March 23rd COVID-19 Resources Update
Good afternoon,

Below please find COVID-19-related resources, both new and updated, for our private and public partners:

Governor's Emergency Order: Governor Baker has issued an emergency order requiring 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 as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. A complete listing of "COVID-19 Essential Services" can be found online at this link .   

If the function of your business or organization is not listed in the guidance linked above, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business at this link .

The 495/MetroWest Partnership will continue to operate during this time, though in compliance with the Governor's order, our physical offices at 200 Friberg Parkway in Westborough will be closed. As of noon tomorrow, all Partnership staff will be working remotely, through the conclusion of the Governor's current order.

For Employers: Last week, Massachusetts Health Council (MHC) and Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) organized a webinar to address general FAQ on COVID-19 for employers. A recording of that webinar is now available online, at this link. Topics addressed on the webinar include:
  • Current knowledge on the epidemiology of COVID-19 including transmission
  • Common clinical manifestations of COVID-19 and risk factors for severe disease and death
  • Analyze available methods for prevention and their potential effectiveness
  • Workplace safety and issues for workforces that travel
  • Telecommuting or remote working
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Discrimination and Harassment
  • WARN Act/Plant closings, and
  • Workers compensation and claims of COVID-19

For Municipal Governments: Action on Municipal Elections. This morning, both the state House and Senate passed legislation, S. 2608, "An Act granting authority to postpone 2020 municipal elections in the commonwealth and increase voting options in response to the declaration of emergency to respond to COVID-19." The full text of the bill can be found online at this link. The legislation, among other items:
  • Authorizes the select board, town council, board of registrars or city council of a city or town to postpone a municipal caucus or annual or special municipal election scheduled before May 30, 2020, and reschedule the municipal caucus or election to a date prior to June 30, 2020.
  • Requires the select board, town council or city council of a city or town postponing a municipal caucus or municipal election to consult with the local election official and the chief operating officer of the municipality before voting to reschedule the municipal caucus or municipal election.
  • Requires notice of postponement to be provided to the public not later than 20 days before the new election date.
  • States that an incumbent elected municipal official whose term would have expired at a municipal annual town election if the election was not postponed pursuant to this act shall continue to serve in the official’s position until a successor is elected and qualified as otherwise provided by law.
  • Ratifies, validates and confirms actions taken during the state of emergency declared by the governor pursuant to executive order 591, Declaration of a State of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19, of any board of selectmen, town council, city council and local election official to postpone a municipal caucus or municipal election.
  • Requires that the last day to register to vote for a postponed municipal or state election be 10 days before the date to which the rescheduled election has been postponed.
  • Clarifies that any person taking precaution related to COVID-19 in response to a declared state of emergency shall be deemed to be unable by reason of physical disability to cast their vote in person at a polling location (and is thus eligible to cast an absentee ballot)
  • Allows and prescribes the manner for any eligible voter to vote early by mail for elections occurring before June 30, 2020
The bill now proceeds to the Governor for his signature. The legislation carries an emergency preamble; if signed, it will take effect immediately. Inquiries requiring official guidance as to the conduct of an election should be made directly to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, Elections Division, at 617-727-2828.   

Accessing Transit Services: During this crisis, many essential workers will continue to rely on public transportation services to access vital places of work. Our Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) are working very hard to provide needed services, against a rapidly changing backdrop of evolving information and needs. RTA schedules and service levels are subject to change regularly; please contact RTAs directly or visit their websites for the most current information:
For those relying on MBTA commuter rail, or other MBTA commuter rail services, the MBTA is continuously updating changes in service online at this link.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. As noted, though our offices at 200 Friberg Parkway in Westborough will be closed as of tomorrow at noon, our staff will continue to work remotely. You may reach me directly via email at jason@495partnership.org .
Sincerely,

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership