COVID-19: Phase 3 of Reopening Begins on July 6 in Massachusetts, July 13 in Boston

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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently issued Order 43, moving Massachusetts into Phase 3 of the Commonwealth's four-phased Reopening Plan. Phase 3, like prior phases, has two steps, with Step 1 of Phase 3 taking effect on Monday, July 6. The businesses that may reopen in Phase 3 are listed in Schedule A to Order 43, amending the previous version from Order 37:

  • July 6: Phase 3 Step 1 enterprises outside of Boston may open their brick-and-mortar premises to workers, customers, and the general public.
  • July 13: Phase 3 Step 1 enterprises located in Boston may open their brick-and-mortar premises to workers, customers, and the general public

Based on available public health data, opening of enterprises designated as Step 2 of Phase 3 will be announced at a later date. Businesses designated as Phase 4 must remain closed to the public and may only operate remotely. Phase 4 enterprises may not reopen brick-and-mortar premises until specifically authorized to do so.

Notably, Phase 4 enterprises and enterprises permitted to open only in Step 2 of Phase 3 may open their premises to workers to the degree reasonably necessary to perform critical tasks that cannot be conducted remotely, such as ensuring ongoing maintenance and security of the premises, preservation of inventory and equipment, and compliance with legal obligations.

The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Phase 3 Step 1, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:

Businesses opening in Phase 3 are required to self-certify that they are in full compliance with all generally applicable COVID-19 workplace safety rules and any applicable sector-specific rules, making their self-certification available for inspection, and posting on premises all public notices and advisories that are required to be displayed. All open businesses are still required to comply with the mandatory safety standards, which includes protocols for social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting, unless supplemented by sector-specific guidelines.

Governor Baker also issued a revised gathering order, Order 44, which now limits indoor gatherings to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space.

Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25% of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community, civic, and sporting events, as well as concerts, conventions, and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible. As with Phase 3 guidance, this revised order is effective on July 6 throughout the Commonwealth, and on July 13 for the city of Boston.

Also in Phase 3, health care providers may continue to provide in-person procedures and services as authorized in Phase 2, with the addition of certain group treatment programs and day programs. All providers must maintain compliance with public health and safety standards. Prioritizing telehealth, meeting public health and infection control standards, adhering to prioritization policies, ensuring equitable access to care, and monitoring patient volume must continue. Additional guidance is available here.

Phase 3 does not include any changes to the operation of public transportation and maintains the quarantine guidance, which instructs all travelers coming from out-of-state to Massachusetts beginning July 1 to quarantine for 14 days, although travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey are exempt.

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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