COVID-19: Quick State by State Reference Tool Regarding Reopening in New England States

Last updated May 29, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its threat to public health from in-person contact, every state in New England issued orders closing or otherwise limiting business operations. As more is known about the spread of the virus, states have begun to develop phased plans to reopen their economies. A summary of the current key orders and various reopening plans is outlined below.

Please note that orders are often extended only shortly before they are set to expire.








State of Emergency Declared

March 10

March 15

March 10

March 13

March 9

March 13

State of Emergency Duration

September 9

June 11

Until rescinded

June 5

June 5

June 15

Price control order in effect






Petroleum and heating fuel onlyβ

Current phase of reopening (start date)

Phase I (May 20)

Phase I (May 1)

Phase I (May 19)

Phase II (May 1)

Phase I (May 9)

Phase VI
(May 18)

In-state movement restriction

Yes, but relaxed

Yes (through May 31)

May 18, but recommended

Yes (through May 31)

Expired, but recommended

Yes (through June 15)

Cross-border travel restriction


14-day quarantine

14-day quarantine


14-day quarantine

14-day quarantine, no travel from hot spots

Masks or coverings in public*






Required for public transportation¥

Essential services list





Critical retail


Can you request a designation?






Only for clarification

β relief available under state’s consumer protection laws
except for healthcare and other essential workers
**compliance with CDC guidance recommended
* where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain
¥ municipalities may enact more strict local requirements regarding mask use
^ only if not covered by the guidance


On April 23, Governor Lamont announced a Reopen Connecticut Advisory made up of local health, business, and education experts that will consult with the administration and legislative leadership with respect to reopening of the state’s economy and schools. Order 7PP outlines Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening, which began on May 20, and opened certain sectors of the state's economy following specific health and safety protocols, including:

Safe Store Rules for retail establishments (Order 7S) are superseded by sector rules for retail and malls. The “safe workplaces” guidance, Order 7Vfor all essential businesses remain in effect unless a business is otherwise subject to sector-specific rules. Guidance on rules for essential businesses is available here, and here for essential retailers.

Effective May 12, Order 7MM modified limits on private clubs, which are now permitted to deliver food prepared on premises and sealed containers of alcoholic liquor directly to consumers, and offer the same for pick-up under the same conditions as permitted for restaurants, except that such sales may only be to their members. The order also allows for municipalities to expedite changes to their zoning rules or other ordinances, suspends and modifies certain permitting and approval processes for outdoor dining and retail, and modifies requirements for liquor service in connection with outdoor dining.

In effect through June 20 are a number of previous orders regarding gathering and business closures. This includes the requirements in Order 7H that all non-essential businesses reduce in-person operations by 100% and utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ, except where amended by Order 7PP to permit operations of additional businesses.

Also still in place are the limits not otherwise amended (by Order 7PP or those referenced above) on restaurants, bars, and private clubs and required closure of gyms, movie theaters, and other recreation facilities provided for in Orders 7D, Order 7F closing places of public amusement, and Order 7N, limiting the entrance of customers to any restaurant or eating establishment to the minimum extent necessary to pick up and/or pay for their orders. It also requires that retail establishments allowed to remain open take reasonable measures to ensure customers maintain six feet of distance between each other, and manage any resulting lines to maintain such distance while people are waiting to enter. Sections of Order 7N regarding large shopping malls and restrictions on retail are repealed via Order 7PP. The order also limits firearms transactions (which require the customer’s physical presence) to be conducted by appointment only. These orders remain in effect until June 20. Summer camps will be permitted to open effective June 22, following soon-to-be-issued sector guidance.

Connecticut’s state of emergency and price controls for designated goods are currently in effect through September 9, 2020.


On April 29, Order 49 incorporated by reference Governor Janet Mills’ Restarting Plan, consisting of four phases, to be based on calendar months in order to allow for time to assess the effectiveness of the precautions put in place and provide a predictable timeframe for the impacted businesses. Notably, the phases of reopening are not based on essential vs. non-essential designations, but instead will focus on easing restrictions based on health and safety considerations.

Order 55, effective May 31, allows for the gradual easing of many previous restrictions, in turn ushering in Phase 2 of the reopening, slated to begin June 1. Both Order 55 and Phase 2 contemplate a continued prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people and keeps in place the 14-day quarantine on people entering Maine from Order 34. Additional guidance on large social gatherings is available here, and for public and community buildings here. All businesses that have been open may remain open in Phase 2, in addition to those listed below (with links to sector-specific guidance):

Order 55 also clarifies that effective June 5, places of business accessible to the public must post signs notifying customers of the requirement to wear cloth face coverings where physical distancing is not possible, and also allows businesses to deny entry or service to a person not wearing a mark. Unless modified by Phase 2, all restrictions from Phase 1 remain in place. Note that the sector-specific guidance for Phase 1 has been updated as recently as May 27.

