Updated as information is received.
June 6, 2020
May 19, 2020
As of Monday May 18th, the DPH reported a total of 87,052 cases of COVID-19. The state has now confirmed a total of 5,862 deaths from the virus.
- Governor Baker released his economic re-opening plan at a Monday press conference and DPH issued an updated “Safer at Home” advisory.
- The new Safer at Home Advisory instructs everyone to stay home unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity.
- It also advises those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home with the exception of trips required for health care, groceries, or that are otherwise absolutely necessary.
- All residents must continue to wear a face covering in public when social distancing is not possible, and individuals are advised to wash their hands frequently and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms.
- Restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect.
- The administration plan calls for a phased re-opening with a goal of full operations in a “new normal”.
- Key public health metrics will determine if and when it is appropriate to proceed through reopening phases. They include:
- COVID-19 positive test rate
- Number of individuals who died from COVID-19
- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals
- Health care system readiness
- Testing capacity
- Contact tracing capabilities
- Manufacturing, construction and houses of worship are able to open immediately, provided they meet health and safety criteria.
- Hospitals and community health centers that attest to specific public health and safety standards can also begin to provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients.
- A number of other industries can open in Phase 1, next Monday, May 25th, including limited retail, office and lab space, recreational marijuana, barber shops, salons and pet groomers.
- The plan did not address childcare, K-12 or higher education.
- Restaurants are slated to re-open in phase 2, meaning a minimum of 3 more weeks, but possibly longer based on health and safety criteria.
May 18, 2020
Governor Charlie Baker reveals details of Reopening Massachusetts Plan
May 15, 2020
Grants and Loan Programs available to businesses through the City of Cambridge
- Information about the grants and loan and general business updates are here: www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/business
- There’s also a dedicate page at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/mayorsfundbusinesses for the mayor’s fund/CRA applications
- The information about the Recovery Grant is at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/News/2020/05/smallbusinessrecoverygrant
- And there’s a new, dedicated page for small business funding opportunities at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/business/funding that has a table with all the different programs and eligibility requirements.
If you have any questions regarding these programs, please contact:
Senior Economic Development Manager
Economic Development Division
Cambridge Community Development Department
May 11th, 2020
Update on re-opening process from Governor Baker’s press conference Monday, May 11, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
Announcement: In order the help businesses prepare for reopening, we are announcing the Four-Phased Approach that Massachusetts will use to reopen, as well as the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that all businesses will need to adopt.
- Phased Planning: Massachusetts will follow a four phased approach to reopening. Non-essential businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. Riskier activities will open in later phases. We will have additional information in the coming days about which industries and activities will open in each phase
- Framework: There will be three levels of guidance from our administration that each sector, industry, and business will need to follow.The first is general social guidance about how people should conduct themselves. We are announcing the second level, which is Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that all businesses must adopt upon reopening. We will later provide industry specific guidance.
- Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards: All workplaces in Massachusetts that are allowed to operate will be required to implement these Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards. The standards were developed by the Reopening Advisory Board, in consultation with the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center.
|As of May 8th, DPH reported a total of 75,333 cases of COVID-19. |
The state has now confirmed a total of 4,702 deaths from the virus.
EOHHS Secretary Sudders and Hilltown Health Center CEO Eliza Lake joined Governor Baker at his Friday press conference to highlight a new public awareness campaign with the message that community health centers are open and people should come in for the care they need.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced the city will not hold large events like parades and festivals through Labor Day.
The Boston Pops also announced that it was canceling its annual Fourth of July concert.
New figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics further confirm the economic devastation of the pandemic.
With the widespread job losses, the national unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent last month.
Both the 20.5 million lost jobs and the 10.3 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate were the largest one-month jumps since the Bureau of Labor Statistics launched those data series in 1939 and 1948, respectively.
The largest impact came in the leisure and hospitality sector, where April employment dropped 7.7 million, or 47 percent of the industry’s entire job force.
