By Matt Stout Globe Staff,Updated March 23, 2020, 6:56 p.m.
In the sharpest restriction on daily life yet, Governor Charlie Baker ordered all nonessential businesses in Massachusetts to close their doors by midday Tuesday and urged the state’s nearly 7 million people to stay home in the face of the novel coronavirus’s rapidly growing, and increasingly deadly, spread. At least nine people in the state have died due to COVID-19 as of Monday, four more than previously reported, according to state figures. The number of confirmed cases in Massachusetts spiked by 20 percent in a single day to 777 Monday. Infections are touching virtually every part of Massachusetts, and COVID-19 is reaching across generations, too: Of confirmed cases, 134 include people under the age of 30; 107 involve those 70 or older.
Baker’s business closure order, which goes into effect Tuesday at noon and will remain in place until at least April 7, will not affect grocery stores, pharmacies, medical facilities, or gas stations, among a variety of other businesses that can remain open.
Massachusetts joins at least 12 other states with formal orders or advisories urging citizens to stay inside amid the pandemic. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered people to remain in their homes aside from getting food or medicine. Under growing pressure from some lawmakers and public health officials to ratchet up the state’s restrictions, Baker stressed that people should “limit all unnecessary activities” in Massachusetts but that he was not seeking to mandate that residents remain indoors under the stay-at-home advisory. “We’re asking everyone to use their common sense, think about the impact this virus is having on the sick and elderly, and to limit their interactions with other people," Baker said at a State House news conference.
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