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. Thank you to Molly Sullivan of Rasky Partners for her contributions to this resource page.
State House News Service Corona Virus Tracker - free, but sign up on their page.
|Boston Mayor Kim Janey Announces Vaccination Mandate for City of Boston Employees and Onsite Contractors||
8/12/21: Boston Mayor Kim Janey said Thursday that city employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo rigorous weekly testing.
The city's vaccination verification or required testing mandate will be phased in over two months.
The updated policy applies to all city employees, onsite contractors and volunteers who provide services onsite at city worksites, including all full-time, part-time, seasonal, emergency and probationary workers.
If an employee cannot verify they are fully vaccinated, they are required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test result every seven days, Janey said.
8/11/21: Public Health Council Delays Official Repeal of State Mask Rules
From State House News Service AUG. 11, 2021.....Members of the Public Health Council raised concerns with the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant Wednesday as they decided to delay a vote officially rescinding state mask regulations that are no longer in effect.
In early June, with Gov. Charlie Baker's mask mandate recently rescinded and with the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency approaching, the council voted to repeal, on an emergency basis, the regulations spelling out requirements around mask use in public places when social distancing could not be maintained.
The repeal took effect June 10, and a vote on administrative steps to finalize it was scheduled for Wednesday's meeting, but the council instead decided to table that vote until its next meeting in September.
Dr. Edward Bernstein, a Boston University School of Medicine professor, said he had reservations around rescinding the regulation, citing the presence of the Delta variant both in Massachusetts and nationally and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's recommendations that people mask up in higher-transmission areas.
"I still have a real concern that we're not going far enough, and we're the mecca nationally for health care and health care policy," he said.
Bernstein said he wanted to be sure that the state would still have the power to mandate public masking in the future. Department of Public Health staff said the vote, whenever it is taken, will not affect that authority or the ability of individual communities to put their own local-level rules in place, as some towns like Belmont have already done.
On July 30, DPH officials advised that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in public settings if they are at higher risk of COVID-19 or live with someone who is, including an unvaccinated adult. Guidance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued three days earlier recommended masking in areas of "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 transmission, designations that apply to most of Massachusetts.
State epidemiologist Catherine Brown said that while vaccinated individuals can carry the Delta variant, "it remains really clear that if you look across the country, that where Delta surges are the most significant are in places where vaccination rates are very low, and we continue to be so lucky in Massachusetts where our vaccination rates are very high."
She said the state's mask advisory "protects in places that are most vulnerable" by still requiring face coverings at health care facilities and congregate care sites, and while also allowing a "more nuanced application of masking requirements" based on local circumstances.
"I think we really like the ability to...rather than like a hammer, to apply a tool in a more sort of surgical and nuanced way," Brown said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,397,380 people in Massachusetts were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to DPH data.
Lissette Blondet, director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers, said that while vaccination rates are high in Massachusetts, visitors come from all over to areas like Cape Cod, where she lives. She said the state "needs to take a stronger leadership role regarding this."
Council member Alba Cruz-Davis said she feels strongly that the Public Health Council "should be sort of at the forefront of taking a stance" and said that during a recent trip to Florida, she and her husband were the only people she saw wearing masks.
John Cunningham, who suggested putting off the vote, said the delay would give the members a chance to see more of what path the virus takes.
"There's just no harm in waiting a month to do something that's just administrative, and at least it gives a signal of where we are as a group," he said.
|6/16/21 Update - COVID-19 State of Emergency Lifted; Legislation to continue virtual public meetings, certain other extensions||
The COVID-19 state of emergency lifted on June 16 ending most of the executive orders Gov. Charlie Baker put in place to force restrictions and special allowances during the 15-month-long crisis
Late on the night of June 15, the legislature passed a bill (S 2475) would allow remote meetings of public bodies until April 20, 2022, and it includes language that says if the law does not take effect until after the emergency's end, "a public body may provide for remote meetings as specified in this section and any action taken thereof shall be ratified, validated and confirmed as if this section had been in place."
The bill also:
|Boston Mayor Kim Janey's 5/17/21 Update||
Boston’s Acting Mayor Kim Janey, joined by Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez, held d a press conference at City Hall where she provided further updates on the city’s reopening plan.
Acting Mayor Janey announced that Boston will align with the state’s newly released guidance and lift all COVID-19 restrictions on May 29, including the face covering requirements. As Governor Baker said earlier today, face coverings will still be mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.
Janey told reporters that “our battle against COVID is not over. Reopening our city will only work if we all continue to do our part to fight the pandemic.”
|Governor Baker's 5/17/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 and vaccines at the State House. The Governor announced that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29th.
Baker said the Commonwealth’s face covering order will also be rescinded on May 29th. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will issue a new face covering advisory that is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance. Baker noted that face coverings will still be mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such nursing homes. Effective tomorrow, face covering requirements for youth and amateur sports will be lifted and the administration will soon release updated guidance for summer camps effective May 29, 2021.
Finally, Governor Baker announced that the end the State of Emergency in the Commonwealth will be effective on June 15. The Governor said that the administration will work with legislative and municipal partners during this period to manage an orderly transition from emergency measures adopted by executive order and special legislation during the period of the State of Emergency.
|Governor Baker's 5/3/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 at the State House, announcing that 3.9 million residents have been partially or fully vaccinated in Massachusetts. Baker reminded the public that there are available vaccine appointments in every part of the state, from regional collaboratives to mass vaccination sites and pharmacies.
Governor Baker said that the state will gradually close four of the seven mass vaccination sites by the end of June while transitioning to smaller-scale and more local vaccine sites, including the state’s 22 regional collaboratives. The four sites winding down operations are: Gillette Stadium, the Doubletree in Danvers, the Natick Mall, and the Hynes Convention Center. Baker said that the mass vaccination sites have administered 1.2 million doses and fully vaccinated a half-million people in Massachusetts since they have opened.
|As of April 30, 2021||
Full Mask Order: https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-67/download
Revised Mask Order in Effect Changes to the State mask/face covering order are effective today with some relaxed restrictions for certain outdoor activities. According to the order, masks or face coverings are not required when outdoors in public locations AS LONG AS you can maintain a safe distance (6 feet) from others not in your own family or group. Masks or face coverings are still required at all times when indoors in public locations. This includes in stores, businesses, restaurants, etc. For events and gatherings in public locations, masks are still required and are encouraged for events and gatherings in private locations.
