Baker administration unveils relief package, Walsh not ruling out curfew amid coronavirus pandemic

BOSTON (WHDH) - The normal hustle and bustle of Boston has come to a lull as Massachusetts endures an emergency order and a stay-at-home advisory amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker ordered nonessential businesses closed beginning Tuesday at noon until at least April 7 while advising residents to stay home in order to curb the spread of the virus.

“There’s no question that these are challenging and unprecedented times, but I know the people of this great Commonwealth will meet this challenge as they always have — head-on,” Baker said.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he’s not ruling out a curfew in the city.

“Obviously, if we have to take the next step here in the city of Boston, we will do that,” he said. “This is something we take seriously, out of an abundance of caution, we’ll do whatever we have to do, extreme measures, to make sure people stay safe.”

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But for now, Walsh called on people to continue social distancing and being cautious.

“Physical distancing, washing hands, cleaning surfaces down, all of that is the best way to prevent the virus from having to go to a curfew,” he added.

Baker also encouraged the public to practice social distancing by looking for alternatives to connecting with others.

“Our goal right now is to slow the spread of the virus by limiting opportunities for person-to-person contact,” he said. “Everyone is encouraged to call or video chat instead of visiting friends and family. This, of course, is not easy. It’s not what we’re used to doing with our family and our friends. But it’s hugely important, and it is one very significant way everyone can participate in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

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The Baker administration unveiled Tuesday a municipal relief package that is expected to:

  • Bring more flexibility to school districts when it comes to things like MCAS testing and high school graduation standards
  • Add leeway to local boards permitting and projects and taxpayer deadlines
  • Allow retirees collecting pensions to return to work to cover uncovered shifts
  • Clear the way for search warrants by law enforcement to be approved electronically while the courts remain shut down

“It’s clear that we have to stick together, but stick together in a time where social distancing is becoming — and is — very much a real part of our lives,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.

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