skip to main content

Massachusetts

These resources – like the public health crisis itself – are constantly evolving and are only current as to the date of publication. This page was last updated on September 14, 2020.

For more up-to-date information on the relief programs available in Massachusetts, we recommend that you visit the state's COVID-19 Updates and Information website, COVID-19 State of Emergency resources or MassTrac's list of bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic

resource search icon

Description of Program and Relief

Phased Reopening of Workplaces

The Governor has issued Executive Orders that will begin a phased reopening of businesses and other organizations. Massachusetts is currently in Step 1 of Phase III of the reopening plan. At this time, Phase-I; Phase-II; and Phase-III, Step-1 businesses and organizations, as listed below, respectively, are allowed to operate from their physical locations and open those premises to workers, customers, and the public provided they comply with all workplace safety rules and standards listed below. Provided, however, that for any premises located within the City of Boston, Step 1 of Phase III shall commence on July 13, 2020.

Phase-III, Step 2 businesses and organizations may not open their premises to customers and the public generally until authorized to do so by subsequent order.

Phase I – Currently Permitted to Reopen

Reopened Phase-I businesses and organizations must bring the workplace into full compliance with the workplace safety rules and sector-specific rules applicable, complete self-certification to verify compliance and make the self-certification available for inspection, and post on the premises all public notices and advisories that are required. For additional details, see the Order regarding Phase-I reopening here.

The Order regarding Phase-I reopening is intended to establish a uniform set of COVID-19 workplace safety rules. No municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in the Order or under the implementing directives, regulations, and guidances issued under authority of this Order.

The following Phase-I businesses and organizations, as of May 25, 2020, are currently permitted to reopen:

  • manufacturing;

  • construction;

  • places of worship; and

  • firearms retailers and shooting ranges.

  • general-use offices (including those within the City of Boston shall not be open);

  • car washes;

  • hair salons and barber shops;

  • pet groomers;

  • drive-in movie theaters;

  • laboratories, including facilities equipped and used for scientific experiments, research, or for the manufacture of drugs or chemicals or similar products; and

  • certain outdoor recreational facilities and activities, including campgrounds, recreational boating facilities, for hire and charter fishing, white-water rafting, zoos, botanical gardens, nature centers, outdoor wildlife reserves, and businesses providing outdoor recreational experiences and educational activities.

Please see the Order regarding Phase-I reopening here for detailed information regarding General Workplace Safety Rules, Sector-Specific Safety Rules, Compliance and Self-Certification, Enforcement and Authority, Limitations on Gatherings, Limited Operations by Retail Stores not Providing Essential Services, and Exceptions.

Phase II, Step 1 – Currently Permitted to Reopen

Reopened Phase-II businesses and organizations must at all times comply with all generally applicable COVID-19 workplace safety rules and any relevant sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules issued pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 33 (available here) or otherwise by any agency authorized to issue health and safety rules. For additional details, see the Order regarding Phase-II reopening here.

The Order regarding Phase-II reopening is intended to establish a uniform set of COVID-19 workplace safety rules. No municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in the Order or under the implementing directives, regulations, and guidances issued under authority of this Order.

The following Phase-II, Step-1 businesses and organizations, as of June 8, 2020, are currently permitted to re-open:

  • retail stores, including those in shopping malls;

  • restaurants providing outdoor seated table service (but not indoor table service);

  • hotels, motels, inns and other short-term lodgings (but no events, meetings, or functions);

  • limited organized amateur sports activities and programs;

  • professional sports practice and training programs (but no inter-team games and no admission for the public);

  • personal services provided at a fixed place of business or at a client location that involve no close personal contact, including photography, window washers, individual tutoring, home cleaning, etc.;

  • non-athletic instructional classes in arts/education/life skills for youths under 18 in groups of fewer than 10;

  • driving and flight schools;

  • outdoor historical spaces (but no functions, gatherings, or guided tours);

  • funeral homes (with one service at a time at 40% occupancy)

  • warehouses and distribution centers;

  • golf facilities, including outdoor driving ranges;

  • other outdoor recreational facilities, including pools, playgrounds, spray decks, mini-golf, go karts, batting cages, climbing walls, and rope courses;

  • post-secondary/higher education/vocational-tech/trade/occupational schools, for the limited purposes of permitting students to complete a degree program or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion, for summer youth programming, including athletic facilities, and any necessary supporting services;

  • day camps, including sports and arts camps; and

  • public libraries.

Please see the Order regarding Phase-II reopening here for detailed information regarding General Workplace Safety Rules, Sector-Specific Safety Rules, Compliance and Self-Certification, Enforcement and Authority, Limitations on Gatherings, Limited Operations by Retail Stores not Providing Essential Services, and Exceptions.

Phase II, Step 2 Currently Permitted to Reopen

Reopened Phase-II, Step 2 businesses and organizations must at all times comply with all generally applicable COVID-19 workplace safety rules and any relevant sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules issued pursuant to COVID-19 Orders No. 33 (here) and No. 37 (here) or otherwise by any agency authorized to issue health and safety rules. For additional details, see the Order regarding Phase-II, Step-2 reopening here.

