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'Too little too late,' Mass. doctor says of state's new COVID-19 restrictions



BOSTON —

Health care experts are reacting to the state's new coronavirus restrictions that are being put in place as COVID-19 cases surge in Massachusetts.


Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday said the state would impose temporary limits on gatherings and business capacity to stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise.


“If you do limit capacity, take it down significantly, you do limit the amount of infection that typically takes place inside those organizations,” Baker said.


“It is too little too late. I predict we are going to see more cases,” said Rep. Jon Santiago, who is also a Boston Medical Center doctor.


The new restrictions that go into effect Saturday reduce the gathering limit across the Commonwealth to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.


Restaurants, businesses, casinos, office spaces, places of worship, fitness centers and many other industries will have seating capacity reduced to 25%, the announcement said.

The restrictions will be in place for at least two weeks, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.

Baker said the idea behind his newest restrictions, which which will be layered on top of the existing orders he has already issued, is to "pause activity and reduce mobility" for the two weeks immediately following Christmas in an attempt to prevent a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that could undermine the state's hospital systems.


Beginning Saturday, all hospitals most postpone or cancel all nonessential in-patient elective invasive procedures, unless the postponement would lead to a decline of health, Marylou Sudders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth said.


Additionally, hospitals should not schedule any new nonessential in-patient elective procedures until further notice, Sudders said.


With the effects of the post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases still rippling outward and another round of holiday gatherings expected through the end of the month, Baker said he was reviewing what options he has for imposing new restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.


The governor said Massachusetts simply cannot afford to have its coronavirus caseload increase as it did in the days and weeks immediately after Thanksgiving.


Baker said he was "basically begging everyone to stay within their immediate household" for Christmas and New Year's to keep the state's hospitals from being overwhelmed.


On Dec. 8, Baker announced that the state would move back a step in his phased reopening plan effective Dec. 13. That rollback meant capacity limits were lowered across an array of businesses, some indoor recreation venues were ordered to close again, and rules around mask-wearing and dining out were tightened.

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