BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the state is slashing its outdoor gathering limit from 100 to 50 people effective Tuesday, August 11. This comes as Massachusetts is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases, with new clusters being linked to large parties and other gatherings.
“These parties are too big, too crowded and people are simply not being responsible,” Baker said. “If you give this virus an opportunity to move, it will.”
The order from Baker applies the new limit to gatherings on both public and private property. It requires face masks at events where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing. The limit to indoor gatherings will remain at 25.
While we've seen a decrease in #COVID19MA cases + hospitalizations since May, there's been a slight uptick in certain communities in recent days.
Today we announced stricter rules for public and private gatherings + targeted enhanced enforcement.
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) August 7, 2020
Massachusetts’ relative success in fighting the coronavirus has caused some residents to become “a bit too relaxed about the seriousness of this virus,” Baker said.
Baker also announced that Massachusetts is indefinitely postponing step 2 of the Phase 3 reopening process, saying the state “cannot move forward at this time or anytime soon.” Moving to step 2 would have allowed more performance venues and indoor recreation areas to re-open, such as bowling alleys, arcades, roller skating rinks and laser tag facilities.
The state will also crack down on “bars masquerading as restaurants,” Baker said.
Manager at Cisco Seaport Manager Joe Khalidi said the change has been tough, but he’s making sure he complies with the rules.
“We switched from being a full-blown Beergarden to a sit-down venue that serves drinks and pizza,” Khalidi said. “It’s really tough but we’re gonna do what’s right and, you know, abide by the rules.”
Baker said that both state and local law enforcement will be empowered to enforce the new orders and event hosts that violate the rules will be subject to fines or cease and desist orders.
A new “COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team” will work to “ramp up enforcement” across the state and coordinate with local communities that are at the highest risk for coronavirus outbreaks.
Earlier this week, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said the Greater Boston Area is among the regions seeing a concerning rise in coronavirus cases and need to “get on top of it.”