June 1, 2020


Governor Baker Issues New Executive Order in Advance of Phase 2, Releases Rules, Checklist & Guidance for Retail Reopening

Governor Charlie Baker issued a new Executive Order today outlining the businesses and activities that fall into Phases 2-4 of his reopening plan. The Order includes guidance for the retail sector to review in preparation for the limited reopening of retail stores as part of Phase 2 of the Reopening Massachusetts plan.  The Governor will review public health trend data this week before making an announcement on June 6th as to exactly when Phase 2 will begin. 

Today’s release includes a preview of the mandatory safety standards, recommended best practices and a checklist for retail businesses to follow.  The earliest date possible for a Phase 2 beginning is June 8th. 
“Effective immediately, the Executive Order permits Phase II businesses to reopen their physical workplaces to workers only to conduct necessary preparations prior to the start of Phase II.  Preparations include but are not limited to completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.”

For the Reopening Phase 2 Executive Order, click here.


When Phase 2 commences, the new standards will supersede and replace existing MA Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance governing grocery stores and pharmacies:  “Retail Businesses that have been defined as providing Essential Services pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 13 will be required to comply with these sector-specific safety protocols within one week of the date that Retail Businesses are authorized to open pursuant to the Governor’s Phase 2 reopening Order.” 

Grocery stores and pharmacies must continue to provide dedicated hours for at risk populations.  Additional highlights include:

  • Limited store occupancy
    • Retailers must limit occupancy to the greater of the two: 8 persons per 1000 sq. feet of accessible indoor space, or 40% of the max permitted occupancy (includes customers and employees)
    • Shopping mall operators must limit occupancy to 40% at all general entrances; food courts, play areas, seating areas and arcades are to be closed
  • Fitting rooms must remain closed
  • Other standard requirements include face coverings, frequent cleanings, employee protocols, and more

ALL members are expected to closely review this new retail guidance. 

RAM President Jon Hurst issued the following statement in response to the news:

"We want to thank the Baker/Polito Administration for this important step of small business flexibility and consumer choice.  As we move forward to both safe shopping and economic growth, we urge our consumers to remember that they should shop like jobs depend on it, because they do.  

Ultimately it will be up to our consumers to decide with their dollars when and how they will again buy on Main Street Massachusetts.  But they should be assured that they can shop locally safely.  And at the same time it is important to remember that the consumer represents 70% of the economy, and how we choose to spend our dollars in the months to come will truly determine the futures of countless small businesses.  

The essential sellers including grocers, pharmacies and hardware stores have shown over the past three months how to protect and serve customers, and those lessons learned will now apply to all retail sectors as additional stores reopen.  Consumers are reminded that while most stores will likely open with the 40% capacity; some may choose to remain closed for the time being; while others may decide to continue to only do curbside or delivery fulfillment, or by appointment only customer service.” 

All progression in the phases is incumbent upon the continued positive trends in the reported public health data.  Click here for more information on the full reopening plan.