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Safety Standards and Checklist: Indoor and Outdoor Events

Reopening Phase III mandatory safety standards, recommended best practices and a checklist for indoor and outdoor events. EFFECTIVE: January 25, 2021

***UPDATE: Effective December 26th, Massachusetts has implemented temporary capacity and gathering limits. Businesses must follow revised capacity restrictions. The revised limits supersede the existing Sector Specific Protocols below. Learn more

These sector specific COVID-19 workplace safety are issued to establish minimum standards for any indoor or outdoor event (such as a wedding, party, etc.), that is not specifically addressed by other sector- specific COVID-19 safety standards.

These standards are minimum requirements only and are not exclusive or exhaustive. The public health data for disease prevention that inform these guidelines can and does change frequently, and the organizer and operator of each event-related enterprise are accountable for adhering to all local, state and federal requirements. Event organizers and venue operators are also responsible for staying abreast of any updates to these requirements.

Violation of these standards may result in civil fines of up to $500 per violation; provided that each individual instance of non-compliance and each day of a continuing violation may be fined as a separate violation.  Each person present over any capacity limit specified below may likewise be fined as a separate violation.

In accordance with COVID – 19 Order no. 58 Returning all Municipalities to Phase 3, Step 1 COVID -19 Safety Rules, activities and capacity allowances previously authorized as part of Step 2 of Phase 3 are withdrawn.

Event Size Limitations by Type

Event Venue

Step 1 of Phase 3

Indoor Gatherings at Private Residences

10 persons

Indoor Gatherings at Event Venues and in Public Settings

25 persons

Outdoor Gatherings at Private Residences

25 persons

Outdoor Gatherings at Event Venues and in Public Settings

50 persons

All capacity allowances are subject to additional conditions and limitations further detailed below.

Notification to Local Boards of Health

For outdoor gatherings where more than 25 attendees are anticipated, the operator of the event venue must provide notice to the Local Board of Health in the municipality where the gathering is located at least 1 week before the event is scheduled, or otherwise as soon as possible where 1 week notice is not practicable due to the nature of the event (e.g., memorial services). For events held in

public places like parks, the event organizer is responsible for providing notice. The notification must include, at minimum, the location and time of the planned event, the name and contact information of the event organizer, the number of anticipated attendees, and any other information reasonably requested by the Local Board of Health.

If a host or event venue is notified that an event attendee or worker has tested positive for COVID-19, the event host or event venue must immediately notify the Local Board of Health in the city or town where the event took place. Hosts and event venues must assist the Department of Public Health and Local Boards of Health with contract tracing and case investigations, including, upon request, providing lists of attendees at social gatherings and their contact information.

Standards for Responsible Indoor and Outdoor Events in Massachusetts

No activity at any indoor or outdoor event shall occur without meeting these COVID-19 workplace safety standards. These standards apply to all events not exempt by executive order until rescinded or amended by the State. Where other sector-specific standards are applicable to part or all of the enterprise’s activities, an enterprise must follow those sector-specific standards. Indoor and outdoor events covered by these standards include but are not limited to events held at:

  • Indoor and outdoor event spaces
  • Ballrooms
  • Private clubs and party rooms
  • Public places, like parks
  • Private residences

An event that is held for the primary purpose of watching a performance must follow the Theaters and Performance Venues guidance.

Large capacity event venues and activities organized to draw together large crowds must continue to remain closed until Phase IV. This includes venues used for group or spectator sports, entertainment, business, and cultural events including:

  • Stadiums, arenas, and ballparks
  • Dance floors
  • Exhibition and convention halls
  • Street festivals and parades and agricultural festivals
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events

The following workplace specific safety standards are organized around four distinct categories covering Social Distancing, Hygiene Protocols, Staffing and Operations, and Cleaning and Disinfecting.

Table of Contents

Key Documents for Reopening

Linked below are three important documents:

  1. Workplace Safety Standards - Complete and official sector-specific standards for indoor and outdoor events (all workplaces must also comply with the Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces)
  2. Protocol Summary - User friendly summary of the standards and best practices
  3. Checklist - Printable tool to help businesses perform the required self-certification for opening and ensure compliance with the sector-specific standards 