Phase 1, which started on May 1, built on previous orders allowing essential businesses. Phase 1 continued to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people and called for people to continue working from home if able to do so. It also required construction firms to deploy additional PPE, reduce the size of work crews, and stagger shifts to minimize interaction between teams. With appropriate safety precautions, including maintenance of 6 feet of physical distance and the wearing of masks where such distance cannot be maintained, the following businesses were also allowed to open (with links to sector-specific guidance):

Our alert on the business checklists can be found here. Fitness and exercise gyms, initially categorized in Stage 2, were permitted to open for outdoor classes of 10 or less, and one-on-one personal training inside fitness centers is also permitted. An overview of the plan can be accessed here, and our alert can be found here.

Under the state’s Rural Reopening Plan retail stores and restaurants in certain counties were permitted to open for in-store and dine-in service with enhanced safety precautions. Remote campsites as well as sporting camps are also permitted to reopen with public health safeguards in these counties, although quarantine requirements remain in place. Restaurants in these same counties were permitted to open on Monday, May 18, 2020 with added health and safety precautions. Our analysis of the plan is available here.

Phase 3 is slated to begin in July and run through August. Phase 3 will include the opening of bars, lodging (including hotels and campgrounds), outdoor recreation (including summer camps and charter boats and excursions of less than 50 people), and personal services (including spas, tattoos and piercing parlors, massage facilities, and cosmetologists and estheticians). Additional sector-specific information will be available in June. Currently, Phase 3 maintains the prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people and the 14-day quarantine on people entering Maine.

The Governor also established, via Order 51, an Economic Recovery Committee charged with developing recommendations to mitigate the damage to Maine’s economy caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to jumpstart a long-term economic recovery for Maine people, businesses, and organizations. A preliminary report from the Committee focused on stabilizing and supporting the economy is due no later than July 15, 2020, and delivery of a final report on sustaining and renewing growing of the economy long-term by December 1, 2020. The Committee held its first meeting on May 15.

Maine’s state of emergency and price controls are currently in effect through June 11, 2020.


On May 11, Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-phase plan for reopening, including new standards to apply to all workplaces when the reopening begins. During Phase 1 (“Start”), limited industries will resume operations with severe restrictions. In Phase 2 (“Cautious”), additional industries will resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits. Phase 3 (“Vigilant”) will see additional industries resume operations with guidance, and the resumption of a “New Normal” will occur in Phase 4 with the development of a vaccine and/or therapy. Governor Baker stressed that decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics, and that if metrics fall below thresholds, the state may move back to a prior phase.

On May 18, Governor Baker released the Reopening Advisory Board’s Reopening Plan, effectuated by Order 33, commencing Phase 1 of the Reopening. Beginning May 18, places of worship may open in accordance with safety protocols, including an occupancy limit of 40% of a buildings permitted capacity and maintenance of social distancing protocols. The Essential Services list, updated on March 31, remains current and in effect. Essential business already operating must certify compliance with safety standards by May 25, and new guidance was issued for expanded manufacturing and construction operations. Our update on construction is available here. Further, hospitals and community health centers can, upon attestation, provide high priority preventive care, pediatric care, and treatment for high risk patients and conditions. Beaches are currently only open for transitory activity with no parking. Phase 1 does not include any changes to operation of public transportation.

The following businesses will be able to open on May 25 (with links to sector-specific guidance):

  • Laboratories
  • Office Space (not until June 1 for Boston)
  • Limited personal services, including hair salons, pet grooming, and carwashes
  • Retail (for curbside pick-up transactions)
  • Beaches, parks, and drive-in theaters
  • Some athletic fields and courts, outdoor adventure activities
  • Most fishing, hunting and boating, Outdoor gardens, zoos, researches, and public installations
  • Additional health care providers

Our detailed discussion of this plan can be found here. The mandatory safety standards developed for Phase 1 are applicable to all sectors and industries, and include guidance on social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting. These standards will be supplemented by sector-specific safety protocols and recommended best practices providing further details and limited exceptions. A summary of businesses and opening by phase is available here.

Otherwise still in effect is Governor  Baker’s initial Order Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services, ordering all businesses with “brick and mortar” premises to close unless they are designated as essential services or otherwise opened or modified through the orders described above. The order expressly encouraged all non-essential businesses to continue to operate if they are able to do so through remote means. Also in effect is Order No. 13 (extended via subsequent orders) limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people except for gatherings in an unenclosed outdoor space.

