BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker is filing legislation to extend several pandemic-related emergency measures put in place via executive order that are set to expire next month when the state of emergency will end, the administration said Tuesday.
The legislation proposed would extend measures providing a temporary suspension of certain open meeting law requirements, special permits for expanded outside dining at restaurants, and billing protections for COVID-19 patients, administration officials said in a statement.
Most pandemic restrictions, including business capacity limits and mask-wearing rules, will be rescinded Saturday.
The Republican governor issued an executive order in March 2020 that allowed city councils, select boards and other public bodies to meet remotely during the pandemic as long as there was electronic public access.
Extending that order until Sept. 1 will allow additional time to consider possible permanent changes to the open meeting law to provide for greater flexibility in conducting open meetings remotely, the administration aid.
The bill will also grant municipalities extended authority to consider outdoor dining permits for restaurants through Nov. 29.
The legislation will also extend a protection that prohibits medical providers from billing patients who have received COVID-19-related emergency and inpatient services for charges in excess of costs paid by their insurers.
That protection would extend through the end of the year.
“Massachusetts is leading the nation in the vaccination effort and that progress is enabling the Commonwealth to return to normal,” Baker said. “These temporary measures will help businesses and residents in this transition period, and I look forward to working on these and other issues in the week ahead with our partners in the legislature.”
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is boosting some subway and bus service this summer as ridership continues to increase as the pandemic wanes.
The MBTA carried more riders during the week of May 10 than it has in any week since the COVID-19 pandemic began, WBZ radio reported Monday.
The changes come as all COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts are scheduled to end this Saturday, although passengers will still be required to wear face coverings while on public transportation or in stations.
The T will increase the frequency of the Red, Orange, and Blue line trains as well as Green line trolleys on the C, D and E branches starting on June 20.
Buses will run with greater frequency on dozens of routes on the same date, while several previously eliminated routes will be restored, according to the T.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 195 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to just under 660,000 since the start of the pandemic.
There were 10 more confirmed COVID-19-related fatalities, raising the state’s death toll to 17,475, officials said.
Nearly 3.5 million people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated.