Today, Governor Baker announced new statewide restrictions designed to curb the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. These restrictions will go into effect starting Saturday, December 26 and be in place for at least 2 weeks. It is the goal of the Baker-Polito Administration to keep these measures temporary, but extensions may be required based on public health data.
New Business Restrictions
The new statewide requirements include, but are not limited to:
Indoor and outdoor gathering limits for private property, public spaces and event venues have been reduced to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.
Office limitations will be reduced to 25% of total capacity.
Capacities for restaurants, personal services, retail, libraries, lodging, theaters, performance venues, places of worship, museums, cultural facilities and others will be reduced to 25%.
Workers and staff will not count towards the occupancy count for restaurants, personal services, places of worship and retail businesses such as grocery stores.
All other sector-specific guidance remains in place.
For the most up-to-date guidance, requirements and information on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response, please visit: mass.gov/reopening.
Updated Hospital Guidance
In order to preserve bed capacity, today it was also announced that effective 12:01am on December 26, all hospitals must postpone or cancel all non-essential in-patient elective invasive procedures, unless postponement would lead to high-risk or significant clinical decline of an individuals health. Additionally, hospitals are advised not to schedule new in-patient non-essential elective procedures until further notice by the Department of Public Health. Ambulatory, outpatient treatment, and preventive procedures (such as mammograms or cancer screenings) are not impacted. In-patient and emergency services are also not affected by this order.
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.