BOSTON -- Gov. Charlie Baker is asking travelers coming into Massachusetts to self-quarantine for at least 14 days to help slow spread of the coronavirus.

Beginning Friday, Baker said travelers to the state will be told to self-isolate to ensure they are not infected with the virus. To drive the message home, visitors entering by vehicle, plane, bus and train will be given a flier instructing them of the new requirements.

Digital boards along the Massachusetts Turnpike and other major highways will flash messages about the advisory. Advisories will also be handed out to motorists at rest stops.

"We're taking extraordinary steps to keep our residents safe, including asking folks to stay home and closing non-essential businesses," Baker told reporters Friday. "At the same time we're asking so much of our residents, we should also be thinking about the potential impact of travelers visiting Massachusetts from other places."

As of Friday night, 3,240 cases of the coronavirus had been identified in Massachusetts and 35 people had died, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Health care, public safety officials, transportation and sanitation workers are exempt from the travel requirements, which will remain in effect during the state of emergency.

Baker said there are no civil or criminal sanctions, at least for now, for visitors who don't follow the instructions.

"I would call it at this point instruction and advisory," he said. "There is no enforcement mechanism."

Asked about people who live out of state but work in Massachusetts, Baker said he believes most are aware of the state's requirements for social distancing.

"It's impossible to ensure that everyone complies with all of this, but if you're working in Massachusetts right now that means your work is essential and you're getting a ton of guidance about what we expect people to do on the job and when they're not at work," he said at Friday's press briefing.

Several other states have also advised outside travelers to self-quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus.

Many of the travel directives are aimed specifically at New Yorkers fleeing a state which has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with 54,600 COVID-19 cases and 648 deaths as of Friday.

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order requiring a two-week quarantine of anyone who had arrived specially from the New York region over the past three weeks.

New arrivals will have to report names of people they've had contact with, so that public health officials can trace those contacts, DeSantis said.

And in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo issued a directive allowing state police to stop vehicles with New York license plates to collect information from drivers and passengers.

Baker told reporters Friday that a lot of the messaging in Massachusetts would be targeted at travelers from the south, "basically the New York area."

On Thursday the U.S. State Department recommended that American citizens abroad either return or stay in place as the pandemic grows.

The department raised its global travel warning to level four, the highest tier, which is usually reserved for nations dealing with active war zones or natural disasters.

"If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite time frame," the advisory said.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at

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