Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and their colleagues in state government implemented new and far-reaching provisions to protect public health and ameliorate the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 emergency in Massachusetts. The number of positive test results rose to 777 on Monday, with 232 cases confirmed in Middlesex County.
Governor Baker issued an emergency order Monday morning that banned most gatherings of more than 10 people in a confined space and ordered all non-essential businesses and organizations to close their facilities for two weeks beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 24th. This is not a “shelter in place” order. Residents can still take walks, drive their cars, and gather, as long as groups are not larger than 10 people and the 6-foot boundaries are maintained.
Rep. Gordon has scheduled a virtual office hours session Thursday, March 26, at 2 p.mTo join the call, dial 617-570-0800 and enter the conference ID number (810) followed by #. Then enter the participant passcode (810326) followed by #. It may ring for up to 2 minutes before you connect. You will hear a beep when you join and it will be silent if you are the first one to connect. If you are unable to join the call but would like to contact the Representative, please send an email to Kenneth.email@example.com, or leave a message at 617-722-2575.
The details of the Governor’s Emergency Order were announced at a press briefing. Restaurants will continue to be able to offer take-out or delivery service. Businesses deemed essential will remain open, including grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and medical care facilities. For a list of services currently deemed essential and open, click here. Businesses that believe they should be included on this list can submit an essential service designation request. Managers and business owners are encouraged to direct their employees to work from home if they are able.
The Department of Unemployment Insurance is hosting a series of virtual “town hall” forums so you can learn more about benefits. The first session was Sunday and reportedly all those who wanted to join the call could do so. If you have been laid off or if your hours were cut because of the effects of Covid-19 can sign up here.
The House and Senate issued orders to give cities and towns the authority to postpone municipal elections that are scheduled to take place before May 30, 2020. This will affect Burlington, whose upcoming election will take place on April 4. The bill permits any eligible voter to cast their ballot by mail for elections occurring before June 30, 2020. The bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk where he is expected to take immediate action.
As House Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development, Rep. Gordon has been meeting with committee members on conference calls twice a week. Chaired by Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) the committee has been tasked with identifying challenges to the state’s economy as we manage the current health care crisis. Rep. Gordon filed a bill to support the state’s restaurants and bars to allow them to sell beer, wine or spirits to consumers, on a limited basis, if they order take-out or delivery.
Other state updates:
- On Monday, emergency drop-in childcare services began to open. These sites serve emergency responders, medical professionals, and critical service workers like grocery store employees. Information about the programs and a directory of approved providers can be found here.
- As of March 20, 2020, the annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection expiration dates have been extended. Information about how these extensions may apply to you can be found here.