Massachusetts has announced a new COVID-19 travel order. Here’s what it means for college students.

Students walking on campus with moving bins.
Students moved onto campus in August 2019. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed a new executive order requiring people arriving from outside the state to fill out a travel form and comply with a 14-day quarantine in order to control the spread of the coronavirus. 

The order, which will take effect on August 1, also applies to Northeastern students, faculty, and staff planning to return to the Boston campus from out of state, as well as anybody accompanying them.

The new rules exempt students and other travelers from states where both the average number of new cases and the percentage of positive tests are low. At the time when governor Baker signed the order, those states included New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.

“The state has said for educational institutions, people can come in and be tested immediately upon arrival, or they have to quarantine until they are tested,” said David Luzzi, senior vice provost for research and vice president of Northeastern’s Innovation Campus. “Because we have a robust testing facility on campus that will be spun up and operating by the time anybody arrives, we will be implementing that approach right away.”

The order also exempts people who can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test based on samples taken no longer than 72 hours prior to their arrival. 

Faculty, staff, and students who commute to campus from out of state are exempt from the order, as are family members and other people who are helping students move back to Northeastern in the fall, but who do not stay in Massachusetts overnight.

People who can produce a negative COVID-19 test within the 14-day period after arriving in Massachusetts will be allowed to stop their quarantine.

Northeastern is already requiring all students, faculty, and staff returning to the Boston campus this fall to be tested for the virus. Those tests will be free, and provided on campus. 

“Northeastern’s testing facility is certified by the state, registered with CLIA certification with the Food and Drug Administration, so we have all the certifications,” Luzzi said, referring to the federal licensing needed for a laboratory to conduct testing on samples from humans. “We are a testing facility that can test anybody for this virus.”

Under the new rule, members of the Northeastern community will be able to break their quarantine to receive a COVID-19 test. And if that test result is negative, they will not need to continue quarantining. 

The executive order comes in the midst of increased activity of travelers in Massachusetts, Baker said. 

Everyone who chooses not to quarantine must be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. And failure to comply with the new order will result in a fine of $500 per day.

“Every traveler coming to Massachusetts, no matter where they’re from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the commonwealth,” Baker said on Friday at the Massachusetts state house. “I have every confidence that if we all work together and keep doing our part, we can continue to fight COVID, and can continue to reopen the commonwealth.”

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