BOSTON (AP) — Schools in Massachusetts will close for at least three weeks, and all gatherings of more than 25 people will be banned in the latest attempt to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Sunday.
The governor also ordered all dine-in restaurants to close for a month. Take-away and delivery services won’t be affected by the rules, nor will grocery stores or pharmacies.
“I realize these measures are unprecedented,” Baker, a Republican, said at a news conference announcing the directives. “But we’re asking our residents to take a deep breath and understand the rationale behind this guidance.”
Starbucks will shift entirely to a “to-go” model at its company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least three weeks, asking its customers to refrain from using seats or lingering longer than it takes to order and leave with a cup of coffee.
The Seattle-based coffee giant, which built a business around the idea of a “third place” separate from home and work, also said it will temporarily close stores in areas such as shopping malls and college campuses, and in communities hard hit by COVID-19 cases.
In addition, the company says it is modifying the condiment bar in its stores and allowing employees to use gloves when handling cash, among other steps to address the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The steps are in line with “social distancing” recommendations from public health officials, designed to minimize the spread of the virus and the resulting disease.
Newsom said he called for these measures because the public must anticipate the rapid spread of COVID-19, and people need to think about those who are older, chronically ill and homeless. He said California had about 5.3 million people who are 65 or older.
“The most important thing is to focus on the vulnerable and prioritize their safety,” Newsom said. “We are guided by science, not the framework of hysteria.”
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The question of hospital capacity.
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