Nearly two dozen MBTA projects will be delayed as a result of the pandemic.
Massachusetts will receive $28M in fisheries assistance under CARES Act allocations announced late this week.
Only Alaska and Washington, which will receive $50M in aid are receiving larger allocations than Massachusetts.
Maine is slated to receive $20M.The Senate on Thursday passed a short-term borrowing bill to bridge the impending gap in state revenues, and also approved a remote voting system to facilitate a final vote on the bill, which may come next week.
As amended during Thursday’s session, the temporary remote voting rules will allow senators to submit a letter expressing how they wish to vote on the enactment of the borrowing bill, and their votes would be announced in the chamber by the presiding officer.
Senate leadership is working on a longer-term rules package, targeted for implementation in early June, to conduct emergency-era formal sessions beyond the governor’s borrowing bill.
The House on Thursday adopted a clause to Governor Baker’s short-term borrowing bill that would set it into effect immediately after the governor signs it into law.
The House and Senate both plan to meet again on Monday at 11am for informal sessions.
A federal judge will temporarily lift a Governor Baker executive order requiring firearm retailers to close their physical businesses during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock issued a preliminary injunction Thursday in a case that Massachusetts residents, gun shop owners and gun rights groups brought against the Baker administration.
The online case docket indicated the order will take effect at 12 p.m. Saturday.
May 4th, 2020
The CIP Group Considerations for Reopening for Business
What to consider while you plan to reopen for business Post COVID return
The CIP Group extends well wishes to everyone in our extended community amid this unprecedented period of time. We are writing to let you know The CIP Group continues to provide services that will help reopen your doors and restore operations to our new post-COVID-19 normal. From the start, it has been our goal to be a stabilizing, informational force, leveraging our resources and connections to best support you during these trying and unprecedented times. Prior to re-opening, every business – regardless of size – must identify and implement reasonable coronavirus precautions. These steps will help protect the well-being of customers, vendors and employees. We have included a Post COVID Return to Work Planning guide on our website we hope will provide value as you begin your planning. You can download it by following this link. Of course, every business also must have the ability to clearly and effectively communicate these safeguards with external audiences, including regulators.
The CIP Group has partnered with a leading Risk/Crisis Communications expert, to offer clients a complimentary Business Recovery Communications plan. This comprehensive guide will help clients share their coronavirus safety measures with customers and the public at large. To receive a complimentary Business Recovery Communications plan, please email our Rapid Response team at firstname.lastname@example.org or just reach out to your trusted CIP Contact.
The CIP Group
799 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
- Governor Baker on Monday gave florists, as well as many other “non-essential” businesses, a green thumbs up to bring back a limited number of employees to fulfill online and phone orders for delivery, as long as they follow proper safety measures and keep the doors locked to customers.
- The updated guidance comes just ahead of Mother’s Day, which is a major event on the calendar for many garden and flower businesses.
- Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst has been making a hard push over the past week to get the Baker administration to relax its essential businesses order to allow fulfillment centers and other retailers categorized as non-essential, including bookstores and jewelers, to work in locked store fronts.
- The administration quietly updated its essential services guidance to allow a limited number of employees of florist shops and other businesses to reenter closed stores and warehouses to fulfill and ship orders taken over the phone and online.
- The new guidelines require these stores to remain closed to the public and limit operating hours to allow for sufficient off-hour cleaning. Employees must wear face coverings and stay at least six feet apart from one another, and all deliveries must be “no-contact” deliveries to consumers.
- The guidelines also limit the number of employees that can work at a given time, starting with three in a business smaller than 10,000 square feet and growing to seven in a facility with more than 30,000 square feet.
- Employers must also require workers to self-administer temperature checks before their shifts, and not report to work if they have a fever over 100 degrees.
- The updated essential business guidelines also made new allowances for car dealerships, allowing for sales to resume over the phone or online and for dealerships to follow the same remote fulfillment rules as other retailers.
