Mass. to ease some pandemic business restrictions Monday, stay at home advisory still in effect in RI

Mass. to ease some pandemic business restrictions Monday, stay at home advisory still in effect in RI

BOSTON (WPRI/AP) — Massachusetts will begin to ease some of its pandemic restrictions on businesses as spikes in the number of hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19 have begun to slow.

Gov. Charlie Baker said beginning Monday at 5 a.m., the state’s early closure order for businesses and the stay at home advisory for the public will be lifted.

The early closure order, put in place in early November, targeted a range of businesses including restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters and others, requiring them to close at 9:30 p.m.

A 25% capacity limit on businesses will remain in place until February 8.

The state is also lifting on Monday the advisory that people stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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Baker pointed to positive trends in the disease for his decision to begin to loosen restrictions on businesses.

“Post-Thanksgiving we had a significant spike in cases and hospitalizations,” Baker said. “Today, three weeks into 2021, our public health data is trending in a better direction for some categories.”

Hospitalizations are down by 10% since they peaked in early January, he said. The average positive test rate for COVID-19 has gone down 33% since the beginning of January.

However, in Rhode Island, the stay at home advisory will remain in effect for the time being.

While the state’s case positivity and hospitalization rates have been trending downward since early December, Alexander-Scott said it would be premature to lift the curfew now.

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“We are at a solid place right now. We wouldn’t want to make changes too early… that would put all businesses at risk,” Alexander-Scott said.

In Massachusetts, Baker said there are other positive developments, including the fact that vaccines are beginning to be administered.

The state will also continue to monitor the new variant of the coronavirus that has been recently detected in Massachusetts, although Baker said the administration had assumed the variant was already in the state weeks ago.

Baker also announced all Massachusetts residents in Phase One of the state’s vaccination plan are now eligible to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Eligible residents — including healthcare workers, long-term care facilities residents and staff, first responders, congregate care setting residents and staff and home-based healthcare workers — can make an appointment at more than 150 locations including Gillette Stadium, regional vaccination sites and participating CVS Health and Walgreens pharmacies.

Resident must demonstrate their eligibility. Most pharmacies require individuals to attest to their eligibility as part of the online appointment scheduling process.

All other sites will accept the state’s self attestation form. Those getting vaccinations should bring either an employer-issued ID card, a government-issued identification or license, or recent paystub.

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