BOSTON (CBS) — New statewide coronavirus restrictions take effect in Massachusetts Saturday, and local businesses will feel the greatest impact. Restaurants, stores, theaters, casinos, offices, places of worship, gyms, arcades and museums all have to drop capacity limits from the current 40% to 25%.
Gov. Charlie Baker said in announcing the new restrictions earlier this week that he’s aware of the “very negative ramifications” of the impact to people’s livelihoods, but they are necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and to get kids back in classrooms.
“This is part of what we must do during this critical period,” Baker said. “These measures today will help districts bring students back, and bring them back soon.”
Also starting Saturday, all indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people. Outdoor gathering cannot exceed 25 people. And hospitals will postpone all non-essential, inpatient, elective and invasive procedures, “unless postponement would lead to high risk or significant clinical decline of an individual’s health,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Experts say that if people don’t follow guidelines this holiday season, the current surge could get out of control.
“If you add a similar event like Christmas to that, compounded on top of what happened at Thanksgiving, we’ll be in big trouble,” UMass Memorial CEO Dr. Eric Dickson said. “We’re going to need folks to focus really on adhering to the new restrictions and doing the household Christmas only.”
As of Thursday, there are 2,095 people currently hospitalized for a coronavirus-related illness in the state, and an estimated 80,800 cases.
The restrictions will stay in place for at least two weeks.
“It is our goal to keep these measures temporary,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.