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

Last updated October 28, 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 developed phased plans to reopen their economies. A summary of the current key orders and various reopening plans is outlined below. Our alert regarding travel restrictions and quarantine requirements throughout New England is available here.

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

 

CT

ME

MA

NH

RI

VT

State of Emergency Declared

March 10

March 15

March 10

March 13

March 9

March 13

State of Emergency Duration

Feb. 9, 2021

October 29

Until rescinded

October 30

November 2

November 15

Price control order in effect

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/Aβ

Yes

Petroleum and heating fuel onlyβ

Current phase of reopening (start date)

Phase III (October 8)

Phase IV (October 13)

Phase II, Step 2 (October 5)

Phase II (May 1)

Phase III (June 30)

Phase VI
(May 15)

In-state movement restriction

Expired, but recommended

Yes, but relaxed

Expired, but recommended

Expired, but recommended

Yes, for vulnerable populations

Yes, but relaxed

Cross-border travel restriction

14-day quarantine or negative test if from hotspot

14-day quarantine or testing (certain states exempt)

14-day quarantine or negative test unless from low risk state

None**

14-day quarantine or negative test if from hotspot

14-day quarantine, or 7-day and negative test (except for counties in certain states)

Masks or coverings in public*

Required

Required

Required

Recommended

Required

Required for public transportation¥

Essential services list

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Critical retail

Yes

β relief available under state’s consumer protection laws
see our alert on travel restrictions for additional requirements and exemptions
**compliance with CDC guidance recommended
* where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain
¥ municipalities may enact more strict local requirements regarding mask use

Connecticut

Phase 3 of Connecticut’s reopening plan began on October 8. Governor Lamont announced the following capacity restrictions for Phase 3:

  • Restaurants, personal services, hair salons, barber shops, and libraries: increase from 50% to 75% capacity indoors, subject to COVID-19 safety requirements linked below
  • Outdoor event venues (e.g. amphitheaters, race tracks, etc.): increase from 25% to 50% capacity for, with masks and social distancing requirements
  • Indoor performing arts venues: open at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing requirements, only seated audiences allowed, and no service of food or beverages
  • Private social and recreational activities: indoor at commercial / business establishments can operate at 50% capacity, capped at 100 people (outdoor capped at 150 people); private residence capped at 25 people indoor, 150 people outdoor. Guidance for indoor events excludes back-of-house staff from the 100 person indoor event limit
  • Graduations: indoors at 50% capacity, capped at 200 people, with masks and social distancing; outdoor 50% capacity with no cap, masks and social distancing required
  • Religious gatherings: indoors at 50% capacity, capped at 200 people, with masks and social distancing; outdoor limited to the number of people that can be accommodated safely by the venue, masks and social distancing required
  • Bars and nightclubs will continue to remain closed.

Order 9G provides municipalities with authority to revert back to pre-Phase 3 gathering and capacity limits for certain types of businesses in instances of increased COVID-19 spread within the community. A comparison of capacity rules from Phase 2 and Phase 3 is available here. Sector guidance is also available for the following businesses, updated for Phase 3:

Order 9B, effective September 15, authorizes local officials, including state and municipal police officers and public safety departments of high education institutions to issue fines for certain violations of COVID-related orders and regulations, including (a) a $100 fine for violations of the mask requirements pursuant to Order 7NNN and other sector rules; (b) a $500 fine for violations by persons or businesses who organize, host, or sponsor a gathering in violation of size restrictions pursuant to Order 7ZZ, 7NNN, and sector guidance for venues and events, and (c) a $250 fine for persons who attend such gatherings.

Social clubs must follow all rules applicable to the specific operation, such as restaurants and pools. Phase 2 also includes revised guidance for museums, zoos, and aquariums. Effective July 24, fairs, festivals, and carnivals may operate at 25% capacity of last year’s attendance.

