Massachusetts Legislature Passes Balanced FY2021 Budget

Last week, I voted along with my colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth.

Funded at $46.2 billion, the budget aims to address the sweeping effects of the global pandemic by making targeted investments in housing, food security, and substance use addiction services, as well as domestic violence, sexual assault treatment and prevention programs. The budget also invests in programs that provide COVID-19 related supports for students and increases funding for developmental services, early education and childcare, and public health.

Several items in the budget that I supported or filed as amendments have impacts locally here on Cape Ann, including:

  • $75,000 for the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute to develop a strategic plan with UMass Amherst and Tufts University to study applications of genomics to mitigate the effects of climate change on land and marine food resources;
  • $25,000 for the First R Foundation and Pathways for Children to provide books to Cape Ann’s children through the Imagination Library;
  • $14,000 each for Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex for costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • $75,000 to increase workforce development training opportunities and technical education in secondary and post-secondary schools for careers in the marine trades; and
  • $125,000 for the Essex county court-appointed special advocates program.

The Legislature continues to further its commitment to cities and towns by investing $1.1 billion in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and $5.283 billion in Chapter 70 education funding, including over $16 million for Cape Ann’s schools and municipalities. Continuing the Legislature’s support of targeted investments in education, this budget provides an increase of $107.6 million over Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). The education budget allocations include:

  • $53 million in COVID-19 related student supports;
  • $345.2 million for Circuit Breaker Special Education reimbursement;
  • $117 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and
  • $82 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.

Due to the pandemic, access to safe and affordable housing for many families across the Commonwealth has taken on new urgency. The budget represents the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to housing and homelessness funding. This year, the budget makes targeted investments into rental and housing assistance to support families, tenants and property owners during this time of crisis:

  • $180 million for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters;
  • $135 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);
  • $50 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), as well as emergency changes to the RAFT program to increase the maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive from $4,000 to $10,000 and allow eligible households facing a housing crisis to access both RAFT and HomeBASE;
  • $80 million for public housing subsidies;
  • $56 million for homeless individual shelters;
  • $13 million for homeless student transportation;
  • $12.5 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), which provides rental assistance to people with disabilities;
  • $11 million for Department of Mental Health Rental Subsidy Program; and
  • $8 million for unaccompanied homeless youth.

In addition, the budget includes protections to ensure tenants facing eviction better understand their rights and have the opportunity to slow any court process down if they are seeking financial assistance with their rent payments. To help oversee the state’s tenancy preservation efforts, the budget requires additional data and reporting and creates a task force made up of legislators, the administration, and court officials.  

Keeping in mind the widespread economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this budget makes specific investments in labor and economic development programs that provide opportunities for the Commonwealth’s workers and its businesses. The budget maintains its support for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership with an investment of $2 million—funding which has helped many Massachusetts manufactures retrofit their businesses into the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) market. Other investments include: 

  • $94 million for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs);
  • $46.4 million in new economic development funding including; 
    • $17.5 million for a local Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
    • $17.5 million for community development financial institutions
    • $7.5 million for matching grants for capital investments by small businesses
    • $3.85 million for small business technical assistance grants
  • $46 million for Adult Basic Education Services;
  • $20 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth; 
  • $15 million for a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment grant program to provide economic supports to communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system;
  • $10 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund; 
  • $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state; 
  • $5 million for Community Foundations to provide emergency economic relief to historically underserved populations;
  • $2.5 million in Urban Agenda Grants; and
  • $1.4 million for small business development.

The budget builds on the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring all children have access to high-quality early education and care (EEC) during this pandemic. The budget provides $25 million for a new Early Education and Care Workforce and COVID-19 Supports Reserve to provide classroom stabilization grants, incentive pay for providers, and support for increased operational costs due to COVID-19. In addition, the budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and provides $40 million for a new reserve to cover parent fees for families receiving subsidized childcare for the remainder of FY21. The budget also includes the following EEC investments and initiatives:

  • $15 million for Head Start grants;
  • $10 million for EEC Workforce Higher Education Opportunities;
  • $2.5 million in early childhood mental health grants;
  • $11 million for child care resource and referral agencies; and
  • Establishes the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission to review childcare funding and make recommendations on policy changes to expand access.   

