Governor Charlie Baker on Monday ordered “non-essential businesses” to close their doors and operate remotely by Tuesday at noon. He also issued a companion advisory for residents to stay at home at least until April 7.
Here are answers to some of the questions about the new order and guidelines and what they mean for Massachusetts residents:
Q. Will I be able to go to the grocery store, get gasoline for my car, and ride the MBTA?
A. Yes. Baker said the restrictions on businesses and on social activities do not apply to supermarkets and the companies that supply them with groceries. Pharmacies also will remain open, along with medical marijuana dispensaries, though recreational pot shops are ordered to close. Liquor stores are classified with grocery stores and other retail outlets and will not be forced to close.
Gas stations also will be allowed to remain open, as will the state’s roads and bridges.
The MBTA will continue to operate, but Baker said people should not use it to avoid the recommendations of the stay-at-home advisory.
Baker said the state will not be deciding when people can go shopping.
“That is an unrestricted right for the people of Massachusetts,” Baker said. “They will not lose access to food and medicine, period.”
Q. Who will enforce this shutdown of non-essential businesses?
A. Baker said there will be a fine if a company ignores the shutdown of their physical operations. He said local authorities are most likely to enforce the order.
Q: What is an essential business?
A. Baker said sectors that can remain open during the shutdown order include:
- Health care and public health
- Law enforcement and public safety
- Food and agriculture
- Critical manufacturing
- Water and wastewater
- Public works
- Communications and information technology
- Financial services
- National security
- Chemical manufacturing and hazardous materials
- Other essential community functions and government operations
- News media
Q. How does this differ from sheltering in place?
A. Governor Baker emphasized he was not issuing a shelter-in-place order, saying, “I do not believe I can or should order US citizens to be confined to their home for days on end. It doesn’t make sense from a public health point of view, and it’s not realistic.” Still, everyone is advised to stay home and limit all unnecessary activities.
Q. Can I still go outside to walk or jog?
A. Yes. Baker specifically said that under the new guidelines, people can still “take a walk around the block or at the park,” but he said everyone should still practice social distancing and stay away from group activities like pickup basketball.
Q. Can I still order from my favorite restaurant?
A. Probably. All restaurants can still continue to offer takeout and delivery, “as long as they follow social distancing measures,” Baker said. But some restaurant owners have chosen to close their doors for now, while others have reduced their hours.
Q. What if my power goes out, there’s a gas leak in my home, or a water main breaks?
A. Workers in the electricity industry; those needed to operate and maintain water systems, gas and other utility workers; and public works employees are considered essential and are exempt from the emergency order.
Q. Can I go to the bank — and will it be open?
A. Probably. Many workers in the financial services industry are considered essential, including those who provide customer access to banking and lending, those who process financial transactions and maintain ATMs and other systems, and those who work in capital markets. But individual banks may choose to reduce hours or lobby access, so it’s a good idea to call ahead.
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