New information will be announced as the State moves forward with reopening plans. Additional changes related to reopening specific sectors, increased capacity, and increased gatherings and more will be released in May. Masks Still Required for Planes, Public Transportation The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will still require masks for travelers until at least September 13, 2021. TSA announced today that it will extend a federal mandate for masks in transportation settings, including in airports, on commercial airlines, and on commuter bus and rail systems.
India Travel Restrictions: In addition, on guidance from the CDC, the U.S. is restricting travel to India beginning on Tuesday, May 4 due to rising COVID-19 cases in that country.
|Governor Baker's 4/27/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on the Commonwealth’s reopening this afternoon at the State House. He was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy.
Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10 and put plans in place for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st, at which point all industry restrictions will be lifted. As part of this announcement, the following changes will become effective on Monday, May 10:
The full announcement can be found here, which also includes additional industries that can reopen beginning both May 29 and August 1: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-announces-plans-for-continued-reopening.
Governor Baker also announced today that effective on April 30, the Face Coverings Order will be relaxed for some outdoor settings. Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance. Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places. Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home, except for when eating or drinking.
In addition to his announcements on the state’s reopening, Baker shared that all high schools students will be returning to in person learning on May 17.
|Governor Baker's 4/22/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 at the Berkshire Regional Collaborative Vaccination Site in Western Mass. Baker reported that as of today, 5.3M doses have been administered, and 2.M people are fully vaccinated.
Baker said that he was proud of the Berkshire Regional Collaborative Vaccination Site and that “regional collaboratives have been successful because we've built significant distribution capacity filled with quality, qualified, capable people”. The Governor said that three regional collaborative locations on the Cape will be added to the pre-registration system.
The Governor cited CDC data saying that Massachusetts has the lowest vaccine hesitancy rate in the nation, with all counties showing vaccine hesitancy rates below 10%. The Governor said that the state still has work to do and plans to launch another round of multilingual TV ads to promote the vaccine. He said that this would complement the door-to-door canvassing efforts that are a part of the state's campaign.
Governor Baker said that he hopes to see improvements in supply from the federal government and if everything goes right, every resident of the Commonwealth can be vaccinated by early June.
Boston Mayor Kim Janey's 3/30/21 Update
Governor Charlie Baker's 3/30/21 Update
3/30/31: This morning, Boston Mayor Kim Janey gave an update on COVID-19 and housing from Boston City Hall. Janey says the city's COVID-19 positivity rate is at 4.2 percent up from 3.7 percent.
The Mayor applauded the CDC for its extension of the national eviction moratorium and announced that she is allocating $50M into the city's rental relief fund. The funding will be available in up to $15k increments and can be used to pay utilities, including internet access. The rental relief fund can also be used for certain moving costs, as well as first and last month deposits. Janey reported that the fund has helped 1,900 Boston households so far over the last year.
3/30/31: Governor Baker held an afternoon press conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The Governor was joined by Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Sudders, MEMA Director Phillips, Senator Markey, Congressman Lynch, CDC Director Walensky and FEMA Administrator Fenton.
The Governor reported that 1.3M people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated. Massachusetts now has 200 vaccination sites. The mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center will receive a total of 42,000 doses directly from the federal government under the partnership with FEMA.
Baker reminded the public that COVID is far from over, he said that the mask mandate remains in place and that while businesses are open, there is sector-specific guidance in place. Private gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Stephan Lynch both gave remarks. Markey said that the mass vaccination center at the Hynes Convention Center is a ‘life raft’ for Boston, saying that they are giving citizens more than just a shot in the arm, but more hope for the future. Lynch thanked all members of the delegation for working on the American Rescue Plan and urged groups receiving money from the federal government to buy PPE from US companies.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “We have so much reason for hope. We have 95 million Americans vaccinated with one dose of vaccine and 53 million Americans that are fully vaccinated -- 15%." Walensky said that at the same time the US has 61,000 new infections a day, so she asked residents to just hang on and stay safe a little bit longer.
|Governor Baker's 3/25/21 Update from State House||
Governor Charlie Baker gave an update on COVID-19 and was joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. The Governor gave updates on the state’s plans to vaccinate individuals that are homebound and distribute recently passed federal funding.
The Governor announced that his administration will be working with local boards of health and the Commonwealth Care Alliance to launch a statewide program to vaccinate homebound individuals. Local boards of health will be able to choose whether to launch their own vaccination efforts, with support from the state’s program, or enroll fully in the state’s program. Secretary Sudders shared that as part of the effort, the state will be launching an ad campaign aimed at educating homebound individuals in the ways that they can receive a vaccine, which will also include sending care givers door-to-door to meet with individuals.
Baker also announced that the Commonwealth is allocating more funding to four communities that were left out of the American Rescue Plan Act, which include Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, and Randolph. Based on preliminary data, the Governor is anticipating that the Commonwealth will be receiving a total of about $7.9B in direct aid, $3.4B of which will go to counties, cities, and towns. As a result of the way that the bill was designed, these four communities are due to receive significantly smaller amounts of aid than other similarly and hard hit communities. In coordination with the legislature and the local leaders, the state will be directing an additional $100M in additional aid to these four communities. The Commonwealth is expecting to receive additional details from the US Treasury in the coming weeks with final payment figures and guidance on the use of these funds. Baker expects that it will be several weeks before any states are actually able to access any of these funds.
|Governor Baker's 3/17/21 Update||
Governor Baker announced this morning that all Massachusetts residents ages 16 or older will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19.
Residents 60 or older and certain workers become eligible March 22. Residents 55 or older and those with one qualifying health condition will become eligible April 5 and the general public will become eligible April 19.
