MALSCE is actively monitoring this rapidly developing situation. We are taking steps not only to serve as a resource for news and information, but also to collect information about how the coronavirus is impacting your business to share best practices and effectively advocate for your needs. If you have questions regarding public agency project issues in Massachusetts or if you have other concerns email us and we will check in with the agency on behalf of our community.
State House News Service Corona Virus Tracker - free, but you need to sign up on their page
|5/19/20 Mayor Walsh Briefing||
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh started his press conference with an update on the COVID-19 numbers in the City of Boston: on 5/18 there were 11,950 confirmed cases. Last week, Boston’s positive test result rate was 13.9%, a new low. The number of positive cases in the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Boston continues to decline. Despite the positives, the numbers still give a reason for caution. The Mayor urged residents to continue to stay home, practice social distancing, wash their hands and wear masks in public.
Mayor Walsh discussed the Governor’s phased reopening plan released yesterday: Open air construction projects in Boston are able to resume this week, with others opening next week. Contractors must submit COVID safety plans to return to work and safety training for inspectors. Nearly 2,300 safety plans have been submitted to the city. He reported that the city is in the process of developing a detailed plan for Boston offices. The statewide plan allows for 25% capacity on offices reopening on May 25, but the City of Boston will allow offices to reopen on June 1. The city will share guidelines for Boston offices next week. The City of Boston will allow small businesses to resume curbside pickups on May 25.
|ACEC/MA Health & Safety Forum on 5/18/2020||ACEC/MA is sharing this with MALSCE: The ACEC/MA Health & Safety Forum on 5/18/2020 focused on office reopening and construction site safety issues. Link to YouTube Recording of this Forum.|
|Phase 1 Reopening Begins 5/18||
Monday, May 18: Governor Charlie Baker announced that phase 1 begins today, which means manufacturing and construction sites are allowed to reopen, as early as today, if they meet the guidelines. Places of worship are allowed to reopen if they follow the guidelines set for them. Around the state, offices spaces can reopen on May 25 if they meet health guidelines, and office spaces in Boston can start June 1. One of the new requirements is that office space can only reopen with 25% capacity. During phase 1, emergency childcare will be expanded for families that have no other option.
Hairdressers and barbers are included in phase 1 and can reopen by appointment only, starting May 25. Restaurants, hotels, retail stores, nail salons, and public pools are included in phase 2. There will be at least a 3 week minimum waiting period between phases, but it could be longer, depending on data from health officials. Summer camps will be included in phases 2 and 3, and casinos, museums, and other entertainment-related businesses will get the green light in phase 3.
The “stay at home” advisory has been changed to a “safer at home” advisory, which the Governor urged residents to still stay at home unless they absolutely need to go out. Limit on gatherings still remains at 10 people.
The full reopening report and guidelines and are located below.
Sector-specific protocols and best practices:
City of Boston Construction Protocols
On Friday, April 17, the City published a draft COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction. These are new requirements, designed to make job sites safer for workers and communities, that are expected to be implemented by Monday, April 27.
Due to COVID-19, the City of Boston will be implementing new protocols for essential construction work in the City of Boston. All essential construction sites must now submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan and a COVID-19 Safety Affidavit. These policies go into effect on April 27, 2020 for all essential construction. Nothing in these new protocols changes what construction is currently allowable in the City of Boston right now, but when construction resumes at some point, compliance with this policy will be required.
To help with this, the City has provided a Safety Plan Worksheet for guidance.
MassDOT Traffic Count Data Collaborative
Help MassDOT Highway with this effort to make historical traffic count data more easily accessible to those who need it. More
|Governor Baker signs new law establishing a moratorium on non-essential evictions and residential foreclosures.||April 20, 2020: This new law provides temporary protections for both residential tenants and small businesses that are unable to pay rent, in an effort to stabilize homes and commercial spaces during the COVID-19 crisis. The law also prohibits proceedings on residential foreclosures during the COVID-19 crisis. - Read text of Chapter 65 Here|
Centralized Screening Procedures
Massport sent us the attached Centralized Screening Procedures. Massport has established a centralized screening station at Logan Airport to allow for the expedient and efficient daily screening for COVID-19 for all employees associated with major construction projects located at Logan airport.
|COVID-19 Risk Mitigation: Field Survey Safety Protocols and Embracing the Remote Office||The risk of contracting the Coronavirus Disease has had a historic impact on the way businesses operate. This April 13th MALSCE webinar featured a panel of MALSCE Proprietors’ Council members and others discussing how their companies are adjusting to state and local efforts to combat COVID-19 including the risk mitigation protocols they are putting place to help protect field surveying crews from this deadly disease.|
|Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights||
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
|MBTA: COVID-19 Consultant/Vendor/ Contractor Outreach - Case Incident Reporting||
MBTA has sent us the attached guidelines to report known or presumptive COVID-19 cases involving Consultant/ Vendor/ Contractor workforces to the MBTA. Case Incident Reporting
|New Massachusetts Law: AN ACT TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES FACED BY MUNICIPALITIES AND STATE AUTHORITIES RESULTING FROM COVID-19||
Signed into law April 3, took effect immediately, now Session Law 53 of the Acts of 2020
This law has implications for how certain private sector development might move forward in pre-construction and permitting.
