ACEC/MA works with our public agency partners and ACEC National to provide you with curated news and information. It is also a place to collect information about how the coronavirus is impacting your business to share best practices and effectively advocate for your needs. If you have information to share or have questions regarding public agency project issues in Massachusetts email us and we will check in with the agency on behalf of our community.
State House News Service Corona Virus Tracker - free, but you need to sign up on their page.
|Update on Paycheck Protection Program||See more on: https://www.acecma.org/about/news/update-on-paycheck-protection-program-3032|
|5/19/20 Mayor Walsh Briefing||
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh started his press conference with an update on the COVID-19 numbers in the City of Boston: on 5/18 there were 11,950 confirmed cases. Last week, Boston’s positive test result rate was 13.9%, a new low. The number of positive cases in the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Boston continues to decline. Despite the positives, the numbers still give a reason for caution. The Mayor urged residents to continue to stay home, practice social distancing, wash their hands and wear masks in public.
Mayor Walsh discussed the Governor’s phased reopening plan released yesterday: Open air construction projects in Boston are able to resume this week, with others opening next week. Contractors must submit COVID safety plans to return to work and safety training for inspectors. Nearly 2,300 safety plans have been submitted to the city. He reported that the city is in the process of developing a detailed plan for Boston offices. The statewide plan allows for 25% capacity on offices reopening on May 25, but the City of Boston will allow offices to reopen on June 1. The city will share guidelines for Boston offices next week. The City of Boston will allow small businesses to resume curbside pickups on May 25; The Mayor asked small businesses that do not feel comfortable opening to contact his office. He also reported that the state reopening plan allows for places of worship to reopen this week, with guidelines and limited capacity, but he has heard from some places of worship that do not feel comfortable reopening. He urged seniors in the City of Boston to act on the side of caution when it comes to attending services and asked seniors to reach out to faith leaders directly during this time.
|ACEC/MA Health & Safety Forum on 5/18/2020||The ACEC/MA Health & Safety Forum on 5/18/2020 focused on office reopening and construction site safety issues. Link to YouTube Recording of this Forum.|
|Phase 1 Reopening Begins 5/18/2020||
5/18/2020: Construction Sites:
5/18/2020: Governor Charlie Baker announced that phase 1 begins today which means manufacturing and construction sites are allowed to reopen, as early as today, if they meet the guidelines. Places of worship are allowed to reopen if they follow the guidelines set for them as well. Around the state, offices spaces can reopen on May 25 if they meet health guidelines, and office spaces in Boston can start June 1. One of the new requirements is that office space can only reopen with 25% capacity. During phase 1, emergency childcare will be expanded for families that have no other option.
Hairdressers and barbers are included in phase 1 and can reopen by appointment only, starting May 25. Restaurants, hotels, retail stores, nail salons, and public pools are included in phase 2. There will be at least a 3 week minimum waiting period between phases, but it could be longer, depending on data from health officials. Summer camps will be included in phases 2 and 3, and casinos, museums, and other entertainment-related businesses will get the green light in phase 3.
The “stay at home” advisory has been changed to a “safer at home” advisory, which the Governor urged residents to still stay at home unless they absolutely need to go out. Limit on gatherings still remains at 10 people.
The full reopening report and guidelines and are located below.
Sector-specific protocols and best practices:
Updated MBTA COVID-19 Procedures
|Boston Announces Incremental Start to Construction||
On Tuesday, May 5, the City activated the submission process for required COVID-19 Safety Affidavits and COVID-19 Safety Plans for permitted construction work. The City also announced the timeline to incrementally expand the categories of allowed construction to further align with the broader categories of construction defined as essential by the State. Read the announcement.
As of May 18, 2020, the City of Boston will allow essential construction projects on sites that meet the following criteria: (1) Projects are permitted, in compliance and have filed a Covid-19 Safety plan and a signed affidavit; (2) Project sites are sufficiently prepared to adhere to all criteria of their safety plan; and (3) the work is for hospitals, public schools, residential buildings (1-3 units), road and utility work, or other outdoor/open air-work such as steel erection, roofing and constructing foundations.
As of May 26, 2020, the City of Boston will allow all essential construction projects to recommence construction activities in adherence to their safety plans. This incremental approach will provide the time necessary to allow complex, large-scale development an opportunity to educate their workforce, safely remobilize and implement their site-specific Safety Plan
The City of Boston released 3 documents regarding the phased-in approach for the resumption of construction activities:
On May 5, City of Boston announced it will take an incremental approach to broadening the allowable categories of construction. Effective May 5, all essential construction projects (as defined by the state, which currently means residential, hospitals, public schools, mixed use with residential, public works and construction related to COVID-19) with approved safety plans and signed affidavits as required under the COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction will be authorized to prepare the site with project specific COVID-19 safety measures.
