April 1, 2020

Governor Exempts Housing from Statewide Ban on Construction Activity
Workers performing housing related activities deemed “Essential”

Governor Baker yesterday 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 Baker Administration also updated the list of "COVID-19 Essential Services.” Of interest to HBRAMA members is that only construction services related to housing (including mixed-use housing) and critical infrastructure are now considered "Essential Services."

The revised construction-related activities list is as follows:

  • Workers performing housing construction related activitiesincluding construction of mixed-use projects that include housing, to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the Commonwealth's existing housing supply shortage.

  • Workers supporting the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, including allowing qualified private third-party inspections accountable to government agencies.

  • Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, inspectors and other service providers who provide services that are 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.

  • Workers – including contracted vendors - who support the operation, inspection, maintenance and repair of essential public works facilities and operations, including roads and bridges, water and sewer, laboratories, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, and maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations. Critical or strategic infrastructure includes public works construction including construction of public schools, colleges and universities and construction of state facilities, including leased space, managed by the Division of Capital Asset Management; airport operations; water and sewer; gas, electrical, nuclear, oil refining and other critical energy services; roads and highways; public transportation; steam; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services)

  • Workers who support infrastructure, such as by road and line clearing and utility relocation, to ensure the availability of and access to needed facilities, transportation, energy and communications.

Construction workers who were deemed “Essential Workforces” were previously defined as "Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)."

By deeming housing construction activity as “COVID-19 Essential Services,” Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Kennealy were once again demonstrating their commitment to addressing the housing crisis in the Commonwealth and recognizing the critical importance of providing shelter for individuals and families during the coronavirus pandemic.
A copy of the March 31, 2020 Emergency Order can be found here and the revised list of “Essential Services” can be found here .