- Test drives of vehicles are not permitted, and all processing of documents should be done electronically, if possible, the rules said.
- Dealerships must remain closed to walk-in customers, but transfer, delivery and return of new and leased vehicles or trade-ins can be conducted in person by appointment.
May 1st, 2020
Mask and Face Covering Order: The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. This statewide order goes into effect on May 6th and supersedes previously issued guidance relative to mask use.
This order applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations that are currently open to the public and permitted to operate as COVID-19 Essential Businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores. Residents are also required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when using any means of transportation service or public mass transit.
A face covering may include anything that covers your nose and mouth, including a mask, scarf or bandana. Health care masks should not be used and should be preserved for health care workers and first responders. Cloth masks should not be worn by young children under the age of two, persons with difficulty breathing, or those who are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Instructions on how to make a cloth mask are available from the CDC here.
April 27th, 2020
This morning at 10:30am, the second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is going live. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has created a web page with resources for smaller businesses including nonprofits to aide them in applying to this program.
The Resource Page Includes:
– An info sheet describing the program
– Links to other resources including program information and loan applications in 19 languages
– A list of technical assistance providers indicating they can help small businesses/nonprofits apply for the PPP
– A list of financial institutions that can process PPP loans for non-customers
You can visit the page here: https://www.bostonfed.org/in-the-region/covid-19-resources/paycheck-protection-program.aspx
|Cambridge Savings Bank Announces |
COVID-19 Nonprofit Relief Grants
|Cambridge Savings Bank has recognized that non-profits are experiencing financial and operational challenges. Their Charitable Foundation is elevating their giving by $1 million dollars. Their first focus is providing assistance to overcome food access challenges.|
April 16th, 2020
April 6th, 2020
WHERE DO I GO NEXT?
FREE and confidential counseling services are available across the Commonwealth.
Virtual education, training and networking sessions are happening daily.
Please schedule a virtual session with any of our Resource Partners below…
Subscribe to SBA email updates
Subscribe to E-Newsletter
Resource Partner Network
Eastern Massachusetts Center – Boston
44 School St., Suite 200
Boston, MA 02108
Central Massachusetts Center – Westborough
69 Milk St., Ste. 217
Westborough, MA 01581
Veterans Business Outreach Center of New England (VBOC of NE)
132 George M. Cohan Blvd.
Providence, RI 02903
|WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS!|
Staff are working remotely and can be reached via email or telephone. MSBDC is committed to supporting entrepreneurs during these very challenging times.Request for CounselingMSBDC advisors can assist businesses with disaster loan applications.If you are not currently a client and would like to speak with a counselor, please find your region and reach out to the REGIONAL OFFICE SERVING YOU.Berkshire Regional Office
33 Dunham Mall, Suite 103
Pittsfield, MA 01201
413-499-0933 | Fax: 413-499-3005
www.msbdc.org/berkshireCentral Regional Office
The Carriage House, 125 Woodland Street
Worcester, MA 01610
508-793-7615 | Fax: 508-793-8890
www.clarku.edu/offices/sbdcNortheast Regional Office
Salem State University
121 Loring Avenue, Suite 310
Salem, MA 01970
978-542-6343 | Fax: 978-542-6345
www.salemstate.edu/sbdcProcurement Technical Assistance Center
Scibelli Enterprise Center
1 Federal Street, Building 1
Springfield, MA 01105
413-545-6303 | Fax: 413-737-2312
https://www.massptac.orgSoutheast Regional Office
200 Pocasset Street
Fall River, MA 02721
508-673-9783 | Fax: 508-674-1929
www.msbdc.org/semassWestern Regional Office
Scibelli Enterprise Center
One Federal Street, Building 101
Springfield, MA 01105-1160
413-577-1768 | Fax: 413-737-2312
www.msbdc.org/wmass Request for CounselingCounseling Sessions with BOSTON SCORE CHAPTER:
If you want to speak with a counselor, SCORE is doing tele-consults. Just pick a date and time to schedule a session and enter your contact info, mentors are doing sessions by phone and Zoom video app.
