“What day is it?”
The halfhearted, half-entirely serious question is circling the Internet right now, and it’s laced with all sorts of verities. With news breaking by the hour and local and federal leaders holding press conferences every day, information, dates, rules, and restrictions have never been harder to track. While you still may need to double check the calendar every now and then, here is a roundup of coronavirus-related announcements, dates, and regulations worth noting in Massachusetts.
Crowd sizes are restricted to 10 people
On March 13, Governor Charlie Baker first issued a ban on large gatherings of over 250 people. The original ban extended to community, civic, public, and leisure gatherings, as well as faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, fund-raisers, parades, and festivals. It did not include airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, polling locations, and grocery and retail stores.
This changed on March 15, when the governor announced a new threshold for any public gatherings from the 250-person limit to 25. Limitations extended to fitness centers, private clubs, and theaters.
Baker again lowered the crowd size threshold from 25 to 10 people on March 23, the most current crowd restriction as of early March 31. It extends to all nonessential businesses and will remain in place until May 4, an extension from the original April 7 date.
Nonessential businesses closed, stay-at-home advisory issued
In the same March 23 press briefing, Baker ordered all nonessential businesses in Massachusetts to close their doors by midday March 24, and urged the state’s nearly 7 million people to stay home. It was the sharpest restriction on daily life yet, and marked a moment where the virus touched virtually every part of the state. Baker said the order would stay in effect until at least April 7, and did not affect grocery stores, pharmacies, medical facilities, or gas stations, among a variety of other businesses that are allowed to stay open. Baker extended the business closure order and stay-at-home advisory to May 4 during a press conference on March 31.
Schools closed until May 4
On March 15, Baker ordered that all public and private schools across Massachusetts close for three weeks. The order went into effect on March 17 and extended until April 6.
Ten days later, on March 25, Baker extended the shutdown until May 4 as the number of diagnosed infections across the state jumped by more than half in a single day.
On March 27, Massachusetts effectively closed its doors to tourists and many travelers, with Baker urging anyone arriving from out-of-state to self-quarantine for two weeks. The advisory exempts health care, public safety, and other state-designated essential workers who commute into Massachusetts from neighboring states, and there are no penalties for those who visit despite the request.
Officials also announced on March 27 it would extend the state income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15, matching the new federal filing deadline.
Boston parking rules
With the coronavirus upending daily life, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has relaxed some parking rules in the city. Now, those with a residential parking sticker can use meter spots for free — and for unlimited time — within their neighborhoods; medical professionals can access free or reduced-rate spots in certain garages; and restaurants can request temporary pick-up zones in front of their buildings, which would allow 5-minute parking for takeout and delivery orders.
As Walsh previously announced, cars also will not be ticketed or towed for street sweeping.