BOSTON – With a surge in Coronavirus cases continuing, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today, December 22, a reduction in occupancy for indoor and outdoor venues starting December 26 through at least January 10, 2021.
After Thanksgiving infections of COVID skyrocketed, said Gov. Baker.
The Governor reminded people to celebrate Christmas with those in your immediate household. And if you don’t do that, wear a face covering, stay 6 feet apart, and continue to wash hands regularly.
“Appropriate to take action now to slow the spread,” said the Governor, about the new executive order.
The temporary Executive Order will outline the following measures that will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 26 and will continue until Sunday, January 10, with a possibility of an extension of another week based upon available data. That extension could be through Martin Luther King. Jr. weekend.
This executive order will reduce allowable occupancy from current capacity levels of 40% to 25% in multiple sectors, including houses of worship, retail, offices, lodging, health clubs, libraries, and museums, according to the Baker-Polito administration.
“By limiting capacity, we are sending a message,” said Gov. Baker.
“Best and most safe thing we can do for the next few weeks … is to not treat the time between Christmas and New Year’s like we normally do,” said the Governor. “it is a tough message but it the right message for the moment.”
“The decisions we have had to make throughout the pandemic have been difficult,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
“It is our goal to keep these restrictions temporary,” she said.
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” said the Lt. Governor.
“The main reason we picked the day after Christmas instead of before Christmas, as we know many people will participate in a faith service on Christmas Eve or Christmas day,” said Gov. Baker.
Small spaces (such as personal services) and other spaces without clear occupancy standards may use 5 people per 1000 square feet as an alternative to the 25% occupancy, according to the executive order.
The 25% limit will not apply to manufacturing, laboratories, drive in movie theaters, or construction projects, according to the administration.
Employees/staff are exempted from the capacity count, according to the executive order.
Limits at indoor event venues are being reduced to 10 people, while limits at outdoor event venues are being reduced to 25 people. This includes private residences, said the Lt. Governor.
Current limits at private residences remain the same at10 indoors and 25 outdoors, according to the order.
Limits at movie theaters will be reduced to 25% (no more than 50 people per theater)
Limits outdoor performance venues will remain 25% (with the max number reduced to 25 from 50).
Office spaces will be required to reduce capacity to 25%, but there will continue to be allowances for offices with “critical services”, such as public safety, public health, and other critical services.
There is no approval required for these exemptions.
K-12 schools will continue to be exempted from these capacity limits and will need to follow DESE standards and guidelines.
Read a summary of the restrictions here.
Read the emergency order here.
Editor’s Note: The press conference is still taking places and this is being updated in real time.