Massachusetts’s state of emergency, and the related price controls are in effect until rescinded by the Governor.

New Hampshire

On March 27, 2020, New Hampshire was the last state in New England to issue a closure order with Emergency Order #17, which required all businesses not identified as providing “essential services” to close their physical workspaces to facilities, workers, customers, and the public, and cease all in-person operations. On May 1, Governor Chris Sununu announced, via Emergency Order 40, modifications to its stay at home order, in effect through May 31, and provided for a phased opening of the state’s economy. Notably, Order 40 supersedes all provisions of Order 17. Order 40 requires all businesses providing essential services (see Exhibit A for a revised list) or otherwise permitted to resume operations pursuant to the order to comply with additional health and safety guidelines outlined in Exhibit B of the order. These guidelines require employers to develop a process of screening all employees reporting for work for COVID-19 symptoms, to promote hygiene and implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, and requires employees to wear masks or cloth face coverings. Businesses in need of disposable masks may submit a form to request masks at no cost from state.

As of May 1, industries that can continue to operate with this guidance include public and private campgrounds, state parks, and manufacturing. On May 4, certain healthcare services may resume their services, provided that each facility ensures there are enough resources available including PPE, a healthy workforce, supplies, and medications so as not to jeopardize current care or surge capacity. The following industries are now able to phase-in or expand services:

Guidance for restaurants is available here. Restaurants will be permitted to offer or expand outside wherever an outdoor area can be set up safely. Outdoor areas must be able to be cleaned and disinfected, and must be clearly delineated and distanced from the general public. Critically, if expansion is in a shared space, restaurants must coordinate and seek approval from local authorities. Indoor seating is not permitted during phase 1. Other openings starting May 18 include outdoor attractions, child care, and equestrian facilities.

As of May 22, amateur and youth sports (including athletic leagues and team training) and child care operations could begin operating. As of June 1, beaches and additional personal services may begin operations, including acupuncture, body art, cosmetology, health and fitness, and massage. Note that the guidance for beaches includes state and town-specific guidance and outlines enforcement coordination. All sector-specific guidance is in addition to the state’s universal guidelines, CDC guidance for business and employers, and CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection.

New Hampshire’s state of emergency is currently in effect through June 5, 2020.

Rhode Island

Phase 1 of Governor Raimondo’s three-phased “Reopen RI” framework officially began on May 9 with Executive Order 20-32. Additional details for Phase 1, including guidance for retail, offices, restaurants, and health care providers, were released on May 4, with general business guidelines available here. In the first phase, the stay at home order is lifted, but social gatherings are still limited to no more than 5 people, and everyone who can work from home should continue to do so. Elective medical procedures may resume under safety guidelines, and those who have deferred healthcare needs are encouraged to reach out to their medical professionals, encouraging the use of telehealth for specialty providers. Some parks and golf courses will open, and previously-closed noncritical retailers may reopen with capacity restrictions. Dining options for restaurants will begin to expand throughout Phase 1, potentially including outdoor dining. Guidance for religious and faith-based services includes a limit of up to 5 persons for all ceremonies, except for funerals and end of life rituals, which allow up to 10 attendees. Nursing homes, assisted living and other congregate care facilities will remain closed to visitors, as do close-contact businesses, including haircutters, personal services, gyms and other fitness studios, recreation and entertainment businesses, and large gathering and events. As part of the reopening, all businesses, including those that are currently operating, are required to develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how their workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. By May 18, all operating businesses must sign a checklist indicating compliance with the state’s plan. Also beginning on May 18, restaurants may begin limited outdoor dining in addition to pick-up, delivery, and done-in options.

Executive Order 20-35 introduced guidance for summer camps, including a limit of 15 people consisting of up to 14 campers. This order is in effect until June 20.

Phase II is expected to being in early June, although no specific date has been selected. In addition to the general guidelines for any operating business, the following changes will occur in Phase II, with links to specific guidance and restrictions (all of which supplement Phase I guidance):

  • Social gatherings limited to 15 people and travel restrictions relaxed to require 14-day quarantine only for those returning to RI from an area still under stay at home restrictions
  • Office-based businesses can allow up to 33% of their workforce to return
  • State parks and beaches will be open with capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions; outdoor entertainment and recreation activities allowed to resume on a limited basis.
  • Houses of worship can reopen at up to 25% capacity
  • Non-critical retailers can further relax restrictions to allow for more customers in their stores. Malls can reopen
  • Restaurants will be allowed to begin indoor dining at up to 50% capacity
  • Personal services including barbershops, salons, braiders, nail care, waxing, tanning, massage, and tattoo services may reopen following compliance with specific preparations
  • Gyms and fitness centers allowed to reopen. Child care services to resume June 1; summer camps and small group youth sports to resume June 29

Executive Order 20-24 requiring that all employees of the following business types wear cloth face coverings: customer-facing (including retail stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, liquor stores, banks, etc.), office-based, manufacturing, construction, food service, and all other businesses continuing in-person operations not granted an exemption.

