Gov. Charlie Baker in Boston Tuesday announcing several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy Baker-Polito administration

Baker extends nonessential business closures, ban on gatherings of more than 10 to May 4

Boston Tuesday, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker announced several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including extending the nonessential business emergency order and guidance for executive branch employees until Monday, May 4, Baker’s press office said in a statement.

The Department of Public Health’s stay-at-home advisory remains in effect. The administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” categories for businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that are permitted to operate brick-and-mortar facilities during the emergency.

Essential services order: Baker’s emergency order requiring that all businesses and organizations that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public will be extended until Monday, May 4. Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until Monday, May 4.

The administration updated the COVID-19 Essential Services list Wednesday, which is based on federal guidance that was updated earlier this week. The new list will go into effect Wednesday, April 1, at noon. While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the state Department of Public Health.

See video below of Gov. Charlie Baker in Boston Tuesday announcing several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including extending the nonessential business emergency order:

Some of the updates to the essential services list include:

  • Clarity around the supply chain that supports other essential services;
  • Adding health care providers like chiropractors and optometrists; and
  • Expanding the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services.

Click here for the essential services extension order.

Click here for the full list of categories of COVID-19 Essential Services. (PDF)

Click here for COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs created by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Hotel/motel guidance: As part of the updated essential business list, DPH issued new guidance today around hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and other short-term residential rentals. Based on this new guidance, hotels, motels and short-term rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, like frontline health workers or individuals or for Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences.

Click here for the hotel/motel guidance.

Stay-at-home advisory: Last week, Baker directed DPH to issue a stay-at-home advisory, and he announced Wednesday, April 1, that the advisory will remain in effect. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person-to-person contact during this time period. Residents who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19 should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible

Click here for the stay-at-home advisory.

Executive branch employee guidance: The administration Wednesday also extended the guidance issued to executive branch employees on protocol during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure state government can continue to provide key services while protecting the health and safety of the public and the executive branch workforce. Under the guidance, all employees performing non-core functions who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until Monday, May 4. Full guidance will be sent to executive branch employees later today.

Some executive branch services and walk-in offices remain open, but residents are encouraged to use online services when available. For the status of in-person executive branch office locations, please click here.

Field medical station announcement: The state, through MEMA, has requested and received approval for a field medical station that will provide additional medical care capacity as the state plans for a surge in cases. The federal Strategic National Stockpile has approved a 250-bed field medical station that will be deployed to the DCU Center in the city of Worcester this week. This temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial and staffed by a partnership including the city of Worcester and others. The temporary field medical center will be used to treat lower-acuity patients who still need monitoring.

Nursing/rest home program: The state is implementing a pilot project that allows for safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround. The pilot will operate under the auspices of the Massachusetts National Guard in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Broad Institute of Cambridge, and 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 be transported to a hospital or physician’s office.

Members of the public should continue checking for the latest information on impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak.