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Massachusetts Issues Shutdown Order During COVID-19 Outbreak (UPDATED)

4.28.20

Governor Charlie Baker just issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public beginning March 24 at noon through April 7 at noon. Businesses that provide essential goods and services, designated as “COVID-19 Essential Services,” are excluded from the order and will be allowed to remain open.

[Ed. Note: On March 31, 2020, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21, extending the operation of COVID-19 Order No. 13 and ordering all non-essential businesses and organizations to  keep their facilities closed to workers, customers, and the public until May 4, 2020.   Further, the Order expanded the “COVID-19 Essential Services List”  to more closely align with the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0. Specifically, each section of the original MA COVID-19 Essential Services List has been modified and expanded to align with CISA Guidance. The new essential service list will go into effect on April 1, 2020.]  

[Ed. Note: On April 28, 2020, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 30, extending the operation of COVID-19 Order No. 21, and ordering non-essential businesses and organizations to remain closed for in-person operations until May 18, 2020. The Order also extends the prohibition on gatherings of 10 or more people until May 18, 2020. The Department of Public Health’s stay-at-home advisory remains in effect.

The Governor also announced the creation of the Reopening Advisory Board, led by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. The Advisory Board, which is made up of public health professionals, municipal officials, and business leaders, is responsible for advising the administration on a strategy for safely reopening the Commonwealth’s economy in phases. More information about the Advisory Board can be found here.]

[Ed. Note: In addition to the updates to the COVID-19 Essential Services List based on the CISA Guidance, Massachusetts has also designated additional services and workers as essential, as noted in the editor’s notes below.]

In addition to the updates to the COVID-19 Essential Services List based on the CISA Guidance, Massachusetts has also designated additional services and workers as essential, as noted in the editor’s notes below.

Massachusetts “Essential” Services, Defined

The following are deemed essential services:

Healthcare, Public Health, And Human Services

Law Enforcement, Public Safety, And First Responders

Food, Retail, And Agriculture

Critical Infrastructure

Other Community Based Essential Functions And Government Operations

Critical Manufacturing

Hazardous Materials

Financial Services

Chemical Industry

Defense Industrial Base

[Ed. Note: On March 31, a new section of Construction- Related Activities was added, including:

Businesses Can Request Designation

Businesses and or services that do not fall into the above categories can submit an “Essential Service Designation Request.”

[Ed. Note: Submissions through the Essential Service Designation Request are reviewed by Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (“EOHED”). The Commonwealth has issued a list of FAQs (“COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs”) to address questions received by EOHED related to the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Essential Services guidance. The FAQs will be updated regularly.]

Prohibition on Gathering

The Order further prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people throughout the Commonwealth. The Order does not prohibit gatherings in unenclosed, outdoor locations or gatherings for purposes of the “COVID-19 Essential Services” outlined above. 

Exceptions To The Order

The order does not apply to the following:

The Order supersedes and maker inoperative any rule or order issued by a municipality that may interfere with its objectives.

Conclusion

We will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our Boston office, or any member of our COVID-19 Taskforce. You can also review our nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and our FP Resource Center For Employers, maintained by our Taskforce.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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