Massachusetts Governor Issues Reopening Plan And Worker Safety Requirements
On May 11, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-phase plan to incrementally reopen the Commonwealth's economy, beginning with the resumption of businesses and activities that involve a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission. The announcement comes as welcome news to organizations designated "non-essential," most of which have been shuttered since late March.
The reopening plan involves the following four phases:
• Phase 1, "Start" - "Limited industries," including those that involve minimal face-to-face interaction, are permitted to reopen with "severe restrictions," beginning Monday, May 18.
• Phase 2, "Cautious" - Additional businesses, including those involving more face-to-face interaction, are permitted to resume operations, with restrictions and capacity limits.
• Phase 3, "Vigilant" - Restrictions in place in Phase 1 and Phase 2 may be loosened, if supported by public health data.
• Phase 4, "New Normal" - Phase 4 occurs when a vaccine and/or treatment therapies are developed that enable the economy to resume pre-COVID-19 operations.
The plan does not include a specific timetable for progression from one phase to the next, which will be determined based on evolving public health metrics. If such metrics fall below certain thresholds, the Commonwealth's reopening status could revert to a prior phase of the plan.
Workplace Safety Precautions
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also issued mandatory workplace safety measures for all organizations resuming operations in Phase 1, as follows:
• Social Distancing
o Employees, customers and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, inside and outside workplaces.
o Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing.
o Provide signage for safe social distancing.
o Require face coverings or masks for all employees.
• Hygiene Protocols
o Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace.
o Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies.
o Provide regular sanitization of high-touch areas (e.g., workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms) throughout the worksite.
• Staffing and Operations
o Provide training for employees regarding social distancing and hygiene protocols.
o Employees with COVID-19-like symptoms should not report to work.
o Establish a plan for responding to employees who get ill from COVID-19 at work, and for returning them to work in a safe manner.
• Cleaning and Disinfecting
o Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business.
o Clean and disinfect if an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.
o Disinfect all common surfaces at intervals appropriate to the workplace.
Further, industry-specific safety protocols and guidance will be issued throughout the reopening plan.
In addition, since announcing this general plan, Governor Baker has indicated that he will make a follow-up announcement on Monday, May 18 concerning the specific types of businesses that will be permitted to reopen as part of Phase 1.
* * *
Schwartz Hannum continues to monitor COVID-19 developments and will provide updates as they become available.