Baker tightens COVID-19 restrictions on masks, restaurants amid statewide surge


State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced stricter restrictions for restaurants, entertainment venues, and informal gatherings in an effort to slowing the spread of the coronavirus statewide as numbers have continued to soar, topping 1,000 for nine straight days.

Restaurant table service will have to end at 9:30 p.m., and gyms, theatres, and casinos will also have to close at the same time, Baker announced in a news conference at the statehouse. The Department of Public Health is also imposing a new curfew beginning Friday at 12:01 a.m. which encourages the public to remain at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

The Republican governor also implemented a new cap of 10 people on indoor gatherings. Massachusetts previously allowed gatherings of up to 25 individuals indoors and up to 50 outdoors. This capacity limit, announced on the eve of Election Day, does not apply to polling places. 

Baker also tightened the state’s mask mandate, now requiring anyone above age 5 to wear a face covering when in public regardless of their distance from others. 

The state will remain in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. 

The rise in cases statewide was triggered by informal gatherings like house parties, Baker said, not restaurants or schools reopening. 

Baker encouraged residents to remain vigilant to the dangers of the virus.

“If we don’t ramp up the fight . . . we will have a serious problem on our hands in the not-too-distant future,” Baker said. “Part of this is about messaging. We want you to go home. We don’t think shutting down our economy is the right thing to do.”

Anyone who violates the new order on early closures will be fined $500.

In an email sent to students Tuesday morning, “COVID Lead” Erik Muurisepp told students to remain vigilant of the college’s safety guidelines.

“Please continue to follow these orders and the other guidelines that are in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 within the Emerson community and throughout the City of Boston,” Muurisepp wrote. “As we enter these final weeks of in-person learning, please follow all College and local guidelines and policies so that we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and end the semester safely.”