Governor Charlie D. Baker ’79 will extend Massachusetts's stay-at-home advisory through May 18, continuing the state's attempt to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The stay-at-home advisory, first announced March 23, was originally slated to expire May 4. Baker announced the advisory two weeks after he declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the advisory, Baker has extended his order closing non-essential businesses through May 18. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited.
Baker said in a Tuesday press conference that social distancing and quarantine measures have seen success in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
In the same press conference, Baker announced the creation of a reopening advisory board to advise his administration on reopening strategies once the pandemic abates. The 17-person committee will produce a report by May 18 detailing potential plans for a phased reopening of the state economy.
“This reopening advisory board is a step in the right direction,” he said. “When the data shows us we’re getting ahead of this terrible virus, we can take swift, smart, and appropriate action.”
Despite the advisory extension, Baker said he remains optimistic about safely reopening soon.
“I know pushing these dates back a couple of weeks is probably not what many people want to hear,” Baker said. “We all look forward to stepping in front of this podium to tell you that we’re starting to open for business. I know that we’ll get there soon, but we have to be smart about how we do it and recognize and understand that there are risks associated with going back too soon."
The state reported more than 1,800 new cases on Tuesday, as well as 150 additional deaths. Despite these increases, Baker said the number of hospitalizations has plateaued in the last 13 days.
As of Tuesday evening, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 58,302 confirmed cases and 3,153 COVID-19-related deaths in the Commonwealth.
Baker said he is aware that the closing of businesses and the stay-at-home advisory have caused hardship across the state, but he advocated the orders’ necessity.
“People have lost their jobs, their careers, and, in some cases, their businesses that they’ve worked on for many years,” Baker said. “Not acting, however, was not an option.”
—Staff writer Simon J. Levien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @simonjlevien.