BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker announced on a Friday press conference he will be “indefinitely postponing” rolling out step 2 of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state.
Along with postponing the next step in reopening the state, Baker announced they will be rolling back on certain safety guidances, such as reducing outdoor gathering limits from 100 to 50 people (indoor gatherings limit will remain at 25 people) and bars masquerading as restaurants will need to close their doors again.
These limits will apply to all types of gatherings, both public and private. Face coverings will be required where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing.
The state will also start tracking “high risk” COVID-19 communities, data which will be included in a weekly update every Wednesday as of next week. Right now, the state releases updated COVID-19 data every day as well as a weekly town-by-town breakdown of the virus also released every Wednesday.
Baker also announced they will be creating a “COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team” to help curb the rising amount of cases in Massachusetts, as well as having police enforce orders and issue fines to anyone not adhering to health and safety codes.
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For restaurants, the rules have been updated that alcohol may only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site. Bars “masquerading” as restaurants will be shut down, according to Baker.
When he announced his 4-Phase approach to reopening the state in May, Baker said moving between the phases would depend entirely on health data and, if numbers of infections, hospitalizations or deaths surged for any reason, then the phases could be reversed. For the time being, the phased approach to reopening has not been reversed, only stalled.
To read the gatherings order, click here.
To read the updated restaurant protocols, click here.
Last week, the state launched the “Stop the Spread” initiative which provides free testing to communities most affected by the pandemic.
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.
On Friday, Baker announced the extension of free testing in these 17 communities through September 12.
For more information on reopening Massachusetts and which phase we’re in, click here.
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