Gov. Charlie Baker is extending his orders to keep non-essential businesses closed and have people stay at home through May 4, bracing for what he said will be “perhaps the most difficult period of this virus.”
“I know this is difficult to hear,” Baker said during his daily update at the State House Tuesday, “but we need everyone to continue to go without being around many of your family and most of your friends for your own health and safety and for the health and safety of your family, your friends and others.”
In addition, Baker requested and received approval from federal officials to deploy a 250 bed facility at the DCU Center in Worcester to treat lower acuity coronavirus patients who need monitoring. UMass Memorial Medical Center will lead day-to-day operations of the facility once it’s up Wednesday with support from state and local partners. Baker said he is “actively” pursuing two other locations and partnerships.
Baker also announced new restrictions on the short-term rental industry, requiring hotels, motels, inns, beds and breakfasts and Airbnbs to stop booking for leisure, limiting their use to fighting COVID-19, including housing front line health workers or Massachusetts residents who have been displaced.
“People should really be using common sense on this one and should not be going on vacation right now,” Baker said.
Baker extended orders that would have expired on April 7 to keep non-essential business closed, state employees working from home, social distancing guidelines and 10-person limit of social gatherings in place through May 4. An updated list of essential businesses is posted on the state’s website, adding clarity around the supply chain for essential businesses, including health care providers like chiropractors and optometrists and expanding the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services.
The next couple of weeks are going to be “critical in this battle,” Baker said, adding that everyone needs to play their part by keeping their distance and staying home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“It will make a huge difference in this fight,” he said.