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Massachusetts law about COVID-19

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Table of Contents

Best bets

Court system response to COVID-19 Massachusetts Court System
News and information on actions being taken by Massachusetts state courts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes standing orders issued by the courts, as well as other guidance from court departments and administrators.

COVID-19 eviction information
Information about court orders, the CDC eviction moratorium, court forms, and helpful resources.

COVID-19 vaccination program Mass.gov
View the latest updates about the COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts, including the vaccination timeline, frequently asked questions, and vaccine authorization materials.

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 Mass.gov
A resource highlighting some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 in Massachusetts including information regarding: the disease itself, testing, quarantining, mask requirements, reopening, gathering restrictions, travel recommendations, and mental health resources.

Getting help with housing costs during COVID-19
Resources for renters, homeowners and landlords. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has resources available for individuals and families struggling to make rent or mortgage payments due to COVID-19 including the Eviction Diversion Initiative. 

Information on the outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) The Massachusetts Department of Public Health 
The Commonwealth’s main information page on COVID-19. Features links to data on current cases, Executive Orders related to the State of Emergency, and details on the Coronavirus as well as travel information related to COVID-19 including traveling to or visiting Massachusetts, international travel advisories and travel insurance information. 

Information on unemployment and Coronavirus -COVID-19 Mass.gov  
The Commonwealth’s main information page regarding unemployment and the Coronavirus. Provides links to applying for unemployment benefits, Department of Unemployment virtual town halls, and FAQ’s for both employees and employers. 

Reopening Massachusetts, Mass.gov 
Updated information, guidance, and protocols from the Baker-Polito administration regarding the 4 phase plan to "safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19." This resource also includes information regarding when different types of businesses and organizations can reopen, including salons and hotels and “information to help businesses meet the self-certification requirement to reopen.”

Resources during COVID-19 and Multilingual resources during COVID-19 Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
A link to the website of the Attorney General’s Office. Providing information on your rights as an employee, earned sick time, protecting yourself from scams and frauds, child care, health-care and insurance, students and student borrowers, immigrants, protecting your civil rights and small businesses in multiple languages.

Massachusetts laws

Massachusetts bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic An INSTATrac blog post outlining proposed and enacted bills connected to the Coronavirus.

Massachusetts regulations

105 CMR 316 Use of face masks or coverings in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

400 CMR 5.00: COVID-19 emergency regulations
Regulations concerning non-essential evictions, and a landlord's rights and responsibilities with respect to an advance payment of rent for the last month of tenancy during the COVID-19 emergency.

400 CMR 6.00: Notices to Quit During the COVID-19 State of Emergency
The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has issued emergency regulations to implement Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020. All landlords must give tenants an attestation form and submit a copy of any Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent given to a residential tenant during the COVID-19 State of Emergency to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. This is required by 400 CMR 6.00 / Section 1 of Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020. The form, instructions on filling out the form and how to file the form with the EOHED can be found on the page Notice to Quit Attestation Form and Submission Information

Emergency Regulation Prohibiting Price Gouging AG Healey Issues Emergency Regulation Prohibiting Price Gouging of Critical Goods and Services During COVID-19 Emergency.

Federal laws

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Legislation providing $2 trillion in economic relief in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, including direct payments to Americans, an expansion of unemployment insurance, and aid to businesses.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Signed into law on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act responds to the Coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free Coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.

Selected cases

Commonwealth v. Lougee, 485 Mass. 70 (2020)
Discussion of tolling of time limits on the pretrial detention of criminals and youthful offenders under emergency court orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We hold that the periods of delay resulting from continuances in these cases, pursuant to our emergency orders, should have been excluded from the computation of the time limits on pretrial detention under G. L. c. 276, §§ 58A and 58B."

Commonwealth v. Nash, and Commonwealth v. Elibert, 486 Mass. 394 (December 14, 2020)
Recently, in Christie v. Commonwealth, 484 Mass. 397, 401-402 ,“We (SJC) held that the pandemic is a factor for judges to consider when ruling on requests for stays (of execution of sentences). In the cases now before us, we provide additional guidance as to how, specifically, that factor ought to be taken into account.”

Desrosiers vs. The Governor, 486 Mass. 369 (2020).
The SJC concluded that “the CDA ("An Act to provide for the safety of the commonwealth during the existence of an emergency resulting from disaster or from hostile action.”), provides authority for the Governor's March 10, 2020, declaration of a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the issuance of the subsequent emergency orders; the emergency orders do not violate art. 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights; and the emergency orders do not violate the plaintiffs' Federal or State constitutional rights to procedural and substantive due process or free assembly.”

Gabriel Peeples v. Clinical Support Options, Inc., U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Case No. 3:20-cv-30144-KAR, 9/16/2020
U.S. District Court granted the Plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order against his employer for demanding he return to work in person. The Plaintiff had filed suit against his employer for violating the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation to the Plaintiff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Plaintiff sought to continue teleworking based on his Doctor's recommendation that because he suffers from asthma, he should not return to work in person. The Plaintiff's request was denied by his employer. The Court found that the Plaintiff would likely succeed on the merits of his case, and that the Plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm if he was denied the relief and not granting the restraining order may have a negative effect on public health.  The Court granted the Plaintiff's temporary restraining order, allowing the Plaintiff to continue to telework. 

Web resources and organizations

Children and family resources

Co-parenting during COVID-19 A letter from Chief Justice of the Probate Court providing guidance on parenting time during COVID-19. 

COVID-19 resources from Rosie's Place A variety of resources for families compiled by Rosie’s Place.   

The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence A resource to help find sexual assault or domestic violence programs in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Education COVID-19 information and resources DOE’s main page with information for school and parents regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the school system.

SNAP benefits and job loss during COVID-19 A Mass Legal Help Resource that helps explain SNAP benefits. SNAP  is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The service gives individuals and families money to buy food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and certain farmers markets.

Debt collection

Consumer debt COVID-19  A Mass Legal Service page discussing how debt related court cases are proceeding.

COVID-19 & consumer protections A page from the National Consumer Law Center that provides a list of resources to help families navigate their financial lives during these turbulent times. Topics include, but are not limited to, consumer protection, credit and debit issues, banking, and housing. The page is regularly updated as new information becomes available.

Labor, employment and unemployment resources

Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Mass. Department of Unemployment Assistance
"Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits."

COVID-19 and unemployment insurance This 2-page fact sheet from Mass Legal Services provides information on the state's unemployment insurance program in the specific context of the COVID-19 emergency. 

Fair Employment Project is a non-profit organization made up of attorneys, law students and worker advocates whose mission is to reduce violations of employment civil rights by helping explain working rights on the job, and the legal process.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee paid leave rights, Dept. of Labor.
A summary of eligibility, duration, and compensation for leave under the Families First Coronavirus response act.

Unemployment benefits  A Mass Legal Help page highlighting the effect that COVID-19 has had on the ability to apply and collect Unemployment.

Unemployment insurance benefits and returning to work: Guide for employersMass. Department of Unemployment Assistance
A Massachusetts guide for employers on unemployment benefits and returning to work provided in a clear Q&A format. 

Health

COVID-19 and MassHealth and health insurance A Mass Legal Help resource page highlighting information on the current operations of MassHealth and special rules that are in place.

In focus: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Bloomberg Law
A collection of current news, legislation and legal analysis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Housing and utilities resources

COVID-19 Coronavirus landlord-tenant laws, regulations, and procedures Assembled by MassLandlords.net, this page contains information on changes to landlord-tenant laws, practices, and procedures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 and housing A Mass Legal Help resource with legal information about a wide range of housing related legal issues, including the CDC moratorium, and information about evictions. Also has a link to the CDC Moratorium form.

COVID-19 and utilities A Mass Legal Help Resource page outlining protections against having utilities shut off. 

Eviction Diversion Initiative: Legal Services and Mediation This new statewide Housing Mediation Program administered by the MA Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) and the MA Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) is part of the Governor Baker's comprehensive Eviction Diversion Initiative to mitigate the harmful economic impacts of COVID-19 and prevent homelessness by keeping tenants stably housed and landlords from mortgage foreclosures. The MA Community Mediation Centers are offering free pre-court mediation between landlords and tenants for ​COVID-19 related lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts. 

Eviction Legal Help Project Free attorneys are available to assist low income tenants with COVID-related evictions and can also help low income owner occupants of two and three family properties with COVID-related evictions.

Federal eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, CDC, September 4, 2020.
Tenants must fill out a declaration that they cannot pay rent because of loss of income or medical expenses.

Tenants rights during COVID 19 crisis A Community Legal Aid resource highlighting the current operation of the housing court, eviction proceedings, and tenant’s rights.

Immigration

COVID-19 and immigration U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on COVID-19, Immigration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s current practices. 

COVID-19: Protecting our families and communities Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition resource that includes public health resources in multiple languages and relevant information on immigration policy and enforcement.

Legal help

Community legal aid Provides free legal service for elderly and low income individuals living in Central and Western Mass. 

Eviction Legal Help Project Free attorneys are available to assist low income tenants with COVID-related evictions and can also help low income owner occupants of two and three family properties with COVID-related evictions.

Greater Boston legal services Provides free legal assistance and representation on civil (noncriminal) matters to hundreds of the neediest residents in the city of Boston and 31 surrounding cities and towns. 

Law in the time of COVID, Columbia School of Law
A free eBook published by faculty at Columbia School of Law that highlights key legal issues and questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

Massachusetts free legal answers Free Legal Answers is a virtual legal advice clinic associated with the American Bar Association. 

Legal resource finder The Legal Resource Finder helps you find contact information for legal aid programs, nonprofits, government agencies and court programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue for free or at a low cost.

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Last updated: January 13, 2021
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