Social Distancing and Capacity Limits


  • Require face coverings for all workers and attendees, except where an individual is unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability
  • The host of an indoor event at a private residence must limit the number of attendees at all times to:
    • No more than 10 persons
  • The host of an outdoor event at a private residence (such as in a backyard) must limit the number of attendees at all times to:
    • No more than 25 persons
  • The host of an indoor event held at an event venue (e.g., hotels, private clubs, and space available for lease) or in a public setting (e.g., public parks) must limit the number of attendees at all times to:
    • No more than 25 persons
  • For outdoor events held at an event venue (e.g., hotels, private clubs, and space available for lease) or in a public setting (e.g., public parks) must limit the number of attendees at all times to:
    • No more than 50 persons
  • Occupancy counts in all cases must include all attendees, but may exclude event staff or other workers.
  • In addition to the capacity restrictions specified above, all participants in indoor and outdoor gatherings, including gatherings at private residences, must maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from every other participant in the gathering except where participants are members of the same household.
  • Restaurants hosting events must adhere to the capacity limits specified in these standards.
  • Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals
    • Close or reconfigure worker common spaces and high density areas where workers are likely to congregate) to allow social distancing. Employers are encouraged to close break rooms or limit their use
    • Physical partitions must separate workstations that cannot be separated by 6 feet or more (partitions must extend to at least 6 feet in height)
    • For customer facing enterprises, install visual social distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart (e.g., lines to make payments, lines to use the restroom) and physical barriers for checkout stations where possible
    • Mark rooms and hallways to indicate 6 feet separation
  • Stagger lunch and break times for workers, regulate the maximum number of people in one place, and ensure at least 6 feet of physical distancing
  • Valet parking operations should be avoided unless necessary due to physical or geographic constraints or in order to accommodate individual guests with disabling conditions
    • Valets must be provided with hand sanitizer and should use sanitizer before and after parking vehicles

Hygiene Protocols


  • Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site for both event attendees and workers, including soap and running water, and allow sufficient break time for workers to wash hands frequently; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative
  • Supply workers at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)
  • Post visible signage throughout the site to remind workers and event attendees of hygiene and safety protocols
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol must be made available at entrances and throughout floor areas for workers and attendees
  • Provide regular sanitation of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

Staffing and Operations


  • Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:
    • Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings
    • Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks
    • Importance of not coming to work if ill
    • When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe
    • Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus
  • Adjust workplace hours and shifts (working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion
  • Event venue operators are urged to inform clients of the Commonwealth’s current out-of-state travel order and to encourage them to inform any out-of-state guests of the order. Event venue operators are encouraged to post information on their websites about requirements for out-of- state travelers
  • Workers must stay home if feeling ill
  • Encourage workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control to stay home or re-assign duties to reduce contact with other workers and attendees
  • Encourage workers to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer
  • Encourage workers and attendees who test positive for COVID-19 to disclose to the workplace employer or event organizer for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing. If the employer is notified of any positive case at the workplace, the employer must immediately notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located. Event organizers and venue operators must assist the LBOH with contact tracing efforts, including advising likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers and attendees may be recommended consistent with guidance and / or at the request of the LBOH
  • Post notice to workers and attendees of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in the Commonwealth’s Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace
  • Maintain a log of workers and attendees to support contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information) if needed
  • When seated, attendees should be in groups of not more than 6.
  • Additional on-site amenities and services may only open and operate when those amenities or services would otherwise be authorized to operate under the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening Plan and then must adhere to all sector-specific safety protocols, available on the Reopening Plan website, applicable to the amenity or service. Examples include:
    • Food services: Must follow the latest restaurant guidance, provided however that staffed buffets and passed food service is permitted. Self-serve, unattended buffets, topping bars, drink stations, and other communal serving areas must remain closed
    • Bars: Must remain closed until Phase 4, provided however that drink service may be provided by servers and alcoholic beverages do not have to be accompanied by food orders
    • Musical and other performances: Must follow the latest theater and performance venue guidance, including distance between performers and between performers and attendees. Any performers arriving from other states must follow the Commonwealth’s current out-of-state travel order. Performances at indoor venues may not include singing or the playing of wind or brass instruments.
    • Dance floors: Must remain closed until Phase 4

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily, and more frequently if feasible)
  • Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning
  • Conduct frequent disinfecting of high traffic areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, rolling carts, bathrooms)
  • In the event of a positive case, shut down the site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with CDC guidance
  • Open windows and doors to increase airflow where possible



See Download Above

Phase III Downloads and Translations

Additional resources below, including easy print versions of the sector-specific circular and checklist.

Effective 12.13.20:

Updated 11.6.20:

Updated 10.1.20:

Updated 9.22.20:

Previous Update

Last updated: January 22, 2021