"The Administration has received assurances from the federal government that an increased vaccine supply will be available to states soon," Baker's office wrote in a press release. "Depending on supply, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site."
Baker toured a vaccination site at The Shaw's Center in Brockton at 10:30 a.m. and d to discussed the timeline for getting the remaining adult population of Massachusetts vaccinated during a press conference to follow the tour.
President Joe Biden said last week that he was directing all states to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1. Baker's administration had planned to make the general public eligible for vaccine doses sometime in its final rollout phase, which has long been scheduled to begin in April.
3/10/21: New Vaccine Pre-Registration System To Go Live Friday;
The new pre-registration tool will be available here
Excerpts From State House News Service: Chris Lisinski, 3/10/21 11:02 AMMassachusetts will launch a new vaccine pre-registration system on 3/12/21 for its mass vaccination sites, transitioning away from the single-day bulk appointment drop that for weeks has left residents racing to secure slots.
MA Residents will be able to fill out an online form with their personal details, contact information and eligibility criteria, then get a notification from the state when they can book an appointment at the mass vaccination site closest to them.
While unveiling the new system, Baker administration officials also announced four dates when mass vaccination sites will administer first doses exclusively to educators and school staff: Saturday, March 27; Saturday, April 3, Saturday, April 10; and Sunday, April 11. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said during a Wednesday morning briefing that the state should be able to administer 20,000 to 25,000 doses to educators and support staff across those four days, depending on federal supply.
All slots at mass vaccination sites will start flowing through the pre-registration system on Friday, though eligible residents will still be able to hunt for appointments at local pharmacies, regional sites and through their health care providers.
"Google Services is working with us to deploy this new pre-registration website that will eliminate the need for people to compete to find appointments throughout the state at the mass vax sites, allow us to pre-register people, and build out a waiting list that will allow us to proactively notify people through text, email or phone," said Secretary of Technology and Security Services Curt Wood.
Only appointments at the seven mass vaccination sites will be included at first, though the administration said it will work to fold other providers into the pre-registration system starting in April.
Registered participants will receive a confirmation notice and a weekly status update indicating they continue to be pre-registered. At launch, residents will not be able to select preferences for mass vaccination sites and the system will only notify them about appointments at whichever of those sites is geographically closest.
Once slots become available, the state will send a link to book an appointment for the following week. Recipients will have 24 hours to click through and pick their time, and if they do not, they will be placed back in the queue.
Older residents or those who cannot sign up online can call 211 to pre-register and receive notifications by phone.
All residents will be able to pre-register starting some time Friday morning, Wood said, but the administration is encouraging only those who are currently eligible to sign up. The new pre-registration tool will be available at https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine
The system will allow for pre-registration for all. It's only for people who are eligible to receive the vaccine, so when the appointment notices go out, they will only go out to the people who are eligible.
Officials said eligible pre-registered recipients may need to wait "several weeks" to get notification of open appointment slots given ongoing supply constraints.
Sudders told reporters at Wednesday's briefing that the federal government informed Massachusetts one day earlier that its weekly allocation of about 150,000 first doses will not increase until April.
More than 40,000 new first dose appointments at mass vaccination sites will go live on 3/11/21 in the final round of the existing booking system, she said, and another 40,000-plus second dose appointments have already been scheduled for next week at mass vaccination sites.
This week, the state will send 83,000 doses to mass vaccination sites, 79,000 doses to hospital providers, 38,000 doses to 12 regional collaboratives, 25,000 doses to community health centers, and 25,000 doses to local boards of health in the 20 most impacted communities or in areas where boards need to finish administering second doses.
Another 95,000 first and second doses are being delivered directly to CVS Health sites through the federal pharmacy vaccination program, and 19,000 doses will be delivered by the federal government directly to 15 qualified community health centers.
The state's roughly 400,000 school staff will gain eligibility to book mass vaccination site appointments on Thursday, and any who are unsuccessful can then turn their attention toward pre-registration a day later. Some have already secured slots at pharmacies through a federal program.
|Governor Baker's 2/25/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 in Salem. Governor Baker announced that the Commonwealth would advance to Step 2 of Phase III of the state’s reopening plan on Monday, March 1, and announced its plan to transition to Step 1 of Phase IV on Monday, March 22.
Step 2 of Phase III changes include:
Indoor and outdoor stadiums and arenas will be permitted to operate at a 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH) during Step 1 of Phase IV beginning on March 22.
Also effective on March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.
The administration also announced more than $49 million in awards to 1,108 additional small businesses in the eighth round of COVID-19 relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC).
|Governor Baker's 2/18/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. Governor Baker shared that the state has seen significant progress over the past two weeks in vaccinating its residents. Due to this progress, effective Thursday, February 17th, those at least 65 years or have 2 or more comorbidities will be able to sign up for a vaccination appointment. The population that will not be able to receive the vaccine is more than 1 million people. Baker did note that demand for the vaccine still far out ways the supply being sent to Massachusetts.
Lt. Governor Polito and Secretary Sudders echoed the Governor’s commitment to building out the state’s vaccination capacity, but also urged residents to be patient as the state waits for more vaccinations to be delivered by the federal government. Sudders did note that the state will be seeing a small increase next week by 29,000 doses, which is the first increase in weeks.
|Governor Baker's 2/8/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Congressman Richard Neal, who Baker repeatedly thanked for all he has done for the Commonwealth as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. The trio came together today to call on the federal government to continue to support states as they all work to recover from the pandemic.
Baker noted that COVID-19 has created substantial obstacles for the state to address and that there continues to be substantial financial challenges for Massachusetts to overcome. The Governor and Lt. Governor are calling on Congress to pass a significant relief package immediately that would direct stimulus money directly to states. Baker and Polito believe that this funding is critical for the state to recover as quickly as possible and that it would provide states with a clear and predictable path forward.
