BOSTON (WPRI) — When Massachusetts added Rhode Island to its travel order list late last month, the questions started rolling in: can I cross the border to run an errand? Attend a wedding? Visit a loved one in the hospital?
The order issued by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker required anyone entering Massachusetts from Rhode Island to either quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours, or else face a hefty fine. But it raised questions for people who live near the border and cross it briefly with no plans to stay overnight.
The list of “high-risk” states from which travelers have to quarantine in Massachusetts covers almost the entire country, with the exceptions of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and New York.
Rhode Island initially was on the “low-risk” list, but was removed on August 4 due to increases in the state’s positive test rate and cases per 100,000.
The commonwealth initially detailed some exemptions to the order, including those commuting to work or school or receiving specialized medical care. But Thursday the Department of Public Health updated its travel guidance with more specific guidance for certain trips over the border.
COVID-19 Travel Order: List of requirements and exemptions »
If I live near the border of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, can I cross it to run errands?
“Travelers are exempt from the requirements to fill out the Travel Form and self-quarantine or obtain a negative COVID-19 test result if their travel is limited to brief trips for purposes that the commissioner has designated as Critical Life Activities:
- Grocery shopping
- Visits to pharmacies
- Attending appointments with licensed health care providers, including medical, dental, or mental health
- Visiting persons receiving treatment in hospitals or residing in congregate care facilities
- Attendance at day care or children’s camps
- Attending religious services, and funerals or memorial services
- Attending to the care needs of a family member
“During such trips, travelers are instructed to wear face-coverings, maintain social distance, practice good hygiene, and adhere to all other COVID-19 rules and restrictions.”
My child attends day care or camp in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. Does he or she need to test or quarantine each day?
“No. Children who travel into or out of Massachusetts to attend day care or day camps are not required to comply with the Travel Order, and a parent or guardian transporting the child may rely on the transitory travel exemption, provided they comply with its limitations.”
I live in Rhode Island and have a family member receiving specialized care in Massachusetts. Can I visit them?
“Yes. See the response above, which explains the commissioner’s limited exception for Critical Life Activities.”
I’m a Rhode Island resident attending a wedding in Massachusetts. Is the wedding exempt under “religious services?”
“The wedding service itself can be considered an exemption as a religious service. However, any reception or celebration which either precedes or follows the ceremony is not exempted and requires either quarantining or a 72 hour negative test result in order to attend.”
Are trips that last less than 24 hours exempt from the order?
“No, there is no specific exemption for trips that last less than 24 hours. Such short trips may be covered by exemptions like the ones for transitory travel or commuting for work or school. The full list of exemptions is here. Travelers arriving from places other than lower-risk states must fill out the Travel Form and self-quarantine or obtain a negative test result if they do not meet one of these exemptions.”
Visit Mass.gov or text “MATraveler” to 888-777 for more information.