Governor Charlie Baker on Monday unveiled a new state campaign to encourage people to maintain COVID-19 precautions, so they can return to many of their cherished pre-pandemic pastimes with friends and relatives sooner rather than later.
Baker said the multilingual #GetBackMass campaign will run on television and digital platforms and posters will be distributed to stores.
“It’s a reminder that we must continue to fight so we can get back to the things we love to do,” he said at a State House news conference.
He said the TV ads feature real people “talking about the things that they want to get back to. Spending time with friends and family. Going to concerts or getting kids to playdates. COVID has robbed us of those things and so many more.”
He noted the campaign follows several public awareness pushes.
“We’ve been chasing every outlet we can to get the right message in front of the right people,” Baker said. “This campaign makes clear that we can, in fact, get back to the things we want to do if we wear face coverings, keep our distance, and get tested.”
He reiterated that residents should only celebrate Thanksgiving with their immediate households this year, since data show informal indoor gatherings — such as large extended family dinners — have proven to be virus spreaders.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise or any secret to anyone who’s been turning on the TV, reading the papers, listening to the radio, or paying attention to any of the commentary, observations, and news about COVID and Thanksgiving,” Baker said. “Thanksgiving clearly represents a big potential risk for the spread of COVID-19.”
He urged residents to think about how their actions on Thanksgiving could affect elderly relatives and neighbors and implored people to keep their visits brief and masks on if they plan to spend time in-person Thursday with aging family members.
“It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of a second surge, and yes, there is clearly hope on the horizon with all the positive news about vaccines,” Baker said. “But I think everybody in the public health space agrees that Thanksgiving and the holiday season generally need to be different than they’ve been in the past, and everybody has a role to play in helping us work our way through it.”
Baker added that the state’s 10-person limit on indoor gatherings remains in effect.
“Older people and those who have pre-existing conditions, these are the people most at risk of serious illness or death from COVID,” he said. “Please think about how your actions affect your elderly relatives, or those friends or neighbors or relatives of yours who have pre-existing conditions.”
Separately at the briefing, the governor was asked if he feels things will improve for the country once President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
“I would start by saying that I don’t think we should be waiting until Jan. 20,” Baker said, citing a stalemate on another federal COVID relief package and other factors. “I think it’s really important for [President Trump] and his team to focus on what’s directly in front of everybody, which is, how are going to continue” to battle the pandemic. “That should be priority number one. Priority number two should be making that transition [from Trump to Biden] work, because that’s an important part ... as well.”
Regarding the #GetBackMass campaign, one early adopter Monday was state Attorney General Maura Healey.
“I know we all have COVID fatigue, but we have the power to protect ourselves and others,” Healey tweeted Monday afternoon. “As we approach the holidays, you, your family, and others are safest when celebrating only with people you live with.”
She continued, “The virus is still spreading in Massachusetts. Stay vigilant. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance from others. Together we can #GetBackMass.”