Reach out to other SCORE CHAPTERS throughout the state below.SCORE Boston ChapterSCORE Worcester Chapter
SCORE Northeastern Massachusetts Chapter
SCORE Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter
SCORE Western Massachusetts Chapter
SCORE Cape Cod Chapter
SCORE Rhode Island (Serving Fall River, New Bedford) UPCOMING Virtual EventsTuesday 4/7/20 at 10am
Current Information on SBA Economic Relief for Small BusinessesThursday, 4/9/20 at 10am
CARES Act: What’s in it for Startups?Thursday, 4/9/20 at 11AM
BECMA: Virtual Conversation with SBA Bob and NadineThursday 4/16/20 at 10am
Intellectual Property for Small BusinessesWednesday 4/29/20 at 10am
Funding Options – What to consider and Where to Find It.Disclaimer: The SBA does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites, and does not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer. All programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
April 3rd, 2020
April 2nd, 2020
March 31st, 2020
Important Message for Small Business from Eversource
|During this challenging time for all of us, Eversource is providing several measures that will lessen the financial hardship on all our customers, including small businesses—the backbone of our communities. In addition to postponing customer disconnections for non-payment and assisting customers with financial programs to help pay their bill, Eversource is also providing extended payment arrangements for small business customers. In normal operations, small business customers get up to three months for bill payment arrangements. To support small business customers through the COVID-19 crisis, Eversource is offering a $0 down payment and a 12-month payment arrangement, with the first payment not due until June 1. The reliability of our essential service has never been more important than it is today during these uncertain times. With many people working from home, and students studying remotely, customers are increasingly relying on electronic devices to accomplish their goals. Throughout the health crisis, be assured that Eversource is taking strict personal and public safety measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 while also performing essential tasks to ensure all our customers have a safe and reliable energy system. Essential work is that which maintains or improves the condition of our energy system to ensure safe and reliable service to customers. Examples include replacement of electrical lines, poles, and other equipment; installation of automated switches that speed restoration of customers following an outage; new utility connections; vegetation management along electric lines; repair of natural gas leaks; replacement and upgrade of natural gas lines and other equipment; and work mandated by law or regulation or as required by regional electric grid operator ISO-New England. During this time, we are rescheduling all planned outages, as well as routine non-outage, service-related work inside residence or business. We are also reducing non-critical field work in our gas operations that requires access to homes or businesses. Eversource is proud to be part of the communities we serve, and we are committed to serving all our customers during this difficult and uncertain time.|
March 30th, 2020
The following links provide important notices and updates on the COVID-19 emergency, changes in business practices, resources, some relief options, and other important items.
City of Cambridge: www.cambridgema.gov/covid19
*Specific business resources: www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/Business
*Small Business Relief Grant: www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/News/2020/3/smallbusinesscovid19reliefgrant
*Sign up for City-specific email alerts/updates: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/xdOL2Ta/COVID19
City of Cambridge Department of Public Health: www.cambridgepublichealth.org
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: www.mass.gov/covdid19
*Sign up for text alerts by texting COVIDMA to 888777
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
March 27th, 2020
Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program (City of Cambridge)
- The Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program is a special program helping Cambridge’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD) eligible retail, food, personal services, and creative for-profit businesses with a grant up to $6,000 per brick and mortar business. The program provides short-term working capital assistance to help the viability of businesses and the retention of jobs during the severe interruption of business related to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing.
- Grant applications are only available starting March 26, 2020 until May 1, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST. This program is first come, first served. There is no guarantee that you will receive a grant.
- Grant Overview: The COVID-19 Relief Grant Program must help contribute to a small business’s ability to remain open and with employee retention. Each completed grant application will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Grant applicants may apply for one or more of the following eligible working capital assistance:
- Paying for mortgage, rent and other bills (utilities, accounts payable)Employee wages. Resources to get business established online (for example, a business needed to revamp website to make e-commerce or delivery available to customers)Perishable inventory that was lost due to an interruption of business.
