Reopening rules can get pretty detailed

No leash sharing, no beard trimming, only prepackaged cafeteria food

THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION issued new safety standards and protocols on Monday for businesses allowed to reopen under phase one of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.

The standards all place a priority on face coverings, social distancing, hand-washing, sanitizing, and disinfection. They also require businesses to put in place procedures in case an employee contracts the virus and they encourage employers to let workers who are elderly or have underlying conditions to stay home.

All businesses will need to draft a written plan explaining how they will operate without preventing the spread of COVID-19. The businesses do not require prior approval for the plans before opening, but a copy of the plan must be available for inspection. The businesses must also post documents affirming they are in compliance and mount posters explaining to workers and customers the procedures in place.

Enforcement will be carried out by local boards of health, the state Department of Public Health, and the Department of Labor Standards. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said complaints from workers or customers would likely spur inspections, with education and compliance the primary goal. Fines of $300 would only be issued for the third, fourth, and fifth offenses. After that, a cease and desist order is possible.

Here’s the rundown on the businesses opening up:

Construction and manufacturing

Many construction and manufacturing firms are already open, so Monday’s announcement specifies what they need to do to comply and spells out what newly opening firms need to do.

Manufacturers need to reengineer work stations to maintain six feet between operators or install partitions if that can’t be done. Worker common spaces, such as break rooms or eating areas, need to be reconfigured or closed.  Lunch and break times need to be staggered to allow distancing.

Businesses are required to keep a log of any visitor to the facility to enable contact tracing if someone contracts the virus.

For construction firms, a site-specific COVID-19 officer is required who will report whether the contractor and subcontractors are complying with all safety protocols. For larger projects, cities and towns can require a COVID-19 risk analysis and safety plans.

For contractors working on one-to-three family houses, a site-specific COVID-19 officer is not needed if five or fewer employees are working at the site. Instead, one COVID-19 officer can track all the individual projects in a specific town or city and report on them.

“For outside construction sites without ready access to an indoor bathroom, the contractors must either install Wash Stations with hot water, if possible, and soap at fire hydrants or other water sources to be used for frequent handwashing for all onsite employees or provide each employee and subcontractor with a sufficient quantity of hand sanitizer to allow for frequent handwashing,” the protocol states.

Hair salons and barbershops

These close contact businesses will be reopening on May 25, but with very strict safety standards abolishing waiting rooms and requiring customers to make appointments and wait outside or in their car until it’s their turn.

Work stations need to be spaced six feet apart, preferably with partitions between the chairs where feasible.

Customers will need to wear masks, and workers will have to wear gloves, face coverings, gowns, and eyewear, unless a disability prevents them from doing so. The advisory board recommends the usage of disposable capes and smocks–otherwise, gowns must be laundered between each customer use.

Amenities such as magazines, shared coffee pots, and coat rooms are prohibited to prevent infection spreading. Non-hair services, such as beard trimming, lip waxing, eyebrow work, or manicures, are prohibited.

Office spaces

Offices are urged to continue working remotely as much as possible, but if employees do return to the office they can only equal in number 25 percent of the maximum occupancy level.

Cafeterias can only serve prepackaged food and hallways should be marked for one-way traffic to minimize contacts. Meeting sizes should be limited. Six-feet social distancing is required throughout the facility and, if that’s not possible, partitions should be installed between workstations.

Car washes

 The requirements for car washing are pretty standard. Customers should remain in their cars, employees should clean only the outside of cars, and social distancing should be maintained at all times.

 Pet grooming

Aside from the many standard procedures, pet groomers must communicate with clients via telephone or video chat. Owners are not allowed in the store. Pets must be dropped off curb-side and the facility must provide its own leash to avoid contact with the owner’s leash.

Beaches/water sports

Beaches can reopen just in time for Memorial Day weekend on May 25, along with other outdoor recreational spaces, most fishing and boating, and outdoor gardens. Beware the fine print.

On beaches, goers will need to maintain a 12-foot distance between beach groups that can be no larger than 10 people. Beach sports like soccer and volleyball won’t be allowed until around phase three, when some sports with small crowds are allowed.  Playgrounds and community pools won’t be able to open up, with restrictions, until phase two. Spray pools for kids won’t open until at least June 8th, when phase two could begin.


Marijuana retail dispensaries can reopen to take phone and online orders on May 25, and will also make deliveries via curbside pickup. Indoor sales will reopen during phase two with some restrictions. Gov. Charlie Baker earlier ruled marijuana retail establishments as non-essential  because of their potential to attract out-of-state clients; he said on Monday that he is still concerned about that possibility.


While students continue to study and graduate remotely, institutes for higher education will reopen some parts of their campuses in the coming weeks. During phase one, laboratories and medical, dental, and veterinary clinical education services can reopen with social distancing guidelines. Most students will be off for summer break by the time phase two rolls around, but the state has asked each college to develop a plan that involves a combination of in-person and remote learning to allow for social distancing and gradual return to campuses.


Some restaurants have had delivery and take out service for part of the pandemic, which will continue until phase two, when they will be allowed to reopen dining areas.

Hospitals and urgent care centers

Hospitals and health centers can expand ambulatory in-person routine care during phase one, including high priority pediatric care, as long as they have met clinical, safety, and capacity requirements.

Pediatric visits, especially involving missed vaccinations for children, will be prioritized beginning immediately. During the pandemic, there was a 60 percent decline in state-supplied vaccine orders.

Screenings for at-risk patients will begin (colonoscopies for individuals with a family history of cancer, for example). Mammograms for women with previous irregular findings, and biopsies for lesions and potential cancers can start up again, along with placement of implantable contraception.

Post-operative physical therapy has also gotten the blessing to restart. Day programs will open up in phases two and three.


Dentists have been able to perform some emergency procedures during the pandemic, and those will expanded during phase one. Routine dental cleanings won’t be allowed until phase two. Until then, tooth extractions for significant infections have been added to the list of procedures that can be performed.