Baker lifts COVID-19 curfew

Nancy Lane/File photo/Gov. Charlie Baker is lifting a "stay at home" advisory and curfews on businesses, citing improving conditions in the state's battle against the coronavirus.

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker is lifting a "stay at home" advisory and curfews on businesses, citing improving conditions in the state's battle against the coronavirus.

Beginning Monday at 5 a.m., a statewide advisory that asked people not to go outdoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. will be lifted, and businesses that were subject to the 9:30 p.m. curfew will now be allowed to stay open later.

The state's 25% limit on capacity in businesses will remain in effect for at least two more weeks.

Baker said the state's COVID-19 indicators are improving.

"Vaccines are reaching residents, positive case rates and hospitalizations have stabilized, and those trends are moving in the right direction," he said at a Thursday briefing. "As a result, we believe it's OK, and it's time to start a gradual easing of some of the restrictions we put in place in the fall."

Hospitalizations have dropped 10% since peaking in early January, and the average seven-day positive test rate has fallen 33% during the same period.

On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health reported more than 4,800 new COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths. More than 2,100 people are hospitalized with the virus, with about 430 in intensive care units.

A statewide mask requirement and other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses remain in effect for now, Baker said.

Public and private gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

Baker previously rolled back reopening plans to Phase 3, Step 2, which required some entertainment venues to close and tightened capacity restrictions on others.

Business groups, who have complained that the curfews unfairly punished restaurants and other venues, welcomed Baker's decision.

"This will provide benefits for some industries, mainly for restaurants," said Chris Carlozzi, state president of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. "Unfortunately we still have capacity limits, but hopefully we'll see trends continue to move downward and things can start to return to a little more normal."

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhi.com.

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