Massachusetts Provides Guidance for Phases II–IV of Reopening Plan

June 03, 2020

Massachusetts is beginning to prepare for the next phase of its four-phase reopening plan. On June 1 Governor Charlie Baker issued an order allowing Phase II businesses to open their locations to workers to prepare for reopening, providing additional details concerning what types of businesses will be allowed to reopen in Phases II–IV of the reopening plan, and outlining additional guidance for these businesses. Phase II began on June 8.

Effective immediately, all businesses and other organizations that are included within Phase II of the reopening will be allowed to open their physical workplaces and facilities to workers to prepare for reopening when authorized. Any Phase II business now authorized to open its premises to workers under the terms of the order must comply with all generally applicable and sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules, including social distancing requirements, as summarized in our previous Massachusetts reopening LawFlash. Phase II businesses that open their premises for preparation will not be subject to the 10-person limitation on gatherings established in previous orders, and will not be authorized to open until a subsequent order is issued.

The Massachusetts director of labor standards and the commissioner of public health will issue sector-specific rules to address the particular circumstances and operational needs relevant to those industries that are reopening. Like all Phase I businesses, all Phase II–IV businesses must comply with the general and, where applicable, sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules.

The June 1 order sets out additional guidance for Phase II outdoor restaurant dining services, which follows the May 29 safety standards for the reopening of restaurants and lodging, and for limited organized amateur and professional sports activities and programs.

Massachusetts also issued retail business safety standards and a retail business checklist in connection with the order. Consistent with other safety standards issued to date, the standards and checklist include requirements concerning social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operational requirements, and requirements concerning cleaning and disinfecting.

The order also provides detailed lists of the businesses that will be allowed to open in each phase.

Phase II

  • Retail stores including stores in enclosed shopping malls
  • Restaurants providing seated food service prepared onsite and under retail food permits issued by municipal authorities, including beer gardens, wineries, and distilleries meeting those criteria
  • Hotels, motels, inns, and other short-term lodging (but no events, functions, or meetings)
  • Limited organized youth and adult amateur sports activities and programs (but no contact and no games or scrimmages) and indoor facilities limited to youth programs
  • Professional sports practice and training programs (but no inter-team games and no admission to the public)
  • Personal services provided at a fixed place of business or at a client location
  • Step 1: Services involving no personal contact (e.g., photography, window washing, individual tutoring, home cleaning)
  • Step 2: Services involving close personal contact (e.g., massage services, nail salons, personal training of individuals or no more than two people in the same household)
  • Nonathletic instructional classes for arts, education, and life skills for youths under 18 in groups of fewer than 10
  • Driving schools and flight schools
  • Outdoor historical spaces (but no functions, gatherings, or guided tours)
  • Funeral homes with increased capacity to permit 40% occupancy for one service at a time
  • Golf facilities including outdoor driving ranges
  • Other outdoor recreational facilities, including pools, playgrounds, miniature golf, go-karts, batting cages, climbing walls, and ropes courses
  • Postsecondary, higher education, vocational-technical, trade, and occupational schools only for the purposes of permitting students to complete a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment; other similar requirement for completion; summer youth programming, including athletic facilities; and any necessary supporting services
  • Day camps, including sports and arts camps
  • Public libraries

Phase III

  • Postsecondary, higher education, vocational-technical, trade and occupational schools for general operations
  • Casino gaming floors
  • Horse-racing simulcast facilities (but no spectators)
  • Indoor recreational and athletic facilities for general use, not limited to youth programs
  • Fitness centers and health clubs, including
  • Cardio and weight rooms
  • Fitness studios, including yoga, bane, CrossFit, and spin
  • Indoor common areas, swimming pools, racquet courts, and gymnasiums
  • Locker rooms and showers (excluding saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms)
  • Museums
  • Indoor historic spaces and sites
  • Aquariums
  • Outdoor theaters and performance venues of moderate capacity
  • Sightseeing and other organized tours, including bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, and whale watching
  • Fishing and hunting tournaments and other amateur or professional derbies
  • Weddings, events, and gatherings in parks, reservations, and open spaces with moderate capacity
  • Overnight camps
  • Indoor nonathletic instructional classes in arts, education and life skills for 18 and over
  • Indoor recreational businesses, including batting cages, driving ranges, go-karts, bowling alleys, arcades, laser tag, roller skating rinks, trampolines, and rock climbing

Phase IV

  • Amusement parks, theme parks, and indoor or outdoor water parks
  • Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs, and other facilities
  • Bars, dance clubs and nightclubs, and venues offering entertainment, beverages, or dancing and not providing seated food service prepared onsite under municipal retail food permits
  • Beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries not providing seated food service prepared onsite under municipal retail food permits
  • Large capacity venues used for group or spectator sports, entertainment, business, and cultural events, including theaters, concert halls, ballrooms, stadiums, arenas, ballparks, dance floors, and exhibition and convention halls
  • Private party rooms
  • Street festivals and parades and agricultural festivals
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events

Key Takeaways for Businesses

Businesses preparing for Phase II opening now have some clarity about how they may prepare to reopen. Phase II businesses should continue to be mindful of the commonwealth’s detailed guidelines and requirements, including industry-specific guidance, and should ensure that they have taken effective measures to ensure their workplaces are safe for employees and guests alike.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. Find resources on how to cope with the post-pandemic reality on our NOW. NORMAL. NEXT. page and our COVID-19 page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts, and download our biweekly COVID-19 Legal Issue Compendium.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Laurie Cerveny
Siobhan Mee

New York/Boston
Douglas Schwarz