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COVID-19 State of Emergency

Updates, emergency orders, and guidance associated with the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

On March 10, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, giving the Administration more flexibility to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. The Administration continues to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19:

Table of Contents

Updates, Emergency Orders, and Guidance:

REOPENING PHASE III: On July 2, Governor Baker issued an order initiating Phase III of the Commonwealth's reopening process beginning July 6. ORDER

REGULATING GATHERINGS: On July 2, Governor Baker issued an updated order pertaining to limits on gathering sizes in the Commonwealth. ORDER

DAY PROGRAMS: On July 2, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding provision of day program services provided in group settings. ORDER

  • This replaces the emergency order issued March 24.

ELECTIVE PROCEDURES: On June 24, the Department of Public Health issued an updated order related to non-essential elective procedures. ORDER | GUIDANCE

REOPENING PHASE II, STEP 2: On June 19, Governor Baker issued an order initiating Step 2 of Phase II of the Commonwealth's reopening process. ORDER

REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES: On June 12, Governor Baker issued an emergency order limiting in-person transactions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. ORDER

REOPENING PHASE II, STEP 1: On June 6, Governor Baker issued an order initiating Phase II of the Commonwealth's reopening process beginning June 8. ORDER

ORDER PREPARING FOR REOPENING PHASE II: On June 1, Governor Baker issued an order outlining details to allow for preparation for Phase II of the Commonwealth's reopening plan. ORDER (Accessible

CHILDCARE: On June 1, Governor Baker issued an order outlining details around the reopening of childcare providers. ORDER (Accessible)

GATHERINGS CLARIFICATION & GRADUATION GUIDANCE: On May 21, the Division of Local Services and the Department of Public Health disseminated information on the Governor's order related to gatherings. In addition, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued guidance for high school graduation ceremonies. CLARIFICATIONGUIDANCE  

PHASED REOPENING: On May 18, Governor Baker issued an order outlining the phased reopening of workplaces and imposing workplace safety measures to address COVID-19. ORDER

EXPANDED BEACH ACCESS: On May 18, Governor Baker issued an order expanding access to and use of state beaches and addressing other outdoor recreational activities. ORDER

24 HOUR ESSENTIAL SERVICES EXTENSION: On May 15, Governor Baker issued an order extending the closure of non-essential businesses and organizations by 24 hours until 12:00AM on May 19, 2020. ORDER

CERTIFIED NURSE AIDE TRAINING: On May 12, the department of Public Health issued an emergency order relative to certified nurse aide training. ORDER

MASKS AND FACE COVERINGS: On May 1, Governor Baker issued an order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public situations when appropriate social distancing measures are not possible. ORDER | GUIDANCE | FAQ

  • This guidance replaces DPH guidance relative to the use of masks or face coverings previously released on April 10.

SCHOOL HEALTH SCREENINGS: On April 28, 2020 the Department issued an emergency order suspending mandatory school health screenings. ORDER

NURSERIES, GREENHOUSES, GARDEN CENTERS, AND AGRICULTURAL SUPPLY STORES GUIDANCE: On April 28, the Department of Public Health issued guidance related to the operation of nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and agricultural supply stores. GUIDANCE

HOTEL & MOTEL GUIDANCE: On April 28, the Department of Public Health released guidance for hotels and motels related to the Governor's April 28 order extending the prohibition on gatherings of 10 or more. ORDER | GUIDANCE FAQ

EXTENSION OF NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS CLOSURE: On April 28, Governor Baker issued an order extending the closure of non-essential businesses and organizations for in-person operations until May 18. 
ORDER | EXHIBIT A: ESSENTIAL SERVICES LIST (PDF) | PRESS RELEASE

EXTENSION OF GOVERNOR’S COUNCIL REMOTE MEETINGS:  On April 28, Governor Baker issued an order extending the authorization for the Governor’s Council to meet remotely. ORDER

  • This order extends a previous March 23 order by Governor Baker.

