• Baker -Polito Administration Prepares to Announce COVID-19 Reopening Plan on Monday, May 18

    Administration Prepares to Announce COVID-19 Reopening Plan on Monday, May 18


    The Baker-Polito Administration has Asked MMA to Send Municipal Leaders Notice of the Reopening Activity that will Commence on Monday (see below)

    On Monday, May 18, Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito will unveil the state’s plan to reopen the economy in phases, with some business activity beginning as early as that same day.
    The Administration’s COVID-19 Reopening Advisory Board is finalizing the specifics of the plan over the weekend. The expectation is that the Reopening Plan, specific industry guidance, enforcement procedures and responsibilities, and updated Executive Orders will all be announced on Monday.
    The Governor has previously announced that the reopening will take place over four phases, “Start,” “Cautious,” “Vigilant,” and “New Normal.” Each phase will be triggered by health indicators, including testing results and infection rates, hospitalizations and other metrics (click this link to read the announcement).
    All businesses and expanded activities, including governmental services, will need to comply with mandatory safety standards for workplaces that were announced last week, including social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting (click this link to read the standards).


    MMA Issues Key Recommendations to Support Municipalities During the Reopening Process


    The MMA has developed a series of strong recommendations to address the needs of cities and towns during the reopening process, and presented those key priorities to the Reopening Advisory Board on May 13, urging their adoption in the Reopening Plan. Please Click this Link to Read the MMA’s 22-Page Reopening Presentation to the Administration.

    The MMA is emphasizing four main action areas:
    1. Providing timely notice, guidance and information to municipalities in advance of each phase;
    2. Issuing strong and clear directives and standards in each phase, including specific guidance for delivering public-facing programs and services;
    3. Ensuring universal access to resources for all municipalities, including PPE, equipment, cleaning supplies, testing for municipal employees and the public, technical assistance and funding; and
    4. Affirming clear local enforcement authority.
    MMA leaders are continuing to hold detailed and productive discussions on these priorities at the highest levels of the Administration, and we appreciate that this collaborative and open discussion will be ongoing throughout the entire reopening process, particularly on those items that are not included in the state’s reopening plan as announced on May 18. Many details and questions will emerge in the coming days and weeks, and MMA will continue to work on all of these issues.
    The Baker-Polito Administration has Asked MMA to Provide Municipal Leaders with the Following Message and Information:
    On Monday, May 18th, Governor Baker will announce that Massachusetts is entering Phase 1 of a four-phase plan to reopen. In order to give municipalities time to consider and prepare for this first phase, the Reopening Advisory Board (RAB) has shared a preview of information that will be publicly released on Monday with MMA and MAPC. We thank MMA and MAPC for their continued partnership over the past few months and look forward to continued collaboration and dialogue as we move forward.
    Reopening Advisory Board:
    On March 23rd, non-essential businesses across Massachusetts were closed to decrease the transmission of COVID-19. On April 28th, the order to close non-essential businesses was extended until May 18. At that time, Governor Baker announced the formation of a Reopening Advisory Board (RAB), chaired by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and comprised of representatives from the business community, public health officials, and municipal leaders from across the Commonwealth. The RAB met with over 75 business associations, labor unions, non-profits, and community coalitions that collectively represent more than 112,000 businesses and more than 2,000,000 employees. Additionally, the RAB received and considered more than 3,400 written submissions. Finally, the RAB established a Municipal Government Workstream that has met three times a week to discuss issues specifically pertaining to cities and towns.
    Essential services will remain open:
    Businesses that have operated during the closure because they offer “essential services” will continue to do so throughout the phased reopening. However, they will be required to meet new Mandatory Workplace Safety standards by Monday, May 25th. Those standards were announced by the Baker-Polito administration on May 11th, and can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-mandatory-safety-standards-for-workplaces
    New sectors opening on May 18:
    Upon implementing new COVID-19 safety standards and completing a self-attestation checklist, the following sectors are permitted to reopen on Monday, May 18:
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing
    • Worship
    Each business or House of Worship will be required to meet the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards linked above before reopening. Additionally, each industry also has a series of Sector Specific Protocols, that detail the policies workplaces should enforce to maintain compliance. The protocols for Manufacturing, Construction, and Worship are here:
    Manufacturing & Construction: https://www.mma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Manufacturing-and-Construction.pdf
    Houses/Places of Worship: https://www.mma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Places-of-Worship_Circular-Checklist_Eng.pdf
    Additional sectors opening in Phase 1:
    On Monday, the Baker-Polito administration will announce additional sectors, industries, and activities that will be permitted to open at a later date in Phase 1. This announcement will include appropriate Sector Specific Protocols for those industries.
    Enforcement of new safety standards is a joint responsibility between the MA Department of Labor Standards, the MA Department of Public Health, and local boards of health.
    Before reopening, businesses must self-certify that they will operate in compliance with the new safety standards and protocols. They will be required to complete a checklist and post a series of posters in a place where they can be viewed by employees and customers. The business must produce this self-certification, if requested by the local board of health, DLS, or DPH. In some cases, business will also be required to develop a written COVID-19 control plan.
    Enforcement will scale from verbal consultation and redirection, to written redirection, to fines, and finally to cease-and-desist letters. Local boards of health that need assistance or guidance can call the DLS hotline at (508) 616-0461 x9488 or send an email to safepublicworkplacemailbox@mass.gov.
    (A more detailed memo outlining the state’s enforcement guidelines will be forthcoming from the Administration).
    The MMA will Provide Further Updates and Information on the State’s Reopening Process as More Details Become Available.
    Thank You for Your Leadership During this Public Health Emergency!