- Other items may be allowed upon review by city staff and HUD.
- Click here for more information on the program, including the application.
- Questions? Contact Pardis Saffari.
March 26th, 2020
March 25th, 2020
March 23rd, 2020
COVID-19 Executive Orders Issued by Gov. Baker
Details Govern What’s Acceptable in Public Health Crisis
Colin A. Young 3/20/20 4:07 PM
BOSTON, MARCH 20, 2020…..In the last week and a half, state government has taken steps unprecedented in recent times to attempt to staunch the spread of the highly-contagious coronavirus and those efforts have resulted in a dramatic departure from daily life for most Massachusetts residents.
Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all schools closed until April, mandated that restaurants close their dining rooms and shift to delivery and take-out only, eased licensing rules to bulk up the health care workforce, banned gatherings — first of 250 people or more, then more than 25 people — freed public boards and commissions of some Open Meeting Law requirements, and gave pharmacies the green light to make and sell their own hand sanitizer.
Starting with the March 10 declaration of a state of emergency around the coronavirus, here are the executive and emergency orders issued by Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel and the governor:
March 10 —
Executive Order No. 591: Declaration of a State of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19
March 11 —
New licensure policy from the Board of Registration in Nursing
March 12 —
Order of the Public Health Commissioner restricting visitor access to nursing homes and rest homes to protect higher-risk populations from COVID-19
Order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law
March 13 —
Order prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people
March 15 —
Order temporarily closing all public and private elementary and secondary schools
Order expanding access to telehealth services and to protect health care providers
Order prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 people and on-premises consumption of food or drink
Order authorizing the registrar of motor vehicles to temporarily extend licenses, permits, and other identification cards
Order of the Public Health Commissioner mandating that hospitals must cancel non-essential elective procedures
Order of the Public Health Commissioner permitting licensed pharmacies to create and sell hand sanitizer over the counter
Order of the Public Health Commissioner restricting visitor access to assisted living facilities
Order of the Public Health Commissioner restricting some visitor access to hospitals
March 17 —
Order extending the registrations of certain licensed health care professionals
Order expanding access to physician services
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health providing for continuity of emergency medical services care
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health implementing emergency credentialing and licensed staff transferprocedures for medical facilities in the commonwealth
March 18 —
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health regarding the administration of certain medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health regarding the flexible reassignment of physician assistants
Order temporarily closing all child care programs and authorizing the temporary creation and operation of an emergency child care program
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health regarding the sharing of critical information with first responders
March 20 —
Order authorizing actions to reduce in-person transactions associated with the licensing, registration, and inspection of motor vehicles. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said during a Friday afternoon press conference that the order “allows the registrar to extend vehicle registrations, and modify the conditions of registrations, plates and titles, and it also allows the registrar and the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection the authority to waive certain inspection requirements.”
Order permitting the temporary conditional deferral of certain inspections of residential real estate
The Baker administration this week also issued guidance for executive branch workers regarding remote work policies and the designation of essential employees. On Friday, the Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services sent a bulletin to local officials with guidance on emergency expenditures related to COVID-19.
March 20th, 2020
BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced new actions to support the ongoing COVID-19 response, including new financial support for health care providers, expanded relief for small businesses, and a new federal waiver request to give the state expanded flexibility to respond to the public health emergency. The Administration also joined life sciences leaders to highlight a new partnership aimed at providing additional supplies for hospitals.
The Administration also announced new tax penalty relief for businesses, further action to limit the need for customers to visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles in person, and other initiatives to support the Commonwealth’s residents and communities throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
Financial Support For Health Care Providers: The Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center continues to identify and prioritize efforts to ensure the Commonwealth’s health care system has the resources it needs to support the response to COVID-19. Today, the Administration announced a $200 million infusion in cash at MassHealth for critical, acute care and safety-net health care providers, as well as for certain health care providers required to help ensure that our members receiving care in the community or nursing facilities do not need to go to the hospital. These will be accelerated payments and cash advances for immediate, stopgap relief to ensure the front-line health care system is able to provide necessary resources to patients.
