*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 9:30p: We have just learned that the bike shop prohibition language has been removed from the Governor's FAQ page, and though we are still asking for bike repair shops to be named as "essential," this gives us confidence that the State is not prohibiting bicycle repair as a necessary service during these this Emergency Order. We advise all shops that choose to stay open to also check with their local municipality.*
*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 8a: Per the Governor's FAQ published after this blog, bike shops are NOT included as essential, however many municipalities are contacting shops and letting them know they consider them essential. We will be working with the administration to get this changed so there is clarity and consistency across the state from the Governor's Office on this matter.*
This week Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services to close their locations through (at least) April 7. This is a crucial move to stem the spread of the Novel Coronavirus by limiting social interactions and preventing the contamination of public spaces. So what does this mean for your local bike shop?
Well, per the Governor's list of "essential services" one could take a loose constructionist interpretation that bicycle repair shops fall into the Transportation and Logistics category, specifically "Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers."
Obviously bicycle shops are providing transportation services by repairing and maintaining bicycles, which is the primary form of transportation for many essential workers such as hospital staff, grocery store clerks, and workers of all stripes -- especially in Massachusetts' urban areas.
In an earlier released Frequently Asked Questions page, the Governor's orders named bike shops as not essential. However, the language has since been removed and several municipalities have opted to specifically include bike repair shops as essential for transportation during this crisis, some going so far as to call up shops directly to clarify that they can stay open.
At the time of this writing, here are the cities and towns we know of that consider bike shops essential: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Lexington, Provincetown, Northampton, Newton. (note: the PTown Board of Health rescinded their local order on Wednesday, March 26, which they were originally planning to amend to specifically exempt bike shops, but may not need to under the governor’s current order.)
Any shop that would like to open up during the emergency will need to check with their local municipal leaders (Mayor's Office, Town Manager, etc), their local board of health, and their local police department. MassBike is reaching out to shops and municipalities across the commonwealth to confirm policies.
To help continue to ask for a named essential designation statewide, we also encourage bike shop owners to fill out this MA Essential Service Designation Request, even if their individual shop is not remaining open: https://www.mass.gov/…/essential-service-designation-request