Coronavirus

Massachusetts is extending these popular pandemic policies

"Given that the state of emergency has already expired, this partial report is especially necessary to ensure critical policies remain in place."

Massachusetts State House. (photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe staff)

When the state of emergency in Massachusetts ended at 12:01 a.m. on June 15, so did many popular pandemic policies, like permitting remote municipal meetings and cocktails to-go.

However, following a compromise by state lawmakers, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill extending those policies — and more — through the end of the year, if not longer.

After the state Senate approved its own version of the bill last week, the House approved an amended version 146 to 14 on Tuesday afternoon, according to reporting from the State House News Service. Both branches took the rest of the day to find a compromise, before sending the bill to Baker’s desk Tuesday night.

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Baker signed the bill into law at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, his office said.

The 14-page bill extends a number of policies through various dates in 2021 and 2022:

  • Restaurants are permitted to sell cocktails to-go through May 1, 2022. A new provision requires restaurants to sell the drinks for the same price as dine-in customers pay.
  • Special permits for outdoor dining — which would have expired within 60 days — were also extended through April 21, 2022.
  • Public corporations and nonprofits may conduct annual shareholder or member meetings by remote participation through Dec. 15, 2021.
  • Virtual notarization was extended through Dec. 15, 2021. 
  • Flexibility with town meeting quorums was extended through Dec. 15, 2021. 
  • Landlords delivering notices to quit will be required to include forms around eligibility for assistance, available resources, and attestations, until the federal CDC eviction moratorium is lifted. The notice must also include the language: “This notice to quit is not an eviction. You do not need to immediately leave your unit. You are entitled to a legal proceeding in which you can defend against the eviction. Only a court order can force you to leave your unit.”

The State House News Service reported that the bill also extends remote reverse-mortgage loan counseling, certain flexibilities for assisted living residences, and the ability for medical assistance, podiatrists, phlebotomists, and some military personnel to give COVID-19 vaccines.

The legislation left out some issues on which the House and Senate have yet to reconcile.

“We remain committed to working with the House in the near term to resolve the additional policies that did not make it … into today’s conference report,” Ways and Means Chair Sen.Michael Rodrigues said before the Senate took up the compromise. “Given that the state of emergency has already expired, this partial report is especially necessary to ensure critical policies remain in place.”

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Read the new law below:

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