The budget continues to dedicate substantial resources toward supporting public higher education and increases scholarship funding for students. These investments include:

  • $286 million for state universities;
  • $307.7 million for community colleges; 
  • $560 million for the University of Massachusetts system;
  • $120 million in scholarship funding;
  • $4.8 million for the STEM Starter Academy, to support underrepresented students in STEM fields at community colleges; and
  • $2 million to ensure high school students with intellectual disabilities have continued access to higher education opportunities during this time of need.  

Funded at $19 billion this fiscal year, MassHealth is the largest investment the Commonwealth makes in its most vulnerable residents, including children, seniors, low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness. In response to the threats to reproductive rights for women on the national level, the Legislature also voted to remove medically unnecessary barriers to women’s reproductive care across the Commonwealth. The budget also invests in critical health and human services agencies and providers including: 

  • $501.1 million for Adult Support Services; 
  • $307 million for the Department of Children and Families for social workers, family support and stabilization, and foster care and adopted fee waivers;
  • $94.8 million for children’s mental health services;
  • $36.4 million for early intervention services;
  • $30.4 million in emergency food assistance;
  • $25.8 million for funding to support expanded access to mental health services, including $10 million for the Behavioral Health, Outreach, Access and Support Trust Fund and $10 million for a new inpatient mental health acute care beds grant program to expand access to critical mental health services; and
  • $17.5 million for Family Resource Centers to meet increased demand for services.  

In addition to these health care investments, the conference report includes provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage for mental health services and primary care services solely because they were delivered on the same day in the same facility.

Highlighting the urgent need to strengthen public health infrastructure at the local, state and regional level to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget includes targeted investments aimed at redoubling our efforts and pushing forward with a proactive public health response to defeat this horrible virus. The budget includes:

  • $10 million for grants to support local boards of health to combat COVID-19;
  • $1.7 million for the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) program to support a more effective local and regional public health delivery system; and
  • $1 million for a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan program, focused on equitable vaccine distribution.

Keeping in mind those affected by domestic violence, the budget establishes a grant program to provide domestic violence advocate services across the state to connect survivors with essential services. 

In order to support programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the budget increases funding for developmental services to $2.1 billion and includes $239 million for community day and work programs across the Commonwealth. The budget also includes the following investments:

  • $237 million for state-operated residential services
  • $78 million for family respite services; and
  • $38.5 million for autism omnibus services.

The budget furthers the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to fight the opioid epidemic. To provide assistance to those who are battling substance addiction, the budget increased funding for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to $169 million while offering continued support for step-down recovery services, jail diversion programs, and expansion of access to life-saving medication. 

Food insecurity has become one of the most prevalent consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting children, adults and seniors alike. To that end, the conference report prioritizes access to food resources across the Commonwealth. Food insecurity investments include:

  • $30 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program;
  • $13 million in Healthy Incentives Programs to ensure vulnerable households have continued access to food options during the pandemic; and
  • $1.2 million for Project Bread to support the Child Nutrition Outreach Program and the Food Source Hotline.

The budget includes funding for the judiciary and ongoing criminal justice reform, including a $762.9 million investment in the trial court and to support for criminal justice reform implementation. The budget also includes $29 million for civil legal aid to provide representation for low-income individuals via the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation and invests in community-based re-entry programs and a pre- and post-release services grant program.