At no time will the City of Boston permit any construction beyond what is allowed by the Commonwealth. DPW and ISD will continue to monitor and enforce the COVID-19 Safety Plans for Construction. In accordance with the signed affidavit, contractors acknowledge and agree that non-compliance with any requirements may result in suspension of termination of work in progress of revocation of the City’s permit for such work.
|Governor Baker Announces Reopening Advisory Board||
On April 28, Governor Baker announced the formation of the Reopening Advisory Board, which is being Co-Chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. The Board brings together public health officials, business leaders and municipal government officials from across the state, and is charged with providing recommendations to the Administration to reopen the economy in phases based on preserving the health and safety of the Commonwealth's residents. ACEC/MA plans to provide stakeholder input on the issues facing the engineering, A/E and land surveying business community. More info
City of Boston Construction Protocols
On Friday, April 17, the City published a draft COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction. These are new requirements, designed to make job sites safer for workers and communities, that are expected to be implemented by Monday, April 27.
Due to COVID-19, the City of Boston will be implementing new protocols for essential construction work in the City of Boston. All essential construction sites must now submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan and a COVID-19 Safety Affidavit. These policies go into effect on April 27, 2020 for all essential construction. Nothing in these new protocols changes what construction is currently allowable in the City of Boston right now, but when construction resumes at some point, compliance with this policy will be required.
To help with this, the City has provided a Safety Plan Worksheet for guidance.
Centralized Screening Procedures
|Massport sent us the attached Centralized Screening Procedures. Massport has established a centralized screening station at Logan Airport to allow for the expedient and efficient daily screening for COVID-19 for all employees associated with major construction projects located at Logan airport|
|MBTA: COVID-19 Consultant/Vendor/ Contractor Outreach - Case Incident Reporting||
MBTA has sent us the attached guidelines to report known or presumptive COVID-19 cases involving Consultant/ Vendor/ Contractor workforces to the MBTA. Case Incident Reporting
|New Massachusetts Law: AN ACT TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES FACED BY MUNICIPALITIES AND STATE AUTHORITIES RESULTING FROM COVID-19||
Signed into law April 3, took effect immediately, now Session Law 53 of the Acts of 2020
This law has implications for how certain private sector development might move forward in pre-construction and permitting.
For Design Professionals, this new law:
Other key parts of the new law:
This is a memo outlining the letter needed from each contractor certifying compliance with CDC, OSHA and the Commonwealth’s guidelines. The letter must be on company letterhead and signed by a principal of the company. The contractor must submit a separate letter for each contract to the District Highway Director.
|4-1-2020 MassDOT and DCAMM Enforcement of the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and Procedures for Construction Sites||
From MassDOT: Enforcement of the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and Procedures for Construction Sites
|Supplemental Guidelines for Construction Sites
ADDENDUM 1 Limiting Exposures and Worker Infection Protocol
COVID-19 Employee Health, protection, guidance and prevention
|Link to these Guidelines|
|Updated information for the Paycheck Protection Program||
April 3: Some of this is information we posted earlier this week, but note the updated links highlighted, including the final borrower application for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Assistance for Small Businesses
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
Paycheck Protection Program Resources
|MBTC votes unanimously to call for a statewide suspension of all regular activity at construction sites||On March 31, 2020, the Massachusetts Building Trades Council voted unanimously to call for a statewide suspension of all regular activity at construction sites in Massachusetts. On April 1, 2020, Governor Baker's announcements did not include action on this issue. More from the MBTC|
|US Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit in CARES Act||3/31/20: Treasury and the IRS released guidance on how employers may qualify for the employee retention tax credit in the CARES Act. The tax credit is available to employers whose business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19, or if the employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019.|
|Governor Baker Limits Essential Construction to Housing & Infrastructure, Extends Non-Essential Business Closures||
On March 31, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended his emergency order to close non-essential businesses and his stay-at-home advisory until May 4. It requires all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public. In addition, the Administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” categories.
The list of “essential” construction related activities was modified so that only construction related to housing (including mixed use with housing) and critical infrastructure are now considered “essential.”
|Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Advisory Memorandum on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers||
On March 28, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued: Advisory Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response
This advisory is being used by states as a guidance document. As of March 30, 2020, Massachusetts and local law enforcement are not stopping engineers, land surveyors and other design professionals from doing their work as long as the work is being done in a way that is consistent with health and safety protocols in the guidance document provided to municipalities and construction sites last week.
|How to Apply for an SBA Disaster Relief Loan||Link from the US Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/applying-for-sba-disaster-relief-loan|
Congress passes CARES Act, Sends to White House
3/27/20 1:30 PM: The US House just passed the CARES Act, sending the package to the White House for the President’s signature.
Here's some information on the small business provisions.