Unless otherwise modified by sector-specific guidance, essential business rules from Order 7PP are extended for the duration of the emergency unless otherwise modified. Guidance for other businesses open from Phase 1, including offices and retail & malls,  has also been updated.

The “safe workplaces” guidance (Order 7V) for essential businesses remains 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. General business rules applicable to university research and outdoor recreation activities, are available here. All businesses subject to Phase 1 and Phase 2 reopening rules that did not already certify during Phase 1 must self-certify compliance with safety guidelines prior to opening.

Trails and state parks are also open (Order 7R), and state campgrounds began a phased opening on July 1. Beaches are partially open, subject to guidance from individual towns. Summer camps were permitted to open effective June 22, with youth camps limited to a group size of not more than 14 (Order 7Q). For childcare, the limit on group size is now also 14, and health screening procedures have been updated to no longer require temperature screenings for children and staff. Order 7AAA requires COVID-19 testing for staff of private and municipal nursing home facilities, managed residential communities, and assisted living services agencies. Guidance for senior centers is also available. 

Note that all orders issued pursuant to the Governor’s initial state of emergency that had not yet expired were deemed reissued under Order 9A. Please refer to our alert on updated travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance. Connecticut’s state of emergency and price controls for designated goods are currently in effect through February 9, 2021.

Maine

On October 13, Maine entered Phase 4 of its Restarting Plan via Order 14. Phase 4 increases limits on indoor seating to 50% capacity of permitted occupancy, or 100 people, whichever is less, and maintains all public health measures outlined in the sector-specific checklists. This increase in seated capacity applies to businesses that serve people through seated activities, including restaurants, religious gatherings, and movie theaters. Capacity for non-seated activities will remain at 50 persons indoor and 100 outdoor. Retailers will remain subject to the occupancy limit of 5 people per 1,000 square feet of shopping space. This order amends and replaces previous guidance on indoor gathering size from Order 55. Indoor service for bars and tasting rooms may begin November 2.

The Order also clarifies and extends Order 49 (and the subsequent strengthening order) regarding face coverings, broadening its application to the entire state, rather than just to more populous cities. The Order also requires places such as private schools and local government buildings to have their employees and clients wear face coverings, similar to the requirements for restaurants, lodging, and retail establishments. Please see our alert for more information on Maine’s Phase 4 plans, and our alert on Maine’s recent extension of its state of emergency.

Unless modified for Phase 4, guidance is still in place from prior phases for the following businesses (updated for Phase 4 as applicable):

  • Retail businesses
  • Restaurants: updated guidelines require COVID-19 symptom screening for staff, encouragement of mask wearing for seated customers when waitstaff is present at the table, and monitoring of areas on the premises not used for food service
    • Note that any business offering prepared food or drink must follow applicable provisions of restaurant guidance for that service

Maine has also issued guidance for businesses with seasonal activities such as apple or pumpkin picking, haunted houses, craft fairs, and sleigh rides. Otherwise still in place is the guidance from Phase 2, which began on June 1 via Order 55. All essential businesses and businesses that opened in Phase 1 could remain open in Phase 2, and Phase 2 permitted employees in legal and professional fields to return to offices, including State employees. Order 55 also clarified that 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 mask. 

Our alert about changes to restaurant and retail guidance is available here and here for town meetings.

Phase 1, which started on May 1, required construction firms to deploy additional PPE, reduce the size of work crews, and stagger shifts to minimize interaction between teams. Updated guidance for in-home services, including electricians, plumbers, cleaners, and installers, is available here. 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 updated throughout Phases 2 and 3):

Please refer to our alert on travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance. Maine’s state of emergency and price controls are currently in effect through October 29, 2020.  Our alert on Maine’s recent extension of its state of emergency is available here.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is now in Phase 3 of its four-phase plan for reopening. Governor Baker has 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 October 22, the Department of Public Health issued guidance for indoor skating rinks and ice hockey, prohibiting the hosting of games, practices, or other on-ice activities through November 7, except for professional and collegiate programs, which may continue on-ice activities. Effective October 5, lower-risk communities were permitted to enter Step 2 of Phase 3 of the reopening pursuant to Order 51. The following sectors are eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in those communities:

