Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to highlight a state program Thursday aimed at creating safer mobility in Massachusetts cities and towns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He is scheduled to hold a press conference at 12 p.m. at Bistro 5 in Medford, along with Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, to make an announcement about the Shared Streets and Spaces program, which launched in June as a way to provide funds to local communities to expand sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots.
At a press conference Wednesday, Baker provided an update on Labor Day weekend enforcement activities. He said alcohol regulators in Massachusetts issued fines or warnings last week against 300 businesses for failing to enforce regulations meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
An additional 900 establishments were found to be following regulations, according to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Restaurants with alcohol licenses are among the businesses subject to inspections by the commission. Restaurants have been allowed to remain open provided they take precautions like limiting diners or opening outdoor seating.
Baker said that during the Labor Day weekend, the state ramped up public awareness campaigns — including distributing signs, fliers and 4,000 bottles of hand sanitizer — in five high-risk cities: Everett, Lynn, Revere, Chelsea and Lawrence.
Gov. Charlie Baker says the Division of Professional Licensure conducted 92 inspections of businesses in high-risk areas last week and found 47 violations. The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission also conducted inspections at over 1,200 restaurants statewide and issued 300 fines or warnings.
More than half the communities in the state, 190, have recorded fewer than five confirmed virus cases over a 14-day period, Baker said.
“The vast majority of communities in Massachusetts, because people did a ton of really hard work and made enormous sacrifices in many cases, don’t have much COVID at all,” the Republican said.
Baker also defended the decision last week by Northeastern University to dismiss 11 freshman students for the fall semester for violating campus social distancing guidelines after they were discovered in the same hotel room.
“The rules were the rules. They were established upfront. Everybody attested to them and they broke them,” Baker said.
He said he feels “feels terrible” for the students and their families, but added that the college experience has changed.
“It’s really important, especially during this time when kids are coming back to school, that everybody appreciate and accept the fact that college is just not going to be the way it was last year or the year before,” he said.
Freshmen were dismissed from Northeastern University after violating coronavirus safety protocol by attending a party in a hotel room.
Massachusetts reported four newly confirmed coronavirus deaths and about 180 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to nearly 8,940 and its confirmed caseload to nearly 121,400.
The seven-day weighted average of positive tests was less than 1%. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were nearly 340 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of COVID-19, and about 50 in intensive care units.
The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 related deaths at care homes rose to more than 5,860 or about 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.