The budget calls for $312.6 million in spending for environmental programs, which aim to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources. These investments include:

  • $70.4 million for the Department of Environmental Protection, including additional funding for a PFAS-specific team to remediate water contamination in the Commonwealth;
  • $51.5 million for state parks and recreation;
  • $40.1 million for the Department of Agricultural Resources, including $1.4M for mosquito spraying to mitigate the risk of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus;
  • $16.1 million for fisheries and wildlife protection;
  • $8.5 million for agricultural resources;
  • $2.6 million for ecological restoration; and
  • $500,000 for the Commonwealth’s endangered species program.

Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

Thanksgiving During COVID-19

As we head into Thanksgiving, I want to personally extend my thanks to you all for your strength and perseverance during these trying times and wish you a safe and happy holiday. While we offer our thanks for what we have, we must also pause and remember those who are no longer with us due to this terrible pandemic and endevour to each do our best to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

As Massachusetts residents plan for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Department of Public Health are offering the following considerations to help keep our friends, families, and communities safe during COVID-19. If you host a holiday celebration, keep it small. If you are considering travel, be aware of Massachusetts travel orders. If you participate in a celebration, follow public health guidance.

Any time you’re near people you don’t live with: 

  • Wear a mask when not eating or drinking
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Stay at least six feet apart from others 
  • Consider if those around you may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, and take extra precautions
  • If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors

Lower risk celebrations

  • Limit in-person holiday gatherings to only people you live with or limit to a small group of individuals with whom you are regularly in contact.
  • Gatherings with more people pose more risks. As a reminder, gatherings in Massachusetts are subject to gathering size limits.
  • Keep visits short – gatherings that last longer pose more risk than short gatherings.
    • Host a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends, especially if they are at higher risk for illness from COVID-19. Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.

Higher risk celebrations

Including people who are not in your household or limited social network increases the risk of contracting or spreading illness. If you plan on celebrating the holidays in person with people you don’t live with:

  • Wear your mask and watch your distance at all times.
  • Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
  • Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • Consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations.
  • For 14 days before and after holiday gatherings, minimize contact with other people, and leave home only for essential services like going to work, buying groceries, and appointments with doctors; OR,
  • Obtain a negative result from a molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test, on a sample obtained within 72 hours of the celebration. Information about where to obtain a test can be found at www.mass.gov/GetTested.
  • Seat people with plenty of space from one another while dining.
  • Consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table.
  • If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.

Avoid these activities

  • Avoid sharing food and drinks.
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging. Wave and verbally greet others instead.  
  • Avoid singing, dancing, and shouting. These activities increase your chances of catching COVID-19 through the air.  
  • Avoid in-person gatherings with people at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with certain medical conditions.

Other important considerations

  • Community levels of COVID-19: Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in your community and in the community where you plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Find information on cases in Massachusetts cities and towns and information on cases across the United States.
  • People with or exposed to COVID-19 should avoid attending in-person celebrations. Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household:
    • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
    • Has symptoms of COVID-19
    • Is awaiting COVID-19 viral test results
    • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
    • Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions
  • Celebrating with your loved one in a long-term care or congregate care setting: ​There are important considerations when planning celebrations with a loved one who lives in a congregate setting​, as many people living in these settings are at higher risk of becoming sick or severely ill from COVID-19. EOHHS is offering considerations and recommendations on how to safely celebrate with a loved one in a congregate setting in a letter to families.​

All residents are also encouraged to get the flu vaccine. For additional information, please refer to the holiday guidance provided by the CDC.

House Passes Balanced FY2021 Budget

Last week, I voted along with my colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $46 billion, the House budget aims to address the sweeping effects of the global pandemic by making targeted investments in housing, food security, substance use addiction services, and domestic violence, sexual assault treatment and prevention programs. The budget also invests in programs that provide COVID-related supports for students and increases funding for developmental services. 

