Massachusetts orders all non-essential businesses to close, but stops short of issuing a stay-at-home order

March.23.2020

Massachusetts is the latest to enact a statewide order limiting the activities of non-essential businesses. In COVID-19 Order No. 13 issued this morning, Governor Charlie Baker directed all non-essential businesses and organizations to close their physical “brick and mortar” workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public. This restriction takes effect tomorrow, March 24 at noon, and continues till noon on April 7, 2020. Remote work and activities were not impacted.

Similar to orders from CA, NY, and the ever-growing list of states and localities, businesses and workers deemed essential are exempted as “COVID-19 Essential Services,” though social distancing measures are urged. A list of essential businesses is outlined in Exhibit A to the Order, and is subject to change and updates as conditions develop. Employers not on the list may apply for designation as an Essential Service using the Commonwealth’s form found here.

Unlike CA and NY, Governor Baker did not order Massachusetts residents to “stay at home” or limit travel, issuing only an advisory for residents to stay home. Notably, the Order expressly supersedes “and makes inoperative” any conflicting local order that would interfere with any resident’s work or intrastate travel related to the continued operations of COVID-19 Essential Services.

According to Governor Baker’s press conference, violations are to be enforced “at the local level” and by the Department of Public Health, and may result in criminal penalties or civil fines pursuant to G.L. c. 40 § 21D.