Coronavirus Update | April 1, 2020
ACA/NE and the Northern New England Chapter of ACA/NE continue to monitor state actions relating to emergency orders and the designation of essential businesses for the HVAC/R and heat pump industry. Today we have an update for Maine and Massachusetts. Others will follow as they become available.

Please stay safe and well during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Maine Update
Today Governor Janet Mills issued a series of substantial new mandates to protect public health and safety in the face of COVID-19, including a Stay Healthy at Home. This directive requires people living in Maine to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason - such as obtaining food, medicine, health care or other necessary purposes.
The order includes an Essential Service Designation . At this time, it is unclear if the HVAC/R and heat pump industry is included in the list of essential industries. The Northern New England ACA/NE Chapter has asked the governor's office to clarify the designation for HVAC/R and heat pump contractors.

The message sent to Governor Mills Office states that we believe that HVAC/R and heat pump contractors are essential service providers. HVAC/R and heat pump contractors must be regarded as emergency service providers due to the fact they perform life-saving services to Maine’s most fundamental infrastructure. This includes, but is not restricted to, the healthcare industry, the agri-food grant chain, and vital heating, cooling, and refrigeration needs for vulnerable populations.

In the message, ACA/NNE asked that the HVAC/R and heat pump industry be added to the Essential Business Operations List. Additional details will be provided as they are received.
In the meantime, you are able to submit an Essential Service Designation Request. This will request that the service your business provides be deemed as essential.
Massachusetts Update
Governor Baker Revises
Non-Essential Business Emergency Order:  Effective April 1, 2020, Noon

All Private Construction Unrelated To Housing, Critical Infrastructure or COVID-19 Shut Down 
Dear Kenney & Sams clients and friends, 

As the coronavirus continues to sweep across the country, and as Massachusetts and federal authorities seek to curtail business and social activity to “flatten the curve,” Governor Baker issued a major update to his  March 23, 2020 Order  that required all non-essential businesses to cease in person operation. 

On March 31, 2020, the Baker Administration issued a revised  Order  that significantly redefines what construction work will constitute “essential services.”  The Governor’s initial Order defined essential construction workers as: “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)." That changes with the revised Order. 

Effective April 1, 2020 at noon, Governor Baker’s updated “COVID-19 Essential Services” list will prohibit all construction in the Commonwealth except construction essential to housing (including mixed use projects with housing) and critical infrastructure. Workers performing housing construction related activities will remain “essential services” as part of the Baker Administration’s continued focus on combatting the Commonwealth’s existing housing supply shortage. The Order prohibits, among other projects, construction involving strictly commercial buildings while allowing work related to housing of any type. 

Please note, however, that even construction services still deemed “essential services” may be subject to tighter municipal restrictions, including those issued by  Boston Cambridge , and  Somerville . The full list of revised “essential services” can be found  here .

Additionally, workers such as plumbers, electricians, contractors, HVAC technicians, and other contractors who provide services necessary to “maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, health care facilities, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response” remain “essential services.” 

Businesses designated as essential are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with  guidance  from the Department of Public Health (DPH).

Governor Baker also extended the non-essential business emergency order and guidance for Executive Branch employees until May 4th. The Department of Public Health’s Stay-At-Home Advisory remains in effect.

Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. Yesterday’s Order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4th.

Business owners who believe that their business should be considered “essential,” and which are not already covered by the guidance provided by the Commonwealth, may request designation as an essential business by submitting this  form .

J. Nathan Cole  is a Director at Kenney & Sams, P.C., and has been representing small businesses, construction contractors, subcontractors, and homeowners in Massachusetts for over a decade.

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This alert is for informational purposes only and may be considered advertising. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, tax or professional advice or services. You should seek specific detailed legal advice prior to taking any definitive actions.
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Catherine Flaherty | Executive Director

Katie Burke | Program Coordinator

Karen Flynn | Adminstrative Assistant
ACA/NE
11 Robert Toner Blvd., #234
North Attleboro, MA 02763
Phone: (508) 839-3407
Fax: (508) 232-6005