Congressman Neal thanked the Governor for providing him with a forum to address the package moving through Congress. Neal is almost certain that it will pass and that Speaker Pelosi plans for it to come for a vote in March. Further, he shared that beginning on Wednesday, President Biden‘s proposal will be reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee. Neal noted that increased unemployment insurance will certainly be included in the final package, as well as many policy adjustments that will reduce the financial burden on those who are unemployed. Neal closed by thanking Governor Baker again for the leadership he has provided to Massachusetts throughout the pandemic.
|Governor Baker's 2/4/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker announced that since the administration has seen continued improvements in COVID-19 cases, he is announcing that the state is lifting the capacity limits from 25% to 40% for businesses, including stores, restaurants, museums and gyms, effective Monday, February 8, 2021. Baker says the gathering limits that were tightened to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors will remain in place, while indoor recreational businesses and indoor performance venues remain closed.
Additionally, the Governor announced $173M in new state small business grants to help restaurants, retailers, and indoor recreational venues. Baker said this program is the largest of its kind in the US.
|Governor Baker's 2/3/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update at Fenway Park, which is serving as a mass vaccination site. The Governor said as of Monday night, 654,104 vaccine doses have been administered statewide. More than 1 million doses have been shipped across the Commonwealth.
The Governor reported that so far, 1,200 does of the vaccine have been administered at Fenway Park. The site expects to ramp up for 1,000+ doses a day as early as next week and is scheduled to increase to 1,250+ doses a day after that.
Governor Baker said to expect 55,000 new appointments for vaccinations across the state to become available for next week. Pharmacies and other sites will have appointments available. The Governor reported that a new Danvers site expected to start administering around 500 doses a day. Additionally, new sites are coming onboard in the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston, as well as Chelsea, Revere and Everett. A community vaccination site also opened in Brockton, run by the local board of health.
The Governor ended by saying, "everybody should understand that it may take several weeks in some cases to schedule an appointment. Please be patient and recognize and understand that everybody who's eligible ... will get an appointment.”
|Mayor Walsh's 1/26/21 Briefing||
During Mayor Walsh's press conference on COVID-19 within the City of Boston, he was joined by Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez. The Mayor reported that Boston’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is now 7.2%, which is slightly down from last week. Walsh said that the numbers are still too high, but he is encouraged by the continued decreases in cases. Walsh encouraged residents to get tested at one of the City’s many sites.
Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston is going to be moving forward into Phase III Step 1 of its reopening plan on February 1, 2021. All of the businesses and organizations that fall within this phase, including museums, gyms and movie theaters, will be allowed to reopen at the set capacity limits. Boston’s updated reopening guidance is here.
Mayor Walsh and Chief Martinez also discussed the City’s coordination with the Governor’s administration to ensure an efficient and equitable distribution of the vaccine. The plans include setting up mass vaccination sites at Fenway Park and the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, as well as at hospitals, health centers and pharmacies.
|Governor Baker's 1/25/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker: As of Saturday, 448,892 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including first and second doses. The Governor said that the state will have capacity to administer 305,000 vaccinations a week by mid-February. He warned that this largely depends on supply, adding that "we may end up with some empty sites and empty seats, we can only move as fast as the federal government ships vaccines."
At the end of this week there will be 103 publicly-available vaccine sites across the state. In addition to Gillette and Fenway, the state is setting up five other mass vaccination sites. First three will be in Springfield, Danvers, and Roxbury. The Roxbury site will launch at the Reggie Lewis Center the first week of February. By Feb. 15, Baker says he expects to have 71 retail pharmacy vaccination sites open, created to establish more availability for people in underserved communities.
The Governor announced that Phase 2 of the administration’s vaccine plan will begin in February 1st. At the time, residents over the age of 75 will be eligible, residents 65 years and older will get vaccinated after that, although there is not a specific date.
The state’s website will tell you where you are in the line and has a map for booking an appointment.
|Governor Baker's 1/21/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 at the State House this afternoon. The Governor said that Massachusetts public health data is trending in a better direction in some categories, like hospitalizations and the percent of positive COVID cases, for the first time in a long time. Baker reported that the Commonwealth is not out of the woods yet, but things appear to be getting a bit better.
With vaccinations underway and hospitalizations stabilizing, the administration announced that starting Monday, January 15 at 5am, the 9:30pm early closure and stay at home order will be lifted. The capacity limit of 25% will stay in place for another 2 weeks.
Additionally, Baker announced that 638 new grants are being awarded to businesses, totaling $37.5 million. The goal is to help small businesses cover operating expenses and help them make it through the second surge.
The Governor ended by reminding the public to keep wearing masks and continue to practice social distancing.
|Governor Baker's 1/14/21 Update||
Governor Baker held this press conference at Ristorante Saraceno, an Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End neighborhood. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and Mass Growth Capital Corporation President and CEO Larry Andrews to discuss the latest round of small business grants that went out this week.
The Governor restated that restaurants and other small businesses have been hit very hard during the pandemic. Thousands of small businesses have already taken advantage of the Massachusetts small business grants, nearly $200M have been released to about 4100 businesses so far. The new announcement is part of a larger $774M economic development package.
Small business owners can still apply for grants up to $75k. The deadline is tomorrow. Mass Growth Capital Corporation President and CEO Larry Andrews spoke to small business owners by saying, "you are not alone. Your resiliency and tenacity to get to the other side is the reason why Mass Growth Capitol small business relief grants exist. Because you need to get to the other side."
|Governor Baker's 1/12/21 Update||
Governor Baker gave this update on COVID-19 from a first responder vaccination site in Worcester and was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Yesterday the Department of Public Health reported that there were 4,239 new cases in Commonwealth. DPH also shared that over 400,000 vaccines have been administered in the state, though the Governor expects the exact numbers to be higher due to data input delays.
Governor Baker announced plans for the state’s first mass vaccination site at Gillette stadium. First doses will be available to first responders starting tomorrow, with a goal of vaccinating 300 per day. The Governor said that they plan have this site increase to be vaccinating upwards of 5,000 people per day and likely even more one day soon. CIC Health will operate the site with the help of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Lt. Governor Polito shared her gratitude for all of the people involved in setting up and working the vaccination site in Worcester, as well as all of the first responders who have been vaccinated so far.
|Governor Baker's 1/8/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker was joined with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Education Secretary James Peyser, and Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley. Governor Baker said that in an effort to get kids back into public classrooms, the administration is announcing a new initiative to provide universal, regular COVID-19 testing in schools across the state.
