By John Ayers-Mann and Daniel B. Klein,
Seyfarth Synopsis: On September 29, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an Executive Order outlining the process for “lower risk communities” to advance to Step Two of Phase Three of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. On September 30 and October 1, Massachusetts published updated guidance for businesses in several sectors across the State in accordance with the Governor’s Order.
On September 29, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued Executive Order 51, outlining the process for “lower risk communities” to advance to Step Two of Phase Three of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. Under the Governor’s Order, communities with an average daily COVID-19 incidence rate of 8 or fewer per 100,000 residents will be classified as “lower risk communities.”
In accordance with the Governor’s Order, on September 30 and October 1, the Commonwealth issued updated sector-specific reopening guidance for businesses moving into Step Two of Phase Three, effective October 5. The Commonwealth issued updated guidelines for the following sectors: retailers, lodging operators, arcades and other outdoor recreational facilities, fitness centers, indoor and outdoor events, golf facilities, and close contact personal services. Notable changes to the sector specific guidelines include:
- Retailers in lower risk communities are permitted to open fitting rooms in all retail stores within such lower risk communities. Under prior guidance, retailers were only permitted to open fitting rooms if the fitting rooms were necessary for their operations.
- The new guidance allows lodging providers to resume providing non-essential amenities such as coffee, guest-facing water, and coat rooms. Valets must also provide hand sanitizer and must use hand sanitizer before and after parking vehicles.
- Fitness centers in lower risk communities are permitted to operate with increased capacity. Fitness center customers are no longer required to wear face masks while engaging in strenuous activity, provided that they can remain 14 feet apart from other customers during exercise. Attendees of group exercise classes must also maintain 14 feet of social distance during exercise, unless physical barriers are installed, in which case 6 feet of social distance must be maintained.
- The updated guidance for arcades and other outdoor recreation businesses permits businesses in lower risk communities to operate certain activities with greater capacity, including batting cages, driving ranges, bowling alleys and others. In addition, businesses in lower risk communities that operate roller skating rinks, trampolines, obstacle courses, laser tag arenas, and escape rooms are permitted to resume operations.
- Outdoor events in public settings within lower risk communities are permitted to take place with up to 100 attendees. For outdoor gatherings involving more than 50 attendees, the event organizers must notify the local Board of Health one week prior to the event. Notice to the local Board of Health must include the location and time of the planned event, the name and contact information of the event organizer, and the number of anticipated attendees. Attendees of any indoor or outdoor event must maintain 6 feet of physical distance between other attendees not within the same household.
We will continue to keep you apprised of any other significant developments in or changes to the Commonwealth’s sector-specific guidance.
Those with questions or concerns about any of these issues or topics are encouraged to reach out to the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of Seyfarth Shaw’s Labor & Employment Team.