CLINICAL LAB REFERRALS FOR COVID-19 TESTING: On April 28, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order allowing certain referrals to clinical laboratories for COVID-19 testing. ORDER

OUT-OF-HOSPITAL DIALYSIS UNIT STAFFING: On April 28, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order relative to staffing ratios in out-of-hospital dialysis units. ORDER

FARMERS MARKETS, FARM STANDS AND CSAs: On April 27, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order related to the operation of farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs. ORDER

CRISIS STANDARDS OF CARE: On April 20, the Department of Public Health issued clarified guidance and an emergency order regarding crisis standards of care (CSC): ORDER | GUIDANCE

  • The emergency order was rescinded on June 19. RECISSION

EMERGENCY CHILDCARE PROGRAMS: On April 16, Governor Baker issued an emergency order authorizing the creation of and operation of emergency residential programs and emergency placement agencies for children. ORDER

NON-HEALTHCARE ESSENTIAL SERVICE WORKER EXPOSURE GUIDANCE: On April 14, the Department of Public Health issued guidance to all non-healthcare essential service workers and their employers regarding safety practices for workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. GUIDANCE

FOREIGN MEDICAL DOCTORS: On April 9, Governor Baker issued an emergency order providing accelerated licensing of physicians educated in foreign medical schools. ORDER 

NURSING PRACTICE LICENSURE: On April 9, Governor Baker issued an emergency order authorizing nursing practice by nursing school graduates and students in their final semester of nursing education programs. ORDER | GUIDANCE

INPATIENT SERVICES AND BILLING: On April 9, Governor Baker issued an emergency order mandating that insurers cover all medically required costs of COVID-19 treatment in out-of-network hospitals and or other medical facilities with no cost to the patient. ORDER 

COVID-19 DATA REPORTING: On April 8, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding collection of complete demographic information on patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. ORDER

GROCERY STORE OCCUPANCY: On April 7, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding grocery store operations and occupancy limits. ORDER

ORAL PRESCRIPTION FOLLOW UP: On April 6, the Department of Public Health issued an order regarding submission of written follow up procedures for oral prescriptions. ORDER | GUIDANCE

    COVID PHARMACY ASSISTANCE TEAM: On April 4, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding the COVID Pharmacy Assistance Team. ORDER

    MAXIMIZING AVAILABLE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: On April 3, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order expanding the availability of certain health care providers. ORDER | GUIDANCE

    EXPANDED APRN PRACTICE AT DMH FACILITIES: On April 3, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order relative to expanded practice by advanced practice registered nurses at Department of Mental Health facilities. ORDER

    PHARMACY HAND SANITIZER ORDER: On April 3, the Department of Public Health issued an updated order permitting licensed pharmacies to create and sell hand sanitizer over the counter. ORDER

    SKILLED NURSING CARE AND STAFFING IN ASSISTED LIVING RESIDENCES: On April 2, 2020, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding the provision of skilled nursing care in Assisted Living Residences.  ORDER | GUIDANCE

    CONSTRUCTION GUIDANCE: On April 2, the Baker-Polito Administration issued guidance related to the enforcement of COVID-19 safety guidelines and procedures for construction sites. 
    ENFORCEMENT GUIDANCESUPPLEMENTAL GUIDELINES

    MEDICATION ADMINISTRATION IN COMMUNITY PROGRAMS: On April 1, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding administration of certain medications in Community Programs. ORDER

    STAY-AT-HOME ADVISORY: On March 31, the Department of Public Health announced that is Stay-At-Home Advisory issued on March 24 remains in effect. ADVISORY

    SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS BY PUBLIC COMPANIES: On March 30, Governor Baker issued an emergency order regarding  the conduct of shareholder meetings by public companies. ORDER

    EOHHS ADJUSTMENTS TO ESSENTIAL PROVIDER RATES: On March 30, Governor Baker issued an emergency order authorizing the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to adjust essential provider rates. ORDER

    LTCF TRANSFERS AND DISCHARGES: On March 29, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding long-term care facility resident transfers and discharges. ORDER

    MA RESPONDS CORI CHECKS: On March 29, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order authorizing DPH’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management to conduct CORI checks on volunteers who register with MA Responds to respond to the COVID-19 emergency without a notarized CORI Acknowledgement Form. ORDER

    PERMIT EXTENSIONS: On March 26, Governor Baker issued an emergency order suspending state permitting deadlines and extending the validity of state permits. ORDER

    BUSINESS LICENSURE: On March 26, Governor Baker issued an emergency order extending certain professional licenses, permits, and registrations issued by Commonwealth agencies. ORDER

    APRN PRESCRIPTIVE PRACTICE:  On March 26, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order addressing independent prescriptive practice for advanced practice registered nurses. 
    ORDER | GUIDANCE

    K-12 SCHOOL CLOSURES: On March 25, Governor Baker issued an extension of the suspension of school operations for educational purposes at all public and private elementary and secondary (K-12) schools in the Commonwealth (not including residential and day schools for special needs students) until May 4. 
    ORDER | PRESS RELEASE

