Although it may have seemed as though Massachusetts was on the fast track to being fully reopened, the process has been put on hold indefinitely. Under the direction of Governor Charlie Baker, the state's reopening efforts have been put on hold and instead, Baker has stated that the state will focus on enforcing prevention methods, in order to limit community transmissions.
Pausing on Step 2 of Phase 3
At a press conference that was held on Friday, August 7, Baker informed the public that step 2 of phase 3 would be on an indefinite hold. In particular, this means that there will be no live music venues or bars opening any time soon. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, Baker has basically stated that he has concerns about people attending those events, contracting the virus, and then spreading the virus to others before their symptoms are apparent.
Additionally, the administration also indicated that they also plan on cracking down on outdoor gatherings, reducing their maximum size from 100 to 50 people. Moreover, the maximum size of indoor gatherings will remain the same that it is: 25 people. However, these limits have been extended to include both public and private gatherings, for the first time. This will also require face coverings at all gatherings that include 10 or more people.
Looking Toward the Future
Although this will obviously be upsetting to some, Baker asserts that the tougher restrictions are needed to reduce the rising levels of COVID-19 in the state. Additionally, he has announced that he has created a multi-agency body called the Cross-Agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team. This agency will be overseen by both the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. It will be tasked with spearheading the ramp-up in terms of COVID-19 prevention and will give them the ability to shut-down dangerous locations such as parks, playgrounds, and other businesses, such as bars masquerading as restaurants, and even hotels, who are caught in violation of these new restrictions.