Several items in the budget that I supported or filed as amendments have impacts locally here on Cape Ann, including:

  • $75,000 for the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute to develop a strategic plan with UMass Amherst and Tufts University to study applications of genomics to mitigate the effects of climate change on land and marine food resources;
  • $25,000 for the First R Foundation and Pathways for Children to provide books to Cape Ann’s children through the Imagination Library;
  • $75,000 to increase workforce development training opportunities and technical education in secondary and post-secondary schools for careers in the marine trades; and
  • $62,000 for the Essex county court-appointed special advocates program.

The House continues to further its commitment to cities and towns by investing $1.1 billion Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and providing $5.3 billion in Chapter 70 education funding, including over $16 million for Cape Ann’s schools and municipalities. The House budget education allocations include:

  • $53 million in COVID-related student supports;
  • $340 million for Circuit Breaker Special Education reimbursement;
  • $117 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and
  • $82 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.

Due to the pandemic, access to safe and affordable housing for many families across the Commonwealth is threatened. The House budget represents its ongoing commitment to housing and homelessness funding. This year, the House makes targeted investments into rental and housing assistance to combat the eviction crisis by providing:

  • $50 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT);
  • $135 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);
  • $80 million for public housing subsidies;
  • $56 million for homeless individual shelters;
  • $13 million for homeless student transportation;
  • $11 million for Department of Mental Health Rental Subsidy Program; and
  • $8 million for unaccompanied homeless youth.

Keeping in mind the widespread economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the House makes specific investments in labor and economic development programs that provide opportunities for the Commonwealth’s workers and its businesses. The House maintains its support for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership with an investment of $2 million – funding which has helped many Massachusetts manufacturers retrofit their businesses into the PPE market. Other investments include: 

  • $50 million for economic development including; 
    • $15 million for local Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
    • $15 million for community development financial institutions
    • $10 million for matching grants for capital investments by small businesses
    • $6 million for small business technical assistance grants
  • $46 million for Adult Basic Education Services;
  • $19 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth; 
  • $7 million Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund; 
  • $2.5 million in Urban Agenda Grants; and
  • $1.4 million for small business development.

The House budget continues its ongoing commitment to high-quality early education and care (EEC) and supporting the EEC workforce. The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The House budget also includes the following EEC investments and initiatives:

  • $15 million for Head Start grants;
  • $10 million for sliding fee scale reserve for childcare subsidies;
  • $10 million for EEC Workforce Higher Education Opportunities;
  • $2.5 million in early childhood mental health grants;
  • $11 million for child care resource and referral agencies; and
  • Establishes the Early Education and Care economic review commission to review childcare funding and make recommendations on policy changes to expand access.

The House budget continues to dedicate substantial resources toward supporting public higher education and increases scholarship funding for students. These investments include:

  • $284 million for state universities;
  • $305 million for community colleges; 
  • $560 million for the University of Massachusetts system;
  • $120 million in scholarship funding; and
  • $4.8 million for the STEM Starter Academy, to support underrepresented students in STEM fields at community colleges.

This fiscal year funded at $19 billion, MassHealth is the largest investment the Commonwealth makes in its most vulnerable residents including the working poor and the homeless. In response to the threats to reproductive rights for women on the national level, the House voted to remove medically unnecessary barriers to women’s reproductive care across the Commonwealth. The budget also invests in critical health and human services agencies and providers including:

  • $307 million for the Department of Children and Families for social workers, family support and stabilization, and foster care and adopted fee waivers;
  • $30 million in emergency food assistance; and
  • $13 million for the Healthy Incentives Program.

Keeping in mind those affected by domestic violence, the House budget establishes a grant program to provide domestic violence advocate services across the state to connect survivors with essential services. 

In order to support programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the House budget increases funding for developmental services to $2.1 billion and includes $264 million for community day and work programs across the Commonwealth. The House budget also includes the following investments:

  • $236 million for state-operated residential services
  • $78 million for family respite services; and
  • $39 million for autism omnibus services.

The budget furthers the House’s ongoing commitment to fight the opioid epidemic. To provide assistance to those who are battling substance addiction, the budget increased funding for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to $162 million while offering continued support for step-down recovery services, jail diversion programs, and expansion of access to life-saving medication. 

