Charlie Baker travels to Florida following family death, will return Monday

Gov. Charlie Baker is traveling to Florida following a death in the family and will return on Monday, his office said.

Baker headed to the Sunshine State on Thursday evening to meet his wife, Lauren, “to attend to family matters,” spokeswoman Sarah Finlaw said.

It appears to be the first time the governor has left Massachusetts since he flew to Utah for a vacation with his family at the start of the pandemic last year. He cut that trip short as coronavirus cases began rising in the Bay State.

And it comes as every state but Hawaii remains on the state’s restricted travel list. That means Baker will have to quarantine for 10 days upon his return unless he can produce a negative COVID-19 result from a test administered within 72 hours prior to his arrival in Massachusetts, or he could face a $500 fine per day for noncompliance. He also, per the state’s rules, has to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form.

“The governor and first lady will comply with all Massachusetts travel protocols,” Finlaw said.

Florida reported 6,144 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the last day for which state data is available. The state’s positivity rate is 5.37%.

Massachusetts reported 1,410 new cases in Thursday’s report. The state’s seven-day weighted average positivity rate is 3% with testing from higher-education institutions removed, and 1.8% with those tests included.

Baker has spoken several times in press conferences about the brutal emotional toll of being separated from or losing loved ones amid the pandemic. He choked up in one press conference last April while talking about how his best friend had lost his mom to the virus, and said state-issued restrictions on gatherings that halted funerals amounted to the “loss of a critical ritual.”

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