Also in effect as of October 5 is Order 52, the revised gathering order. The Order makes clear that all indoor and outdoor events are required to comply with the following limitations of the order and sector-specific guidance:

  • Indoor gatherings at all venues and locations limited to 25 people
  • Outdoor gatherings at private residences limited to 50 people
  • Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings
    • Lower Risk Communities: up to 100 people
    • Communities that do not qualify as lower risk: up to 50 people

Our write up of the two orders, including additional details and exemptions, is available here. Step 2 guidance for restaurants still requires face coverings to be worn by customers unless seated, with tables positioned to maintain at least 6 feet of dance from other tables, with party size at tables limited to 10 people. Bar seating is permitted with proper distance or barriers in place. Step 2 guidance for close contact personal services still generally requires face coverings on all customers and workers, separation of 6 feet between all persons where possible and between workspaces, with a partition required if spacing cannot otherwise be maintained. Golf facilities are also permitted to operate at 50% of building capacity, with no more than 10 persons per 1,000 sq ft in any enclosed space.

Per Order 45, employers should take measures to ensure employees comply with all state-issued travel rules for out of state travel, and employers are discouraged from requiring or allowing out of state travel to or from non-low risk states. Step 2 Phase 3 guidance for lodging operators continues the requirement to inform guests of the current travel guidance. Our alert on the travel order, effective August 1, is available here.

Order 50, effective September 10 extends the ability of cities and towns to approve requests for expanded outdoor table service past November 1, 2020 as well as approvals previously granted pursuant to earlier orders. The order also permits the opening of indoor and outdoor gaming arcades effective September 17, and includes an amended Schedule A to Order 43 to reflect the change. The Department of Public Health has also issued updated guidance for farmers markets and farm stands.

Still in effect, unless impacted by Step 2 Phase 3 guidance, is the Step 1 guidance from Order 43, which first moved Massachusetts into Phase 3 of the Reopening Plan. Guidance for offices in still in place, with capacity increased to 50% of building’s maximum occupancy, with no enclosed space to exceed 10 people per 1,000 sq ft, and employees continuing to telework where feasible, particularly in more densely populated areas like Boston.

Phase 2 began on June 8 via Order 35 and Order 37. Step 2 of Phase 2 began on June 22 with the issuance of Order 40. The previously-developed mandatory safety standards are still applicable to all sectors and industries, and include guidance on social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting. Governor Baker has also issued an Order authorizing re-opening preparations for child care programs, and Order 49 authorizing expansion of some child-care programs to supervise children engaged in engaged learning. The Essential Services list, updated on April 28, remains current and in effect.

Since May 25, the following businesses have been able to operate (with links to sector-specific guidance): laboratories and additional health care providers, hair salons, pet grooming, and carwashes, beaches, pools, and drive-in theaters, campgrounds, and parks and outdoor space, including athletic fields and courts, community gardens, outdoor education and art installations, recreational and for-hire and charter boating, and zoos.

Order 33 launched Phase 1 of the Reopening. Places of worship were permitted to reopen and must continue to operate in accordance with continuously updated safety guidance, including occupancy limits. Essential business already operating were required certify compliance with safety standards by May 25, and new guidance continues to be issued for manufacturing and construction operations. Further, hospitals and community health centers could, upon attestation, resume offering some of their services.

Otherwise still in effect is Governor Baker’s initial Order regarding continued operation of essential services, which orders all businesses with “brick and mortar” premises to operate only by remote means unless they are designated as essential or permitted to open through the orders described above.

Please refer to our alert on the current travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance in New England and our alert on the Commonwealth’s travel order, effective August 1. Massachusetts’s state of emergency and price controls are in effect until rescinded by the Governor.

New Hampshire

On March 27, New Hampshire became 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.

