Evolving Regulations & Best Practices

last updated 7/22/2020 6:00 pm 

COVID-Related Best Practices: planning for reopening

Governor Baker has extended the extension of non-essential businesses closure to May 19th and has issued a phased plan to reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In the meantime, many of our businesses are preparing now as their operations are allowed to gradually resume. Below are ideas and resources with sources cited. The Town will update this page as further guidance is issued by the state and Brookline Public Health. Currently, Public Health has issued guidance for food establishments that continue to be open to the public as an essential business and general cleaning and disinfection guidance.   

  • Brookline Chamber of Commerce Business Forum (you do not need to be a Chamber member, discussions are private to businesses that join as members)  
  • Communication to Customers - in your marketing, show customers how you are keeping your employees & customers safe! We are hearing from many residents and neighborhood associations eager to support local businesses, and learning about reopening stores through their social networks. Many customers returning to the marketplace are purchasing first from businesses that are explaining their safety protocols. Photos of safe, hard-working employees of local businesses are very often reposted! 
  • Retail ideas, courtesy of Beth Venti at Wild Goose Chase
  • Supplies & services sources (email Kara Brewton if you would like to add resources here):
    • State Portal opened May 18th
    • Plexiglass barriers - note this does not require a building permit, and there is not a Town-mandated specification. Here are some Brookline Businesses that can help:
    • Contactless thermometers (helpful for staff screening; please make sure they are for human use - not food, cooking, or mechanical systems!)
    • Cleaning Supplies, Masks/Gloves, Hand Sanitizers & Dispensers, Signage for Customers - please make sure you read Brookline Public Health Department’s cleaning & disinfection guidance before ordering disinfectants


  • Private fitness classes now allowed in Town-owned parks and open spaces through new temporary permit program: In recognition of the COVID-related challenges facing Brookline’s fitness businesses, the Town has created a temporary permit program to allow private fitness classes to be held in select Town-owned parks and open spaces through mid-November 2020. Businesses interested in taking advantage of this program should review the program description, and sign and submit the COVID Outdoor Fitness Safety Guidelines and a special permit-fitness application. Applications and inquiries can be directed to Alex Cassie at acassie@brooklinema.gov.
  • Retail Goods and Sandwich Boards allowed on public sidewalks with certain conditions: On June 17th, the Brookline Department of Public Works (DPW) Commissioner, in consultation with the Economic Development Division, issued two orders allowing for the use of the public sidewalk for retail sandwich boards and retail goods. These orders are part of the Town’s overall strategy to re-imagine and re-purpose our public spaces in support of our local businesses as they begin to re-open as part of Phases 2 & 3 of the state’s Reopening Plan, and will be in effect until November 15, 2020. 
    • Businesses interested in displaying sandwich boards or retail goods in the public way need to comply with the requirements outlined in the DPW orders and submit a copy of their general liability insurance to Todd Kirrane, Transportation Administrator, at tkirrane@brooklinema.gov
  • #ShopBrookline Signage Program: In partnership with the Brookline business community, the Town of Brookline has created a coordinated storefront signage program to fill Brookline’s commercial areas with bright, positive messaging and clearly communicate how Brookline businesses are open for business during COVID-19.
  • Guidance on Cleaning: The Brookline Department of Public Health has prepared a Cleaning & Disinfection Guidance document for businesses (and residential buildings). Within that Guidance is a link to disinfectants that the EPA identifies as effective against COVID-19.
  • Grocery Options: If you currently have a food establishment permit, a retail food permit, or a limited food retail permit - yes, you can sell grocery items to your customers. Please just send an email to your health inspector about any new types of food items you’re selling and how you plan on safely storing them – done!
  • Plexiglass Barriers: A building permit is not required for the installation of plexiglass barriers and there are no specific design standards from the Public Health Department. The state now does allow businesses to have a limited number of employees in order to fulfill online and phone orders.
  • Storefront Signage Enforcement Temporarily Suspended: As of April 14, Brookline’s Building Commissioner will significantly relax storefront window signage requirements for the remainder of the State of Emergency, on the condition that any temporary interior signage (e.g. banners, posters, illuminated signs) installed during this time must be removed once the State of Emergency is lifted. For temporary illuminated signs, plug-in signs are recommended, and any hard-wired temporary illuminated signs should be installed by a licensed electrician to ensure safety. Existing restrictions on sandwich board signs will continue to be enforced.
  • Delivery/Carry Out Signage: Many essential businesses have created or increased their delivery or curb-side pick-up options as well to accommodate social distancing efforts. To support Brookline businesses as they transition to delivery-only operations, the Town has put up “Delivery/Carry Out Only” 15-minute parking signs at various locations throughout Brookline’s commercial areas. The locations of these 15-Minute Delivery Only signs can be found here. (Note: Many thanks to Hugh Mattison, TMM5 for creating this reference map.) Please contact Meredith L. Mooney, Economic Development Planner, at mmooney@brooklinema.gov with any questions about this initiative or to request a sign.
  • Beer and Wine Delivery/Takeout Permitted: As of Friday, April 3, Massachusetts restaurants, bars, etc. with on-premises licenses are now able to sell malt beverages and wine for off-premises consumption for the duration of the Governor’s declared state of emergency. Additional information and guidance from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) can be found here.

  • Revised Requirements for Brookline Food Establishments (Effective April 10): On April 6, the Brookline Department of Public Health issued additional health and safety requirements for food establishments. Effective April 10, all food establishments deemed essential by the state order must follow the new requirements outlined here.
  • Should businesses that are just starting to begin construction continue plans to build out their space?  The Building Department has continuously been processing construction permits online. Please start the building application process online, and your building inspector will be in touch with you to schedule any on-site meetings as local and state orders allow. Please be patient with our response time as the Town continues to try and remain open for business, safely.
    • The Baker-Polito Administration has designated some businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 to be allowed to continue operating brick and mortar facilities during this time. The current list, additional guidance, and FAQs regarding essential businesses can be found here.
    • Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means. A limited number of employees are now allowed to be present within businesses to fulfill online and phone orders. Brookline officials ask that you clearly post that you are closed to the public and point people to your online platforms. Additional information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Businesses page.

Non-COVID related evolving regulations:

COVID-Related Evolving Regulatory Topics