Emergency Supply Hub: Life sciences industry leaders joined the Administration today to highlight the new Massachusetts Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub. MassBio, in partnership with MassMEDIC, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, launched the Supply Hub to help coordinate efforts aimed at bringing additional supplies and resources to the Commonwealth’s health care institutions as they test and treat patients with COVID-19. The initiative calls on life sciences and health care organizations in the state to donate supplies needed to combat COVID-19. MassBio will share information with the Department of Public Health to triage and connect supplies with those healthcare providers that need them.
New Drive-Through Testing Site: On Thursday, the Commonwealth’s first large-scale drive-thru COVID-19 testing site launched at CVS in Shrewsbury. The new site is the result of an ongoing partnership between the Baker-Polito Administration, the federal government, local health authorities and CVS. The site is designated for emergency personnel and first responders, expanding testing access to front line workers. Currently, this site is one of over 40 sites launching throughout the country over the next week, with test kits supplied by the federal government.
MassHealth Waiver & Other Requests: Massachusetts is filing a waiver request today with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will give the state and its Medicaid program, MassHealth, more flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis. If allowed, the waiver would enable the Commonwealth to fast-track MassHealth enrollment, streamline administrative requirements for providers, and deliver critically needed health care services easier during the COVID-19 emergency. Through the waiver request and other federal requests, the Commonwealth is seeking flexibility to address key areas of need:
- Allow for non-traditional sites of care to expand surge capacity, such as use of testing tents and overflow hospital sites
- Allow new providers, including out of state providers, a streamlined pathway to practice in the state including caring for MassHealth members
- Allow physician assistants to practice independently
- Provide flexibility to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to meet increasing demand
- Expand MassHealth Hospital-Determined Presumptive Eligibility to all individuals – which MassHealth already expanded through a public health order last week – including children, older adults, and individuals who have received MassHealth benefits within the past 12 months
- Allow medications to be delivered to members, and waive a signature requirement for these prescriptions
- Waive face-to-face requirements for certain services, including Home and Community Based Services, and behavioral health evaluations for Schedule II-IV prescriptions
In addition, the Administration announced that MassHealth and the Health Connector will protect coverage for all individuals who have Medicaid coverage as of March 18, 2020 and for all individuals approved for coverage during the national emergency.
Expanded Small Business Resources: Earlier this week, the Administration announced a $10 Million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund to provide financial relief to small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19. Today, the Administration announced that MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors will meet next week to vote on a partnership that will make an additional $10 million available for the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund.
The state-level emergency loan fund is aimed at providing crucial resources for small businesses that will supplement important federal relief. Governor Baker on Tuesday formally requested disaster relief from the federal Small Business Administration, and with this week’s announcement that that request had been granted, Massachusetts businesses impacted by COVID-19 may now apply for low-interest loans.
Tax Relief for Businesses: The Baker-Polito Administration is announcing tax penalty relief to support businesses affected by COVID-19. The Department of Revenue today announced that it will waive any late-file or late-pay penalties for returns and payment due for meals and room occupancy taxes between March 20 and May 31, 2020.
Limiting Need For In-Person RMV Visits: The Administration today is taking further action to limit the need for customers to visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles in person. Today, Governor Baker issued an order allowing the Registrar to extend vehicle registrations and modify the conditions of registrations, plates and titles. It also enables the waiver of certain inspection requirements.
Workforce Guidance For Schools: Earlier this week, Governor Baker ordered all elementary and secondary schools to close for educational purposes until April 6. Recognizing that local school districts employ a significant number of hourly employees, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today is issuing guidance to local school districts recommending they continue paying hourly employees, while suggesting they continue to engage in professional development.
