What You Need to Know About Gov. Baker’s Four Phase Reopening Plan

May 21, 2020

On Monday, May 18, 2020, Governor Baker announced his plan for Reopening Massachusetts.  The plan was the result of work performed by the Reopening Advisory Board that details a four-phased strategy to reopen state businesses and activities.  Phase One of the plan became immediately effective as of May 18, 2020.  The specifics of the four-phase plan are as follows:

Phase One

In addition to essential businesses that are already open, Phase One of the plan will permit manufacturing, construction businesses and places of worship to reopen as of May 18.

Beginning May 25, the following businesses are eligible to reopen:

  • Laboratory and life science facilities;
  • With the exception of business offices in the City of Boston who must adhere to the Mayor’s reopening plans, businesses may open as of May 25, 2020 with a restricted workforce presence of no more than 25% maximum capacity. Boston offices can reopen as of June 1, 2020;
  • Hair salons and barbershops, by appointment only;
  • Pet grooming, by appointment only (with curbside pet drop-off and pick-up);
  • Car washes, with exterior car washing allowed;
  • Recreation and outdoor activities, with guidelines;
  • Retail, with remote fulfillment and curbside pickup including recreational marijuana facilities.

To reopen, all businesses must adhere to the Massachusetts Mandatory Safety Standards and any applicable industry-specific guidance (see below).  Further, businesses must complete the three-part mandatory self-certification process set forth below.

All essential businesses that were already in operation must comply with the Mandatory Safety Standards and any applicable industry-specific guidance, and must also complete the three-part self-certification process by May 25, 2020.

Mandatory Self-Certification Process

To reopen (or to stay open, for essential businesses), businesses must complete the following self-certification process:

  1. Develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how the business will prevent the spread of COVID-19;
    • To complete this step, businesses can utilize a template form found at  Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on-premise and made available for inspection when requested.  This plan will address issues regarding social distancing, face masks, hygiene and other relevant material.
  2. Sign and post a Compliance Attestation Posters. These posters may also be obtained at and shall be posted in an area visible to employees and visitors;
  3. Post “Employer” and “Worker” posters describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting.

The following industries must also adhere to sector-specific protocols in addition to the Mandatory Safety Standards:

  • Manufacturing
  • Office Spaces
  • Laboratories
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops
  • Construction
  • Car Washes
  • Pet Grooming
  • Places of worship
  • Outdoor recreation

While certain businesses and activities may reopen, the Governor urges those that can, to continue to work from home.  This advisory is known as the “Safer at Home Advisory,” replacing the most recent and more restrictive, “Stay at Home Advisory.”

This schedule is dependent on the efficacy of virus containment and will be subject to modification if the virus continues to spread.  If containment efforts are successful during Phase One, other businesses and activities will be able to reopen under Governor Baker’s plan.  Each phase will be subject to modification if contagion continues to increase. The subsequent reopening phases are:

Phase Two

Approximately three weeks after the successful implementation of Phase One without an increase in COVID-19 positive patients, the following businesses and activities will be permitted to reopen:

  • Retail establishments
  • Restaurants
  • Lodging
  • Nail salons and day spas
  • Campgrounds, playgrounds
  • Public and community pools
  • Athletic fields and courts with guidelines
  • Youth sports in a limited fashion

NOTE:  In Phase One and Two, gatherings are limited to less than 10 people

Phase Three

Approximately three weeks after the successful implementation of Phase Two without an increase in COVID-19 positive patients, the following businesses and activities will be permitted to reopen:

  • Bars
  • Arts and entertainment such as casinos, museums and fitness centers
  • All other business activities other than nightclubs and large venues (large venues has not been defined)
  • Youth sports, games and tournaments (the reopening plan makes no reference to professional sports).

Phase Four

At this phase, it is anticipated that all businesses and activities will return to full resumption, but must comply with certain “new normal” guidelines.

This information is subject to change and is dependent on the containment of COVID-19.  In the event that the spread of COVID-19 increases, each of these phases may be modified.  The Commonwealth might return to a prior phase or revert to any of these stages as the situation warrants.  Vigilance and strict adherence to safety protocols is necessary for the reopening of the Commonwealth to be successful and safe.  The Governor’s plan is not a guarantee that we will return to life before COVID-19.  The public health crisis continues and requires the compliance with the Governor’s mandates.

If you have questions about the topics addressed in this Alert, please contact the author:

Alfred Gray, Jr. | | 617.330.7079

Or any of our Labor & Employment legal professionals:

James Cox | | 617.330.7089

Jeffrey Dretler | | 617.330.7078

Paul Hodnett | | 617.330.7134

Denise Murphy | | 617.330.7123

Elizabeth Sullivan | | 617.330.7009