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Governor Announces New Capacity Restrictions

Posted on December 22, 2020

Today Governor Baker announced new temporary orders to reduce capacity across many businesses to 25% from the current 40% for most businesses (See graph below).  The new orders go into effect at 12:0December 26, 2020 and will remain in place until noon on January 10, 2021  

The Governor also announced a new order related to gatherings, impacting residential, public and business gatherings, to no more than 10 people for inside gatherings and 25 people for outside gatherings. The gatherings limit applies to private homes, event venues and public spaces. 

The capacity order applies to a wide array of businesses but excludes K-12 education, manufacturers, laboratories, construction and does not apply to K-12 education. We will continue to monitor the data over the next two weeks.  The order is effective Saturday December 26 and will remain in effect until January 10 at noon.  

  • Click here for more details (direct link) 
  • Click here to read the Temporary Capacity Order or here for the overview. 
  • Click here to read the temporary order impacting noninvasive elective procedures in hospitals 
  • Click here to watch today’s Press Conference 

The Governor indicated that the new orders were being put into effect to pause activity and reduce mobility as a result of the recent high rates of infection across the state, high hospitalization rates and that half of Massachusetts communities are in the red as result of gatherings related to Thanksgiving. 

The Governor also indicated that the data and hospitalization rates are under pressure and health policy experts are concerned about another holidayrelated surge that would mirror or exceed the postThanksgiving infection and hospitalization rates.   Hospitals are also tasked with administerinvaccines.  

Effective, December 26, the following industries must reduce capacity to 25% from their current capacity levels:  

Sector  Revised Capacity Limits  Notes 
Gatherings (adjusting Order No. 57)  10 persons indoors 

25 persons outdoors 

applies to both private homes and event venues and public spaces 
Restaurants   25% of seating capacity  (a) workers/staff excluded from occupancy count; 

(b) applies separately to indoor and outdoor capacity 

Close Contact Personal Services   25%  workers/staff excluded from occupancy count 
Indoor and Outdoor Events   10 persons indoors 

25 persons outdoors 

workers/staff excluded from occupancy count 
Theaters and Performance Venues  

(Indoor performance venues remain closed)  

Movie theaters – 25% and maximum 50 people 

Outdoor performance venues – 25% and maximum 25 people 

Casinos  25%  MGC to re-issue capacity rules as necessary 
Office Spaces  25%   
Places of Worship   25%  workers/staff excluded from occupancy count 
Retail Businesses   25%  workers/staff excluded from occupancy count 
Driving and Flight Schools   25%   
Golf Facilities   25%  applies only to indoor spaces 
Libraries   25%   
Operators of Lodgings   25%  applies only to common areas 
Arcades & Other Indoor & Outdoor Recreation Businesses   25%   
Fitness Centers and Health Clubs   25%   
Museums / Cultural & Historical Facilities / Guided Tours by vehicles and vessels  25%   
Sectors Not Otherwise Addressed   25%   
Common Areas in facilities subject to EEA-issued COVID-19 safety rules  25%  applies only to indoor spaces and excludes youth and amateur sports facilities 
General Provision:  Where no licensed or permitted capacity allowance is on record and for any enclosed space within a larger facility, occupancy shall be limited to no more than 5 persons per 1,000 square feet. 

Workers and staff will not count towards the occupancy count for restaurants, places of worship, close contact personal services, and retail businesses. 

All other rules and restrictions in each sector-specific guidance will remain in effect.  

The Department of Public Health also released updated guidance to hospitals around nonessential, elective invasive procedures to preserve health care personnel resources. Effective 12:01am on December 26 hospitals are directed to postpone or cancel all nonessential inpatient elective invasive procedures in order to maintain and increase inpatient capacity. Hospitals are charged with making every effort necessary to preserve inpatient capacity by cancelling nonessential electives and redeploying staff. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders reminded patients to still seek necessary care at their hospital or from their health care provider.      

The Governor also announced a pending business relief bill that will be announced tomorrow.  AIM will monitor the details and share more with members as we learn more details. 

If you have compliance questions please contact the AIM Hotline at 800-470-6277 or if you have any policy related questions regarding these new orders please contact Brad MacDougall, SVP for Government Affairs (AIM) call 617-262-1180 or any member of the AIM Team.