On April 27, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that between April 30 and August 1, 2021, the Commonwealth will advance through the final stages of the COVID-19 reopening plan.  Subject to public health and vaccination data, restrictions on businesses and individuals will be eased gradually until all restrictions are lifted on August 1, 2021.

On April 27, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced significant updates to the Commonwealth's COVID-19 reopening status.  The changes described below will occur in stages on April 30, May 10, May 29, and August 1, 2021.

Effective April 30, 2021:

  • The outdoor face covering requirement – other than for "events" – will be relaxed such that face coverings will only be required outside in public settings when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times when required by sector-specific guidance.
  • Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public spaces, and at both indoor and outdoor events, except when eating or drinking.
  • Face coverings will no longer be required at smaller gatherings in private homes, and the $300 fine for violations will be eliminated.

Effective May 10, 2021:

  • Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks currently open as part of Phase 4, Step 1 at 12% capacity will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%.
  • The Commonwealth will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries, including amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks, which will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health.
  • Road races and similar events will be permitted to take place under certain conditions, as will youth and adult amateur sports tournaments.
  • Singing will be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues, and other businesses.

Effective May 29, 2021 (subject to public health and vaccination data):

  • Gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings, and private settings.
  • Additional Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be permitted to open, including street festivals, parades, and agricultural festivals, at 50% of their previous capacity, and after submitting safety plans to the local board of health. In addition, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries will be permitted to open, and will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90-minute time limit, and no dance floors.
  • Restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol, and to increase the maximum table size to 10 persons.

Effective August 1, 2021 (subject to public health and vaccination data):

  • Remaining industries will be permitted to open, and all industry restrictions (including capacity restrictions) will be lifted.
  • The gathering limit will be rescinded.

Employers should watch for updates to the sector-specific protocols, which may contain more detailed guidance with respect to various industries.  After COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, businesses will be encouraged to continue following best practices.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.