As COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts tripled this month compared to the previous month, Governor Charlie Baker is firm in his decision to keep pandemic restrictions – virtually none.
“We are not considering changing any of our existing rules or policies,” he told a news conference in Cape Cod, an area of the state that has seen at least two breakthrough infection clusters in recent weeks. “Vaccines are highly effective. You know, if you look at the number of people who are hospitalized who have been vaccinated, it’s a very small number.”
Baker again cited the state’s ranking of having the second highest vaccination rate in the country, second only to Vermont, as a reason for maintaining the lack of restrictions. He urged Bay Staters who haven’t been vaccinated to do the same.
Although he said the statewide COVID-19 rule still makes sense, “if communities believe they need to pursue strategies that are more effective and appropriate for them, they should do so.” , and that’s exactly what Provincetown did,” he said, referring to the city where 132 people contracted COVID-19, many of them vaccinated.
The Boston Public Health Commission recommended that anyone visiting Provincetown be tested for COVID-19 in early July, and some establishments in Provincetown have begun checking vaccination cards of patrons. The city has also issued a mask advisory.
Baker said he does not plan to change his stance on easing mask restrictions in schools this fall. Although he said he is in talks with education experts and other governors nationwide, “what’s the rule of thumb here is that people make decisions based on the current state of the game in their states regarding the virus,” he said. “We are in a very different place than most other parts of the country.”
Baker also maintained his stance on happy hour, following the release of a MassINC poll that found 70% of Massachusetts residents support bringing it back.
“I remember what was going on in the streets in Massachusetts when we had happy hours, and had some horrible, terrifying, horrible experiences on a very regular basis,” he said. “I know I probably get stuck in the mud for saying such a thing, but I would (a) be skeptical of going back to the way we used to run at happy hours once in a while.”