Small Business Program Overview
The new law establishes a Paycheck Protection Program to assist qualifying small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals through the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program. $349B is authorized for 7(a) lending from Feb. 15 through June 30, and SBA would fully guarantee the loans. Loans would be available during the covered period for:
Eligible recipients could receive loans up to $10M or 250% of their average monthly payroll costs, instead of $5M, with interest rates capped during the covered period at 4%. Loans can be used to cover eligible payroll costs -- salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits -- as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. Firms would be required to make a “good faith certification” that funds will be used to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses. Funds cannot be used to compensate individual employees at an annual rate above $100,000, or to pay for emergency sick or family leave under the second coronavirus response package.
Loan Forgiveness – key elements
The package provides $10 billion to expand the SBA’s disaster loan program from Jan. 31 through Dec. 31 to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors. The measure also authorizes SBA to advance up to $10,000 to existing and newly eligible disaster loan recipients within three days of receiving their applications. Recipients could use the advance funds to pay sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, retain employees, address interrupted supply chains, make rent or mortgage payments, and repay debt. They wouldn’t have to repay the advance funds.
|Governor Baker's 3/27 Press Conference asks all travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days.||
During Governor Baker's 3/27 daily press conference he announced that his office is asking all travelers arriving to Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days. He reported that starting 3/27 info flyers will be available at Logan airport, Worcester airport and South Station. Roadside message boards will also alert drivers.
For the second day in a row, Baker spent time during the press conference to urge the use of telehealth options to more safely facilitate interactions between patients and heath care providers. He reminded the public that his administrator ordered telehealth to be covered by all health insurances and urged everyone to take full advantage of it. The Governor announced a new partnership, with Buoy Health, an online resource for residents to receive medical guidance from the safety of their home. The Governor reminded the public that Bouy Health should not be used in place of emergency medical care and it is free for Massachusetts residents and a tool to get guidance.
|Federal Cares Act Information||
3/26/20: The full bill text of the Federal CARES Act, which passed the US Senate on 3/25/20 is available here. To read a section by section analysis of the Act, click here. And click here to view the Senate Appropriations Committee's supplemental summary.
The US House is hoping to act on this bill on March 27.
State Construction Guidelines and Procedures
The state has issued COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Work
Several specific requirements to note:
Baker Administration Issues New Construction Guidance to Municipalities Clarifying Construction as an Essential Service
On March 25, 2020, the Baker Administration issued construction guidance to Massachusetts municipalities overturning all local construction moratoriums. March 25, Governor Baker issued guidance clarifying that the March 23, 2020 Order “Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 10 People” supersedes and makes inoperative any order or rule issued by a municipality that will or might in any way impede or interfere with the achievement of the objectives of this order. “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects” are deemed essential.
This guidance advises all municipalities that had issued their own directives, policies and regulations in place regarding construction to withdraw their orders.
Note: This letter includes important construction safety guidance related to COVID-19.
|City of Boston Extends Construction Moratorium Until Further Notice||
On March 25, 2020, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh extended the City of Boston's construction moratorium until further notice, citing safety and health concerns for workers and Boston residents.
Note: This policy only applies to projects permitted by the City of Boston.
New Legislation Proposes Extension of Permits During Current State of Emergency
On March 24, Governor Baker filed H. 4586, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts, and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19. While the bill addresses several topics, Section 9 of the bill addresses the tolling of permits. Specifically, the language provides the following:
These changes will provide necessary relief to cities and towns that, due to disruptions caused by the state of emergency, are unable to timely process and hear permitting applications. At the same time, these changes balance the needs of residents and developers by ensuring that their current permits are not impaired by the emergency.
Massachusetts Legislation Related to COVID-19 Issues - as of 3/27/20
ACEC/MA's 3/17 Web Briefing on Business Continuity Planning During Uncertain Times
We've shared the 3/17 Web briefing recording with ACEC National. With our permission, this now posted on ACEC National's Website to share here: https://education.acec.org/diweb/catalog/item?id=5018573
This Web Briefing is Free for ACEC Members and Non-Members
This is a complimentary on-demand online class courtesy of ACEC/Massachusetts, but you must sign in to your ACEC National account to access the recording. This is different from your ACEC/MA login and password.
If you have any questions about how to log in, email Maureen Brown at ACEC National for assistance.
ACEC/MA members only pay the ACEC/MA member rate for registration. Check the ACEC/MA Member Directory to see if your firm is an ACEC/MA member. If your firm is an ACEC/MA member, you are a member.
Important: You must use the account, including the username and password, of the individual you wish to register.
IMPORTANT: Altering your name or contact information during registration will overwrite your record in our membership database. Please do not share your login information with anyone else.
If you have additional questions regarding registration, contact us at 617/227-5551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is processed through the ACEC/MA associated website, www.engineers.org. ACEC/MA is supported by the staff of The Engineering Center Education Trust.