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Baker says new coronavirus restrictions will help school districts bring students back in person

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a press conference at the State House on Monday.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a press conference at the State House on Monday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday that a new slate of coronavirus restrictions that take effect Saturday will ultimately help school districts get more students back to classrooms for in-person learning.

“As the science and medical data has made very clear, all school districts, even those with high infection rates, can and should bring students back into the classroom,” Baker said at a press conference at the State House. “In fact, these measures today will help districts bring students back and bring them back soon.”

The restrictions Baker announced Tuesday, which will last for at least two weeks, include the lowering of capacity limits for most industries to 25 percent. The industries affected by this new limit include restaurants, theaters, performance venues, personal services, casinos, offices, places of worship, retail, driving and flight schools, golf facilities, libraries, gyms, and museums.

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Indoor and outdoor gathering limits are also reduced — to 25 people outside and 10 people inside.

Baker and other state education officials have pushed for school districts to bring as many students back for in-person learning as possible this year, citing evidence that in-school coronavirus transmission is extremely limited.

As of Dec. 16, local school officials have reported 2,972 coronavirus cases among students and 2,122 among staff members to the state since Sept. 24. Last week’s report of 1,009 new cases was the highest number of cases reported in a single week since the start of the academic year.

The new restrictions, Baker said Tuesday, “will help suppress the growth of the virus and make sure that our health care system can withstand this surge and continue to serve the many people who need it to be there for them who aren’t dealing with COVID, and it will also help us keep our schools and our communities open.”

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Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.