For Design Professionals, this new law:
Other key parts of the new law:
|Updated information for the Paycheck Protection Program||
April 3: Some of this is information we posted earlier this week, but note the updated links highlighted, including the final borrower application for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Assistance for Small Businesses
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
Paycheck Protection Program Resources
|Governor Baker Limits Essential Construction to Housing & Infrastructure, Extends Non-Essential Business Closures||
On March 31, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended his emergency order to close non-essential businesses and his stay-at-home advisory until May 4. It requires all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public. In addition, the Administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” categories.
The list of “essential” construction related activities was modified so that only construction related to housing (including mixed use with housing) and critical infrastructure are now considered “essential.”
|Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Advisory Memorandum on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers||
On March 28, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued: Advisory Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response
This advisory is being used by states as a guidance document. As of March 30, 2020, Massachusetts and local law enforcement are not stopping engineers, land surveyors and other design professionals from doing their work as long as the work is being done in a way that is consistent with health and safety protocols in the guidance document provided to municipalities and construction sites last week.
|How to Apply for an SBA Disaster Relief Loan||Thank you to MALSCE Member Jim Hanley who shared this link from the US Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/applying-for-sba-disaster-relief-loan|
|Congress passes CARES Act, President Signs Bill||
3/27/20 1:30 PM: The US House just passed the CARES Act, sending the package to the White House where it was signed by the President.
Here's some information on the small business provisions.
Small Business Program Overview
The new law establishes a Paycheck Protection Program to assist qualifying small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals through the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program. $349B is authorized for 7(a) lending from Feb. 15 through June 30, and SBA would fully guarantee the loans. Loans would be available during the covered period for:
Eligible recipients could receive loans up to $10M or 250% of their average monthly payroll costs, instead of $5M, with interest rates capped during the covered period at 4%. Loans can be used to cover eligible payroll costs -- salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits -- as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. Firms would be required to make a “good faith certification” that funds will be used to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses. Funds cannot be used to compensate individual employees at an annual rate above $100,000, or to pay for emergency sick or family leave under the second coronavirus response package.
Loan Forgiveness – key elements
The package provides $10 billion to expand the SBA’s disaster loan program from Jan. 31 through Dec. 31 to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors. The measure also authorizes SBA to advance up to $10,000 to existing and newly eligible disaster loan recipients within three days of receiving their applications. Recipients could use the advance funds to pay sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, retain employees, address interrupted supply chains, make rent or mortgage payments, and repay debt. They wouldn’t have to repay the advance funds.
|Governor Baker's 3/27 Press Conference asks all travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days.||
During Governor Baker's daily press conference he announced that his office is asking all travelers arriving to Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days. He reported that starting 3/27 info flyers will be available at Logan airport, Worcester airport and South Station. Roadside message boards will also alert drivers.
For the second day in a row, Baker spent time during the press conference to urge the use of telehealth options to more safely facilitate interactions between patients and heath care providers. He reminded the public that his administrator ordered telehealth to be covered by all health insurances and urged everyone to take full advantage of it. The Governor announced a new partnership, with Buoy Health, an online resource for residents to receive medical guidance from the safety of their home. The Governor reminded the public that Bouy Health should not be used in place of emergency medical care and it is free for Massachusetts residents and a tool to get guidance.
|Federal Cares Act Information||
3/26/20: The full bill text of the Federal CARES Act, which passed the US Senate on 3/25/20 is available here. To read a section by section analysis of the Act, click here. And click here to view the Senate Appropriations Committee's supplemental summary.
The US House is hoping to act on this bill on March 27.
|State Construction Guidelines and Procedures||
The state has issued COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Work
- were developed in collaboration with the other state awarding entities so that a consistent document is being implemented and followed across the state.
Several specific requirements to note:
Baker Administration Issues New Construction Guidance to Municipalities Clarifying Construction as an Essential Service
On March 25, 2020, the Baker Administration issued construction guidance to Massachusetts municipalities overturning all local construction moratoriums. March 25, Governor Baker issued guidance clarifying that the March 23, 2020 Order “Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More than 10 People” supersedes and makes inoperative any order or rule issued by a municipality that will or might in any way impede or interfere with the achievement of the objectives of this order. “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects” are deemed essential.
This guidance advises all municipalities that had issued their own directives, policies and regulations in place regarding construction to withdraw their orders.
Note: This letter includes important construction safety guidance related to COVID-19.
|City of Boston Extends Construction Moratorium Until Further Notice||
On March 25, 2020, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh extended the City of Boston's construction moratorium until further notice, citing safety and health concerns for workers and Boston residents.
Note: This policy only applies to projects permitted by the City of Boston.
New Legislation Proposes Extension of Permits During Current State of Emergency
On March 24, Governor Baker filed H. 4586, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts, and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19. While the bill addresses several topics, Section 9 of the bill addresses the tolling of permits. Specifically, the language provides the following:
These changes will provide necessary relief to cities and towns that, due to disruptions caused by the state of emergency, are unable to timely process and hear permitting applications. At the same time, these changes balance the needs of residents and developers by ensuring that their current permits are not impaired by the emergency.
To view the National Society of Professional Surveyors' Covid-19 page which provides a national perspective as well as a statement of NSPS's position on limiting surveying activities due to Covid-19 mandates, click here.
Massachusetts Legislation Related to COVID-19 Issues - as of 3/18/20
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