Order 52 requires all businesses operating in the state to comply with the state’s Universal Guidelines, updated most recently on October 6 (see below), in addition to any applicable industry-specific guidelines. Our write-up of the revised universal guidelines is available here. Businesses in need of disposable masks may submit a form to request masks at no cost from state. Order 52 is in effect until October 1, per Order 66.  Businesses in need of disposable masks may submit a form to request masks at no cost from state. Order 52 and all other orders issued pursuant to the state of emergency are in effect until November 15, per Order 70. Businesses not deemed essential or not otherwise provided with specific guidance remain closed.

On October 6, Addendum A of the universal guidelines was again revised with guidance for the following industries updated as indicated below:

  • Community Arts & Music Education: class size limited to permit social distancing of 6 feet (more for singing or wind instruments), with performances and exhibitions following performing arts guidelines
  • Drive-In Movie Theatres: may operate at full capacity with 10ft between vehicles, supplement restrooms with portable toilets
  • Driver’s Education: in-person classes limited to permit social distancing; masks required for behind the wheel training, in-car time limited to maximum of 60 minutes
  • Equestrian Facilities: lesson and spectator size limited to permit social distancing
  • Funeral Homes: capacity limited to permit social distancing; Sept. 29 update clarifies that household family members may sit together but must be 6 feet from other groups
  • Golf Courses: each area must follow guidance that aligns with its activities (ex: pro shop to follow retail guidance), no rental or sharing of clubs is permitted
  • Libraries: capacity limited to permit social distancing
  • Museums & Art Galleries: admission limited to permit social distancing, guided tours capped at 10 people
  • Seacoast Beaches (new as of September 29): open, with social distance required; towns and NH state parks permitted to develop and implement more restrictive guidelines
  • Outdoor Attractions (activities of < 10 people, not amusement parks)
  • State Parks: no water bubblers or fountains

In early May, the following openings were permitted (with additional guidance since replaced by Addendum A of the universal guidelines): manufacturing, certain healthcare services, retail stores, barbers and hair salons, and dentists.

Guidance for places of worship requires social distance of 6 feet between parties, with building capacity limited to 50% or lower to maintain proper distancing, and lodging operations require social distance and adherence to quarantine and travel requirements for out of state visitors. Additional guidance for new or relaxed operations (some updated as recently as September 24) includes:

Updated guidance is also available for the following: ski areasadult day services, amusement parks, arts and music education, fairs and festivals, movie theaters, and performing arts venues.

Also currently open, with updated guidance, are child care and amateur and youth sports (including athletic leagues and team training). Guidance is also available for personal services, including acupuncture, body art, cosmetology, and massage. All sector-specific guidance is also in addition to CDC guidance for business and employers, and CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection. Numerical limits on gatherings have also expired, except as contained in the sector-specific guidance. Order 65 details enforcement mechanisms of all COVID-related orders and regulations, including a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation or day that a violation continues.

Please refer to our alert on travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance. New Hampshire’s state of emergency is currently in effect through October 30, 2020.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island entered Phase 3 of its Reopen RI Plan on June 30 via Order 20-50, continued most recently through October 28 via Order 20-79. The Order makes no substantive changes to the restrictions already in place during Phase 3. Order 20-81 again extended the requirement for wearing cloth face coverings in public (Order 20-60) through November 2.

