BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts will tell all travelers arriving in the state to self-quarantine for two weeks in an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday.
“Starting today, all travelers arriving to the Commonwealth are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days,” Baker said at a news conference. “We’re taking extraordinary steps here to keep our residents safe.”
Travelers entering the state through Logan Airport, South Station and Worcester Airport will get information flyers informing them of the new advisory. Drivers will see the flyers at rest stops and on roadway signs.
Health and safety workers along with other designated essential employees are exempt from the new measure.
“Mayors, public health officials, doctors, nurses, and armies of front line medical workers everywhere are doing extraordinary work and they all have said the same thing: stay home, stop the spread,” Baker said.
Baker said the state is trying to discourage people from visiting at this time. He cited a recent White House advisory saying that anyone who has visited New York recently should self-quarantine.
“We’re asking folks considering traveling to Massachusetts for whatever reason do not travel to our communities, especially if you have symptoms,” he said.
The state is not penalizing those who don’t comply with the advisory at this time.
“We are engaged in discussions with a lot of people about what we can and cannot do. There are plenty of legal and constitutional issues that are involved in this,” Baker said. “We certainly believe encouraging people and instructing people who come back to Massachusetts from some place else to self-quarantine for 14 days is a perfectly reasonable and logistical thing to expect them to do.”
Travelers at Logan airport expressed some frustration at the advisory.
“I’ve self-isolated in Florida and I’ll have to self-isolate again,” said traveller Peter Buchanan. “I think your local supermarket is more dangerous than a plane or the airport at the moment because there’s more people.”
But experts say restricting travel is key to containing the coronavirus. Alessandro Vespignani of Northeastern University has developed a map that forecasts the spread of the disease. He said this will be the new normal for months.
“We want to have social distancing so that the pandemic goes down and then we can assess the situation and see how to gradually lift interventions,” he said.
Reporters also asked Baker to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s hope that the country would be “raring to go” by Easter on April 12.
“Yeah, no. We’re not going to be up-and-running by Easter,” Baker said.
As of Friday, Massachusetts had reported 3,240 confirmed coronavirus cases and 35 deaths.