The Governor said that, "in-person learning is essential to the emotional and academic well-being of students”. Rapid-response testing has helped students get back to in-person learning and soon weekly virus testing is going to be available to schools.
Secretary of Education Jim Peyser explained the new program by saying that schools will start universal weekly school testing as soon as possible using the ‘pool testing’ method, which enables more results faster. Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders defined the term ‘pool testing’ as multiple testing swaps in a simple tube. She explained that the tubes will be sent to a lab and tested quickly. DESE will assume pool testing costs during the launch period (estimated $15M-$30M), after which schools will be able to buy through a state contract.
|Governor Baker's 1/7/21 Update from the State House||
Before going into details on COVID-19, Governor Baker spent a few moments on the events in Washington yesterday, saying that “yesterday's riot was a dark moment for our country made even more depressing by the President's role leading up to it and his wholly inadequate response to the violence."
The Governor then switched to update the public on the COVID-19 numbers. There were 6419 new cases of virus reported in MA Wednesday. The 7-day avg of new cases is 8.25%. Over Thanksgiving, hospitals were about 65% occupied, today they're 84% occupied. The Governor said that ICU capacity was at 50% at Thanksgiving and it's now at 75%.
Baker announced that capacity limits that were in place through Jan. 10 will now remain in place until at least until January 24. This means a continued 25% cap for businesses and limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for gatherings/events still apply. Those restrictions do not apply to K-12 schools.
|Governor Baker's 1/4/21 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19: statewide 2,291 patients are being treated for COVID-19, and 416 people are in the ICU. The Commonwealth’s second field hospital opened today in Lowell at the UMass Lowell Rec Center. The first one is at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Beginning January 11, first responders will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine. There are about 45k first responders in Massachusetts, including police, fire and EMTs.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders laid out criteria for first responders to administer their own vaccines, which is an option available to the 200+ departments. The state will also stand up vaccination sites and work with doctors and hospitals. More information on signing up for the first responder vaccination can be found here.
|Governor Baker's 12/23/20 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19: He announced his administration's plan to provide stimulus funding for small businesses. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy.
Governor Baker announced that in addition to any funding that may be coming out of Congress, the state is planning to launch a $668M small business relief fund. The program relies in part on the Congressional bill awaiting approval by the President, as it would grant the state some fiscal flexibility, but regardless, Massachusetts will begin administering available funds to businesses as soon as next week. These grants, of up to $75,000, will help cover three months of a small businesses expenses. The program will be administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. Businesses who had previously applied for a small business grant, but were not selected, will be given priority. For anyone who has not already applied, the application can be found here starting on 12/28/20.
Lt. Gov. Polito and Secretary Kennealy echoed Baker’s commitment to support small businesses, particularly as the state battles a second surge by imposing additional restrictions on businesses.
|Governor Baker's 12/22/20 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 at the State House where he announced new statewide restrictions that will be in place for at least 2 weeks, starting Sat., December 26, 2020. The new restrictions include moving capacity levels down to 25% for many businesses and outdoor gatherings having a 25 person maximum capacity, with inside gatherings having a 10 person cap. The Governor said that these new restrictions do not affect K-12 education.
The Governor said that, "the main reason we picked the day after Christmas, instead of the day before Christmas, was that we know that many people, hopefully, will participate in a faith service of some kind safely on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It's perfectly possible to do that safely."
Additionally, starting on December 26 all hospitals must postpone or cancel all non-essential elective procedures, unless it would negatively affect someone's health.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito reported that the 25% capacity limit applies to restaurants, personal services, theaters, casinos, office spaces, places of worship, driving and flight schools, libraries, lodging, arcades, indoor recreation, fitness centers and health clubs.
A full list of the capacity and gathering limits can be found here
|#ConstructionStopsCOVID||Announced 12/21/20: First-in-nation initiative between Greater Boston Building Trades Unions & Contractors and global health leader Partners In Health to promote COVID-19 safety in construction industry and beyond ... More|
|Governor Baker's 12/21/20 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 this afternoon from the State House. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy.
Governor Baker stated that due to the large increase of cases following Thanksgiving, the Commonwealth’s health care system is under extreme stress. Baker said that if we see increase after Christmas that is similar to the one after Thanksgiving, the state will be in serious danger of overwhelming the health care system. He noted that as his administration monitors the data, every safety measure is on the table in order to minimize the impact of the virus.
The Governor then shared that the recipients of the administration’s $50.8M small business relief grant program, which was part of a $700M economic recovery program that was announced in October, have been selected and will be notified later today. 1,158 small business in Massachusetts will receive grants from the program, with 100% of the recipients being minority owned.
Lt. Gov. Polito and Secretary Kennealy reiterated that the Commonwealth remains committed to providing as much funding as possible to ensure that the state’s small businesses are able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
In closing, Governor Baker again urged Massachusetts residents to safely celebrate Christmas and do as much as they can to avoid spreading the virus any further.
|Governor Baker's 12/18/20 Update from the State House||
Governor Baker reported that nearly 60K Pfizer vaccine doses were distributed to hospitals in Massachusetts this week. Next week the Commonwealth is scheduled to receive nearly 43k vaccine doses. The Governor said that hospitals are reporting an "overwhelming acceptance" of the vaccine among eligible health care workers. Through a federal partnership, CVS and Walgreens are planning to start vaccinations at long-term care facilities around Dec. 28.
The administration learned yesterday that the Commonwealth will be receiving 145,000 doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine by the end of December, this is down from expected 180,000.The Governor said that he was ‘certainly frustrated’ that Massachusetts will be receiving less does and the change in delivery plans will likely cause a ‘slight’ delay. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders announced that the state is expanding who is qualified to administer vaccines. Emergency medical technicians, emergency services personnel, nursing and medical students are now authorized to administer.
Additionally, Baker announced that he is filing a unemployment relief bill that would freeze the UI contribution rates for employers and enable the Commonwealth to issue special obligation funds to repay fed for UI funds that the state borrowed.
|Governor Baker's 12/15/20 Update||
12/15/20: Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 this afternoon from the State House. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Baker reported that COVID-19 numbers have ‘shot up’ since thanksgiving and deaths have increased by 84% since the holiday. The Governor said that after seeing the aftermath of Thanksgiving, which was just one day, he thinks we shouldn't kid ourselves about the holidays in December. He said that the safest way to celebrate this year is with those in our own households and to avoid traveling and mixing households. He reiterated that anything else beyond that has the potential to spread the virus. The Governor said if the hospitals can't keep up with the latest surge and any potential additional surge from the holidays, Massachusetts might have to face more restrictions.
The Governor ended his comments by reporting that the Commonwealth is still expecting to receive 300,000 doses of vaccine by the end of the year, pending the second vaccine maker getting federal approval. This includes 379 long-term care facilities that will get vaccine doses through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders explained that the Department of Public Health puts the order in for vaccines to the federal government on behalf of health care providers. The Secretary said that in the coming months, there will be enough vaccines to vaccinate all heath care workers.
12/14/20: Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston will rollback to a modified Phase II based on the most recent public health metrics for a minimum of 3 weeks. In his announcement, Mayor Walsh also indicated that Lynn, Newton, Somerville, Brockton, Winthrop, and Arlington are moving forward with similar actions today. In the City of Boston, these actions go into effect on Wednesday, December 16. Changes in this update include but are not limited to:
Activities that continue as part of Phase II include:
|MBTA Updated COVID 19 Guidelines & Procedures||
The MBTA's COVID 19 guideline and procedure updates are intended to
|Governor Baker's 12/9/20 Update from the State House: Focus on Vaccines||
Governor Baker focused today on the state’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. He announced that the first round of vaccinations will maximize life saving care for the state’s most vulnerable residents, including health care workers, frontline responders and those in COVID-19 facing positions. The federal government has accepted the state’s preliminary phased vaccination plan. Phase 1 vaccinations will be distributed to the state’s highest risk and highest need individuals, in this order of priority, as soon as next week:
The first 60,000 doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive in Massachusetts on December 15, 2020, with the state getting about 300,000 doses by January. At first, vaccines will be distributed to 32 hospitals throughout the state.
If Phase 1 goes according to plan, the state will begin Phase 2 in February. Phase 2 focuses on workers in critical industries and individuals with one or more comorbidities. It will then extend to a broader universe of individuals over the age of 65 who are at a higher risk. During Phase 2, distribution to Phase 1 individuals will continue. Additional shipments of the vaccine are expected throughout January, February and March. Phase 3 of the plan is expected to begin in April and will include a much larger universe of younger individuals. As the vaccine infrastructure ramps up, distribution of the vaccine will expand to more health care settings, including community health centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies. The vaccine will provided free of charge to all individuals and insurance companies will not be able to charge any out-of-pocket costs or copayments.
Lieutenant Governor Kayrn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Dr. Paul Biddinger (Massachusetts General Hospital), and Reverend Liz Walker joined Governor Baker in urging residents to continue preventing the spread of the virus and spoke about the lengths the state has gone to ensure the efficiency and efficacy of the vaccination process.
More information on Massachusetts’ COVID-19 vaccination plan is Here
|Governor Baker's 12/8/20 Update from the State House||
The updated guidance for 12/8/2020 is posted on the state’s reopening website.
Governor Baker announced today that just over one third of the state’s hospital system remains unused. Due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, Baker is again calling on Massachusetts residents to be diligent and actively work to stop the spread of the virus. The Governor is encouraged by the development in vaccines, but reminded residents that there is still a lot of work to do. To do this, effective this Sunday, all communities in Massachusetts will move back to Phase III Step 1. This will reduce indoor capacities for most sectors to 40% and tighten several other workplace restrictions. It will also require the closure of certain businesses, including indoor performance venues and high contact recreational businesses. The maximum outdoor gathering size will drop to 50 people statewide. At restaurants, table limits will drop to six people per party, with a maximum seating time for dining of 90 minutes per party.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito then shared more details on the administration’s announcement, which she said is aimed at tightening up guidance in advance of the December holidays. This reopening rollback will apply uniformly to every municipality in the Commonwealth. One new measure requires any household planning to host more than 25 people outdoors to notify their local board of health beforehand. In office buildings, all office workers will be required to wear masks at all times unless they are alone in their own workspaces. Polito stressed that these rollbacks are temporary measures and that the administration will continue to review public health data so as to adjust these measures accordingly.
Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy thanked all of Massachusetts’ business for everything they have done to slow the spread of the virus. He urged Commonwealth residents to safely support their local businesses. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders reminded everybody that as of Friday, that elective procedures, which can be safely postponed , will be curtailed to free up staffing and beds for COVID-19.
|Governor Baker's 12/7/20 Update from the State House||
The Governor announced that effective Friday, December 11, 2020, hospitals in the Commonwealth will curtail elected procedures that can be safely postponed to free up staffing and beds for COVID-19.
Baker also announced that the Commonwealth is expanding their free testing and relocating some testing locations. The Governor said that there will be testing availability in every county in the Commonwealth. Previously, Western MA sites were only in Hampden County. The Governor reported that the state will have the capacity to complete 110k tests a week. This is separate from 350 other testing sites statewide. The new testing sites will be in Framingham, New Bedford, and Lynn.
Governor Baker reported that Massachusetts can expect 300,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December. Front-line health workers will have the priority, followed by long-term care facilities. The Governor said he will have more to announce regarding a vaccine on Wednesday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders spoke after the Governor and said that the elective procedure curtailment is not a blanket curtailment. Procedures such as colonoscopies, mammograms, children pediatric checkups may still be available, and people should contact their providers for clarification. The Secretary reported that the quarantine period for those that have had a COVID-19 exposure has now been lowered from 14 day to 8 days, if the person exposed has no symptoms, and negative test on day 5 or after the exposure.
|Governor Baker Announces New Restrictions to Combat Rising COVID-19 Cases||11/2/2020: Governor Baker reported that new cases of COVID-19 have increased 300% since Labor Day. Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Baker announced these changes at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day.