Rhode Island recently issued tips for a safer holiday season and Halloween, as well as guidance specifically for autumn-related recreational activities, effective September 25. This guidance clarifies the following gathering limits from Order 20-67 for social and public events and other public interaction during Phase 3:

  • Social gatherings (such as weddings, parties, networking events):
    • Indoor: limit of 15 people; events with a licensed caterer can have up to 50 people
    • Outdoor: limit of 15 people; events with a licensed caterer can have up to 100 people
  • Public events and venues of assembly (such as performances, festivals):
    • Indoor: limit of 125 people, or up to 66% capacity with six-foot spacing between people
    • Outdoor: limit of 250 people, or up to 66% capacity with six-foot spacing between people
    • Organizations are required to submit a plan to the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) for any event at which there will be more than 250 in attendance
  • Other places of public interaction (such as retail, restaurants, gyms, museums, close-contact business, office-based businesses, parks, beaches):
    • Indoor venues operating at a percent capacity in a previous phase can increase up to 66% capacity while keeping six-foot spacing between people
    • Indoor venues operating at a square footage capacity in a previous phase can increase to up to one person per 100 square feet while keeping six-foot spacing between people.

Guidance for farmer’s markets was revised as of October 14. The following updated sector-specific guidance is also in place:

Highlights of Phase 3 guidance are available here. Also currently open, with updated guidance are: state parks and beaches, open with capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions (additional guidance for parks, campgrounds, and RV parks), outdoor activities (including pools and lifeguards, marinas and charter boats, and youth and adult sports), casinos, recreation and cultural activities (including golf, museums, arcades, and zoos, among others), and child care services. Guidance for cooling centers is available here and here for emergency shelters. Visitation continues to be restricted for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Guidance is also available for OHA community gathering, communal living for seasonal workers, and youth congregate care settings, as well as for healthcare and dental providers.

As part of the state’s 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.  Rhode Island has also issued updated school-aged guidance for Fall 2020, a K-12 Playbook, health and safety guidance for elementary and secondary schools, guidance for colleges, universities, and boarding schools, and for adult classes. The state recently released best-practice guidance for operation of school facilities and guidelines for ventilation.

Still in effect, unless supplemented by Phase 2 or 3 guidance, are the restrictions from Phase 1, which began on May 9 pursuant to Order 20-32, as are the general business guidelines from Phase 2. In the first phase, the stay at home order was lifted, but everyone who can work from home is encouraged to do so through Phase 3. Elective medical procedures also resumed under applicable safety guidelines.

Please refer to our alert on travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance, including the new quarantine order, Order 20-71, effective September 3. Rhode Island’s state of emergency and price controls are currently in effect through November 2, 2020.

Vermont

Phase 6 of the state’s Restart began on May 18 and allowed for limited resumption of retail operations not deemed critical under the initial Stay Home/Stay Safe order. Addendum 16 relaxed restrictions on large gatherings and close-contact businesses as of June 1, including gyms and fitness centers, nail salons and spas, and tattoo parlors. Campgrounds and marinas may operate at 100% capacity following health and safety practice and in accordance with the state’s travel and quarantine requirements.

All open businesses must comply with the state’s health and safety requirements, including observing social distancing on the job to the extent possible, wearing face coverings, and screening workers at the beginning of each shift. An August 14 Addendum to Order 01-20 clarifies that cities and towns may enact and enforce limits on gathering size that are more restrictive than those established be the state, so be sure to check local restrictions as well.

Restaurants must allow for 6 feet of distance between seated parties, and customers required to be seated while consuming food or beverages. Bar seating is now permitted only if a physical barrier, such as a piece of plexiglass, separates the patrons from bartenders and the drink preparation area  Indoor dining has been permitted since June 8, although bar seating remains closed. Restaurants are also required to maintain a log of customers and their contact information for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required.

Restaurants, bars, and other food service and indoor venues for arts, culture and entertainment can expand capacity for events and dining to 50% of approved occupancy size or one person per 100 square feet of customer-facing space, up to a maximum of 75 people indoors and 150 people outdoors or the maximum licensed seating capacity, whichever is less.

The guidance for indoor venues includes new rules specifically for large indoor businesses (those with over 17,100 sq ft of space with no full walls interrupting the space) may have up to 150 people, so long as 6 feet of social distance is maintained, capacity remains below 50% of occupancy limits, and the group of 150 must be broken into separate units not to exceed 75 persons each, with no mixing between groupings permitted. Notably, vendors do not count towards the limit on person size (indoor or outdoor) for any event venue, regardless of size.

