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Gov. Charlie Baker issuing the emergency executive order in Boston. At left is Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Charlie Baker

Baker issues emergency order closing all but ‘essential’ organizations until April 7; county records its first death

By Monday, Mar 23, 2020 News 2

Great Barrington — Gov. Charlie Baker Monday morning issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public from noon on Tuesday, March 24, until noon on Tuesday, April 7.

The state Department of Health also said yesterday that an elderly Berkshire County man died of the coronavirus over the weekend — the first such fatality recorded in the county. The official number of infected persons confirmed in the county now stands at 23. Click here to see the number by county.

Baker’s office said Monday morning in a statement that it had compiled a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that “shall continue to operate brick and mortar facilities during this two-week time period.”

This list, Baker said, is “based on federal guidance and amended to reflect the needs of Massachusetts’ unique economy.” While these businesses are designated as essential, Baker said they “are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health.” Click here to see the complete list of essential services and businesses.

Broadly speaking, the list includes the following sectors: health care/public health/human services, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation and logistics, public works, communications and information technology, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical, defense industrial base, and “other community-based essential functions and government operations.”

Liquor stores are permitted to be open but recreational marijuana stores are not. Medical marijuana dispensaries may, however, remain open. All businesses that remain open “are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health.”

See video below of Gov. Charlie Baker announcing an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to temporarily close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public:

Because of the evolving spread of COVID-19 in-state, Baker has directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay-at-home advisory outlining self-isolation and social distancing protocols. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other inessential activities during this two-week time period. Residents over 70 years of age or with underlying health conditions, who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19, “should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.” Baker’s statement said.

The order also limits gatherings to 10 people during the state of emergency, a reduction from the 25-person limit established in an earlier order. This includes community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, and any similar event or activity that brings together more than 10 persons in any confined indoor or outdoor space. The order does not prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people in an outdoor space, like a park or athletic field.

Yesterday, when the DPH announced the death of the Berkshire County man, the department added that two other men in their 70s from Hampden County had also died, along with a man in his 90s from Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston.

The DPH said the confirmation of their deaths followed a weekend during which the state’s first two COVID-19 deaths were confirmed: a man in his 80s from Suffolk County who had been hospitalized and had pre-existing health conditions and a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County “who had a pre-existing condition, predisposing them both to more severe disease.”

DPH said: “COVID-19 activity is increasing in Massachusetts. At this time, if people are only mildly symptomatic, they should speak to their healthcare provider about whether they need to be assessed in person. If not, they should stay at home while they are sick. Asymptomatic family members should practice social distancing and immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms.”


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