Smoke Alarm Inspections: Governor Baker today issued an order making a change to the inspection statutes that require a smoke and carbon dioxide alarm inspection prior to a residential real estate transaction. The Order would permit the inspection to be deferred if the buyer contractually assumes responsibility for installing the detectors and the subsequent inspection happens within 90 days of the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency
Please note that this information is current as of the date of this update, based on the available data. As an evolving and fluid situation, there are likely more updates forthcoming as regulatory guidance is expected.
FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS LEGISLATION
Employers will be provided refundable tax credits against their employer portion of Social Security taxes for 100% of the qualified sick leave and family leave wages paid in accordance with the Act. EMPLOYERS MAY PAY MORE than the mandated compensation, but they will not receive tax credit relief for this additional compensation.
For non-governmental employers with less than 500 employees, this is a credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick/family leave wages paid, subject to those limits. The credit is further increased by specified health expenses (e.g. employer paid health premiums), plus the 1.45% employer Medicare tax.
This applies to federal employment taxes usually due within a few days of each payroll. This provides the funds needed to pay sick and family leave benefits.
Payments received under these benefits are considered wages but exempt from Employer Social Security taxes. They are subject to Medicare taxes, but the tax credit is increased by the tax amount.
As stipulated within the bill, the mandate is effective until December 31, 2020, which means benefits cannot carry over into the next year, 2021.
The bill which ultimately became law has some clarifications and differences from the original legislation passed by the House.
Emergency Sick Leave:
All eligible employees may use paid sick time beginning on April 2 for the following reasons:
A. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
B. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
C. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
D. The employee is caring for an individual who is either (1) subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or (2) has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
E. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
F. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Employers may not require eligible employees to first use other paid leave provided by the employer before using paid sick leave under the Act, so this leave is in addition to any paid sick leave or PTO currently provided by employers.
Employers may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures to continue receiving such paid sick time after the first workday (or portion thereof) an employee receives paid sick time under this Act.
In other words, employers may not require employees to provide advance notice prior to the first workday on which the employee takes paid sick leave under the Act.
An employer may not require, as a condition of providing the paid sick time, that an employee search for or find a replacement to cover for the hours during which the employee is using the paid sick time. This is also true under Massachusetts sick leave law.
The payment is calculated based on the employee’s “required compensation” (i.e. the employee’s regular rate of pay or the federal, state or local minimum wage, whichever is greater) and the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. Pay standards differ in certain situations, such as if an employee is using the time to care for a family member.
Employers must post a notice that advises employees of their rights under the Act. The Secretary of Labor is required to create a notice by March 25. We will update you when this becomes available.
There is language allowing regulations to exclude emergency responders and/or businesses with less than 50 employees where the requirements would jeopardize that business as a going concern. But at this time, no such exclusions apply.
Emergency Paid Family Medical Leave:
On a temporary basis, the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act amends the FMLA and creates a new leave entitlement. Even though this is an expansion of the FMLA, the Act’s paid leave requirements do not to apply to employers with 500 or more employees. Only those employers with fewer than 500 employees are impacted.
Under normal circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act applies only to employers with 50 or more employees, applies only to employees who have worked for at least 12 months and who had worked at least 1,250 hours during that preceding 12 months, and provides unpaid leave for designated reasons, such as the employees own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to care for a newborn infant or an adopted child or foster child placed with the employee.
For FMLA Covered employers, this EFMLA leave would run concurrently with standard FMLA – these leaves are not stacked and do not create a potential for 24-weeks of leave.
For purposes of the new entitlement only, the Act alters the definition of employer to include all employers with fewer than 500 employees, and expands the definition of a covered employee to include all employees who have worked for covered employers (i.e., those with less than 500 employees) for at least 30 days.
Quarantine will not trigger the Emergency FMLA leave provisions, although there may be traditional, unpaid FMLA leave rights available, as well as unemployment insurance.
Emergency FMLA Leave Only for Child Care Disruption.
