Gov. Charlie Baker, joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, provides an update on reopening plans at a State House press conference on June 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)

Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order that allows Phase 2 businesses to immediately reopen their physical workplaces to workers in order to conduct preparations for a safe reopening.

Preparations include, but are not limited to, completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.

The order also details further requirements for the safe resumption of outdoor dining and amateur youth and adult sports.

The Order Clarifying the Progression of the Commonwealth’s Phased Workplace Reopening Plan and Authorizing Certain Reopening Preparations at Phase 2 Workplaces (COVID-19 Order No. 36) provides a detailed list of businesses and activities that fall into phases 2, 3 and 4 of the Commonwealth’s four-phase reopening plan, which was released on May 18.

The governor also issued a Childcare Provider Reopening Order (COVID-19 Order No. 36) and announced the availability of guidance for child care, recreational summer day camps and youth programs, which may reopen in Phase 2.

“Beginning immediately,” the order states, “any licensed, approved or exempt child care program that was closed by COVID-19 Order No. 10 and that is not currently operating as an emergency child care program [under Order No. 10] may open its physical workplaces and facilities … to workers for the purpose of preparing for opening when authorized.”

These non-emergency locations cannot reopen until they are in compliance with policies, requirements and guidance issued by the Department of Early Education and Care, and the governor issues a subsequent order.

Phase 2 is anticipated to begin on June 8 if the latest COVID-related public health data indicate that it’s safe to move forward. The administration is saying, however, that there will be stages of reopening within each phase of the state plan.

Restaurants
Restaurants may provide outdoor dining service, with restrictions, upon the start of Phase 2.

Providing continued positive progression of public health data, indoor dining may be authorized by a subsequent order during Phase 2, according to the administration.

In order to provide improved opportunities for outdoor table service, the order also provides flexibility to a local licensing authority to grant approval for a change for any type of license that permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

Restaurants may use tents and canopies to provide cover for patrons, but must not impede the flow of fresh air.

In both outdoor and indoor dining cases, restaurants will be required to comply with sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules for restaurants.

Retailers
At the start of Phase 2, retail stores will transition from curbside pickup and delivery-only to browsing and in-store transactions with restrictions.

Social distancing guidance requires each retail store to monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to either eight persons (including store staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible, indoor space, or 40% of the retail store’s maximum permitted occupancy, whichever is greater.

Grocery stores and retail stores with pharmacy services must provide at least one hour of dedicated time for adults age 60 and older, while all stores are encouraged to offer exclusive hours or other accommodations for high-risk populations.

For staffing, stores should adjust workplace hours and shifts, including leveraging staggered arrival/departure, to minimize contact across workers and to allow for ongoing and off-hour sanitation and cleaning. Stores should also conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy-transit areas and high-touch surfaces.

Operators of enclosed shopping malls and other indoor, multi-tenant retail spaces must monitor customer and worker entries and exits to common areas and limit occupancy of common areas at all times to 40% of maximum permitted occupancy levels. Mall amenities like seating in food courts, children’s play areas, and arcades must remain closed, while mall food vendors and restaurants may provide only take-out or delivery service.

Once Phase 2 begins, these standards will apply to all retail businesses except for farmers markets, which shall continue to be governed by Department of Public Health guidance.

These standards will supersede and replace existing Department of Public Health guidance governing grocery stores and pharmacies.

Retailers that have been defined as providing essential services under COVID-19 Order No. 13 will be required to comply with these sector-specific safety protocols within one week of the date that retailers are authorized to open pursuant to the governor’s Phase 2 Reopening Order.

• Link to Safety Standards and Checklist for Retail Businesses

Sports
Organizers of amateur sports programs for youths and adults may open their premises to staff only to make preparations in advance of the start of Phase 2.

In addition to requiring generally applicable COVID-19 workplace standards, the governor’s order specifies that, during Phase 2, organized sports programs will operate under the following provisions:
• Limiting traditional contact sports to no-contact drills and practices
• Prohibiting games, scrimmages and tournaments
• Separating participants into groups of 10 or fewer
• Restricting the use of indoor athletic facilities to supervised sports programs and sport camps for youths under the age of 18

Further sector-specific guidance for youth and adult amateur sports programs will be issued in the coming days.

Subject to the implementation of COVID-19 health and safety rules adopted by respective leagues, the order permits professional sports organizations to reopen their premises to employees and other workers for practices and training; however, professional sports organizations are not allowed to engage in inter-team games, and sporting facilities will remain closed to the public.

• Link to updated list of enterprises and when they can reopen (phases 2, 3, and 4)

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