Baker-Polito Administration Releases State Reopening Plan
The Baker-Polito Administration today released the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, Reopening Massachusetts, which details a four-phased strategy to reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19. The state has launched a comprehensive website with detailed reopening information at www.mass.gov/reopening.
The Administration also released a new “Safer at Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities, as a way to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19.
All businesses and expanded activities, including governmental services, will need to comply with mandatory safety standards for workplaces that were announced last week, including social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting. In addition, the state will be setting industry-specific safety requirements and guidance, if clearer or more stringent steps are necessary, as determined by public health officials.
The Administration’s COVID-19 Reopening Advisory Board finalized the specifics of the plan over the weekend. Today’s announcement was accompanied by an official report, specific industry guidance for those businesses/activities that will be permitted in Phase 1, materials for businesses to use for preparation and self-certification of their compliance with state-set health and safety requirements, and updated Executive Orders to implement the new phase.
|Phase 1 of the Reopening (“Start”) Begins Today, May 18
Allowed Activity During Phase One
- Gatherings will continue to be limited to a maximum of 10 people, unless otherwise provided in other orders and guidelines.
- The state is eliminating the “Essential” and “Non-Essential” distinctions, and will authorize categories of businesses or industry segments to reopen following specific guidance and conditions that will be provided in advance of each phase.
- For the Start phase, the state is allowing the following business activity as of May 18:
- Essential Businesses that are operating now will remain open, and have until May 25 to implement the new mandatory workplace safety standards and other Phase 1 requirements for their industry sector.
- Manufacturing and Construction, following specific industry workplace guidelines & standards (links to these requirements can be found below).
- Houses of Worship, with only 40% of maximum capacity allowed and other safety requirements (a link to the requirements can be found below).
- Gun Stores are open due to a federal court ruling.
- Outdoor Recreation activities, including Beaches, Parks, Fishing, Hunting, and other activities, following guidelines published today by the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (a link to these can be found below).
- For the Start phase, the state is allowing the following business activity as of May 25:
- Offices and Laboratories (June 1 for Boston), with a cap on occupancy at 25% and other requirements, and a very strong “Work From Home” advisory for all those who can operate remotely (links to the requirements can be found below).
- Retail Establishments – Fulfillment and Curbside Only, with no indoor customer access during Phase One.
- Hair Salons, Car Washes and Pet Grooming, following conditions and requirements established by the state (links to these can be found below).
- Expanded Elective Medical Procedures could proceed, following state guidelines.
- For Phase 2, the reopening plan expects to include the following: In-store retail, restaurants and lodging (the limitations are under review), additional personal services (nail salons or day spas, e.g.), campgrounds, playgrounds, public and community pools, athletic fields, limited youth sports (no games).
- For Phase 3, the reopening plan expects to include the following: bars, gyms, museums, other arts & entertainment (other than nightclubs and large venues), youth sports with games and tournaments (with limited crowd sizes).
|Enforcement Will be a Combination of Self-Certification and On-Site Inspections
In order to reopen, businesses must develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Required materials are located on mass.gov/reopening, and include detailed sector-specific circulars and checklists to facilitate compliance. Many of these links are listed below.
- Rule-Making and Enforcement Roles – The Department of Public Health and the Department of Labor Standards is responsible for developing the health and safety standards for each industry sector, and enforcement will primarily occur through local Boards of Health.
- Administration provides guidance document on municipal enforcement – the Baker-Polito Administration has provided a document outlining their guidance on municipal enforcement protocols and procedures as businesses begin to reopen. MMA is providing a link to the state’s guidance document here and below, and is reviewing the guidance with municipal officials.
- Self-Attestation – All allowed businesses and activities would be required to download and sign an “Attestation Poster” from the state website to attest that they are in compliance with the mandatory safety standards announced last week and the supplemental industry-specific requirements published by the state.
- Plans – All allowed businesses and activities would be required to develop their own plans on how to comply with the mandatory safety standards, with a sample template provided on the state website.
- Posting – The attestations must be posted on site for employees and customers to see.
• On-Site Records – The attestations and plans would be kept on site, and would not be filed with the Commonwealth or local government.
• Access and Inspections – State and local enforcement agencies would have the authority to review the attestations and plans upon request and inspect to ensure compliance.
- The state is developing a series of guidelines and procedures for the Commonwealth’s own operations, and will be sharing those with municipalities, including human resources policies for state employees, the use and operation of public buildings (being developed by the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance), and the delivery of public-facing services (being developed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles);
- Future phases will progressively include additional activities and business operations (in-store retail operations, personal services, restaurants, bars, lodging, team sporting activities, large sporting and entertainment events, e.g.);
- State officials will closely monitor key COVID-19 health metrics, and determine when it is safe to proceed to the next reopening phase, with at least three weeks needed in each stage before adequate information is available to assess public health outcomes and decide the timing of moving from Start to Cautious, and then to Vigilant and New Normal;
- The state will continue to expand its testing and contact tracing capacity, with the intention of placing priority on high-density areas and hot spots;
- The Administration projects that the childcare/daycare operations that are running now for emergency and healthcare workers have the capacity to serve families that need these services during Phase One; and
- In the coming weeks, childcare/daycare and transportation, key enablers for reopening the economy will continue to be explored and expanded as possible within the realities of COVID-19, following strict health protocols to ensure public health and safety.
- The Administration also reported that public health officials are currently drafting specific guidance on summer camps, and those recommendations will be forthcoming within the next couple of weeks – summer camps are not expected to begin until Phase 2 at the earliest.
|Helpful Links to Reopening Documents and Materials
Link to the Reopening Massachusetts website:
Link to the Reopening Massachusetts Plan:
Link to the Mandatory Safety Standards for all workplaces:
Links to the sector specific requirements for what’s allowed to reopen on May 18:
Places of Worship
Links to the sector specific requirements for what is reopening on May 25:
Hair Salons & Barbershops
Links to the business compliance documents:
State guidance on municipal enforcement of COVID-19 orders
Compliance attestation poster
COVID-19 control plan template
Links to updated (May 18) state guidance on outdoor recreation, beaches, campgrounds, boating, hunting, fishing, campgrounds, facility restrooms and more:
MMA Issues Key Recommendations to Support Municipalities During the Reopening Process
The MMA has developed a series of strong recommendations to address the needs of cities and towns during the reopening process, and presented those key priorities to the Reopening Advisory Board on May 13, urging their adoption in the Reopening Plan. Please Click this Link to Read the MMA’s 22-Page Reopening Presentation to the Administration.
The MMA is emphasizing four main action areas:
- Providing timely notice, guidance and information to municipalities in advance of each phase;
- Issuing strong and clear directives and standards in each phase, including specific guidance for delivering public-facing programs and services;
- Ensuring universal access to resources for all municipalities, including PPE, equipment, cleaning supplies, testing for municipal employees and the public, technical assistance and funding; and
- Affirming clear local enforcement authority.
MMA leaders are continuing to hold detailed and productive discussions on these priorities at the highest levels of the Administration, and we appreciate that this collaborative and open discussion will be ongoing throughout the entire reopening process, particularly on those items that were not fully reflected in the state’s reopening plan as announced on May 18. Many details and questions will emerge in the coming days and weeks, and MMA will continue to work on all of these issues.