    EARLY EDUCATION: On March 25, Governor Baker issued an extension of the closure of all non-emergency childcare programs. Emergency childcare programs, as designated by the Commonwealth remain open. 
    ORDER | PRESS RELEASE | MORE

    GROCERY STORE AND PHARMACY OPERATIONS: On March 25, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order addressing operation of grocery stores and pharmacies. ORDER

    NURSE STAFFING: On March 24, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order exempting hospitals from the nurse staffing requirements of M.G.L. c. 111, §231. ORDER

    DETERMINATION OF NEED: On March 24, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order exempting certain activities from determination of need approval, that are necessary to address COVID-19. ORDER | GUIDANCE

    PHARMACY PRACTICE: On March 24, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order regarding modifications to pharmacy practice. ORDER | GUIDANCE (see Pharmacies section)

    CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION HAND SANITIZER ORDER: On March 23, the Department of Public Health issued an order permitting facilities licensed by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to create and donate hand sanitizer to certain entities. ORDER

    CREMATION VIEWING: On March 23, the Department of Public Health issued an order regarding modification of certain requirements for inspections by the Chief Medical Examiner. ORDER

    LIMITING RMV IN-PERSON VISITS: On March 20, Governor Baker issued an order allowing the Registrar to extend vehicle registrations and modify the conditions of registrations, plates and titles. It also enables the waiver of certain inspection requirements. PRESS RELEASE | ORDER

    SMOKE ALARM INSPECTIONS: On March 20, Governor Baker issued an order making a change to the inspection statutes that require a smoke and carbon dioxide alarm inspection prior to a residential real estate transaction. PRESS RELEASE | ORDER

    PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE: On March 18, Governor Baker signed an emergency order extending professional licenses. ORDER

    LOCAL BOARDS OF HEALTH & EMS: On March 18, the Department of Public Health issued an order regarding the sharing of critical information with first responders: ORDER | GUIDANCE

    PHARMACISTS & OPIOID MISUSE DISORDER MEDICATION: On March 18, the Department of Public Health issued an order regarding the administration of certain medications for the treatment of opioid misuse disorder: ORDER | GUIDANCE

    PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS: On March 18, the Department of Public Health issued an order regarding the flexible reassignment of Physicians Assistants: ORDER | GUIDANCE

    HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS' REGISTRATION: On March 17, Governor Baker issued an order extending the registration of certain health care professionals' licenses. ORDER

    ACCESS TO PHYSICIANS' SERVICES: On March 17, Governor Baker issued an order expanding access to physicians' services. ORDER

    EMS CARE: On March 17, the Department of Public Health issued an order relative to Emergency Medical Services Care: ORDER

    EMERGENCY CREDENTIALING: On March 17, the Department of Public Health issued an order implementing emergency credentialing and licensed staff transfer procedures for medical facilities in the Commonwealth: ORDER | GUIDANCE

    HOSPITAL VISITOR RESTRICTIONS: On March 15, the Department of Public Health issued an order relative to hospital visitor restrictions. The Department released updated guidance relative to hospital visitation on June 6. ORDER | GUIDANCE

    ASSISTED LIVING VISITOR RESTRICTIONS. On March 15, the Department of Public Health issued visitor restrictions for assisted living facilities. ORDER | GUIDANCE

      TELEHEALTH: The Department of Public Health has issued guidance that requires all commercial insurers, self-insured plans, and the Group Insurance Commission to cover medically necessary telehealth services, whether related to COVID-19 or not.  For COVID-19 treatment, insurers must do this without requiring cost-sharing of any kind, such as co-pays and coinsurance. PRESS RELEASE | ORDER

      OPEN MEETING LAW MODIFICATIONS: On March 12, Governor Baker issued an emergency order making modifications to the state’s Open Meeting Law to allow state, quasi and local governments to continue to carry out essential functions during the COVID-19 outbreak. PRESS RELEASE | ORDER

      NURSING HOME VISITORS RESTRICTED: On March 12, the Department of Public Health issued an emergency order restricting visitor access to nursing homes and rest homes to protect higher-risk populations from COVID-19. PRESS RELEASE | ORDER | GUIDANCE

      NURSING LICENSURE CHANGES: On March 11, the Board of Registration in Nursing updated its policies to expedite the processing of reciprocal license applications for nurses that are licensed in another jurisdiction to allow those applications to be processed in one business day. POLICY

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