Massachusetts COVID Updates
- October 5, 2021 - Massachusetts released the new poster relating to the extended Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave law. View the poster here.
- September 29, 2021 - Governor Baker extended the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Provisions (MA EPSL) until April 1, 2022 or until the fund is exhausted. The extension does not provide for additional time off, it just allows employees who have not used the 40 hours to continue to use the time and also expands the use of the leave to include time off to help a family member get vaccinated and recover from any illness or disability related to the immunization.
- August 2021 - Cities and towns in Massachusetts have issued mask mandates or announced the mandates were or will be passed. The common theme among all of the mandates is directed at public spaces (spaces open to the general public) not private, employee-only businesses. Most are individual mask mandates, but some are directed at the business themselves and some require business postings. None have exceptions for vaccinations. Examples include:
Amherst: Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. No exceptions for vaccination. View Amherst mandate.
Arlington: Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. There is a business posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Arlington mandate.
Belmont: Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. There is a business posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Belmont mandate.
Billerica. Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. There are posting requirements for businesses. No exceptions for vaccination. View Billerica update.
Boston: Masks mandatory in all indoor places effective August 27. According to new frequently ask questions published by the City, this does not apply to businesses and offices that are not open to the public. No exceptions for vaccination. View Boston order.
Brookline. Announced masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public effective August 27, 2021 with no exceptions for vaccination. No order has bene released.
Lexington: Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. There is a business posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Lexington mandate.
Longmeadow. Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. Employees of such establishments must wear the masks at all times unless alone in a closed office space. View Longmeadow mandate.
Nantucket: Mask are required in indoor spaces (appears to be only those spaces open to the public). No exceptions for vaccination. View Nantucket mandate.
Northampton: Masks are required in indoor public places. Employees must wear masks in private places (like employee-only areas) if the establishment is generally open to the public. Employees in offices generally open to the public do not need to wear masks in offices. Owner of facility must enforce the mandate. View Northampton mandate.
Provincetown: The mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors at restaurants, venues, bars, fitness centers, lodgings, shops, offices and spaces open to the public, as well as to unvaccinated individuals outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained. View Provincetown mandate.
Salem: Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public starting August 23rd. There is a posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Salem mandate.
Somerville: Masks mandatory in all indoor public places. There is a business posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Somerville mandate.
Truro. Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public and outdoor organized events where more than 100 persons gather. No exceptions for vaccination. View Truro mandate.
Watertown. Masks are required in indoor spaces that are open to the public. No exceptions for vaccination. View Watertown mandate.
Wellfleet: Masks are mandatory in all indoor public places and outdoor public places where six feet cannot be maintained. No exceptions for vaccination.
Winchester: Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces. There is a busines posting requirement. No exceptions for vaccination. View Winchester mandate.
- August 4, 2021 - Massachusetts mandated certain nursing homes require their workers to be vaccinated by October 10, 2021. Those facilities that fail to keep documentation showing that 75% or more of their workers are vaccinated by that date could receive an order to stop accepting new admissions until the 75% threshold is reached. Click to view COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-4.
- July 26, 2021 - The Town of Provincetown, Massachusetts has announced that a mask mandate was enacted in the emergency meeting of the Provincetown Board of Health, Select Board and Barnstable County last night. View mandate details here. No information has been released as to the penalties or enforcement mechanisms of the mandate. According to the press release, the mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors at restaurants, venues, bars, fitness centers, lodgings, shops, offices and spaces open to the public, as well as to unvaccinated individuals outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- June 7, 2021 - The new Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave law requires employers of all sizes provide paid time off for COVID-19 related reasons to Massachusetts employees, as as mandates a new notice be distributed. Read client alert, Massachusetts Mandatory Emergency Paid Sick Leave Starts Now, where PS&H partners Michael Gamboli and Alicia Samolis explain the law's requirements.
- April 29, 2021 - The Massachusetts mask order has been amended to allow anyone outside not to wear a mask if six feet from tothers. COVID-19 Order 67
- April 27, 2021 - Governor Baker announced his intentions for Massachusetts at a press conference today. Keep in mind until he issues an order, this could change. According to the governor, the following changes will be made:
- April 30 (this Friday): face coverings order will be eliminated outdoors in public places, except for situations where it is not possible to maintain social distance and when required by business-specific guidelines. So far, the mask order will continue indoors.
- May 10: Large venues such as sports arenas can increase capacity to 25%, amusement parks can open at 50% capacity, road races will be allowed.
- May 29: Public gathering limits will increase, street festivals can be held at 50% capacity, bars can reopen with seated service only, restaurants may be allowed to eliminate food service requirement and increase maximum table size to 10.
- Aug. 1: All capacity limits will be at 100% and business restrictions will be eliminated. There is a caveat on the Massachusetts website that this may change depending on the vaccine distribution rate.
- March 22, 2021 - Massachusetts entered Phase IV, Step 1 of reopening through an Executive Order entitled "March 22, 2021 Appendix Adjusting Gathering Limits Set in COVID-19 Order No. 63" and Executive Order 66. Most significantly, there is now no Massachusetts travel order (only travel recommendations) requiring quarantine following any travel. In addition, stadiums, arenas and ballparks will be able to operate at 12% capacity. Gathering limits for event venues increased to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors (private gatherings remain at 10 people indoors/ 25 people outdoors).
