Gov. Baker announces non-essential businesses to remain closed through May 4, stay-at-home advisory extension

BOSTON — Massachusettes Governor Charlie Baker announced on Tuesday afternoon that non-essential businesses will remain closed through May 4. The governor also extended the state’s social distancing guidelines through May 4 as well as Massachusetts’ stay-at-home advisory.

Baker’s announcement falls in line with President Donald Trump’s social distancing guidelines, which were recently extended through April 30. The Massachusetts stay-at-home advisory was set to expire next Tuesday, April 7.

“We know this is difficult but these next few weeks will be critical to mitigate the spread of the disease, and our healthcare system is prepared for what is yet to come,” the governor said.

The extensions mean that schools will remain closed, all non-essential businesses should operate from home and any groups in public should be limited to fewer than 10 people through the beginning of May.

Gov. Baker said that the push is to try to minimize the impact the virus will have on the state’s healthcare system as the number of cases peaks over the next few weeks.

“And we are about to enter what will be perhaps the most difficult period associated with this particular virus and there is no doubt in my mind and the Lt. Governor’s mind or anybody else’s around that you will all perform above and beyond,” Gov. Baker said.

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>> Related: City of Boston preparing to extend stay-at-home regulations as cases of COVID-19 intensify

The state also clarified groups of essential workers who support other essential services, adding other types of healthcare providers like chiropractors and eye doctors. They are also including in that group more workers who provide cleaning services.

On Monday, Baker did say state officials are anticipating the real strain on hospitals is going to start April 7 and last through the 17th. To prepare, he says the state is doing everything it can to make sure health care workers on the frontlines have the equipment they need, focusing on four areas: ventilators, having enough beds, health care staff, and personal protective equipment.

“Protecting the people who work every day to keep us safe and healthy is this obvious significantly important to all of us and that is why we are pursuing every avenue to get the gear they need," Baker said.

The governor also announced that short-term rentals, like hotels, motels and Airbnbs, cannot be used for vacations right now; they can only be used to help with the ongoing health crisis.

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Additionally, a 250-bed field medical station will be opening at Worcester’s DCU Center this week. The station will be run by UMass Memorial Medical Center and will be used, “to treat lower acuity patients who still need monitoring,” the state said in a release Tuesday.

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