On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Gov. Baker announced the implementation of a four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts. For an overview of the four-phase plan, see GT Alert, Massachusetts Announces Four-Phase Reopening Approach and Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards, May 14, 2020.
General Business Guidance
Businesses eligible to reopen in Phase One must follow both mandatory workplace safety standards and sector-specific requirements. Businesses currently operating based on an Essential Services designation, as defined in the Governor’s March 23, 2020, Executive Order (updated May 15), may remain open, but must comply with mandatory safety standards by May 25, 2020.
To reopen, businesses must have the following elements in place:
- COVID-19 Control Plan. Businesses must develop a written control plan outlining how their workplace will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation during the reopening period. Download the reopening control plan template here. Businesses need not submit the Control Plan to a state agency for approval, but must keep it on the business premises in the event of an inspection.
- Compliance Attestation. Once businesses complete their Control Plan, they must complete and sign a checklist attesting to compliance with safety measures. The signed attestation must be displayed in an area within the business premises, visible to both employees and visitors. Download the compliance attestation template here.
- Workplace Posters. Businesses must also display posters within the business premises describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, and cleaning and disinfecting. Download the employer reopening poster here.
Industry Specific Protocols
Safety requirements and recommended best practices for those sectors eligible to reopen in Phase One include the following:
- Safety Standards for Construction, permitted to reopen May 18, 2020.
- Safety Standards for Manufacturing, permitted to reopen May 18, 2020.
- Safety Standards for Laboratories, permitted to reopen May 25, 2020.
- Safety Standards for Hair Salons and Barbershops, permitted to reopen May 25, 2020.
- Safety Standards for Car Washes, permitted to reopen May 25, 2020.
- Safety Standards for Pet Grooming Services, permitted to reopen May 25, 2020.
Effective May 25, 2020, Massachusetts office spaces, except those located in Boston, will be allowed to open, but must operate at no more than 25% capacity, “workers must continue to telework if feasible,” and employers must comply with the Safety Standards for Office Spaces. Companies may exceed the 25% threshold only for public health or safety considerations, or where the limitation would interfere with delivery of critical services. The 25% is calculated based on either the certificate of occupancy or the typical occupancy as of March 1, 2020. Offices located in the city of Boston will be allowed to reopen in accordance with these same guidelines on June 1, 2020. Any business or other organization that has been operating as an Essential Service has until July 1, 2020, to comply with the new limitations.
The Massachusetts reopening plan contains other protocols and best practices surrounding activities that are permitted to resume operations in Phase One. These include:
- Safety Standards for Places of Worship, permitted to reopen May 18, 2020.
- Outdoor recreation sites, including beaches, parks, mountain biking, and recreational boating. See Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) COVID-19 Guidance Documents.
- Reopening health and human services in Massachusetts to allow non-emergency procedures or deferred care.
Duration of Phase One
Each phase of the Massachusetts reopening plan may last a minimum of three weeks, but the transition from one phase to the next is dependent on public health data. Businesses that may reopen under certain safety guidelines in Phase Two include retail, restaurants, lodging, and additional personal services (e.g., nail salons and day spas). Re-openings in Phase Three may include bars, arts & entertainment (e.g., casinos, fitness, gyms, museums), and other business activities except nightclubs and large venues. Finally, Phase Four may allow full resumption of activity, albeit with various safety guidelines in place.
For more information and updates on the developing situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019.