By Bob Katzen
Governor Baker and his administration issued several executive orders and regulations which do not need the approval of the legislature including:
NO MORE THAN 25 PEOPLE TOGETHER – Prohibits groups with more than 25 people from congregating in the same place.
CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD – Authorizes activation of up to 2,000 National Guard members across the state who will be tasked with supporting requests from state agencies for equipment, logistics, warehousing and related duties. Local cities, towns and state agencies can submit requests for support through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
BAN DINING IN AT RESTAURANTS AND BARS – Prohibits restaurant, bars and other establishments that offers food or drink from serving food or drink on the premises at least until April 6. These establishments would be allowed to serve food via takeout or delivery.
CLOSE SCHOOLS – Requires all public and private schools to close until at least April 7.
CLOSE CHILDCARE PROGRAMS – Requires all early education centers and family childcare providers to close. The Department of Early Education and Care also issued emergency procedures to set forth a process for opening Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs during the outbreak to provide priority access for families of emergency personnel, medical staff, and others critical to confronting COVID-19.
SMALL BUSINESS LOANS – Makes small business loans of up to $75,000 with no payments for the first six months. The loans will be made available immediately for any employers with fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, including non-profits.
DELAY TAX COLLECTIONS FROM SMALL BUSINESSES- Delays tax collection for small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries which will allow businesses that paid less than $150,000 in sales plus meals taxes or sales plus room occupancy taxes in 2019 to defer their current payments until June.
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS – Allows physician’s assistants who previously worked on elective surgeries to be used elsewhere in the hospital under a different supervising physician.
MEDICATION FOR OPIOID ABUSE – Allows pharmacists to administer certain medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Currently, such medication must be administered by a nurse.
TEMPORARILY SUSPEND REDEMPTION OF BOTTLE DEPOSITS – Suspends temporary enforcement of the requirement that retailers accept beverage containers that have a deposit. The suspension was done at the request of retailers who are overwhelmed by customers purchasing food and household goods. They said they would rather have their employees focus on the massive increase in shoppers. Without the suspension, retailers could be fined and penalized for failure to redeem those containers.
REGISTRY EXTENDS LICENSES – Authorizes the registrar of motor vehicles to temporarily extend licenses, permits, and other identification cards.
NON-ESSENTIAL SURGERY – Mandates that hospitals cancel non-essential elective procedures.
SANITIZER – Permits licensed pharmacies to create and sell hand sanitizer over the counter.
RESTRICT ACCESS TO ASSISTED LIVING – Restricts visitor access to assisted living facilities.
RESTRICT ACCESS TO HOSPITALS – Restricts visitor access to some hospitals.
TELEHEALTH – Expands access to telehealth services — a video chat between a doctor and his or her patients.
Baker also ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, starting Tuesday March 24.