What You Need to Know: Clarification of the Mass.Gov Essential Services Order
Contributed by John Ferrante, BTEA Associate Director & Tom Gunning, BTEA Director of Labor Relations
We are in unprecedented times and there’s a lot of confusion with regards to COVID-19 and essential/non-essential businesses, particularly in the construction industry. On Monday, March 23rd, Gov. Baker issued an emergency advisory requiring all employers that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public from Tuesday, March 24th at noon to Tuesday, April 7th at noon.
- Exempt industries include: healthcare, public safety, groceries and take-out restaurants, utilities and infrastructure, and other essential services.
The Order also limits gatherings to 10 people during the state of emergency, a reduction from the 25-person limit established in an earlier order.
- The Order directs the Department of Public Health to issue guidance to implement the terms of the Order.
- In the Department of Public Health’s Guidance, #4 states: “The Order does not apply to the operations or activities of any business or organization in its provision of “COVID-19 Essential Services” as those are defined in the Order and Exhibit A to the Order.”
- The Baker Administration has issued a list titled COVID-19 Essential Services Exhibit A for those designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate during this two-week time period.
There are a few exceptions. As we mentioned last week, skeleton crews are permitted on projects in Boston after Monday, March 23rd.
Emergency work is permitted but will need approval from the Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD)
That work includes:
- work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations
- mandated building or utility work
- emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes
- new utility connections to occupied buildings
- work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network, and
- other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.
- Requests for exceptions are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis for their impact on public health and safety
- ISD Commissioner reviews building-related work
- Commissioner of Public Works reviews street-related work
- By close of business tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th all sites must be secured and made safe
- Some work is exempt from the Moratorium with contractors being asked to limit the number of workers on site to allow for social-distancing
- Utility Connections already scheduled with a utility company
- Construction on one, two and three family residential structures already permitted
- Requests for exceptions are being reviewed by the Commissioner of Buildings or the Commissioner of Public Works on a case-by-case basis.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
John Ferrante | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Gunning | email@example.com