GOVERNOR BAKER REVISES NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS EMERGENCY ORDER: EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2020, NOON, ALL PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION UNRELATED TO HOUSING, CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE, OR COVID-19 SHUT DOWN
by: J. Nathan Cole
Dear Kenney & Sams clients and friends,
As the coronavirus continues to sweep across the country, and as Massachusetts and federal authorities seek to curtail business and social activity to “flatten the curve,” Governor Baker issued a major update to his March 23, 2020 Order that required all non-essential businesses to cease in person operation.
On March 31, 2020, the Baker Administration issued a revised Order that significantly redefines what construction work will constitute “essential services.” The Governor’s initial Order defined essential construction workers as: “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction).” That changes with the revised Order.
Effective April 1, 2020 at noon, Governor Baker’s updated “COVID-19 Essential Services” list will prohibit all construction in the Commonwealth except construction essential to housing (including mixed use projects with housing) and critical infrastructure. Workers performing housing construction related activities will remain “essential services” as part of the Baker Administration’s continued focus on combatting the Commonwealth’s existing housing supply shortage. The Order prohibits, among other projects, construction involving strictly commercial buildings while allowing work related to housing of any type.
Please note, however, that even construction services still deemed “essential services” may be subject to tighter municipal restrictions, including those issued by Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. The full list of revised “essential services” can be found here.
Additionally, workers such as plumbers, electricians, contractors, HVAC technicians, and other contractors who provide services necessary to “maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, health care facilities, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response” remain “essential services.”
Businesses designated as essential are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH).
Governor Baker also extended the non-essential business emergency order and guidance for Executive Branch employees until May 4. The Department of Public Health’s Stay-At-Home Advisory remains in effect.
Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. Tomorrow’s Order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4th.
Business owners who believe that their business should be considered “essential,” and which are not already covered by the guidance provided by the Commonwealth, may request designation as an essential business by submitting this form.
J. Nathan Cole is a Director at Kenney & Sams, P.C., and has been representing small businesses, construction contractors, subcontractors, and homeowners in Massachusetts for over a decade.