The state’s cross-border travel restriction requiring travelers coming into Rhode Island from another state for a non-essential purpose (except for public health, public safety, and healthcare workers) to self-quarantine for 14 days. A further quarantine order was issued on April 9, and has been extended through June 5.

Rhode Island’s state of emergency and price controls are currently in effect through June 5, 2020.


Vermont had the narrowest list in New England of exceptions for businesses that could remain open during its declared state of emergency, and as such is further along in its phased re-opening of the state’s economy.

Phase 6 of the state’s Restart, announced via amendment to Addendum 6, begins on May 18 and allows for limited resumption of retail operations which were not deemed critical under the initial Stay Home/Stay Safe order. Phased resumption of business operations will begin with non-essential retail, and mitigation requirements and procedures issued by the Secretary will require implementation of appropriate occupancy limits and physical distancing, health and sanitation, and training measures. All close-contact businesses, including gyms and fitness centers, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors (Addendum 4) remain closed until otherwise permitted.

As of May 22, Addendum 15 allows restaurants to open for outdoor dining only, although take-out service remains preferred. Additional restrictions include the requirement that tables are spaced 10 feet apart, and members of only 2 households, and a total of 10 people, may be seated at the same table. Bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, cideries and tasting rooms may offer outdoor beverage service in compliance with this outdoor dining guidance. Effective May 29, hair salons and barber shops may reopen with 25% capacity or total of 10 customers and staff combined, whichever is greater. Effective May 23, religious facilities and places of worship may resume operations, subject to physical distancing. As of May 22, interior residential and commercial construction may occur in occupied structures. Updates to the state’s Be Smart, Stay Safe order are posted here.

An amendment to Addendum 3 allowed for the phased restart of elective medical and surgical procedures as of May 15, provided that all providers in the region to return to the standards set out in Addendum 3. Addendum 14 modified previous orders regarding lodging operations, now permitting the limited resumption of hotels, inns, short term rentals (including VRBO and AirBnb), public and private camping facilities, and other lodging operations provided that the lodging is for vulnerable populations, healthcare or other critical workers, quarantines arranged by the state, or Vermont residents or others who certify compliance with the state’s 14-day quarantine protocols.

Modifications to the state’s Stay Home/Stay Safe order via Addendum 12 allow for:

  • Crews of 10 or fewer employees per job location to perform outdoor work and construction work;
  • Manufacturing and distribution operations to resume with a maximum of 10 employees in any location if they adhere to social distancing;
  • Manufacturing, construction and distribution operations to restart with as few employees as necessary to permit full operations; and

The order also requires additional health and safety requirements for employees, including pre-screening and temperature checks and VOSHA developed health and safety training.

Additional modifications in Addendum 13 allows gatherings of 10 or fewer people for recreation and fitness with low or no direct physical contact and gatherings of the same size for limited social interactions, preferable in outdoor settings to allow for greater physical distancing. It also allows inter-household socializing by permitting members of one household to gather with members of another trusted household, provided that health and safety precautions are followed as much as possible. Beginning May 7, businesses, non-profit, and government entities that support or offer outdoor recreation and outdoor fitness activities with low or no direct physical contact were permitted to begin operations. Such businesses include state and municipal parks, recreation associations, trail networks, golf courses, big game check stations, and guided expeditions. Critically, campgrounds, marinas and beaches are not permitted to open under this order. The Addendum included additional health and safety guidelines for the now-allowed activities, and specifically notes that businesses and entities deemed critical may continue to operate under pre-existing guidance.

The state’s restrictions on travel from out of state remain in place, including the 14-day quarantine for any person travelling into Vermont for anything other than an essential purpose and instruction for visitors displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or otherwise travelling from areas identified as COVID-19 hotspots, including Florida, Louisiana, Detroit, Chicago, and New York City.

Vermont’s state of emergency is currently in effect through June 15, 2020.

For questions on how these orders affect your business, please contact firm attorneys Kathleen HamannAndrea MakerMark RosenMelanie ConroySteve MacGillivray, or Sarah Remes.



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