Massachusetts Closes In-Person Non-Essential Businesses Effective March 24 — Construction Designated Essential

Practice area:

Effective March 24th at 12:00 noon, Massachusetts is closing all non-essential businesses “physical workplaces and facilities (“brick-and-mortar premises”) through April 7, 2020.   See COVID-19 Order No. 13.

As an update to my post from Friday on Non-Essential Businesses, Massachusetts did not adopt the CISA Guidelines, but appears to have followed the structure of them.

The essential services list for Massachusetts can be found HERE.   Construction services is included as “essential” servcies as follows:

All indication is that MassDOT, MBTA, and MassPort projects are continuing (as noted by the above-referenced public works inclusion as an essential service.  During a board meeting of MassDOT, the Commissioner stated that the work is continuing but each project will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Below is a letter Construction Industries of Massachusetts received from MassDOT on March 23, 2020 stating that MassDOT operations are exempt from the shutdown:

This may have an impact on some private construction projects, but currently “essential” services includes “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction.”  Additional clarification will need to be provided, but this appears to be a pretty broad description of construction services.

As it relates to the City of Boston and City of Cambridge’s construction bans, the Order explicitly 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.”   The Governor’s Order designating construction services as “essential services” conflicts with those Cities’ construction bans.  Further clarification and coordination between the Commonwealth and Municipalities regarding this point will be needed.  The “travel” services were particularly emphasized in the Governor’s order:

Be sure to send out your notices for your construction projects and keep the communication lines open with the Project team members to ensure that essential construction activities safely continue forward.