The Order regarding Phase-II, Step 2 reopening is intended to establish a uniform set of COVID-19 workplace safety rules. No municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in the Order or under the implementing directives, regulations, and guidances issued under authority of this Order.

The following Phase-II, Step-2 businesses and organizations, as of June 22, 2020, are currently permitted to re-open:

 close contact personal services provided at a fixed place of business or at a client location that involve close personal contact, including massage, nail salons, personal training for individuals or no more than 2 person from same household, etc.; and

 restaurants providing indoor seated table service.

Please see the Orders regarding Phase-II reopening (here and here) for detailed information regarding General Workplace Safety Rules, Sector-Specific Safety Rules, Compliance and Self-Certification, Enforcement and Authority, Limitations on Gatherings, Limited Operations by Retail Stores not Providing Essential Services, and Exceptions.

Phase III, Step 1 – Currently Permitted to Reopen

Reopened Phase-III businesses and organizations must at all times comply with all generally applicable COVID-19 workplace safety rules and any relevant sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules issued pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 33 (available here) or otherwise by any agency authorized to issue health and safety rules. For additional details, see the Order regarding Phase-III reopening here.

The Order regarding Phase-III reopening is intended to establish a uniform set of COVID-19 workplace safety rules. No municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in the Order or under the implementing directives, regulations, and guidances issued under authority of this Order.

The following Phase-III, Step-1 businesses and organizations, as of July 6, 2020, are currently permitted to re-open:

  • Post-Secondary/Higher Ed/Vocational-Tech/Trade/Occupational Schools-general operations;

  • Casino gaming floors;

  • Horse racing tracks and simulcast facilities;

  • Indoor recreational and athletic facilities for general use (not limited to youth programs);

  • Fitness centers and health clubs including,

  • cardio/weight rooms/locker rooms/inside facilities,

  • fitness studios (yoga, barre, cross-fit, spin classes, general fitness studios),

  • indoor common areas,

  • indoor swimming pools,

  • indoor racquet courts and gymnasiums,

  • locker rooms, and

  • excluding saunas, hot-tubs and steam rooms;

  • Museums;

  • Indoor historic spaces/sites;

  • Aquariums;

  • Outdoor theatres and other outdoor performance venues not designated as Phase IV enterprises;

  • Movie theaters;

  • Sightseeing and other organized tours (bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, whale watching);

  • Motion picture, television, and video streaming production;

  • Fishing and hunting tournaments and other amateur or professional derbies;

  • Outdoor event spaces used for gatherings and celebrations including those in parks, reservations, and other outdoor spaces not designated as Phase IV enterprises;

  • Indoor event spaces such as meeting rooms, ballrooms, and private party rooms--only when used for functions or events permitted under Sector-Specific Rules for Indoor and Outdoor Events;

  • Indoor non-athletic instructional classes in arts/education/life skills for persons 18 years or older; and

  • Indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact: batting cages, driving ranges, go karts, bowling alleys, rock-climbing walls.

The following Phase III adjustments, as of September 10, 2020, have been made:

  • Restaurants providing outdoor seated table service may request for approval to provide outdoor alcohol service and to provide such service beyond November 1, 2020; and

  • Any approval to provide outdoor alcohol service shall remain in effect until 60 days past the end of the state of emergency or such earlier date the city or town establishes in granting the approval, whichever is sooner, at which time any approval issued under this Section, including any amended license issued by a local licensing authority (LLA) as a result of this Order (available here), shall automatically revert back to its status prior to any approval issued under either this Section or Section 4 of COVID-19 Order No. 35 (available here).

The following Phase-III, Step-1 businesses and organizations, effective at 12:01 am on September 17, 2020, will be permitted to re-open:

  • Indoor and outdoor gaming arcades and associated gaming devices [a].

Please see the Orders regarding Phase-III reopening here and here for detailed information regarding General Workplace Safety Rules, Sector-Specific Safety Rules, Compliance and Self-Certification, Enforcement and Authority, Adjustments to Restrictions on Organized Sports Activities and Programs, Premises Regulated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and Exceptions.

Phases III, Step 2 and IV – Not Yet Permitted to Reopen or Begin Preparations to Reopen

For a complete list of Phase-III, Step 2 and Phase-IV businesses and organizations, which are not yet allowed to open to workers for advance preparation of re-opening, please see the Order here. Currently, Phase-III, Step 2 and Phase-IV businesses and organizations may only open their premises to workers to the degree reasonably necessary to perform critical tasks that cannot be conducted remotely, such as ensuring on-going maintenance of the premises, preservation of inventory and equipment, and compliance with legal obligations.

Government or Lead Agency

Office of the Governor

Dates Available

These Orders shall remain in effect until rescinded or until the State of Emergency is ended, whichever occurs first.

Contact for More Information

Not applicable

List of Additional Information

The Executive Orders regarding Phases I, II, and III, respectively, can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Executive Orders Regarding COVID-19 Essential Services and Limitations on Gathers can be found here, here, here, and here.

A detailed list of COVID-19 Essential Services can be found here.

The Guidance on limitations on gatherings can be found here

Guidance regarding the operation of essential businesses under these orders can be found here and here.

Additional information may be found here.


© 2021 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. This does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this publication may be considered attorney advertising. Past representations are no guarantee of future outcomes.

© 2021 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Privacy Policy