Lawsuit: Gov. Baker overstepped authority during pandemic

BOSTON (AP) — A group of Massachusetts business owners and others have filed a lawsuit accusing Gov. Charlie Baker of overstepping his authority with his coronavirus restrictions.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by Washington, D.C.-based New Civil Liberties Alliance on behalf of a group including salon owners, pastors and the headmaster of a private school. The lawsuit says the Republican “unlawfully exercised legislative police power” by declaring a state of emergency under the state’s Civil Defense Act and ordering certain businesses to close.

“Fear of a deadly virus is not a reason to abandon constitutional governance. Governor Baker doesn’t have the power to make law by royal decree — lawmaking is the legislature’s exclusive responsibility,” Michael DeGrandis, senior litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, said in an emailed statement.

An email requesting comment was sent to Baker.

Other coronavirus-related developments in Massachusetts:

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PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR BUSINESSES

A new program has been launched to help small businesses in the Merrimack Valley get a hold of masks and other protective equipment they’ll need as they reopen and follow new rules to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Greater Lawrence PPP Procurement Program addresses the logistical burden of finding and securing high-demand products, especially in smaller quantities, The Eagle-Tribune reported Sunday.

Hundreds of businesses have already received a month’s worth of masks along with a visit from a local inspector to explain new regulations.

Money to support the effort has been provided by the Merrimack Valley Business Resiliency and Recovery Fund, said Derek Mitchell, executive director of the Lawrence Partnership, one of the organizations coordinating the effort.

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ZOO BY APPOINTMENT

The Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford is planning to reopen to the general public on Wednesday, but visitors will have to make a reservation.

“We’ve been doing a ton of work to modify the zoo grounds and try to make this as normal as possible,” Director Keith Lovett told The Standard-Times.

The number of people allowed into the zoo will be limited to make it easier to adhere to social distancing guidelines, Lovett said.

Visitors will also be required to wear face coverings.

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