Governor Baker Extends Business Closure Order to May 4 as COVID-19 Crisis Continues
Gov. Charlie Baker today extended the state's non-essential business emergency order until May 4 as cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts continue to grow
In addition, the Department of Public Health’s stay-at-home advisory remains in effect, and gatherings of more than 10 people are also banned until May 4.
Baker’s emergency order requires that all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” must close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public. Those not on the list of essential services are encouraged to operate using remote technology.
The administration updated the list of essential services today. That list is based upon federal guidance that was recently updated. The new list will go into effect April 1 at noon. Even essential businesses are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health.
The new essential services list provides clarity around supply chain, adds health care providers such as chiropractors and optometrists, and expands the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation service.
The DPH also issued new guidance today around hotels, motels, inns, beds and breakfasts and other short-term rentals. Those rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, such as housing front line health workers, or for housing Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences.
People are advised to stay home, avoid unnecessary travel, and avoid person-to-person contact during this time. People in high-risk categories, such as the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions, should limit social interactions as much as possible.
As for executive branch state workers, all employees performing non-core functions who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until May 4. Some government services and walk-in offices remain open, but residents are encouraged to use online services when available.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Administration (MEMA) will be setting up a field medical station to provide additional capacity as the state plans for the surge. The federal Strategic National Stockpile approved a 250-bed field station that will be set up at the DCU Center in Worcester this week. The temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial Hospital. The field medical center will be used to treat lower acuity patients who still need monitoring.
Massachusetts is also implementing a pilot project that allows for safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround, Baker announced. The pilot will operate under the Massachusetts National Guard in partnership with the Department of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Cambridge. Samples will be collected by trained personnel from the Massachusetts National Guard.
Prior to this launch, the only way for nursing home residents to be tested would be to go to a hospital or physician’s office.
Members of the public should continue checking www.mass.gov/covid19 for the latest information on impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak.