September 20, 2021

Volume XI, Number 263

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September 17, 2021

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COVID-19: Massachusetts to Enter Step 2 of Phase 3 for Lower-Risk Communities; Revised Gathering Order Issued

Effective Monday, October 5, Massachusetts begins Step 2 of Phase 3 of reopening via Order 51 in lower-risk communities, defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health weekly reports. This would mean that the community has had an average daily incidence rate of eight or fewer cases per 100,000 residents in that time period.

Until October 5, all sectors remain subject to previously-issued guidance. On that date, however, certain sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in the lower-risk communities:

Please see our alert for more information on reopenings and sector-specific guidance in Massachusetts and throughout the region, as well as our alert on travel restrictions.

If a municipality that currently qualifies as lower risk sees an increase in cases that causes it to no longer qualify as lower risk, then the businesses that were allowed to open in Step 2 of Phase 3 must immediately close their brick and mortar premises and may not operate under the increased capacity adjustments. These businesses will have to follow the gathering size restrictions in Order 52 (see below) and from previous phases of sector-specific guidance. Order 51 is in effect for the duration of the state of emergency unless rescinded earlier.

Order 51 references Order 52, Governor Baker’s new order on gathering size, which is also effective as of October 5. This order replaces Order 46 and will remain in place throughout the duration of the state of emergency unless rescinded. The Order makes clear that all indoor and outdoor events must comply with the limitations of the order and sector-specific guidance, unless otherwise exempt. Pursuant to Order 52, these adjustments include the following:

  • Indoor gatherings at all venues and locations limited to 25 people

  • Outdoor gatherings at private residences limited to 50 people

  • Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings:

    • Lower risk communities: up to 100 people

    • Communities that do not qualify as lower risk: up to 50 people

These restrictions do not apply to religious gatherings, but such events must still follow the sector-specific rules for places of worship. Outdoor gatherings for political expression are also exempt, but indoor political gatherings are not. The operator of any event venue where a gathering of more than 50 people is expected must provide notice to the Board of Health at least one week prior to the event, unless the timing of such notice is not practicable due to the nature of the event, like for a memorial service.

Additionally, participants in all indoor and outdoor gatherings, even at private residences, must maintain six feet of social distance from anyone not in the same household. For gatherings of more than 10 people, face coverings are required for everyone over the age of five. This applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.

The same exceptions apply as in previous gathering orders, exempting federal government entities, health care facilities, polling places, public and private schools, licensed child care programs, and corrections facilities, among others.

State and municipal police are authorized to enforce Order 52, with violations resulting in a civil fine of up to $500 per violation.

©2021 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 276
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About this Author

Kathleen Hamann White Collar Attorney Pierce Atwood Washington, DC
Partner

Kathleen Hamann is an internationally recognized authority in the field of white collar enforcement and compliance matters. Drawing on her nearly 20 years of service to the federal government, in roles at the US Department of Justice and Department of State, Kathleen helps clients navigate the complexities of U.S. and transnational criminal liability and multijurisdictional government investigations.

Since returning to private practice, Kathleen has represented clients in a number of transnational matters, conducting global risk assessments, designing compliance programs, and...

202-530-6409
Sarah Remes Employment Lawyer Pierce Atwood Law Firm
Associate

Sarah Remes represents clients in complex commercial litigation, including class actions, employment-related disputes, and internal investigations.

Prior to joining Pierce Atwood, Sarah was an associate at a litigation boutique in Boston. During law school, Sarah was a judicial intern for Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Judd. J. Carhart. She was also the articles editor for the Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law and a member of the Pro Bono Honor Society. Prior to law school, Sarah worked in risk management and internal audit at a Boston-area bank.

617-488-8149
Melanie Conroy Commercial Litigation Attorney Pierce Atwood Law Firm
Counsel

Melanie Conroy focuses her practice on class action defense and complex commercial litigation. She has represented clients in connection with internal, government, and regulatory investigations, and has counseled boards of directors, board committees, and senior management on a broad range of matters, including securities, corporate governance, disclosure, and regulatory issues.

Melanie represents businesses and organizations across a wide range of industries, including life sciences, financial services, insurance, private equity, real estate, energy, media, consumer electronics,...

617-488-8119
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