A Hope That Baker Isn't 'Jumping The Gun' As Massachusetts Rolls Back COVID-19 Curfew
Starting Monday, businesses in Massachusetts like restaurants, casinos and liquor stores will be allowed to stay open past 9:30 p.m., although a 25% capacity limit will still be in place.
Governor Charlie Baker announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week, citing vaccines reaching residents and improving figures in the state for positive case rates and hospitalizations.
A statewide stay-at-home advisory will also come to an end. It called for Massachusetts residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Some, including state Representative Mindy Domb of Amherst, are questioning the timing of this move.
Given the limited populations that are currently in phase 1 of the vaccine distribution in MA, I'm not sure why this would influence a restaurant closure advisory. https://t.co/pvbDFt8kwJ— Mindy Domb (@MindyForMA) January 21, 2021
Panelist Carrie Saldo said Baker is trying to "contain the uncontainable."
"Massachusetts has had high rates of COVID-19 almost from the beginning of this pandemic," Saldo said. "And certainly, Representative Domb thinks it's too soon. I mean, as a parent of a small child, I've had a curfew now for almost two years, which is 5 p.m. So curfew or not, we're not going anywhere in this household anytime soon."
Panelist Chris Collins said he was struck by how quickly the rollback came.
"It was about a week, a week and a half ago, we kept hearing how [COVID-19] rates were at an all-time high," he said. "And now, suddenly, a week and a half later, we're reducing some of the restrictions. I hope Baker isn't jumping the gun here, but I understand that, you know, there's got to be some relief for these businesses."
Collins said it seems likely there will soon be more federal COVID-19 relief for business owners under the new Biden administration.
"Whether it'll be too late or not, I have no idea," he said. "I'm really concerned we're not going to have a restaurant industry in this country, and in this state, by the time this is all over."
Also this week, a Massachusetts legislative panel continued oversight hearings as it looks into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. This week's session focused on what role staffing might have played in the tragedy at the state-run facility, where more than 70 veterans died.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders told the panel the facility lacked "internal processes" to withstand a pandemic. The former superintendent and former medical director are facing criminal charges over the outbreak.
As the pandemic continues, many of us have turned to binge-watching shows to pass the time. That's led to something of a boost to the Massachusetts film industry. There are a number of shows being shot in the state, or some that have plans to do so. Two Franklin County towns, Shelburne and Buckland, are slated to be included in the next round of of shooting for the popular show "Dexter."
Also this week, it was announced Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack will become deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. She joins a growing list of New Englanders who are taking new jobs in Washington.
- Carrie Saldo, WGBH Worcester Bureau reporter
- Chris Collins, contributing editor, Franklin County Now
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