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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Friday issued an emergency order that prohibits gatherings of 250 people or more to help stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The order is effective immediately, Baker said during a Friday afternoon press conference.

The order includes community, civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events; sporting events with spectators; concerts, conventions, fund-raisers, parades, fairs, and festivals, or any similar event that brings together 250 or more people in a single room or space at the same time. It applies to venues like auditoriums, stadiums, arena, large conference rooms, meeting halls, theaters, or any other confined indoor or outdoor spaces.

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Baker also acknowledged during the press conference that the order could apply to weddings.

“Everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus, and by limiting large gatherings, we can further mitigate the spread of the disease,” Baker said in a statement.

Here are the full guidelines from the state’s public health department, as distributed by the governor’s office.

  • Gatherings subject to this Order include, but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, and any similar event or activity that brings together 250 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theatre, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. 
  • The Order does not apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, polling locations, grocery or retail stores, or other spaces where 250 or more persons may be in transit.
  • The Order does not apply to restaurants, provided that they should, when possible, encourage social distancing.
  • The Order does not apply to typical office environments, government buildings, or factories where large numbers of people are present, but it is unusual for them to be within arm’s length of one another.
  • The Order does not apply to higher education or K-12 schools when classes are in session; provided, that assemblies or classes of more than 250 people are prohibited.
  • The Order does not apply to events that exclude spectators; provided, however, that members of the media may attend the event. Athletic and other events do not need to be cancelled or postponed if spectators and other attendees are excluded. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall issue guidance that shall govern scholastic athletic events. 
  • This guidance shall take effect immediately and remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists or the Order is rescinded, whichever is earlier.
  • Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within the scope of the Order, all persons are urged to maintain social distancing (approximately six feet away from other people) whenever possible and to continue to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer and practice proper respiratory etiquette.
  • Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within the scope of the Order, all higher risk individuals should avoid large gatherings. Higher risk individuals include older adults, anyone with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, anyone with weakened immune systems, and anyone who is pregnant.  


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss