By Nan O'Neill, Partner, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP
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On Monday, November 2, 2020, Governor Baker issued three new COVID-19 Orders, all of which are effective Friday, November 6, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.
COVID-19 Order No. 53 (https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-53/download) imposes a Mandatory Night-Time Closing Period for Certain Businesses and Activities from 9:30 p.m. each day until 5:00 a.m. the following day. This Mandatory Closing Period Order prohibits certain businesses, facilities, and activities from admitting customers, patrons, or members of the public to their premises or otherwise offering, providing, or permitting in-person, on-premises services or activities, during the closed period. Businesses, facilities, and activities subject to the mandatory closing period include:
Governor Baker’s mandatory closing period order is aligned with the Stay at Home Advisory, also issued on November 2, 2020 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), which advises all residents of Massachusetts to stay home between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. (https://www.mass.gov/news/stay-at-home-advisory).
Together, the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission.
COVID-19 Order No. 54 (https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-54/download) limits the size and duration of certain indoor and outdoor gatherings. Subject to certain exceptions, including exceptions for religious activities and political expression, all participants in indoor and outdoor gatherings, including gatherings at private residences, must maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from every other participant, except members of the same household. Indoor gatherings at “event venues and in public settings” are limited to 25 people, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people in Lower Risk Communities and 50 people in communities that do not qualify as Lower Risk Communities. (Lower Risk Community is defined in COVID-19 Order No. 51 https://www.mass.gov/doc/governors-covid-19-order-51/download). “Event venue or public setting” is defined as “any setting open to the public and any event venue, club, park, or other venue or space, public or private, that is used or available for gatherings through lease, license, permit, contract, reservation or similar arrangement.” In addition to the social distancing and gathering limitations, all gatherings, including at private residences, must end and participants must be dispersed by 9:30 p.m., and all participants must wear face coverings in accordance with COVID-19 Order No. 55, discussed below, except that face coverings are only required at gatherings at private homes that include more than 10 people and where attendees include non-household members.
COVID-19 Order No. 55 (https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-55/download) requires a mask or cloth face covering for all persons over the age of 5 “when in a public location, whether indoors and outdoors.” The Order describes “public locations” as:
There are certain limited exceptions to the Face Covering Order, such as if a person is unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition. Further, the Face Covering Order explicitly directs DPH to issue guidance to implement its terms.
This Alert was prepared by Nan O'Neill and reviewed with Katherine Hesse and Sarah Spatafore. If you have any questions regarding this Alert or any other issue related to COVID-19, please call 617-479-5000.
This alert is for informational purposes only and may be considered advertising. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, tax or professional advice or services. You should seek specific detailed legal advice prior to taking any definitive actions.