On Tuesday, it was announced that the Governor’s “Essential Employees Order” and “Stay at Home Advisory” that were scheduled to end on May 4, 2020, will be extended to May 18, 2020. He also announced the convening of a 17-member Economic Reopening Advisory Board to advise the government on return to work procedures and reopening the economy. The Board is scheduled to release guidelines for reopening on May 18. On Friday, the Governor announced that effective May 6, all Massachusetts residents will be required to cover their faces in public if they are unable to adhere to the 6-foot social distance requirement.
Also, Democrats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives attempted to pass an emergency rules package which would allow for remote formal voting. House Minority Leader Brad Jones blocked the passage of these rules, citing his concerns with language limiting the amount of time a member would be allowed to debate a matter and the lack of a sunset clause in the proposal.
In federal news, the US House announced that they intend to return on May 11, 2020, one week after the previously noticed return date of May 4, 2020. However, Speaker Pelosi retained the May 1 deadline for members and committees to submit priorities for the next Coronavirus legislative package, which is likely to focus on funding for states.
Governor Baker’s order requiring masks or face coverings in public goes into effect on Wednesday. The order applies to anyone over the age of two in an indoor or outdoor public place who “is unable to or does not maintain a distance of approximately six feet from every other person.”
On Monday, Massachusetts House Democrats and Republicans resolved their differences over temporary emergency rules, passing a package that allows the House to resume formal sessions with representatives participating by phone in debates and voting. In addition to passing the rules package, the House also gave initial approval to a short-term borrowing bill filed in March by Gov. Charlie Baker to ensure the state can meet its financial obligations during the pandemic.
In Congress, the Senate returned to the Capitol for business on Monday. The Capitol’s attending physician released guidelines for the Senate’s return.