The House budget includes funding for the judiciary and ongoing criminal justice reform, including a $761 million investment in the trial court and $20 million for criminal justice reform implementation. The budget also includes:

  • $29 million for civil legal aid to provide representation for low-income individuals via the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation; 
  • $9.6 million for a new community-based re-entry program; and
  • $4 million for a pre and post-release services grant program.

The House calls for $302 million in spending for environmental programs, which aim to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources. These investments include:

  • $50 million for state parks and recreation;
  • $40 million for the Department of Environmental Protection; 
  • $16 million for fisheries and wildlife protection;
  • $8.1 million for agricultural resources;
  • $2.1 million for ecological restoration; and
  • $500,000 for the Commonwealth’s endangered species program.

The budget is now with the Senate.

New Targeted Measures To Curb Rising COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations

Today, the Commonwealth announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. These changes are being announced at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures are meant to disrupt rising trends now, so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open for residents and to prevent the need to roll back to Phase I or Phase II of the reopening plan.

All orders and advisories will be effective Friday, November 6th at 12:01 AM.

New Orders & Advisories:

Stay At Home Advisory: A revised Stay At Home Advisory has been issued to ensure residents avoid unnecessary activities that can lead to increased COVID-19 transmission. The revised Stay At Home Advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 PM and 5 AM. The Advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs, and taking a walk.

Click here to read the revised Stay At Home Advisory.

Early Closure of Businesses and Activities: Governor Baker issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement is aligned with the Stay At Home Advisory and together the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission.

Effective November 6, the following businesses and activities must close to the public each day between the hours of 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM.

  • Restaurants (in-person dining must cease at 9:30 PM, although takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages, but not alcohol)
  • Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales at 9:30 PM (but may continue to sell other products)
  • Adult-use marijuana sales must cease at 9:30 PM (not including medical marijuana)
  • Indoor & outdoor events
  • Theaters/movie theaters (including drive-in movie theaters), and performance venues (indoor and outdoor)
  • Youth and adult amateur sports activities
  • Golf facilities
  • Recreational boating and boating businesses
  • Outdoor recreational experiences
  • Casinos and horse tracks/simulcast facilities
  • Driving and flight schools
  • Zoos, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves, nature centers
  • Close contact personal services (such as hair and nail salons)
  • Gyms, Fitness Centers and Health Clubs
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • Museums/cultural & historical facilities/guided tours

Click here to read the new executive order.

Face Covering Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order related to face-coverings. The revised order requires all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. The revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.

Click here to read the revised face-coverings order.

Gatherings Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new gatherings order reduces the gathering size limit for gatherings at private residences: indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 PM.

The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.

Click here to read the revised gatherings order.

Lower Risk Communities to Move to Step 2 of Phase III

The Commonwealth has announced that effective Monday, October 5th, lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step 2 of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. All other communities will remain in Phase III, Step 1. Governor Charlie Baker also issued a revised gatherings order. Industry specific guidance and protocols for a range of Phase I, II, and III businesses will also be updated.

Phase III, Step 2

On May 18, the Commonwealth released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on sustained improvements in public health data. Last month, the Commonwealth began releasing data on the average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) weekly reports.

Effective October 5th, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step 2 of Phase III for lower risk communities only:

  • Indoor performance venues will be permitted to open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.
  • Outdoor performance venue capacity will increase to 50% with a max of 250 people.
  • For arcades and indoor and outdoor recreation businesses, additional Step 2 activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag will also be permitted to open and capacity will increase to 50%.
  • Fitting rooms will be permitted to open in all types of retail stores. 
  • Gyms, museums, libraries and driving and flight schools will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50%.

Revised Gatherings Order

  • The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities.
  • Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities.
  • Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step 1 communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step 2 communities.