All orders and advisories will be effective Friday, November 6 at 12:01 AM. They include:
Stay at Home Advisory The advisory includes a curfew that asks residents to stay home between 10 pm - 5 am except to work or grocery shop. Restaurants must stop table service after 9:30 pm, but can continue takeout services. All casinos, theaters and other indoor entertainment facilities will close at 9:30 pm.
Included in the order, Governor Baker ordered that everyone above age of five must wear a face covering. Also included is a new limit private indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people.
Face Covering Order
Governor Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new gatherings order reduces the gathering size limit for gatherings at private residences: indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 PM. The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.
Governor Baker issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement is aligned with the Stay At Home Advisory and together the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission. Effective November 6, the following businesses and activities must close to the public each day between the hours of 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM:
|Baker-Polito Administration Announces $774M Economic Plan||
On 10/22/20, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $774M comprehensive plan to stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy. The plan focuses on getting people back to work, supporting small businesses, fostering innovation, revitalizing downtowns and ensuring housing stability. Partnerships for Recovery begins today by directing $115M in new funding to small businesses and Main Streets hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and for workforce training efforts. Additionally, the Administration is aligning multiple funding sources, both existing and proposed, to appropriately respond to the crisis.
Partnerships for Recovery supports five key recovery efforts:
- Getting Massachusetts back to work
"This plan represents a comprehensive strategy to get people back to work and to support the small businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic, putting the Commonwealth on a path to recovery," said Governor Charlie Baker. "By leveraging existing tools and programs and implementing new ones this plan will allow us to make critical resources and assistance to those who need it most available now."
"While we continue to combat this pandemic, this plan takes an approach that addresses key needs of the businesses in downtowns and main streets, provides housing support for vulnerable families, and opens new doors for people seeking to return to work," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “While we acknowledge we still have a ways to go, this plan will help to jumpstart our innovation economy and position Massachusetts to be on a path for success.”
- Putting $115M to work right away for small businesses and workforce training, including more than $25M to get people back to work;
Getting People Back to Work
To get people back to work, new investments are being made to build workforce skills, growing training programs and pathways, forging new partnerships between employers and workers, and supporting internet connectivity to facilitate remote work and online career advancement. The more than $25M available now includes:
- $10.4M to engage Massachusetts employers by expanding workforce partnerships with large employers in target sectors to create aligned statewide training-employment pathways;
Revised House 2 also proposes $17.9M in workforce funding, including $8.4 million in funding to transform vocational high schools into Career Technical Institutes running three shifts per day. This initiative is designed to train 20,000 new workers over four years in skilled trades and technical fields including plumbing, HVAC, manufacturing, and robotics. This will consist of a combination of enrolling more high school students in high-impact vocational trade programs and expanding capacity for adults to earn industry-based credentials, aligned to apprenticeships and post-secondary degrees.
"These funds will provide critical re-employment services to our workforce, helping people make the transition from unemployment benefits to good paying jobs in some of the Commonwealth's key long term job growth sectors," said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta.
Direct Support to Small Business and Main Street
To generate economic growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and support Main Streets across Massachusetts, the Administration is investing $322.8M in direct support of small and diverse businesses and local communities. This funding includes grants (see details below) to the hardest hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or members of other underrepresented groups. These grant awards will allow small businesses to cover expenses such as rent, payroll, and utilities as they get back on their feet. Additional funding will support small businesses through hands-on and personalized technical assistance, including targeted support for women- and minority-owned businesses around digital and online technology as their business model pivots away from a brick-and-mortar location.
Many communities have seen their Main Streets and downtown districts hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and new funding aims to help cities and towns plan for short-term innovations and long-term recovery. A new $10M round of the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program will continue to help cities and towns quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce in their communities. Separately, local recovery planning grants will soon be available to cities and towns to assist with long-term planning for their business districts. A total of $10M is available for this program.
To support the museums and other cultural facilities that have faced a particularly challenging reality this year, but remain a cornerstone of what Massachusetts offers to visitors, these institutions will be eligible for $10M in Cultural Facilities Operating Grants. This funding will help these organizations to make safety improvements and other upgrades to allow them to continue to offer their unique attractions and exhibits.
As part of this recovery plan, the Governor's recently filed revised budget proposal recommends over $100M in additional funding for economic recovery and development efforts, including $35M for community development financial institutions (CDFI) grants and loans, and $15M for matching grants for capital investments by businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Additionally, more than $115M in existing capital through programs such as MassWorks, and those in the MassDevelopment portfolio (Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, Site Readiness Program, Transformative Development Initiative, and Collaborative Workspaces), will be leveraged in support of economic recovery. This recovery plan complements the Administration's $275M economic recovery package, which was announced in June.
Small Business and Main Street Highlights (new funding):
- $50.8M in Small Business Grants to help the hardest hit businesses;
- $10M to continue funding the Shared Streets and Spaces Program;
- $10M for local recovery planning grants to support cities and towns;
- $10M to support cultural facilities such as museums;
To keep people safely in their homes during the pandemic and support small landlords with expenses, the Administration recently announced $171M in support of the Eviction Diversion Initiative. This comprehensive strategy includes funding to help to cover housing costs such as rent and mortgage payments, invest in new programs around mediation and legal representation, and provide repaid rehousing when a tenant is evicted. Additionally, the Administration continues to invest in the Commonwealth's stock of affordable rental housing with $121M in direct subsidies.
Massachusetts has long been a hotbed of innovation and creativity in science and technology, and sectors such as the life sciences and advanced manufacturing are not only critical to the innovation economy, but also continue to contribute to the response to the coronavirus. To ensure we continue to lead in this space, $62M in existing capital funding through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and MassVentures is available to support recovery and growth.
