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December 2020

Massachusetts Announces New Restrictions for Capacity, Mask Compliance and Distancing Due to Increased COVID-19 Cases & Hospitalizations

The Baker-Polito Administration announced several actions in an effort to contain the recent COVID-19 case rise in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. New restrictions include reduction of indoor capacity, mask compliance and distancing due to an increase in cases and hospitalizations. 

Effective Sunday, December 13, all communities in Massachusetts will return to Step 1 of Phase 3, of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. Read the Baker-Polito administration's press release from Tuesday, December 8 here.  This rollback reduces indoor capacities across a broad range of sectors of the economy and tightens several other workplace restrictions. In the  Executive Order, Governor Baker also announced updates to the protocols governing workspaces, restaurants and indoor dining, and office capacities. 

Changes in this update include but are not limited to:

  • Offices, gyms, stores, churches and restaurant capacity will be reduced to 40%
    • In offices, employees must wear masks when not in their own workspace and alone.
    • Employers are encouraged to close or limit the use of break rooms.
    • Patrons must wear masks at all times in gyms.
  • The limit on outdoor gatherings will be reduced statewide from 100 persons to 50 persons.
  • Maximum indoor capacity for private gatherings will revert to 10 people.
  • Maximum outdoor capacity for private gatherings will now be 25.
    *The revised gatherings order can be found here
  • Restaurant table capacity will be reduced to 6 persons and total dining time will be limited to 90 minutes.
  • Restaurant diners will be required to wear masks unless actively eating or drinking. Workers will be required to wear masks in all common areas and meeting rooms even where 6 feet social distancing guidelines can be maintained.
  • Employers are asked to allow remote work and telecommuting where possible.
  • Step 1 will require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries. These include indoor performance venues and certain high-contact indoor recreational businesses. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also revised its return to work guidance which outlines when to quarantine or isolate. The guidance outlines qualifying circumstances that could potentially shorten a strict quarantine period.  The updated guidance can be found here. Sector specific guidance will be updated to reflect these changes this week. All information related to Massachusetts' Reopening Plan can be found by clicking here

Please contact your Gordon & Rees local counsel for assistance navigating these new developments.

COVID-19 Task Force

Margaret R. Stolfa



COVID-19 Task Force
Employment Law