BOSTON — Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an Executive Order that provides a detailed list of businesses and activities that fall into Phases II, III, and IV of the Commonwealth’s Re-Opening Plan. The Order also permits all Phase II enterprises, including retail, to begin preparations to safely resume operation in advance of the start of the second phase. In addition to the retail sector, the Executive Order details further requirements for the safe resumption of amateur youth and adult sports and outdoor dining.
Effective immediately, the Executive Order permits Phase II businesses to reopen their physical workplaces to workers only to conduct necessary preparations prior to the start of Phase II. Preparations include but are not limited to completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.
For Reopening Phase II Executive Order, click here.
For Childcare Provider Reopening Order, click here.
Retailers: Retail stores will transition from curbside pickup and delivery-only to browsing and in-store transactions with restrictions at the start of Phase II.
Social distancing guidance requires each retail store to monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to either 8 persons (including store staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible, indoor space, or 40% of the retail store’s maximum permitted occupancy, whichever is greater.
Grocery stores and retail stores with pharmacy services must provide at least one hour of dedicated time for adults 60 years of age and older, while all stores are encouraged to offer exclusive hours or other accommodations for high-risk populations. For staffing, stores should adjust workplace hours and shifts, including leveraging staggered arrival / departure, to minimize contact across workers and to allow for on-going and off-hour sanitation and cleaning. Stores should also conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces.
Operators of enclosed shopping malls and other indoor, multi-tenant retail spaces must monitor customer and worker entries and exits to common areas and limit occupancy of common areas at all times to 40% of maximum permitted occupancy levels. Mall amenities like seating in food courts, children’s play areas, and arcades must remain closed, while mall food vendors and restaurants may only provide take-out or delivery service.
Once Phase II begins, these standards will apply to all retail businesses except for Farmers’ Markets, which shall continue to be governed by Department of Public Health guidance. These standards will supersede and replace existing Department of Public Health guidance governing grocery stores and pharmacies.
Retailers that have been defined as providing Essential Services pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 13 will be required to comply with these sector-specific safety protocols within one week of the date that Retailers are authorized to open pursuant to the Governor’s Phase II Reopening Order.
Sports: The Order also allows organizers of amateur sports programs for youths and adults to open their premises to staff only to make preparations in advance of the start of Phase II. In addition to requiring generally applicable COVID-19 workplace standards, the Order specifies that during Phase II organized sports programs will operate under the following provisions:
- Limiting traditional contact sports to no-contact drills and practices;
- Prohibiting games, scrimmages, and tournaments;
- Separating participants to into groups of 10 or less;
- Restricting the use of indoor athletic facilities to supervised sports programs and sport camps for youths under the age of 18.
Further sector-specific guidance for youth and adult amateur sports programs will be issued in the coming days. Subject to the implementation of COVID-19 health and safety rules adopted by respective leagues, this Order permits professional sports organizations to reopen their premises to employees and other workers for practices and training; however, professional sports organizations are not allowed to engage in inter-team games and sporting facilities will remain closed to the public.
Restaurants: Lastly, the Order permits restaurants to provide outdoor dining service with restrictions upon the start of Phase II; providing continued positive progression of public health data, indoor dining may be authorized by a subsequent order during Phase II. In order to provide improved opportunities for outdoor table service, the order also provides flexibility to a local licensing authority to grant approval for a change for any type of license that permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for on- premises consumption. In both outdoor and indoor dining cases, restaurants will be required to comply with sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules for restaurants.
On May 18th, the Baker-Polito Administration released Reopening Massachusetts, the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19.