Everything Massachusetts Businesses Need to Do to Reopen, Explained

Here's what businesses need to know in order to reopen during the coronavirus crisis in Massachusetts

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Businesses in Massachusetts have a lengthy to-do list from state authorities to attend to before they can reopen, as the highly contagious coronavirus continues to devastate the economy.

The requirements are part of Gov. Charlie Baker's phased approach to restarting the Massachusetts economy, which was largely shuttered nearly two months ago as the state ramped up its fight against COVID-19.

In each of the plan's four phases, certain businesses -- as well as recreational spaces -- can reopen with safety precautions in place. Each phase will last at least three weeks, and officials will watch key metrics, such as positive test rate, hospitalizations and testing capacity to determine whether to move on to a new phase.

For a list of when businesses and recreational spaces can reopen in Massachusetts, click here.

Baker's Reopening Advisory Board is still developing sector-specific safety standards that will detail how particular industries should operate, which will be released with each new phase.

Here are general steps businesses will have to take in order to reopen in the coming weeks.

Mandatory safety standards

The state has set mandatory safety standards for workplaces including maintaining a six-foot distance between all people, regular sanitation and disinfection schedules and proper signage.

Employees must be trained on safety protocols. Employers must establish a plan for anyone who becomes ill and how they will return to work. If an active employee is diagnosed with the coronavirus, the workspace must be disinfected.

Employers must:

  • Require masks and coverings for all employees
  • Provide hand-washing supplies and capabilities
  • Sanitize high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

Business owners and municipalities can find mask and cleaning supply vendors in a search tool on the state's website.

Dr. Michael Richardson gives tips on how to wear masks properly.

Compliance plan

Businesses are required to create a written control plan outlining how its workplace will comply with the mandatory safety standards. This template may be filled out to meet that requirement.

Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on the premisis and made available in the case of an inspection or outbreak.

Proof of compliance

Customer-facing businesses are required to print, sign and post a checklist that states workers are wearing face coverings, social distancing, sanitizing and disinfecting.

The poster can be downloaded here and must be placed on premise in a visible area.


Businesses are required to provide signage to encourage social distancing.

Printable posters for both employers and workers that describe the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting can be found on the state's website.

Industry reaction to regulations

Some owners of bars and restaurants were upset to learn Monday that they would have to wait longer to open.

Owners of small businesses around the state, concerned about their livelihoods amid the coronavirus pandemic, have said Baker’s incremental approach to restarting the economy could put them out of work. 

Jon Hurst, the president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said the industry is disappointed by the plan, which is “nowhere near” what other neighboring states are doing," said during a Small Business and the COVID-19 Crisis webinar hosted by NBC10 Boston’s Brian Shactman. 

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