City of Boston, Massachusetts Extends Construction Moratorium

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Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Non-essential construction is not presently permitted in Boston, but draft best practice guidelines and an associated contractor certificate identify the way forward for owners and contractors.


  • Non-essential construction is on pause in Boston as of April 29, 2020.
  • Mayor Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission are driven to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
  • Best practice guidelines provide a reasonable framework for maintaining safety on construction sites.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh first limited construction in the City of Boston to essential work on March 17. This pause in non-essential construction has been extended indefinitely by order of the Boston Public Health Commission on April 24. On April 27, Mayor Walsh confirmed that he will not re-open the City on May 4, the date the Commonwealth is scheduled to re-open (Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended his stay-at-home order on April 28 to May 18). Mayor Walsh has linked a re-opening to, among other things, broader testing to confirm that public safety is not further compromised by doing so.

All pending work was required to be safely secured by March 25, 2020, and contractors were expected to comply with safe construction practices outlined in a draft COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction (see Exhibit A, linked below).

The City allowed work to continue that is deemed essential to the safety and well-being of its residents, especially work related to addressing the COVID-19 health crisis. That essential work includes:

  • emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes,
  • new utility connections to occupied buildings,
  • mandated building or utility work,
  • work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities and shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations,
  • emergency work necessary to render occupied residential buildings safe and healthy,
  • work immediately necessary related to life safety systems,
  • work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network,
  • small residential construction projects in dwellings of three units or less (for example, kitchen or bathroom remodeling), and
  • other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.

Furthermore, on a case-by case basis, the City will review requests for exemptions to the above construction moratorium. These requests may be granted by the Boston Commissioner of Inspectional Services ( for building-related work, or the Commissioner of Public Works for street-related work.

To facilitate safe construction practices going forward, the City published a draft COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction. These are new requirements, designed to make job sites safer for workers and communities. Exemption requests will be granted if they support increased public health and safe construction practices as followed to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 among workers.

This policy applies only to projects permitted by the City of Boston.

For the health and safety of workers, their families, and our communities, all permitted construction will be required to adhere to COVID-19 best practices during this public health emergency. Exhibit A (link) is the draft City of Boston best practices worksheet, and Exhibit B (link) is the draft compliance certificate. This documentation should be incorporated in contractor site safety practices as and when construction resumes.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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