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Governor Signs Extension of Some COVID Policy Provisions

Posted on June 24, 2021

Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill this morning that extends several policy provisions adopted during the COVID-19 public health State of Emergency.

The measure addresses provisions that expired at the end of the official State of Emergency order yesterday.

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The legislation will allow publicly traded companies in Massachusetts to continue to host their board of directors and shareholder meetings remotely until December 15. The legislation also extends remote working flexibility for municipalities in their town meetings and other forms municipal government. Notaries will be able to continue electronically notarizing documents until December 15.

The legislation continues several restaurant policies such as expanded outdoor dining, cocktails-to-go, and alcohol sales for off-sight consumption through May 1, 2022. The price alcohol offsite sales must match the price of onsite alcohol.

“I applaud the Legislature for acting. As the commonwealth transitions into the post-emergency stage of economic recovery, it is critical to look back and examine which policies during COVID actually helped the economy and which did not, and act accordingly” said Brooke Thomson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“AIM looks forward to continuing the dialog with our partners in government to chart the path forward for the Massachusetts business community to ensure continued economic progress.”

The legislation extends several rental-assistance programs designed to keep tenants housed during the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. It establishes that the inability to secure childcare is a valid reason to maintain unemployment insurance benefits until September 2021. And, the bill extends some public-health measures allowing community health centers and vaccine administrators some regulatory flexibility in their COVID-19 work.

After the Senate passed a post-emergency bill last week, the House approved an amended version on a 146-14 vote Tuesday afternoon, and both branches held their session open for the rest of the day to work out a deal. An agreement on some of the bill’s provisions emerged around 7 p.m., when a conference committee led by Ways and Means Chairs Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz filed a partial report with the Senate clerk’s office.

A House provision that capped the fees that third-party delivery companies could charge restaurants was not included in the partial report and remains in the conference committee. A Senate backed extension of telehealth rate parity language was not included. If the legislature does not act on that provision the rate parity will expire August 13, 90 days after the state of emergency.

AIM members with questions about the extended COVID-19 provisions may contact Sam Larson at the Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.