Baker issues new rules for travelers to Massachusetts

Violators could be subject to $500 per day fines.

Gov. Charlie Baker, shown here on a visit to the Island in 2018, is imposing a strict travel order for people coming into Massachusetts from the country's hotspots for COVID-19. - Gabrielle Mannino

Updated 3:45 pm

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced strict new rules for those traveling to Massachusetts.

Per the new order, everyone coming into the state must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form,” while also quarantining for 14 days, unless they are coming from a state where the coronavirus risk is lower, or they can produce a negative coronavirus test results that was taken no more than 72 hours prior to coming to Massachusetts.

The new travel order applies to all people entering Massachusetts, including out-of-state residents and Massachusetts residents returning home. Those who do not comply are subject to a fine of $500 per day. Signage is being put up at Massachusetts airports, train stations, and highway rest areas.

On March 27, Baker urged all travelers coming to Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those showing COVID-19 symptoms are instructed to not travel to Massachusetts. On June 30, Baker relaxed that advisory for New Yorkers and residents of other New England states.

Baker said the increased amount of travel, the increase in cases across the country, and students returning for the fall were three main reasons why he has issued the new order. “People have lots of reasons to visit Massachusetts right now. You may be coming in for a vacation, or to start a new job. Students may be gearing up to come back to school in the fall,” Baker said. “Keep in mind that this order applies to everyone.”

Travelers are exempt from this order if they are coming from a state listed as “lower risk.” Lower-risk states include Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii.

The new order goes into effect on August 1.

“The commonwealth is continuing to take COVID-19 seriously. We are simply asking those who visit our state and those residents who leave our state to act responsibly,” Stephanie Pollack, secretary and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said.

Brad Schiff, a spokesman for the Steamship Authority, said there will be signage notifying passengers of the order.

“The state has asked that airlines and trains to put up their own signage. The SSA will do the same,” Schiff wrote in an email to The Times.

Minutes after Baker finished his press briefing, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital posted on its Facebook page, alerting the public to the new order and detailing the rules.

“And everyone, local or visitors, please wear a mask!” the post added.

Baker said hotels and other lodgings will continue to inform their guests, as they have done.

“The Airbnbs and the hotels are going to be expected to inform people that these are the rules when they book a room, and they are going to be expected to inform them when they show up that these are the rules,” Baker said. “If they’re here for 14 days, they need to quarantine, and they need to contact the tracing collaborative.”

He added that this will work on the “honor system,” which he said has worked well in Massachusetts.

Joan Talmadge, co-owner of We Need a Vacation, said the short-term rental company is putting out a robust announcement on the update to all homeowners and vacationers.

“Fortunately, the vast majority of our vacationers who use our site and book a home are coming from New England. But I think it does affect some homeowners, because they do have some guests that are coming from, say, Colorado or Missouri or Maryland,” said Talmadge. “We’re directing them to inform those guests of the directive, that they either need to quarantine when they get here for 14 days, and in most cases that would be impractical and impossible, because many of them are coming for just a week, or, and this is the more practical one, is to be tested where they live, in their home state, within 72 hours of their arrival here, and then they would not have to quarantine, as long as they got a negative test result.”

Annabelle Hunton, president of the M.V. Lodging Association, shared that this update had been expected by some members of the Island lodging economy. “I would say, in general, we’re not surprised. New York had had this quarantine in place for a while, as has New Jersey. It doesn’t come as a huge shock,” said Hunton. “We’re kind of pleased that the governor is at least allowing people to come in from out-of-state if they’ve had the test, which, once again, a few months ago, that was impossible for people to get.”

Hunton said it is difficult to project how this evolving situation may play out. “It’s kind of hard being here on the Island because, obviously, tourism is what drives the economy here, and there’s definitely going to be a negative impact on the local economy, just with people thinking ahead. We have concerns with maybe somebody in Texas that’s now, like, ‘Oh, we were thinking of going, and now we’re not.’ But hopefully, the towns and the commonwealth are going to support some of our small businesses.”

Hunton expressed hope that Gov. Baker will change the list based on developing situations in other states. “We can only hope he keeps the list of states updated,” said Hunton. “Hopefully, if things are going down in Maryland or D.C., they are keeping an eye on that, and keep it updated and add to this list of states that are able to come in.”

Oak Bluffs Association executive director Christine Todd said many Vineyard tourists are coming from states on the exempt list, but there are plenty coming from farther away, such as Washington, D.C., and California.

“It really begs the question of enforceability,” Todd said. “Is there somebody at the boat and the airport who is going to say, ‘Oh you’re from whatever state, you’ve got to stop and fill out this form”?

