Effective at noon on March 24, 2020, Massachusetts will become the latest state to close non-essential businesses in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  As covered here previously, Connecticut and New York issued substantially similar executive orders in days immediately prior.  The Massachusetts order identifies “essential” businesses, orders the closing of non-essential businesses and organizations, and prohibits gatherings of more than ten people, with limited exceptions.  The order will remain in effect until April 7, 2020, but will likely be extended at a later date.

Massachusetts essential services are comprehensively set forth here.  The order also affirmatively encourages non-essential business to “continue operations remotely” where possible, and specifically encourages food and beverage establishments to offer take-out and delivery services, so long as social distancing can be maintained.

The essential services guidance is subject to amendment, but appears to be much more detailed than New York or Connecticut’s materially substantially similar orders.  Each state’s respective order appears to be based upon advisory federal guidance.  We urge you to review the Massachusetts list in full to assess whether your services, or the services you are seeking, are essential.  Several categories of services are deemed essential and summarized as follows:

  • Healthcare, Public Health, and Human Services: In addition to the front-line medical personnel battling COVID-19, the order explicitly deems essential many classes of services that support them, including but not limited to, blood donors, hospital administrators and support staff, workers in non-COVID-19-related in-patient and out-patient facilities, pharmacy employees, workers who support economically disadvantaged populations, and mortuary workers.
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and First Responders: Police and Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Technicians, 911 operators, and various employees that support those functions.
  • Food and Agriculture: In addition to employees at supermarkets and restaurants, all manner of workers who impact the food supply chain, including food manufacturers, farm workers, workers supporting seafood and fishermen, food testing lab employees, and animal agriculture employees, are essential.
  • Energy: Workers related to electricity, petroleum, natural and propane gas, and steam are deemed essential.
  • Transportation and Logistics: Services related to ground, air, rail, and water transit are essential. Amongst the essential explicitly included are (1) rental car operators, and (2) automotive repair shops, (3) mass transit workers, and (4) public and private postal and shipping workers.
  • Public Works: Includes workers that support public works systems including roads, bridge and sewers, as well as “plumbers, electricians, exterminators, inspectors and other service providers” that may fix problems at your residence.
  • Communications: Employees that support communications infrastructure, the media, and customer support staff are amongst the essential.
  • Information Technology: Workers who provide public or private information technology services, and support staff required for them, including janitorial personnel, are essential.
  • Other Community Based Essential Functions and Government Operations: This broad category contains varied services including weather forecasters, educators, hotel workers, critical government workers, workers in sober homes, pet supply stores, laundromats, and places of worship. If you do not see your business function listed elsewhere, check this category carefully.
  • Critical Manufacturing: “Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains including personal protective equipment and hygiene products, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.”
  • Hazardous Materials: Nuclear facility and other hazardous materials workers are essential.
  • Financial Services: Workers essential to financial systems and consumer access to money.
  • Chemical: Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains.
  • Defense Industrial Base: Workers who support the federal government and military.

If not listed, business may request an essential designation through the following link: https://www.mass.gov/forms/essential-service-designation-request. Related questions can be submitted to covid19.biz@mass.gov.

Murtha attorneys are available (remotely) to help you and your business make sense of Massachusetts’ guidance during these trying times.

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
Photo of Patricia E. Reilly Patricia E. Reilly

Patricia E. Reilly, Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group, is an experienced litigator who represents clients in a wide range of cases including, employment discrimination and related torts, non-compete and restrictive covenants, wage and hour, breach of contract, unfair trade practices…

Patricia E. Reilly, Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group, is an experienced litigator who represents clients in a wide range of cases including, employment discrimination and related torts, non-compete and restrictive covenants, wage and hour, breach of contract, unfair trade practices, and business disputes. In addition to maintaining a thriving litigation practice, Tricia counsels clients on a variety of employment-related issues including hiring, firing, and discipline; wage and hour; state and federal FMLA; sexual harassment investigations and prevention; Title IX; pregnancy and disability accommodation; and avoidance of employment discrimination liability.

Tricia is listed as a leading Labor and Employment Lawyer in Chambers USA.  She is listed in Best Lawyers in America®, and in 2017, Best Lawyers in America® recognized her as “Lawyer of the Year”, New Haven, Litigation – Labor and Employment. Tricia is a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association and the New Haven County Bar Association.  She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Photo of Salvatore G. Gangemi Salvatore G. Gangemi

Salvatore G. Gangemi is a Partner in the Litigation Department of Murtha Cullina and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He advises clients with respect to state, federal and local employment laws. In addition, he litigates matters involving misappropriation of…

Salvatore G. Gangemi is a Partner in the Litigation Department of Murtha Cullina and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He advises clients with respect to state, federal and local employment laws. In addition, he litigates matters involving misappropriation of trade secrets, restrictive covenants, breach of employment contract, fiduciary duty, and other work-related common law claims. Sal also counsels clients on day-to-day issues involving workplace management and administration, including requests for reasonable accommodation for disabilities, for family and medical leave, and wage and hour issues.  He conducts employment law training on a variety of topics, including sexual harassment prevention and wage/ hour compliance.  He also drafts employment policies and agreements, and assists clients in auditing worker classification practices and policies both in the context of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws governing independent contractor determinations.

Photo of Adam D. Friedland Adam D. Friedland

Adam D. Friedland is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department and Labor and Employment Practice Group. He represents clients in a variety of commercial litigation disputes, and counsels on potential litigation risks associated with all aspects of labor and employment law, including…

Adam D. Friedland is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department and Labor and Employment Practice Group. He represents clients in a variety of commercial litigation disputes, and counsels on potential litigation risks associated with all aspects of labor and employment law, including wage and hour, discrimination, post-employment restrictive covenant, and related claims.

Adam has successfully represented clients in state and federal court, administrative proceedings, and alternative dispute resolution forums from inception through resolution.