Seyfarth Synopsis: On February 25, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts will advance to Phase Three, Step Two of the Reopening Plan on March 1, 2021.  Governor Baker also announced that Massachusetts would move to Phase Four, Step One on March 22, 2021.  The transition allows more Massachusetts businesses to reopen and decreases COVID-19 related restrictions on businesses as public health metrics continue to improve.

On February 25, 2021, Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts will advance to Phase Three, Step Two of its Reopening Plan on March 1, 2021.  In conjunction with this Order, the Commonwealth has issued updated sector-specific guidelines, which contain important changes for various industries with respect to operations and capacity limits.  These changes include the following:

  • The capacity limit on office spaces will be raised to 50% of maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the facility's occupancy permit on record with the municipal department or other municipal record holder. Buildings with no permitted occupancy limitation on record may allow 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space.  And in any case, no enclosed space within these offices may exceed occupancy of 10 persons per 1,000 square feet.
  • Restaurants will no longer be required to limit capacity to 40% of maximum occupancy, and may allow indoor musical performances in accordance with applicable guidance. Tables must remain six feet apart, and the previous restrictions of six people per table and 90- minute seating limits remain in place.
  • Lodging providers and retailers will be permitted to increase capacity limits to 50% of maximum occupancy, excluding staff and other workers from the calculation. All retailers will be allowed to re-open fitting rooms.
  • Indoor movie theaters will be permitted to increase capacity limits for each screening room to 50% of the room's maximum capacity, with a maximum limit of 250 people per room. Performance venues will be allowed to increase capacity to 50% of the venue's maximum occupancy, up to a maximum of 500 people.
  • Updated guidelines for close-contact personal service providers, fitness and health centers, driving and flight schools, golf facilities, libraries, museums, cultural and historical facilities, guided tours, and places of worship feature increased capacity limits to up to 50% of maximum occupancy. The newly issued guidance is available by industry  here.

In Phase Three, Step Two, concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance venues not designated as Phase Four enterprises will be permitted to resume operations and host live performances.  Indoor recreational activities that have a greater risk of physical contact will also be allowed to resume operations.

In addition to announcing the transition to Phase Three, Step Two on March 1, the administration also announced that Phase Four of the Commonwealth's Reopening Plan will begin on March 22, 2021, provided that public health metrics continue to improve.  During Phase Four, Step One, indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks will be permitted to resume operations at 12% capacity, and exhibition and convention halls may operate in accordance with gathering limits and event protocols.  Gathering limits for event venues will also be increased to 100 people for indoor venues, and 150 people for outdoor venues.  Gathering limits for gatherings at private residences will remain at their current levels.

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