Intern Clare Lonergan contributed to this report. Updated with more details and reactions.


    • You made more sense when you complained on Gazette site that you couldn’t get a ferry reservation after months of encouraging all of planet earth to come here and reopen the economy, etc.

    • BS –better he loses his mind that you and I lose our lives.
      We saw what happened when republican governors in southern and western states lost their minds, allowed large gatherings, bars and restaurants to open , and imposed no requirements for face masks.
      If those idiots in mostly red states want to expose themselves and everyone around them to a deadly virus, well let them have at it. But, If they want to come into my state, where I have been abiding by the guidance of medical professionals, and have been doing the best I can as a patriotic citizen ( trump said wearing a mask is “patriotic” you know) those idiots can abide by our rules.. If they don’t like it, they can stay home or go to their local bar.
      By the way, most countries will not allow Americans into their country because we are # one in almost every metric as the most infected country on earth. Hello,—– McFly ????? anybody home ???????

      • Donx3…so how does Governor Parker get around ICC regulations? Aren’t those federal laws? Parker has the power to override them?…flight crews, truckers, etc. delivering vital supplies…are they exempt?…and military personnel aren’t allowed to report for duty…good luck, Governor, enforcing that one! A knee jerk reaction that has far reaching consequences.

        • TQ — What state is governor Parker in ?
          It’s obvious it has a lot of unenforceable things associated with it, but it’s something. I disagree that it’s just a knee jerk reaction. It might help a little.

          • Donx3…according to your ”guy”, he’s the Governor of Massachusetts…gee, you didn’t know that….I thought you knew everything!

          • TQ– The current governor of Massachusetts is Charlie Baker..
            A single typo, and I would not have said anything, as we all make typos. But when you mentioned “Parker” I thought since you were so politically aware, that you were talking about a governor of another state. I didn’t really feel like doing the research to find which state “Parker” was the governor of.
            But then I thought that since you actually are capable of spelling, and mentioned “my guy” in your response, I looked it up and saw that Joe Biden called him “Parker” on March 23rd. I missed that one —Congratulations for passing the republican memory test.
            Perhaps I missed it because the left-leaning media was talking about “your guy” who couldn’t remember the names of a number of people in his own administration, like :
            “Mike” Bolton
            “Steve” McCarthey
            “Ron” Ryan
            “Jim” Perry
            He referred to the prime minister of Israel as “Betanyahoo”
            Calls the place where thousands of American troops have lost their lives “Ganistan”
            He also thought “pleasure” California had a bad fire a few years ago he called it “pleasure three times while he was touring Paradise CA .
            Don’t believe me? I only got about 1/2 of the way through this one :
            He also said:
            Africa is a country
            Belgium is a city
            He “met with the president of the Virgin Islands.”
            “Revolutionary war troops took control of airports”
            Kansas City, Missouri is in the state of Kansas
            He “watched the firemen on 7/11.”
            suggested that Injecting bleach will cure the coronavirus, and
            he is building a border wall between Colorado and Mexico, as well as thousands of other “gaffes”.

            But, I really have to give him credit for passing (so he says) a test designed to detect late-stage dementia that some people say Koko the gorilla, who knew sign language, passed.
            Maybe true, maybe not– But it’s on the internet.
            Yeah– good point there about Joe and his mis-pronouncement
            of our governor’s name… Thank you for pointing that out to us.
            I wouldn’t want to vote for someone who did something like that.

    • You are absolutely right.
      This RINO won’t be happy until Massachusetts is the poorest state in the nation.

    • How is Baker doing on Covid – 19 relative to the rest of his Republican governor cohort?
      His Democratic cohort?

  1. Enforce it now Gov. Charlie Baker I have not been impressed one bit with all your orders, mandates & recommendations! I am speaking for myself as I don`t care what others have been saying.

  2. Gov Baker is calling for the same restrictions enacted by Maine’s Gov Mills that started July 3rd. True they’re not easily enforced but Maine currently has the 3rd lowest Covid rate in the continental US .

  3. Statistically the number of people hospitalized in Mass is as close to zero as you can get. Why is it the less it’s a problem the more we have to react to it? This is not about public health. It’s all about politics and virtue signaling. How about the nut jobs that drive around in their cars by themselves with their windows up yet fully masked!! No other word to describe other than idiotic.

