Governor Charlie Baker announced new initiatives to stop the spread of COVID-19 in a press conference on Friday, August 7. The initiatives include changes to the gathering order, postponing the next stage of Reopening Massachusetts, cross-agency enforcement teams and extending Stop the Spread.
Changes to Reopening Massachusetts
Reopening Massachusetts, the four phase approach to reopening the state economy, moved into the first step of Phase III on July 6.
Baker announced on Friday he is postponing indefinitely moving forward to Phase III, Step 2.
In Phase 3, Step 2, the plan would allow indoor theaters and performance venues, such as concert halls, to reopen. Step 1 permits performances outdoors.
Also on hold indefinitely is indoor recreation with greater potential for contact including laser tag, roller skating, trampolines and obstacle courses.
Phase IV includes amusement parks, theme parks, large-capacity venues, bars, nightclubs and large outdoor events.
Statewide Guidance on Gatherings
Effective Tuesday, August 11, new guidance reduces the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 individuals. Indoor gatherings remain unchanged at 25.
These limits apply to all gatherings, both public and private.
Face masks are required where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing.
Rules governing restaurants now indicate that alcoholic beverages served for on-site consumption must be accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site.
According to the Governor’s office, bars masquerading as restaurants will be closed.
State and local law enforcement have the jurisdiction to enforce these orders with fines and cease and desist orders.
Baker also announced a Cross-Agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team, ranging across seven agencies, that will increase enforcement of these regulations.
Stop the Spread
The Stop the Spread initiative provides free COVID-19 testing in 17 communities, including Worcester. Baker extended that program through September 12 in all 17 locations.