By Lauren Bennett
Governor Charlie Baker on July 24 signed an executive order implementing new travel guidelines for people traveling into Massachusetts.
Effective August 1, all travelers into Massachusetts, including residents and those traveling from out of state, will be required to fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” and have to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state, unless coming from one of eight states deemed to be “lower risk:” New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. People can also choose to prove a negative COVID-19 test result
given no more than 72 hours before coming to the state.
Anyone who is tested must remain in quarantine until a negative test result is provided. “Those who do not comply with the new travel order are subject to a $500 a day fine,” Baker said. There are also “narrow exemptions for workers in certain critical industries,” he said.
“At this time of year, many people are traveling to and from Massachusetts for vacation,” Baker said, adding that there has already been “an uptick in activity at Logan Airport.”
The executive order is mandatory for all travelers, including students returning to campus and apartments for the fall semester.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito added that Massachusetts employers are “discouraged from sending employees on business travel.”
“Every traveler coming to Massachusetts has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth,” Baker said. Whether people are coming back to the state for school, a new job, or anything else, “the rule applies to everyone,” he said.
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to containing COVID-19,” Baker continued. “If you’re visiting us from another state, take a moment to learn about the rules.” He reminded residents that use of face coverings, social distancing, and good hygiene are all still things that are required and should be done by everyone.
Baker also talked about the crowding at beaches that has been reported by many people in South Boston. He said this behavior “simply can’t continue.”
He said if people are not able to space themselves out appropriately, he will have to limit the number of people on beaches. “That’s not something we want to do,” he said. “We want people to simply use their heads and be responsible.”
For more information about the new travel executive order, visit mass.gov/traveler, or text MATraveler to 888-777. The website explains which test results are acceptable, what the exemptions are, and provides information about how the rule applies to different scenarios.
On July 27, Baker gave a brief update on the testing data and announced that eight new communities will be added to the Stop the Spread testing initiative, which began in eight initial communities on July 10.
Communities chosen for this program are ones that continue to have higher positive test rates than the statewide average, and have seen a decline in testing since the end of April, Baker said.
Baker said that since July 10, 19,000 people have been tested at the new locations, and 17,000 of the 19,000 results are in, showing that the average positive test rate was 1.8 percent, which is around what the state average has been.
The eight new communities, which include Revere, will join the initial eight in offering free testing to residents, even fi they are asymptomatic.
“As we prepare for the fall and ramp up stricter travel restrictions, more testing will be a pillar of the state’s COVID-19 prevention strategy,” Baker said.