Massachusetts has been doing well slowing the spread of COVID-19 and state officials want visitors to help keep it that way.

Starting Saturday, the state can impose a fine of $500 per day on visitors coming to the state or residents who are returning if they haven’t produced a negative test result within the previous three days, or quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

With most of the rest of the national map seeing huge spikes in positive COVID-19 tests – in many cases after states allowed bars, restaurants, movie theaters and parks to open with few restrictions – Bay State officials look like they mean business.

Early in the pandemic, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo raised the hackles of New Yorkers and people from Massachusetts when she instructed state police to advise motorists from out of state about the mandated two-week quarantine. At the end of June she announced that visitors coming from states with a 5% positivity rate would have to either quarantine for 14 days or receive a negative test result within three days of their arrival. Raimondo admitted at the time the rule would be tough to enforce. This week Maine Gov. Janet Mills went to battle with Republicans in her legislature who want to exempt residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island from quarantine or testing requirements; Mills is standing firm that we should not be given special treatment.

“For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans care more about Massachusetts money than the life of a Maine person,” Mills said on the state’s website Monday.

Whatever state is at issue, that’s what officials have to weigh: How best do they protect residents and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Massachusetts reported Monday that with 10,291 new tests, just 1.7% came back positive, a very respectable rate.

Baker wants to keep that rate low and is putting the $500-per-day fine in place for visitors who don’t abide. That said, don’t expect a state trooper to show up with a $500 ticket if you return from out of state and don’t promptly show proof you’re virus-free – or prove you’re in quarantine.

This will be a tough measure to enforce but the state’s action reminds everyone how urgent it is that we cooperate and abide by basic rules to avoid spreading this deadly virus. That’s an essential message whether it comes with a fine or just a nod of appreciation.

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