- February 25, 2021 - Massachusetts has released its new order, effective March 1, 2021, moving the state into Stage 2 of Step III. This will allow for a building capacity limit of 50% for many industries, including office-based businesses. Restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances; six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table and 90 minute limits remain in place. Click to view the Executive Order 65.
- January 21, 2021 - Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, issued Executive Order 62, which extends the reduced capacity limits (such as the 40% building occupancy office requirement and the 25% capacity for entertainment facilities and restaurants) until February 8, 2021. The order repeals the 9:30pm curfew for restaurants, entertainment facilities and liquor/cannabis stores.
- January 8, 2021 - Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts extended his December 9, 2020 order placing all municipalities within Massachusetts back to Phase Three, Step One of the reopening plan, to January 24, 2021. Previously, the order was expected to expire on January 10, 2021. The extended order limits indoor gatherings to 10 persons; outdoor gatherings to 25 persons; and most businesses and other venues (including places of worship) are permitted to operate at no more than 25% capacity. The original order can be viewed here and the extention order viewed here.
- December 11, 2020 - Massachusetts released revised industry specific workplace safety standards that go into effect on December 13, 2020. The new office capacity is reduced from 50% to 40%. View the full revised Workplace Safety Standards for Office Spaces here.
- December 9, 2020 - Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has released two new orders which will go into effect December 13, 2020.
- The first order will put all municipalities into Phase Three, Step One, whereas currently some cities and towns had been in Phase Three, Step Two. The "roll back" has very little practical impact on businesses, with the exception of indoor theaters and indoor recreational facilities with great potential for contact. View the Order here.
- The second order limits outdoor gatherings at venues to 25 people (50 with advance notice to the DOH) and private residence gatherings to 10 people indoors (25 people outside). View the Order here.
- November 9, 2020 - Executive Order No. 56 goes into effect "until rescinded or until the state of emergency is ended, whichever occurs first. The order includes the advancement of "Lower Risk Communities" to Phase III, Step 2. To view the list of communities that are not designated as "lower-risk" communities, which will remain in Step1 of Phase III of the Massachusetts reopening plan, click here.
- July 6, 2020 - Massachusetts updated its requirements for several specific industries, including office spaces. View the new Safety Standards for Office Spaces here.
(1) The occupancy limits are more relaxed. Now the standards require no more than 10 persons per 1000 square feet of accessible office space and no more than 50% of occupancy limit (if any) in the permit. In other words, there is no limit relating to the prior number of workers present in the office. Such occupancy count must include customers, staff and other workers.
(2) The definition of “close contact” for tracing/quarantine purposes is also more relaxed. “Close contact” is now defined to be within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes (rather than 10 minutes, as previously defined).
(3) There is now a specific requirement Employers screen for certain symptoms, which include the new ones accepted by the CDC, such as runny nose. In addition, note that “fever” is now defined as a temperature over 100.0 not the usual 100.4 degrees.
The employer training requirement still remains. It is worth noting the training – as with last step – must include what symptoms are considered “severe” enough to seek medical attention and what underlying conditions make an employee more susceptible to contracting and suffering a severe case of the virus.
- July 6, 2020 - Step 1 of Phase III of the Massachusetts reopening plan begins (except for Boston, which will start July 13). The Order can be viewed here. Step 3 will be bifurcated into two steps with Step 2 commencing on a later (unannounced) date. This new Step allows for more businesses and other organizations to re-open to the public following closure due to COVID-19, including certain educational institutes, fitness centers and health clubs, museums, and movie theaters. This Step also allows for larger social gatherings, increasing indoor gathering to 8 persons per 1000 square feet up to 25 persons in a single enclosed indoor space and permitting 25% of the maximum permitted occupancy of an outdoor gathering in enclosed, permitted, or leased spaces. Bars, amusement parks, wineries, stadiums, and street festivals are among the businesses and organizations that will be part of Step 2 of the Phase 3 reopening plan.
- June 22, 2020 - Step 2 of the Phase 2 Re-Opening plan commenced. Among other things, this Step increased the maximum occupancy for Offices Spaces. Businesses and other organizations were now allowed 50% of either (1) the maximum occupancy of the building per the certificate of occupancy or the state building code, or (2) the typical occupancy of the business or organization as of March 1, 2020. The Order can be viewed here.
- June 6, 2020 - For detailed guidance for industries on Massachusetts' reopening plan as of June 6, 2020, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-when-can-my-business-reopen
- May 18, 2020 - The governor of Massachusetts is opening certain non-essential businesses starting today. See: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts. Non-essential construction and manufacturing businesses open 12:00am May 19th; hair salons and barbers are set for opening for hair-cutting services only on May 25th; Massachusetts offices outside of Boston are set for a May 25th and Boston offices are set to open June 1. Businesses reopening must comply with certain new safety guidelines applicable to all businesses (such as having a specific written plan and hanging certain posters). It is important to understand that essential businesses will also have to comply with the new general guidelines by May 25th.