News  Memo: Reasonable accommodations after the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Guidance for public entities in Massachusetts, including state government entities, counties, and municipalities
  • Massachusetts Office on Disability

The state’s COVID-19 public health emergency ended on May 11, 2023, consistent with the termination of the nationwide public health emergency on that day. The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) reminds public entities in Massachusetts they have a continuing obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities after the termination of the public health emergency. “Public entities in Massachusetts” include state government entities, counties, and municipalities.

The end of the public health emergency does not terminate public entities’ obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals who are affected by “long COVID” or who are immunocompromised. Public entities must consider requests for reasonable accommodations from qualified people with disabilities, both employees and members of the public, on a case-by-case basis. [1] The goal of a reasonable accommodation is to allow a qualified person with a disability to have meaningful access to employment or to a government service.

Public entities considering whether a person is a person with a disability must, as always, consider whether the person has a functional limitation that substantially limits a major life activity. [2] The definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is intended to be construed broadly. [3] The EEOC and DOJ have made clear that long COVID and conditions that affect a person’s immune system may be considered disabilities under the ADA, and the end of a government-declared public health emergency does not change that analysis. [4]

When considering a request for reasonable accommodation, a public entity’s inquiry into the requestor’s disability should, as always, consider the relationship between the functional limitations caused by the person’s disability and the employment or government service they are trying to access. The existence of a public health emergency is irrelevant in this inquiry because it is an external factor that relates to the relationship between the government and a public health threat.

Public entities who require assistance understanding their rights and obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act can contact the Massachusetts Office on Disability for assistance:


Phone: 617-727-7440


  1. 42 USC §§ 12112, 12132; 28 CFR § 35.130(b); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.9(a).
  2. 28 CFR § 35.108(a); 29 CFR § 1630.2(g).
  3. 28 CFR § 35.108(d)(1)(i); 29 CFR § 1630.1(c)(4).
  4. Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services, Long Covid Joint Guidance, July 6, 2021, (last accessed May 5, 2023); Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC Releases Update to Covid-19 Technical Assistance, Press Release issued May 15, 2023 (last accessed May 17, 2023); Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Lawslast updated May 15, 2023, (last accessed May 17, 2023).

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