Small Business Grant Program Details
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) is administering the Small Business Grants program, with $50.8M available beginning today. Grant awards range between $25,000 - $75,000, and eligibility criteria and applications are available here.
As part of this grant program, preference is given to small businesses whose owners are women, minorities, veterans, members of other underrepresented groups, or focused on serving the Gateway Cities of Massachusetts, who have been unable to open and those most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Preference is also given to applicants that have not been able to receive aid from other federal programs, including PPP and other relief related to COVID-19.
The program has two distinct funding 'doors' based on business size, with different eligibility criteria, which is available online. Applicants must review the information to determine which program to proceed with applying.
|Governor's 9/29/20 Press Conference: Effective October 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step II of Phase III for lower risk communities only||
Governor Baker reported that public health experts have noticed an increase in positive cases, which was a possibility considering the "increased activity" in the fall and colder weather. While colleges have some students on campus, the Governor added that there has been aggressive testing on campuses. The Governor gave an update on COVID-19 testing, saying that in May, the Commonwealth’s 7-day average was around 15,000 tests a day. Now the Commonwealth has been averaging around steadily 55,000 tests a day over the past couple of weeks.
Governor Baker also announced that lower risk communities can transition to the second step of Phase 3.
Effective October 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step II of Phase III for lower risk communities only:
The Governor’s Revised Gatherings Order is the following:
|CDC Guidance for Working in Sewers||Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of members have contacted us seeking safety guidance for surveyors who have to collect invert data of sewer lines. While ACEC/MA leaders are not able to offer any such advice they have directed that hyperlinks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance be shared with members and posted on this page. While the CDC offers no guidance specific to this task, sources of relevant CDC guidelines include Information for Sanitation and Wastewater Workers on COVID-19 and Guidance for Reducing Health Risks to Workers Handling Human Waste or Sewage.|
|Governor Baker's September 1, 2020 Update||
Governor Baker gave an update on COVID-19 outside of the MBTA’s Green line. He was joined by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.
Officials explained that the MBTA took advantage of low ridership this summer and accelerated several projects on the green line, explaining that this will allow the MBTA to provide a more reliable, faster green line experience. Governor Baker reported that this project would have normally taken a full year, but the MBTA was able to complete it over the summer months and save 30% on construction costs.
Governor Baker reported that as of 9/1/20, 2.4 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with testing up to 19,000 people per day in August, which is up from 12,000 people being tested per day in June. The statewide positive test rate is still hovering around 1%. The Governor said that overall statewide COVID stats are “in a great place” but several communities are still struggling.
|Visitors from 4 more states no longer need to quarantine||Massachusetts has added four states to its list of low-risk states that do not require travelers to fill out a form, undergo testing or quarantine. Starting August 29, 2020, travelers entering Massachusetts from Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and Colorado will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or produce a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.|
|Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Initiatives to Stop Spread of COVID-19
Creates Cross-Agency Enforcement and Intervention Team, Ramps up Enforcement
On August 7, 2020, Governor Baker signed an updated gatherings order, effective Tuesday, August 11, which will:
To read the gatherings order, click here.
To read the updated restaurant protocols, click here.
|Effective August 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must follow new travel orders.||
On July 24, 2020, Governor Baker filed an executive order that says all travelers entering Massachusetts, including both out of state residents and Mass. residents returning home, will be required to comply with a new travel order effective August 1.
Reopening Massachusetts: Governor Initiates Transition to Third Phase of Four-Phase Approach
Phase III, Step 1 of Reopening Massachusetts Set to Begin on July 6
On July 2, 2020, the Governor announced that on July 6, Phase III, Step 1 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin and updates on gatherings will be in effect. For the City of Boston, Phase III and the gatherings order will take effect on Monday, July 13.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued updated guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III can be found at www.mass.gov/reopening. Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase III are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.
|June 8: Phase 2 Reopening begins||
Massachusetts moved into the second phase of its re-opening plan on June 8 as restaurants opened for outdoor dining, hotels permitted room guests and retailers welcomed shoppers back inside their stores. Meanwhile, the state projects a $6.2B deficit in its Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund by the end of 2021.
Employers are also encouraged to review any re-opening guidance issued by local municipalities.
|Phase 2 of Reopening begins June 8||
On June 6, Governor Baker announced that Phase Two of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin on Monday, June 8.
The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase II on June 8, with contingencies: retail, with occupancy limits; Childcare facilities and day camps, with detailed guidance; Restaurants, outdoor table service only; hotels and other lodgings, no events, functions or meetings; warehouses and distribution centers; personal services without close physical contact, such as home cleaning, photography, window washing, career coaching and education tutoring; post-secondary, higher education, vocational-tech and occupation schools for the purpose of completing graduation requirements; youth and adult amateur sports, with detailed guidance; outdoor recreation facilities professional sports practices, no games or public admissions; non-athletic youth instructional classes in arts, education or life skills and in groups of less than 10; driving and flight schools; outdoor historical spaces, no functions, gatherings or guided tours; Funeral homes, with occupancy limits
The following businesses will be eligible reopen in Step Two of Phase II at a later date to be determined: indoor table service at restaurants and close-contact personal services, with restrictions, including: hair removal and replacement, nail care, skin care, massage therapy, makeup salons and makeup application services, tanning salons, tattoo, piercing and body art services and personal training, with restrictions
Governor Baker also announced that health care providers may also incrementally resume in-person elective, non-urgent procedures and services, including routine office visits, dental visits and vision care subject to compliance with public health and safety standards. All other in-person medical, behavioral health, dental and vision services may also resume on Monday, except for elective cosmetic procedures and in-person day programs, which will be included in Phase III. Telehealth must continue to be utilized and prioritized to the greatest extent possible, whenever feasible and appropriate.
Additionally, Baker reported that a total of 630,000 viral COVID-19 tests have been completed, and testing continues to increase throughout the state. Since mid-April, the 7-day average for the positive COVID-19 test rate is down 82%, the 3-day average of hospitalized patients is down 55%, and the number of hospitals in surge is down 76%.
|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.
Key Federal Links:
Some Municipal Sites:
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.