Massachusetts Orders Workplace Closures and Restricts Gatherings of More Than 10


By: Alexander Pyle

March 24, 2020

On March 23, 2020, Governor Baker issued an order requiring non-essential businesses to close their physical workplaces, commencing at 12:00 noon on March 24, 2020 and continuing until 12:00 noon on April 7, 2020.  The order also generally prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people throughout the Commonwealth.  A copy of the Governor’s order is available at  Here are some of the specifics of the order:

  • Businesses and other organizations that provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” are urged to continue operations, including in-person operations, but to do so with allowance for social distancing protocols consistent with guidance from the Department of Public Health. COVID-19 Essential Services are defined in an exhibit to the order, available at  The following general categories of services are specified as essential:
    • Healthcare, Public Health, and Human Services
    • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and First Responders
    • Food and Agriculture
    • Energy
    • Water and Wastewater
    • Transportation and Logistics
    • Public Works
    • Communications and Information Technology
    • Community-Based Essential Functions and Government Operations
    • Critical Manufacturing
    • Hazardous Materials
    • Financial Services
    • Chemical
    • Defense Industrial Base
  • Note, however, that not all activities or all types of workers within each category are designated as essential, so businesses will need to review the full list to determine which activities and workers qualify. For example, restaurants, bars and other retail establishments may sell food and beverages for take-out or delivery, but may not allow on-premises consumption.
  • Non-essential businesses are encouraged to continue operations where they are able to do so through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at brick-and-mortar premises.
  • Prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people include community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based or sporting events, concerts, conferences, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, weddings, funerals and any similar event or activity that brings together more than 10 persons in any confined indoor or outdoor space. However, gatherings of more than 10 people in unenclosed, outdoor spaces such as a park, athletic field, or parking lot are permitted, as long as close physical contact is not involved.