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Starting Aug. 1, Many Travelers To Mass. Must Quarantine For 14 Days, Or Test Negative

New signage on the Zakim Bridge echo the travel order goes into effect on Aug. 1. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
New signage on the Zakim Bridge echo the travel order goes into effect on Aug. 1. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Many travelers to Massachusetts, including residents returning from other states, must quarantine for 14 days unless they have proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or risk a fine. The travel order goes into effect on Aug. 1.

During a press briefing Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker made the announcement that travelers must fill out the state travel form with details about where the person is traveling from and an acknowledgement that they will quarantine for 14 days (or until they receive a negative test result). The test would need to be taken within three days of arriving in Massachusetts to avoid the mandatory quarantine.

Some people are exempt, including those coming from a state with low transmission rates. As of Friday, these states included all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii.

"As we have said many times ... COVID is not taking the summer off and we haven't either," Baker said. "At this time of year, many people are traveling to and from Massachusetts for vacation, or in some cases, getting ready to come back to school. We have already seen an uptick in activity in Logan Airport."

Baker said there is a $500 fine for every day a person violates the state order.

It will be up to local boards of health to enforce the requirements, Baker said. The state's contact tracing team may follow up with visitors to make sure they're complying with the two-week quarantine. Hotels, motels and AirBnB's are expected to inform travelers of the rules when they book a room, and when they arrive.

The governor acknowledged this new order relies somewhat on the honor system, but added, "The honor system in Massachusetts has worked pretty well."

The governor has been urging travelers coming into Massachusetts to quarantine for two weeks since March, but this is the first order connected to a fine.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the travel protocols are being rolled out to prevent the spread of COVID 19 as out-of-state travel increases.

"Data monitored by MassDOT shows that there has been a gradual but steady increase in travel since March, both on our roads and at Logan Airport," she said. "We are seeing more people moving around, both within Massachusetts and from out of state."

Travelers arriving through airports, train and bus stations will be informed of the requirement, and a campaign to educate travelers about the new rules is being launched. (These new rules do not apply to travelers who are passing through Massachusetts to another state.)

Baker stressed that the order applied universally, including to students heading back to the state to attend school in the fall. He reiterated a regular appeal to the public that people experiencing symptoms of the virus should avoid traveling to Massachusetts.

With additional reporting by WBUR's Steve Brown

This article was originally published on July 24, 2020.

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Lisa Creamer Twitter Managing Editor, Digital
Lisa Creamer is a digital editor and producer at WBUR.

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