Gov. Baker closes all Mass. schools, restaurants take-out only, bans gatherings over 25 people

BOSTON, Mass. (WCVB): Gov. Charlie Baker said there are currently no plans for a statewide shelter-in-place order, but he has put a number of unprecedented measures in place across Massachusetts.

Just after 6:20 p.m. Sunday, Baker ordered a more restrictive public gathering plan, banning all gatherings of 25 or more people. The governor’s initial plan was on gatherings of 250 or more people, which was put into place on Friday.

“These gatherings include all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions and any similar event or activity that brings together 25 or more people in a single room or a single space at the same time. This includes venues like fitness centers, private clubs and theaters,” Baker said.

Baker also banned bars and restaurants from serving food and drinks on-site, but will allow them to serve food via takeout and delivery services. The on-site service ban begins Tuesday and is scheduled to last until April 7.

“This order doesn’t apply to grocery stores or pharmacies. This is about bars and restaurants and those places that people do not absolutely have to go,” Baker said. “I realize these measures are unprecedented, but we’re asking our residents to take a deep breath and understand the rationale behind this guidance.”

In addition, all K-12 public schools in Massachusetts will close Tuesday and suspend operations for the next three weeks through April 7.

“Unless your district isn’t already closed, school is on tomorrow but not Tuesday,” Baker said.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said all nursing homes and rest homes in Massachusetts have been ordered to ban visitors.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said there is a community spread in seven counties in the state: Berkshire, Essex, Hampden, Norfolk, Middlesex, Suffolk and Worcester.

“Please take seriously the social distancing measures that you heard the governor speak about,” Bharel said. “Social distancing is our collective opportunity to influence the course of this illness and flatten the curve. Each of us needs to do our part.”

Before Baker’s order, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared a public health emergency for the city and ordered bars and restaurants to reduce capacity by 50% while authorizing all establishments to offer take-out options.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News