The pandemic state of emergency in Massachusetts will come to an end when the clock strikes midnight Monday and lawmakers admit they won't be done with legislation in time to guarantee that protections and privileges for businesses and residents tied to the emergency order will stay in place.
Almost all the major leaders on Beacon Hill agree that local government meetings should be able to stay virtual, that restaurants should continue to sell cocktails to-go and that evictions should be delayed beyond July. But disagreements over price caps for food deliveries, insurance coverage for COVID-19 treatment and other issues led lawmakers to blow the deadline to get a bill to Gov. Baker's desk before the expiration of his emergency order.
“We are keenly aware of the time sensitive nature of the issues tied to the lifting of the State of Emergency. The Senate has scheduled a session tomorrow in the hopes of swiftly addressing these measures," Antonio Caban, a spokesperson for Sen. President Karen Spilka, told GBH News in a statement Monday.
At the stroke of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, cocktails to-go will once again be banned in the Commonwealth, and a cap on delivery fees — meant to protect restaurants from delivery services seen as taking advantage of eateries — will expire. The delay means the situation many business owners were hoping to avoid is coming to pass: an in-between period where the emergency order has expired, and lawmakers haven't been able to get extensions in place.
The House and Senate — both controlled by Democrats — will be back in session Tuesday to try to reach a compromise. The Senate under Spilka and the House under Speaker Ron Mariano tend to pass legislation just in the nick of time. That didn't happen this time, though lawmakers had nearly three weeks since Baker filed his initial bill to figure out which of the pandemic provisions could to be extended or codified.
WATCH: Mike Deehan on the state of emergency's end