Somerville Announces Timeline for Phased Construction Restart Under Strict COVID Safety Protocols and Additional Business Updates

After approval of safety plans, a limited number of essential projects to be allowed to restart May 18, others to phase in during June and July

In anticipation of the easing of statewide stay-at-home restrictions on May 18, the City is preparing for a phased resumption of construction under strict COVID-prevention protocols. In preparation for May 18, the State has also eased some restrictions on non-essential businesses and is seeking feedback on how to safely reopen the economy.

In March, Mayor Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health issued an order to cease all non-emergency construction in Somerville by March 27.  Exceptions were allowed only for efforts to make sites safe and for health- and safety-related activities.  The order was an additional precaution that Somerville and a handful of other cities and towns took after Governor Baker’s March 23 stay-at-home order, which otherwise allowed construction to continue. 

Now that statewide stay-at-home restrictions are expected to begin easing on May 18, a phased construction restart will be allowed starting on that date. Strict requirements for COVID-19 safety measures will accompany each phase.

To restart projects, all contractors must submit a Jobsite Hazard Analysis and prepare a Site Specific Safety Plan (example here) with a particular focus on COVID safety in accordance with state and federal guidelines on COVID spread prevention. Required measures include, but are not limited to, providing all workers and staff on-site with proper personal protective equipment, handwashing facilities and supplies, social distancing protocols, safe site access, and other measures. 

Once safety plans are approved, projects will be allowed to restart. The City does not have the authority to halt state projects, including the Green Line Extension and Beacon Street, which, as a result, remain exempt from the local construction suspension order and have been continuing with enhanced communication and coordination with the City. 

Two factors influence the phased plan: how critical each project is and each contractor’s capability to implement their safety plan. 

The anticipated schedule is as follows:

  •  Phase One – May 18, 2020 Start: The first phase will focus on highly critical projects and contractors who have been working successfully under COVID-management plans on sites outside of Somerville. This phase primarily includes large municipal and utility projects.
  •  Phase Two – June 1, 2020 Start: The second phase will focus on critical projects with contractors who have less experience with COVID-management plans. This phase primarily includes additional municipal and utility projects as well as private construction.
  • Phase Three – July through September 2020 Start:  The third phase of construction will focus on highly critical projects currently in the design and bidding phase with anticipated construction starts in the late summer or early fall. 
  • Phase Four – Start To-Be-Determined (may be deferred to 2021):  Additional municipal projects remain under review.

State Seeking Feedback on Reopening the Economy

The State’s Reopening Advisory Board is asking for input from business owners and employees on reopening the economy. You can visit the State’s website to share ideas around challenges your industry may face, best practices that have been developed for your industry, and other issues related to reopening businesses.

Regulations Loosened to Allow Non-Essential Businesses to Fulfill Remote Orders

Gov. Charlie Baker announced new regulations that will allow non-essential businesses to bring in additional employees to help fulfill phone and online orders. Previously only the business owner could be in the business to fulfill orders. A full list of regulations can be found on the State’s website, but key items include:

  • The business must be closed to the general public.
  • Social distancing must be maintained, so the number of employees allowed in a business will vary by its physical size.
  • Employees can only be in the business to package orders, not to manufacture goods.
  • Employees must have access to handwashing stations.
  • Before coming to work, employees must check their temperature and stay home if it is 100 degrees or higher.
  • Operating hours must allow for sufficient ongoing off-hour sanitation/cleaning.
  • All deliveries must be no-contact.

For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.