    • Asymptomatic people come to Massachusetts from states with surging cases. Covid-19 is very contagious, much more than the flu. The idea is to keep numbers as low as possible.
      People in cars sometimes don’t remove their masks when they’re out running around, only to put it on again in few minutes, perhaps contaminating it if they’ve been touching surfaces touched by the public. I’ve noticed that Trump supporters go nuts over how “idiotic” people are if they wear masks in their cars. This striks me as so funny for people who think they shouldn’t have to wear masks at all, because of their “freedoms”. The people who refuse to wearmasks at all don’t seem to bother Trump supporters at all. Here’s why:

    • Agree.
      A lot of it is virtue signaling.
      Because there is zero scientific basis for the mask wearing.
      Interesting to see also how scientists, too, are being pressured to reverse their earlier statements on the INefficacy of cloth and surgical mask wearing for stopping virus.
      Scientific papers that report this evidence (i.e., no efficacy) are being scrubbed. Masked you might say.
      Recent poll shows 61% of committed mask wearers are Reps vs. only 31% are Dems.

    • Bs– I really don’t get why you think if something is working, that means we don’t have to do it.
      If you want to look at what happened in states that really did politicize this, just look at the southern and western states with sycophantic republican trump supporting governors.
      With the exception of California, ( and we know things are always different there, right ?)
      The top 5 states for new cases yesterday are:
      Fl—- 12,444
      Tx— 8552
      Ga— 4813
      az— 3357
      tn —-2091
      All these states have radical right wing governors who are adamant about doing everything they can to suck up to trump, the nation’s top covid denier. Talk about politicizing and virtue signaling. You have been hitting the kool aid for so long, you don’t even see the hypocritical irony of your own idiotic comment.
      And just for the record– those people in their cars , fully masked, with their windows up have every right to do that. They are in America, the “land of the free”. Why does it bother you ?

    • BS, nearly 650,000 people have died from this, while many more have been hospitalized and continue to experience lasting issues. That is definitely a health crisis worth keeping under control as best we can. Applying the concept of virtue signaling to corona is a really big stretch. There are clearly many who are worried and others who are not. The public concern sounds completely genuine to me. Saying “Hey, let’s not get anyone sick if we can help it” isn’t meant to be smug. It’s just practical. No one wants a gold star for trying not to kill people. We just want results in the form of low numbers, and the only way to help that along is to talk about steps we can take, which are backed by tons of professionals.

    • “At least 12 new coronavirus deaths and 283 new cases were reported in Massachusetts on July 25.”
      283 cases is not near zero.
      12 deaths is not near zero.

  4. We cancelled our vacation to The Vineyard out of an abundance of caution. Now it looks like we should just stay indoors and ride out this “storm.”
    I pray this virus doesn’t mutate and get stronger.

    • Baker is the one responsible for drawing the line.
      No matter where he draws it the majority of the people will think it is wrong.
      It is either too much or to little.
      If his line drives your business into bankruptcy it is too much.
      If a loved one dies, too little.

      • That’s true, ajay. It’s not easy to make the big decisions, and some will always be unhappy. I just believe that you get ahead of a pandemic and make the toughest calls early on for best results. Waiting until July to contain the worms that are already out of the can is… yeah, just doesn’t work for me. But better than never, I suppose.

        • All true. But without a unified, enforced national policy, all it takes is one asymptotic person from Florida to fly to Boston. It only takes one.

        • The ‘problem’ is that some politicians bend to the will of the people.
          Baker is that kind of politician.
          He is an out and out RINO that way.
          Thank God.

  5. Data is in that 5-10 year olds dont spread the virus but that over that are as contagious as everyone else. I dont see anyway the High school can reopen until we have a vaccine. Prepare for the worst until the vaccine gets here.

  6. I came home to the island from abroad in April and chilled for 2 weeks minus a walk in the woods or skate down a hill. Wasn’t that bad. Got a test 72 hours before I left where I was and tested negative. I also self isolated for two weeks before traveling. All this in April. Why? Why not? Global pandemic yo! Be safe out there and watch out for Karen and Kevin. Charlie ain’t that bad he’s actually pretty on point for the most part. Love mass health, how about you all? Thanks Charlie for being you!

    • Give Charlie some credit, he did a slick job of calling Trump a jerk.
      He is perhaps the most Republican Governor to do so.
      A genuine Republican, not a Johnny Come Lately wannabe Republican like Trump. .

    • Dr. Fauci, among many others, including my sister.
      She is a Epidemiologist who has worked in and with laboratories in Africa, India, the Caribbean and South America.
      Should she and Fauci be put in jail?
      Cohabitation or solitary confinement?

    • This is really scary, why does our government fund any medical research?
      They could be making people sick.

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