Governor Charlie Baker’s office announced a series of emergency orders on Sunday in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Education, restaurants, events, healthcare, unemployment assistance and the Boston Marathon were all affected.
While many school districts across Massachusetts had already taken their own actions to cancel school, the Governor ordered all public and private K-12 schools closed for three weeks. The order starts Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, April 6.
Residential and day schools for special needs students are not included in the order.
The Governor’s office said that school must suspend in-person educational operations and should be planning how best to provide alternative access to learning opportunities during this period and potentially beyond.
Pre-school and childcare services were not ordered closed but the Department of Early Education and Care [EEEC] and Department of Public Health [DPH] guidelines that call for temporary closures based on exposure to COVID-19.
Events, Gatherings, Restaurants
Another emergency order prohibits gatherings of more than 25 individuals and prohibits the on-premises consumption of food or drinks at bars or restaurants. This order is also in effect starting March 17 until April 6.
The Governor also issued broad guidance to health care insurance companies. Medically necessary telehealth services for testing and treatment must be covered without cost-sharing of any kind. Insurers were also prohibited from requiring prior authorization for these services.
The federal government issued guidance on Friday that bans visitors to nursing homes and rest homes. The Governor extended the prohibition of visitors to assisted living residences as well.
Hospitals were ordered to cancel non-essential elective procedures and screen all visitors for illness. Visitation of those showing illness is ordered restricted.
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Drivers licenses & credential expirations dated between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 are extended for 60 days from the date printed. This applies to Class D, Class DMs, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits within the RMV system.
Those eligible for this extension should wait to visit and RMV to renew until after the State of Emergency has been terminated.
This extension does not apply to vehicle registrations which can mostly be renewed online. It also does not apply to Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL).
Those currently collecting unemployment, all requirements for attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
Deadlines missed because of the effects of COVID-19 will be excused.
All appeal hearings will be held by phone.
Governor Baker filed legislation designating September 14, 2020 as a legal holiday to support the rescheduled 2020 Boston Marathon.
Photo credit: “Governor Baker Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary 09.11.18” by Office of Governor Baker is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0