Labor & Employment

Locke Lord QuickStudy: Massachusetts’ March 23 Directive Re: Restrictions and Essential Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

Locke Lord LLP
March 23, 2020

On March 23, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued a state-wide directive limiting gatherings in the Commonwealth to no more than 10 people and ordering the temporary closure of all physical locations of businesses that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services.” The closure is scheduled to take effect on March 24 and continue until April 7.

While there is a federal guideline for what may be deemed critical infrastructure during the current crisis, Massachusetts has opted to define its own list of essential services. This list includes health and human services, law enforcement, energy services, and food services—among many others. “Restaurant, bars, and other retail establishments that sell food and beverage products” have also been specifically designed by the Governor as COVID-19 Essential Services, and are encouraged to continue take-out and delivery operations. 

For some Massachusetts businesses, the determination of whether they are a COVID-19 Essential Service will be a straight-forward determination; for many others it will be a matter of interpretation. 

If a business provides a service that it believes is essential, yet is not explicitly designated, it may seek a designation from the Commonwealth.

For a list of “COVID-19 Essential Services” in Massachusetts, click here.

For a copy of the Executive Order, click here.

NOTE: Because of the ever-changing COVID-19 legal environment, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on these topics.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.