Updated at 3:45 p.m.
Private indoor gatherings will be limited to just 10 people, all eateries must cease table service by 9:30 p.m. each night and everyone in Massachusetts over the age of 5 will be required to wear a face covering in public beginning Friday, Nov. 6, under new orders from Gov. Charlie Baker Monday as a second wave of COVID-19 starts to hit hospitals.
"We can't afford to continue to do what we've been doing," Baker said, adding that the new restrictions are aimed to prevent the state from having to drop back to Phase 2 or Phase 1 of its reopening plan.
A new stay-at-home advisory will also go into effect Friday, requiring residents to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts have been on the rise for weeks and the state has seen over 1,000 new cases of the virus every day for over a week, with over 2,400 cases diagnosed over the Halloween weekend.
Baker said the state has let down its guard when it comes to safety protocols and that has caused the sustained increase in COVID cases and a 145% increase in hospitalizations. The state has also suffered over 10,000 deaths as a result of the disease. There were 602 patients hospitalized with the disease as of Sunday evening.
"If we do nothing and stay on the track we're on now, we'll create capacity problems for our health care system by the end of the calendar year," Baker said.
The changes are some of the toughest restrictions Baker has put in place since the summer, when transmission rates declined and the state established a four-stage reopening plan. Restricting restaurant service to 9:30 p.m. is intended to allow customers to return home by the start of the 10 p.m. stay-at-home advisory.
The new advisory, combined with the 10-person limit on private indoor gatherings, will allow local authorities to crack down on house parties that Baker says are one of the biggest culprits behind the state's spread.
"Do I expect everybody to follow these rules? No. But if there's one thing I've learned since the beginning of this, it's a vast majority of people in Massachusetts are rule-followers and if you give them rules and guidance, they will do it," Baker said.
Baker described the new mask order "as guidance" similar to the existing order.
"But the difference here is we're eliminating the six foot spread. We're basically saying if you go out in public, wear a mask," the governor said.