Dear Kenney & Sams clients and friends,

We write to update you on significant and developing Orders directed at construction in the Commonwealth. Earlier today, Governor Baker issued guidance confirming and clarifying that the Commonwealth’s March 23, 2020 Order “Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 10 People” supersedes any order or rule issued by a municipality, including those previously issued by the Cities of Boston and Cambridge, that in any way prohibits or interferes with the Commonwealth’s Order defining non-essential workers. Notably, “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects” are deemed essential and may proceed with work throughout the Commonwealth.

Governor Baker’s Order states, in pertinent part: “all construction projects are to continue operations during the state of emergency, but to do so with allowance for social distancing protocols consistent with guidance provided by the Department of Public Health. Local policies, regulations or directives that provide otherwise are in direct conflict with the Order and should be withdrawn.”

With this Order, the Administration issued guidance clarifying previously issued local orders by the Mayors of Boston and Cambridge pausing non-essential construction work in their respective cities.

This afternoon, however, apparently in response to Governor Baker’s most recent order, Mayor Walsh’s office issued a press release, extending his March 16, 2020 Order temporarily closing jobsites in Boston. The release states that the temporary ban on construction in Boston extends until “further notice.” “The safety and health of construction workers and all residents of Boston is my first priority, and I am not willing to put that at risk as the virus spreads throughout our communities,” said Mayor Walsh. “Large gatherings such as those at construction sites have been proven to escalate the spread of the virus, and Boston must do everything in its power to flatten the curve, and stop the spread of coronavirus.”

The Mayor’s office also noted that the Commissioner of Inspection Services will review, on a case-by-case basis, requests for exemptions to the temporary ban.

We will continue to monitor these developments and bring you updates as we learn more. It appears that the Commonwealth and the City of Boston are issuing conflicting orders. We expect Governor Baker to respond shortly.