The Baker-Polito Administration announced several actions yesterday and today in an effort to contain the recent COVID-19 case rise in the Commonwealth.
Governor Announces Statewide Rollback to Phase III, Step 1 This afternoon, Governor Baker announced a statewide rollback to Phase III, Step 1 in the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan. In the Executive Order, Governor Baker also announced updates to the the protocols governing workspaces, restaurants and indoor dining, and office capacities. These requirements will go into effect on Sunday, December 13.
Changes in this update include but are not limited to:
Gyms, stores, offices, and church capacity will be reduced to 40%.
Restaurant table capacity will be reduced to 6 persons and total dining time will be limited to 90 minutes.
Restaurant diners will be required to wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.
Workers will be required to wear masks in all common areas and meeting rooms even where 6ft. social distancing guidelines can be maintained.
Employers are asked to allow remote work and telecommuting where possible.
Sector specific guidance will be updated to reflect these changes this week. All information related to Massachusetts’ Reopening Plan can be found by visiting mass.gov/reopening.
DPH Releases Revised Return to Work Guidance On December 7, 2020, the Department of Public Health revised its return to work guidance, which outlines when workers should quarantine or isolate, and provides guidance on when isolation can end. The guidance also outlines qualifying circumstances that could potentially shorten a strict quarantine period.
An earlier posting of this update incorrectly indicated that restaurant capacity would be decreased to 40%. The post was updated on December 8, 2020 @ 5:25pm.
Earlier this afternoon, in light of the recent rise in infection rates of COVID-19 throughout the Commonwealth, Governor Baker announced several new restrictions and targeted interventions meant to #StopTheSpread.
Stay-At-Home Advisory Updated
The Department of Public Health has issued an updated stay-at-home advisory, asking all residents to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with exceptions for necessary activities, such as going to work or school.
Early Closure of Businesses and Activities
In order to ensure that individuals are back at their residence by 10 p.m., Governor Baker has issued a new executive order that requires a 9:30 p.m. closure of certain businesses. However, exemptions will be allowed, including allowing employees to conduct cleaning or stocking businesses overnight, and it does not pertain to construction, manufacturing or lab work. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and retail stores will also be allowed to stay open after 9:30 p.m.
This order requires that:
– all indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, such as casinos, theaters and arcades, must be closed to the public by 9:30 p.m.
– restaurants must be closed for table service by 9:30 p.m., although takeout service will be allowed to continue.
– liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales by 9:30 p.m. (but may continue to sell other products).
In addition to the new business requirements, the Baker-Polito Administration has updated the private gatherings restrictions in the new gatherings order. For private homes, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed indoors, 25 people outdoors. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. All gatherings inside and outside must end by 9:30 p.m. to ensure individuals are in their own households by 10 p.m.
The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.
New Mask Wearing Guidelines and Requirements
Everyone over the age of 5 must now wear a face covering in public regardless of distance to other people. This means there are no longer exemptions or exceptions for when you can maintain social distance.
Additionally, while the revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.
All of these measures will go into effect at 12:01am on Friday, November 6. Sector-by-sector guidance updates are anticipated to be released later this week.
NAIOP will continue to advocate for policies, Executive Orders and legislation that address how this public health crisis is affecting real estate and overall economic development. We are working on numerous initiatives. Please feel free to reach out to CEO Tamara Small or Government Affairs Associate Anastasia Nicolaou if you have any questions.