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Gov. Baker Orders Nonessential Businesses to Close, Asks Public to Stay at Home

Alecia Orsini

  Gov. Charlie Baker is ordering all nonessential businesses to close tomorrow at noon until April 7th, but there is no shelter-in-place order for private citizens.

Baker said at the announcement of the order he doesn't believe he can, or should, order U.S. citizens to be confined to their homes for days on end.

What constitutes "essential"? Good question.

Medical facilities and grocery stores, as well as gas stations, mass transit, airlines, laundromats, convenience and hardware stores, shelters, utility companies and kennels will all remain open, according to Baker.

"We will always allow all grocery stores, pharmacies and other types of businesses that provide essential goods and services to Massachusetts residents to continue to operate, and we will not stop anyone from accessing these essential businesses," said Baker.

Among workers, ride-share drivers, auto mechanics, postal workers, plumbers, sanitation workers, electricians, crucial IT techs and many others are considered essential.

And yes, because of federal definitions of "essential," package stores will remain open—but recreational marijuana dispensaries will close.

Baker said confining citizens to their homes was not a viable option.

"It doesn't make sense from a public health point of view, and it's not realistic, especially if people need to get to work at essential businesses or go to places like grocery stores, pharmacies or hospitals or health care providers," he said.

Instead, he's issuing a voluntary advisory for everyone to practice social distancing, avoid travel and simply stay home, especially people over 60.

Baker said you can still take a walk to the park, just don't play touch football or pickup basketball when you get there.

Under the order, public gatherings are now limited to just ten people.