Fishing Charters set to Reopen In Massachusetts May 25, 2020

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May 18, 2020


On May 18, 2020, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 33: Order Implementing a Phased Reopening of Workplaces and Imposing Workplace Safety Measures to Address COVID-19, implementing a phased reopening of workplaces and imposing workplace safety measures to address COVID-19. That same day, he issued COVID-19 Order No. 34: Order Expanding Access to and Use of State Beaches and Addressing Other Outdoor Recreational Activities, which directed the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs “to issue guidance for the implementation of generally applicable COVID-19 workplace standards by operators of and participants in outdoor recreational activities.”

This document provides guidance for operators of for hire fishing and charter vessels on how to implement those general workplace safety standards and other public health guidance (“COVID-19 measures”) in the context of their outdoor recreational operations in the first phase (“Phase 1”) of the Commonwealth’s reopening. Operators who fail to implement applicable COVID-19 measures may be sanctioned in accordance with COVID-19 Order No. 33. Operators are further reminded that in addition to implementing COVID-19 measures in Phase 1, they must still comply with all federal, state and local laws.

The public health data and guidance on which this document is based can and does change frequently. The most recent version of this document can be found on the Commonwealth’s website,

Any questions regarding this guidance can be sent to


COVID-19 Order No. 33 permits certain outdoor recreational activities and facilities to resume operations on May 25, 2020, provided that those operations meet safety standards and comply with the terms and conditions of the Order.

With respect to for hire and charter fishing, the Order provides that no more than ten people, including any captain and crew, are aboard a single vessel at any one time. This means that vessels with more than 10 passengers and crew are not allowed to operate at this time.

In addition to complying with the aforementioned limitations, operators must implement the following safety measures detailed below:


COVID-19 Order No. 33 organizes safety measures into four distinct categories, social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting. For hire and charter fishing operations must ensure that the following COVID-19 Measures to protect consumers and employees.

Social Distancing All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing Provide signage for safe social distancing Require face coverings or masks for all employees and customers
Hygiene Protocols Provide hand-washing capabilities throughout the workplace Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site
Staffing and Operations Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols Employees who are displaying COVID-19-like symptoms do not report to work Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to- work plan
Cleaning and Disinfecting Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace

The application of these measures to for hire and charter fishing is detailed below.

I. Social Distancing

  •   Passengers and crewmembers must wear cloth face coverings that meet the recommendations contained in DPH/CDC guidance.
  •   Crewmembers shall clean or dispose of face coverings in accordance with DPH/CDC guidance.
  •   For hire vessels shall remain a safe distance apart. Tying boats or other crafts together is prohibited. All local rules, regulations, laws, and Coast Guard requirements still apply.
  •   Passengers and crew members must abide by social distancing protocols of at least six feet between individuals. Passengers and crewmembers from the same household are not required to social distance from each other.
  •   Stagger lunch and break times, regulating maximum number of people in one place and ensuring at least 6 feet of physical distancing during any meeting.
  •   Face coverings are required for all workers, except where doing so may introduce a safety hazard to workers or where an individual is unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability.
  •   Minimize the use of confined spaces (e.g., elevators, control rooms, vehicles) by more than one individual at a time; all employees in such spaces at the same time are required to wear face coverings. II. Hygiene Protocols
  •   Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, and allow sufficient break time for employees to wash hands to frequently; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative
  •   Crewmembers must provide to customers handwashing capability or sanitizer on the vessel.
  •   Frequent handwashing by employees, and an adequate supply of soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and paper towels must be available.
  •   Crewmembers must provide for hourly touch-point sanitization (e.g., workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms).
  •   Vessel captains must provide training for crewmembers regarding the COVID-19 Mitigation Plan, train their crewmembers in basic hygiene practices, such as frequent and thorough hand washing, respiratory etiquette (e.g., covering coughs and sneezes), and discourage crewmembers or passengers from using others’ personal property, work tools, and equipment.
  •   Supply employees at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes).
  •   Require regular and not less than daily cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch areas such as workstations, door handles, and restrooms
  •   Post visible signage throughout the site to remind employees on the hygiene and safety protocols. III. Staffing and Operations
  •   Vessel captains must conduct pre-shift staff screening and maintain staff screening log.
  •   Passengers must bring their own food and drinks onboard. Food and drinks must be kept separate from the crew’s food and drinks.
  •   Passengers and crewmembers should not pass or share fishing rods or equipment, to the maximum extent possible.
  •   The vessel captain must establish a COVID-19 Mitigation Plan addressing the practices and protocols to protect staff and the public.
  •   Signage must be posted on the vessel to notify the public of the vessels COVID-19 Mitigation Plan and clearly state that any person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 may not enter the vessel.
  •   Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission
  •   Limit visitors and service providers on site; shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas, outside the facility if possible
  •   Log everyone who comes in contact with site to enable contact tracing, including customers
  •   Employees must stay home if feeling ill.
  •   Employees who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home
  •   Encourage employees to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer
  •   Post notice to employees, workers, and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in government guidelines IV. Cleaning and Disinfecting
  •   Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of vessels and associated boarding site.
  •   Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning
  •   Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, handrails, bathrooms)
  •   In event of a positive case, shut down site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current guidance

We are Excited to get you back out on the water!


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