Gov. Charlie Baker announces a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at a State House press conference on Nov. 2. (Photo courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)

The Baker-Polito administration today announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the trend of increasing new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Massachusetts.

Public health data indicate that COVID cases are up by 278% since Labor Day, and hospitalizations are up by 145% over the same period.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the new measures, effective this Friday at 12:01 a.m., are meant to disrupt recent trends so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open and to prevent the need to roll back to Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

Gov. Baker signed an updated order related to face-coverings that requires all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain six feet of distance from others.

Under a revised Stay At Home Advisory, residents will have to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The advisory is intended to ensure that residents avoid unnecessary activities that can lead to increased COVID transmissions. The advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands (e.g., getting groceries and addressing health needs), and taking a walk.

A new executive order (COVID Order No. 53) requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30. The 9:30 p.m. closure requirement is aligned with the Stay At Home Advisory. Together, the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID transmission.

Effective Nov. 6, the following businesses and activities must be closed to the public between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.:
• Restaurants (in-person dining must cease at 9:30 p.m., although takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages)
• Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol (though they may continue to sell non-alcoholic products)
• Adult-use marijuana (not including medical marijuana)
• Indoor and outdoor events
• Theaters/movie theaters (including drive-in movie theaters)
• Performance venues (indoor and outdoor)
• Youth and adult amateur sports activities
• Golf facilities
• Recreational boating and boating businesses
• Outdoor recreational experiences
• Casinos and horse tracks/simulcast facilities
• Driving and flight schools
• Zoos, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves, nature centers
• Close-contact personal services (such as hair and nail salons)
• Gyms, fitness centers and health clubs
• Indoor and outdoor pools
• Museums/cultural and historical facilities/guided tours

Gov. Baker also signed an updated gatherings order to reduce the limit for gatherings at private residences; indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people.

The limit on gatherings in public spaces and at event venues (e.g., wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m.

The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing.

The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.

The revised face covering order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.