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Massachusetts Orders March 24, 2020 Shutdown for Non-Essential Services and Prohibits Gatherings of More Than 10 People

On March 23, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Baker issued 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.

The emergency Order is effective as of Tuesday, March 24 at noon until Tuesday, April 7 at noon. Business and organizations that are required by the Order to close their brick-and-mortar premises, are encouraged to continue operations where they are able to operate through remote means.

Businesses that are identified on the list of essential services are urged to continue operations with allowance for social distancing protocols consistent with the guidance provided by the Department of Public Health. The list of essential services is broken down by the following categories:

  • Healthcare/Public Health/Human Services

  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders

  • Food and Agriculture

  • Energy (which included the electricity industry, petroleum workers, natural and propane gas workers, steam workers)

  • Water and Wastewater

  • Transportation and Logistics

  • Public Workers

  • Communications and Information Technology

  • Other Community-Based Essential Functions and Government Operations

  • Critical Manufacturing

  • Hazardous Materials

  • Financial Services

  • Chemical

  • Defense Industrial Base

More details regarding the types of businesses permitted to continue to operate can be found here.

If the function of a business is not currently identified in the list of essential services and a business owner believes that it is essential, a business may request designation as an essential business. Requests by businesses to be designated as an essential function should only be made if they are not covered by the guidance. The link to request designation as an essential business can be found here.

Additionally, Governor Baker’s March 15, 2020 Order Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 25 People, has been revised to prohibit gatherings of over 10 people. Gatherings subject to the Order include, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events, concerts, conferences, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, weddings, funerals, and any similar event or activity that brings together more than 10 people in a confined indoor or outdoor space.

As provided in guidance issued by the Department of Public Health, the Order does not apply to:

  • gatherings of more than 10 people in an unenclosed, outdoor space, provided that individuals follow social distancing protocols by remaining at least six feet apart (however, all athletic activities that bring participants into close, physical contact are prohibited even when involving 10 or fewer people);

  • normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, ferries, polling locations, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food pantries, banks and pharmacies;

  • operations or activities of any business or organization in its provision of “COVID-19 Essential Services”;

  • healthcare facilities;

  • dental or orthodontic offices performing emergency procedures;

  • homeless and domestic violence shelters, or organizations providing services and supports to a shelter;

  • temporary or permanent locations used for isolation and/or quarantine;

  • residential treatment or after-school programs;

  • residential schools for special needs students; and

  • the operation of Emergency Child Care Programs.

Violations of this Order are subject to the following punishments: (a) first offense will result in a warning; (b) second offense may result in civil citation and fine up to $300; and (c) further offenses which are repeated and willful may be subject to criminal penalties including a fine up to $500 or term of imprisonment or both.

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About this Author

Jack Gearan, Greenberg Traurig Law Firm, Boston, Education, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Jack S. Gearan is a lawyer in the Boston office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. He concentrates his practice in the areas of business litigation and employment law. Jack has experience in all phases of civil litigation including discovery, mediation, arbitration and trial.

Jack’s business litigation practice covers a variety of business torts, including misrepresentation, fraud, contract disputes, and claims under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A – the Massachusetts unfair trade practices statute.

Jack also regularly...

Terence McCourt, Greenberg Traurig Law Firm, Boston, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Terence P. McCourt is Managing Shareholder of the Boston office and Chairman of its Labor & Employment Practice. He represents a broad range of organizations in all facets of management-side labor and employment law. During more than two decades of practice, Terry has gained a national reputation for his practical, solution-oriented approach to employment law issues.

With wide-ranging litigation experience, Terry handles diverse employment matters, including employment discrimination and wrongful termination cases in state and federal courts, wage and hour compliance, labor arbitration cases, non-competition cases, internal corporate investigations, and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He also counsels employers concerning day-to-day human resources issues as well as myriad legal requirements in the workplace, particularly related to significant operational changes such as mergers, acquisitions, business relocations or reductions in force.

Terry has wide-ranging governmental experience as the former Deputy Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor of Massachusetts and General Counsel to the Massachusetts Secretary of Labor.