This gathering size applies to all sectors, including low or no contact professional services and businesses (although remote work is still required wherever possible), lodging and camping, social clubs, outdoor recreation, and social gatherings generally. Event venues, including large outdoor venues for sports or concerts, may be able to exceed the 150 maximum limit by creating multiple distinct event locations that meet the event criteria, provided that the distinct locations are separated by a physical barrier and have separate parking, concessions, restrooms, and entrances and exits. Banking and non-essential retail operations may operate at the greater of 50% capacity, 1 customer per 200 square feet, or 10 total customer and staff combined.

Hair salons and barber shops are subject to a capacity limit equal to the greater of 25% capacity, 1 customer per 200 square feet, or 10 total customer and staff combined. The same restrictions are in place for other close contact personal services, as well as gyms and fitness centers, which also have a limit of 25 people in any single, distinct indoor space. Religious facilities and places of worship are open, subject to physical distancing either by limiting capacity to 50% or 1 person per 100 square feet, and interior residential and commercial construction may occur in occupied structures.

Addendum 5 to Order 01-20, effective September 11, clarifies that the state’s requirement regarding masks or cloth face coverings in public spaces, indoor and outdoor, wherever close contact of less than 6 feet is unavoidable does not apply during strenuous exercise or activity when physical distance of 6 feet can be maintained, or for anyone under the age of 2. Businesses must make customers aware of this requirement and may decline entry or service to customers who do not wear masks or facial coverings. This order is applicable to all businesses unless alternatives are provided for in specific circumstances by sector specific guidance.

Guidance has also been issued for the following:

  • Childcare and school-aged summer camps
  • Indoor arts and culture, including libraries, galleries, museums, and theaters
  • Overnight summer camps
  • Organized sports: guidance varies based on type of sport, proximity of players, and frequency of contact; face coverings required for all players, coaches, officials, staff, and spectators where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained, effective September 8, unless masking inhibits a referee or official’s ability to officiate; large indoor venues over 17,100 sq ft may accommodate up to 150 people indoors (per guidance for large indoor venues)
  • Lodging: permits booking of 100% of rooms, with operators requiring a signed or checked document from guests attesting they meet the quarantine requirements (same for camps and RV parks)

Additional updates to the state’s Be Smart, Stay Safe order are posted here. A quick-look of open businesses is available here. On July 29, Governor Scott also signed a directive regarding school reopening.  Guidance for colleges and universities is available here.

Also still in effect is Addendum 12, which permits crews of up to 10 employees per job location to perform outdoor and construction work, allows manufacturing and distribution operations to resume with up to 10 employees in any location if they adhere to social distancing, and for previously closed manufacturing, construction, and distribution operations to restart with as few employees as necessary to permit full operations. An amendment to Addendum 3 began the phased restart of elective medical and surgical procedures as of May 15 in accordance with the standards set out in Addendum 3.  Guidance is also available for pet and animal care and veterinarians.

Outdoor recreation and fitness is allowed, as are the outdoor recreation businesses that support or offer such activities with low or no direct physical contact, including state and municipal parks, recreation associations, trail networks, golf courses, big game check stations, and guided expeditions. Beaches are only permitted to open if they can comply with general guidance for outdoor recreation.

Please refer to our alert on travel requirements for quarantine and travel guidance. Vermont’s state of emergency is currently in effect through November 15, 2020.

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

 

RECENT UPDATES AND DIRECTORY OF COVID-19 ATTORNEYS & RESOURCES

With so much information, so many decisions and so little time to address issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic, you need help at your fingertips. Click here for our most recent updates and a directory of Pierce Atwood COVID-19 attorneys who are knowledgeable on the various questions and challenges you may be confronting.

We will continue to add information about specific topics so please check back frequently!

Please contact your principal attorney at Pierce Atwood or one of the attorneys in the directory for immediate assistance.