Baker: 300 day care sites for medical, emergency workers will open Monday

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is preparing to open hundreds of day care sites for the children of medical professionals, emergency workers and others who are expected to keep working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Saturday that more than 300 sites will open on Monday, with more to follow later. The rest of the state’s child care facilities have been ordered to shut down to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.

“We know that child care is an especially critical piece of emergency service, and that it allows our front-line workers to continue their battle against COVID-19,” Baker said at a news conference.

He said the drop-in sites are reserved for those who must report to work, including hospital workers and other “critical service” workers including grocery store employees. Still, he said the sites should be used only “as a last resort.”

The state has also made progress on increasing its capacity to test for the disease, Baker said, and state officials have been in discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify facilities that can be converted into temporary medical centers.

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TRANSPORTATION

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is asking passengers to board all buses and trolleys from their rear doors to help keep distance between drivers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change takes effect Saturday on all MBTA buses and on street-level trolleys on the Green Line and Mattapan Line. Officials say seniors and people with disabilities can continue using the front door.

“The MBTA is undertaking these measures to protect our frontline employees while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips by healthcare workers and emergency responders,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

The transit authority has discouraged all travel that isn’t considered essential amid the pandemic. It previously scaled back commuter rail service and canceled ferries, while adding more buses along some busy routes to avoid crowding.

MBTA officials says the changes are meant to follow social distancing guidelines, along with requirements under Gov. Charlie Baker’s state of emergency declaration.

Other cities including Seattle and New York have also asked passengers to board buses from back doors to protect drivers.

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