BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday he plans to sign an "updated gathering order" this week, which will reduce the number of individuals allowed at outdoor gatherings by half.
Gov. Baker said the new statewide rules, which will go in to effect on Tuesday August 11th, will allow for 50 people at outdoor gatherings instead of 100. However, the state's regulations for indoor gatherings will remain at 25 people.
The adjustment is part of the Baker Administration's response to a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, and an increase in the sate's positive test rate over the past few weeks.
In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Baker said he is indefinitely postponing Phase 3 Step 2 of the state's reopening plan.
"There have been many reports of pool parties, birthday parties, holiday parties, Fourth of July parties," said Baker, "all of which have been documented in great detail by our contact tracing teams, that have demonstrated that parties that have been held in people's homes, in their backyards have contributed significantly to community-spread and new COVID clusters."
Last week, Baker said the state Department of Public Health had started investigating several "cluster incidents," including a large lifeguard party in Falmouth, a house party in Chatham, an unauthorized football camp in South Weymouth, a high school graduation party in Chelmsford, a large house party in Wrentham, and a 90-person prom party in Cohasset.
Baker said the state's new limit will apply to all types of outdoor gatherings, on both public and private property, and face coverings are required where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing.
The Governor's office said public safety officials, including state and local law enforcement, "have the jurisdiction to enforce these orders and event hosts in violation of these orders will be subject to fines or cease and desist orders."
The Administration also announced that, starting next week, additional reporting for town-by-town data will be published weekly to show the spread of COVID-19 at a community level. Also, previously announced free COVID-19 testing in 17 communities has been extended through September 12.
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