherings limit will remain at 25 people)
- Apply these limits to all types of gatherings, on both public and private property
- Require face coverings where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing.
2. Restaurant rules have been updated to state that alcoholic beverages may only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site. The administration will be taking measures to ensure that bars masquerading as restaurants will be closed.
3. A cross-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team will be responsible for ramping up enforcement statewide and coordinating local intervention efforts at the local level in higher risk COVID-19 communities. Communities will be designated as higher risk COVID-19 communities based on public health data, including but not limited to rising trends for new cases and the percentage of positive COVID tests.
4. The Stop the Spread initiative, which provides free testing to residents in targeted communities, will be extended through September 12, 2020. There are currently sites in 17 communities: Agawam, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester.
5. Statewide enforcement and intervention will include:
- Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of agencies, including Local Services, Labor Standards, DPH, MSP and ABCC, coordinated by EOPSS and MEMA.
- Increased enforcement, including fines, of sector guidance for businesses to ensure businesses and residents are aware of and following COVID-19 orders.
- Support for ABCC and local licensing boards in exercising their existing authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required COVID-19 safety measures.
- Targeted public messaging campaign to alert residents of higher risk COVID communities (road signs, PSAs, etc.).
- Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding.
- Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses or other entities and locations believed to be contributing to the COVID-19 spread in higher risk COVID-19 communities.
- Additional resources for public health support such as testing, tracing and quarantining.
For more information see Mass.gov/Reopening.