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COVID-19 Alert: Massachusetts Closes “Non-essential” Businesses; Utility Services to Continue

The response to COVID-19 by states across the U.S. has continued to evolve rapidly. In Massachusetts, due to growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, Governor Charlie Baker issued a “shelter in place” order that went into effect March 24, 2020 at noon and runs until April 7, 2020 – for now. The Executive Order allows certain “essential services” to remain operational, including energy, communications, water, and other vital utility services. The Boston Globe also reported on the list of “essential businesses” allowed to remain open.

The shelter-in-place order identified the following workers as “essential” in the area of utility services:


Workers who maintain, ensure, or restore the reliable generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power, including:

  • Call center and utility workers, reliability engineers, and fleet maintenance technicians
  • Workers needed for safe and secure operations at nuclear generation
  • Workers at generation, transmission, and electric blackstart facilities
  • Reliability coordination personnel
  • Mutual assistance personnel
  • IT and OT technology staff


Workers that ensure the continued maintenance of communications infrastructure, privately owned and maintained communication systems, including:

  • Technicians, operators, call-centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, undersea cable landing stations, and manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment
  • Workers at Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations, and Network Operations staff, engineers and/or technicians
  • Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables


Natural gas transmission and distribution workers, including those at the following facilities:

  • Compressor stations, and road transport
  • Underground storage of natural gas
  • Natural gas processing plants, and those that deal with natural gas liquids
  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities
  • Natural gas security operations center, natural gas operations dispatch, control rooms/centers, and natural gas emergency response


Employees needed to operate and maintain public and private drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure, including:

  • Operational staff at water authorities
  • Operational staff at community water systems
  • Operational staff at wastewater treatment facilities
  • Workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling or monitoring
  • Operational staff for water distribution and testing and wastewater collection facilities
  • Workers that maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations

According to the Order, a range of government services may also stay open pursuant to their operational continuity plans, as well as private sector employees associated with construction, public works, IT, road maintenance, and the like. Businesses not deemed “essential” may continue their operations remotely.

The current Order is set to expire on April 7, 2020 at noon. However, it can be extended.

Topics: Electricity, Natural Gas, Water and Wastewater