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Protesters gather at Massachusetts State House to protest coronavirus closures

Protesters gather at Massachusetts State House to protest coronavirus closures
© Stefani Reynolds

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Monday to demonstrate against the closures ordered during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The demonstrators called for nonessential businesses to reopen and designated Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) stay-at-home order as unconstitutional. 

The crowds chanted “Freedom” and “USA” and carried signs saying “End shutdown” and “Tyranny is not leadership,” according to CBS Boston and ABC affiliate WCVB5. Some protesters in the crowd wore masks, while others did not. 

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Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement that officials estimate more than 500 protesters were in attendance. The demonstration began at about 1:30 p.m., and the scene was cleared by 3:30 p.m.

"The protestors were advocating for the reopening of closures and easing of restrictions mandated by the pandemic," he said. "Many protestors were on foot outside the State House and across the street in front of the Boston Common, while numerous other protestors drove to the location from other spots in Massachusetts."   

The police blocked off part of Beacon Street and had "numerous personnel in place to maintain order," he added.

Procopio said there were no arrests, disorder or violence. 

Last week, Baker announced that nonessential businesses would remain closed until at least May 15, when the stay-at-home order and the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people are currently set to expire. 

Baker told reporters Monday that the state believes experts who say a downward trend is necessary before reopening the government. 

“I think all of us believe collectively here that the decisions that we’ve made were the ones that we felt were the best among bad choices,” Baker said. “We made them based on science and guidance that we got from people who study pandemics and infectious diseases in many different places.”

The governor has said Massachusetts is weeks away from announcing a reopening strategy as the advisory board continues to work on it.

Protests have ensued across the country against stay-at-home orders as residents become frustrated without an end date in sight. Other states across the country, including Georgia and Oklahoma, have begun to reopen after shutting down due to the pandemic. 

Massachusetts has confirmed 69,087 cases of coronavirus, the third most of any state in the country, leading to at least 4,090 deaths, according to the state health department.

—Updated at 5:09 p.m.