Health Department FAQs


What do I do if I test positive?

Find the latest information on what to if you test positive for COVID-19. 

Treatment is available.

If you meet specific criteria you may be eligible for Antiviral Monoclonal Antibody therapy. Please reach out to your PCP right away. Find out about therapeutic treatments here.

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Food Service FAQs

Can you test food products for pathogens?

Food samples intended for analysis of microbial pathogens are sent to the State Laboratory Institute, operated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Please do not bring food to the Health Department; we don't need the food itself but we do need to know the establishment at which you dined, what you ate there, and the time you ate it. We will ask you what you ate for the entire day as well.  

We will also ask you to contact the restaurant to inform them. This is important because they need to be aware and discard the food that is suspicious as soon as possible.

Once we have a complaint, the department will do an inspection. If we get three cases of foodborne illness from one site during a short time period, we will contact the Commonwealth so that they can investigate further; they'll look into the source of the food if there are multiple complaints and concerns of an outbreak of a foodborne illness.   

Do I need to become certified in food handling practices to open a restaurant?
Yes. A Certified Food Protection manager must be available to open a restaurant.
Do I need to use single-use gloves during handling of ready-to-eat food products?
Yes. Food handlers must use single-use gloves while handling ready-to-eat foods unless the establishment maintains a written Alternative Operational Procedure.*

* A written alternative Operational Procedure explains in detail how you would handle food and why you need to do it in that way. The procedure need to be approved by the Board of Health to see if it meets the requirements of the food code.  
What do I need to open a restaurant in Greenfield?
First and foremost, interested individuals should obtain a copy of the State Food Code 105 CMR 590.000 and review provisions relating to physical facility and equipment requirements. Secondly, speak with either a food safety consultant or the Board of Health for additional advice.
Why do I need a separate hand wash sink when I have a three-bay sink, a mop sink, and a sink in my restroom?

A separate hand wash sink is designated for only hand-washing practices. This is important for reducing possible hand contamination in either a three-bay sink or a mop sink. In addition, a hand-wash sink must be conveniently located in the food production area to make hand washing available. In addition, another hand-wash sink must be located in or adjacent to the restroom.

Landlord / Tenant FAQs

Are there temperature requirements for apartments?
Yes. The owner shall provide heat in every habitable room and in every room containing a toilet, shower, or bathtub to at least 68° F between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. and at least 64° F between 11:01 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.
How many people can reside in one apartment?
It depends on the square footage of the apartment. Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of floor space for its first occupant, and at least 100 square feet of floor space for each additional occupant, the floor space to be calculated on the basis of total habitable room area.
Is there a time of year when the owner must provide heat?
Heat must be provided every day other than during the period from June 15 to September 15, inclusive.
Whose responsibility is it to keep fresh batteries in the smoke detectors?
It is the responsibility of the property owner to provide and maintain smoke detectors in a dwelling.
What is the square footage requirement of a bedroom?
In a dwelling unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor space; every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor space for each occupant.
I live in an apartment building with smokers; is there something I can do about it?

Tenants’ Guide to Going Smoke-Free (PDF) 

Secondhand smoke is not just a nuisance. It’s a health hazard, and it is dangerous. But there are things you can do. Report smoking in common areas:

  • Under Massachusetts state law, smoking is prohibited in the common areas of any multi-unit building that has one or more employee. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program at 800-992-1895 or 617-624-5116.

Talk to your landlord about implementing a smoke-free policy in your building:

  • A packet of information that you can give to your landlord is available in the Resources section of this site.
  • Smoke-free policies are 100% legal. Just like landlords can prohibit pets, they can prohibit smoking.
  • Smoke-free policies are not discriminatory. Smokers are not a protected class. There is no right to smoke!
  • Landlords can still rent to smokers, so long as the tenant follows the smoke-free policy.

For people with disabilities, find out if you have legal protection from secondhand smoke:

Take legal action:

  • Legal remedies may be available. There are ways tenants can bring legal action under what is called “common law” against a landlord or against tenants who smoke. These theories include: breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, negligence, nuisance, breach of warranty of habitability, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass, and constructive eviction. Pursuing these remedies can be costly and time-consuming.

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My apartment has bed bugs; whose responsibility is it to get rid of them?

In most cases, a landlord or property manager is required by law to “maintain the dwelling they own without insect infestation” (MA: 105 CMR 410.550). It is the landlord’s responsibility to respond to any complaints of bed bugs.

If someone is renting a single-family home, the owner is not responsible for extermination as long as they maintain upkeep of the home. In these cases the occupant is required to pay.

If you are a tenant, contact your landlord so that they can hire a licensed exterminator to identify the insect and develop an extermination plan or Integrated Pest Management Plan to eliminate them.

Miscellaneous Health Department FAQs

I am selling my house. Do I need to get a percolation test?

Not necessarily. Your first step is to determine whether or not your septic system is in failure. This is accomplished by a septic system inspection. 

If you have a septic system, the realtor involved should recommend that you get a Title 5 and provide you with a list of contractors who can do the work. The Health Department will need to witness the Title 5 test and make sure the system is in compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection Title 5 code.

You can find additional information about Title 5 here.

Septic System FAQs

My septic system failed; how long do I have to repair/replace it?
Once discovered to be in failure, an owner has two years within which to repair/replace the system, unless the failure poses an imminent health hazard (such as ponding of sewage effluent on the surface of the ground) in which case the repair/replacement must be immediate.
What is the procedure for a septic system inspection?
The individual that you choose to inspect your system must be licensed to do so by the Department of Environmental Protection. They will examine your system against criteria established by the DEP for failed septic systems. You will receive a report by the system inspector which states that the system either passes, fails or, in rare cases, needs further evaluation by the Board of Health.