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Assumption University limits students to their dorm rooms


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BOSTON (AP) -- Students at Assumption University in Worcester have been told to shelter in place for a week in response to a cluster of coronavirus cases on campus.

The order at Assumption took effect Oct. 30 and comes after eight new positive cases among students in the past week, school officials said. In addition, more than 100 students are in quarantine.

Students will be restricted to their dorm rooms except for medical emergencies, twice-a-week COVID tests, and to pick up meals, President Francesco Cesareo said in a statement. Classes will continue remotely.

Students who violate the shelter-in-place order will be sent home, according to the university. If they leave campus on their own, they will not be able to return until January.

"I realize the inconvenience that the shelter-in-place will cause students, faculty, and staff; however, this mutual decision by the Worcester Department of Public Health and the university is a necessary step to promote the health and safety of the campus and Worcester communities," Cesareo said.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a series of new measures on Nov. 2 meant to curb rising COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, including a revised stay-at-home advisory, earlier closing times for many businesses, and a tougher face-covering mandate.

The new measures come as the cases of the virus are up by 278 percent since Labor Day and hospitalizations are up by 145 percent during the same time period.

The revised stay-at-home advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The advisory allows certain activities like going to work, taking a walk and running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs.

"The simple truth is too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives," Baker said, adding that if the state continues on the same track of new infections, there will be capacity issues at local hospitals by the end of the year.

Baker issued a new executive order requiring the early closure of many businesses and activities each night at 9:30 p.m., including requiring restaurants to stop table service and requiring liquor stores to stop selling alcohol. Movie theaters must also close at 9:30 p.m.

The governor also revised the state's mask mandate to require anyone above the age of five to wear a mask in public.

An earlier mandate said people should wear a mask in public if they couldn't socially distance. Baker said the new mandate removes the social distancing language.

"We're basically saying if you go out in public, wear a mask," Baker said.

Baker also signed an updated order reducing the size limit for gatherings at private residences. Indoor gatherings at private residences are now limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people.

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