BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker extended a statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for another 60 days on Tuesday to help keep residents struggling to pay the rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic in their homes.
The initial pause took effect April and was scheduled to expire Aug. 18, but has now been extended until Oct. 17.
The law suspends most residential and small business commercial evictions, as well as residential foreclosures, but does not relieve tenants or homeowners of their obligations to pay rent or mortgage payments.
It does bar landlords from sending notifications to residential tenants that threaten eviction or termination of a lease, and requires lenders to grant a forbearance for up to 180 days if a homeowner is experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
The state has also set up a $20 million Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Fund to help low-income households make payments.
There were 165 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts and 17 newly reported deaths, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday.
The 165 new cases were out of 7,821 tests given, a positive rate of about 2.1%.
There have now been more than 107,200 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 8,231 deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The number of people in the state's hospitals climbed to 513, the department said Tuesday, up from 483 the previous day. The number of people in intensive care, however, dropped to 63, down from 67 the previous day.
COCKTAILS TO GO
Restaurants in Massachusetts can now sell cocktails with takeout food orders, a key measure that will allow many establishments to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed legislation that allows restaurants to sell mixed drinks in closed containers during the pandemic state of emergency, or until Feb. 28, whichever is later.
The state earlier during the crisis allowed beer and wine sales with takeout orders.
Sen. Diana DiZoglio proposed allowing cocktail sales.
"While many mom and pop establishments have been able to slowly reopen in recent weeks, they still face significant challenges in their efforts to retain employees and pay their bills," the Methuen Democrat said in a statement. "According to our local, family-owned and operated restaurants, these measures could help them generate thousands of dollars a month and would greatly assist them in paying utility bills and rent."
MORE CASES IN SMALL TOWN
There are are now eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gosnold, the smallest town in Massachusetts.
The Gosnold Board of Health reported on the town's website Monday that residents of Cuttyhunk Island who have tested positive are required to quarantine if they remain on the island and everyone is required to wear masks while in public.
Cuttyhunk is one of several islands that make up the town off the south coast of Massachusetts, which has about 20 year-round residents, but several hundred in the summer.
The town's first case, a seasonal resident who had been on island for about a week, was reported last Wednesday.
The town secured 25 test kits for people who had come in contact with that woman.
Anyone who has tested positive and is trying to get off the island must notify the ferry company or the water taxi, per federal regulations, the board said.