Earlier versions of the Act provided for additional qualifying situations including an employee’s quarantine, and did not provide for telework,
The revised text only provides for one qualifying condition: An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave if he/she is unable to work (including telework) because the employee must care for his/her child who is under 18 years of age and whose school or place of care has closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Secretary of Labor has the authority to exempt from the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act certain health care providers and emergency responders, and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the Act would jeopardize a business’s viability, but at this time, no such exclusions apply.
Calculating Emergency FMLA Pay
Part-time: Average hours the employee works over a 2-week period
Variable work schedules: Average hours the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes such leave including hours for which the employee took any type of leave. If less than 6-month of work history, a “reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring.”
For employers with 25 or more employees, an employee returning from expanded FMLA leave is entitled to reinstatement to the same or an equivalent position.
For employers with fewer than 25 employees, an employee returning from expanded FMLA leave is entitled to reinstatement to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced unless that position does not exist due to economic conditions or other changes in operating conditions caused by the public health emergency. In such case, the employer must make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position, and if those efforts fail, make reasonable efforts for at least a year to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available.
TRACKING PAID LEAVE:
if you are setting up your own earnings codes related to H.R.. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” we would recommend you use the following pay code names:
FF-PSL (Families First Paid Sick Leave) or FF-FMLA (Family First FMLA)
You should avoid using COVID or COVID-19 for privacy reasons as these codes do show on employees pay statements.
IRS Response to COVID-19:
Payment Deadline Extended to July 15, 2020. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak.
The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return.
HB 4502 Appropriates $95,000 for the Executive Office of Education to contain, treat and prevent the coronavirus. This bill requires a report to the legislature by June 1, 2020, with recommendations if additional funds and action are needed. Enacted.
HB 4561 Makes appropriations for the fiscal year 2020 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for other activities and projects. Includes a reserve of $15,000,000 to support the commonwealth’s monitoring, treatment, containment, public awareness and prevention efforts against COVID-19. Enacted.
SB 2599 Authorizes waiver of the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. Enacted.
SB 2602 Provides any public safety official and 1st responder, who contracts, has symptoms of, or otherwise becomes affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), that results in a period of hospitalization, quarantine, or require self-quarantined measures as a result of being infected or coming into contact with someone who is infected with this virus, shall have their medical condition or incapacity to work presumed to be work-related. Public safety official shall not be required to use sick time, vacation time, or personal time to cover said period of incapacitation or inability to perform regular duty work. Pending.
Alert: Do I Have Coverage For Coronavirus-Related Income Losses To My Business?
Businesses are in crisis over the Coronavirus. Many have been shut down, whether by lack of employees and customers or by governmental order. Some of our business clients have asked whether they have coverage for income losses (a/k/a “Business Interruption Insurance”) resulting from business closures and/or supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.
The short, not particularly helpful answer is “It Depends.” The slightly longer answer is: “There’s probably no coverage for general income losses under most policies, but there are potential exceptions under some policies and for some categories of income loss.”
In this alert we address the slightly longer answer and identify some of the potential exceptions. This alert may be helpful in understanding where your options lie, or in evaluating loss of income coverage options for your business in the future. However, there is no substitute for a specific evaluation from your counsel.
One reason for the inability to be definitive is that Business Interruption Insurance comes in many different forms. The insuring provisions, exclusions, and other provisions are not standardized and require careful analysis.
Historically, the most common form of insurance for business property (buildings and contents) was so-called “Fire Insurance.” This kind of coverage became largely standardized by state statute, with Massachusetts leading the way in 1873. Such fire policies originally only provided coverage for a single peril – fire — and the insurer paid the cost to repair or replace the physical property (building and contents). Eventually property insurance expanded to cover other perils and other damages, including the economic losses suffered by a business under defined circumstances.
Today most businesses carry either a standalone property insurance policy, (providing coverage to the property owner for buildings and contents and, in many instances, loss of business income) or a commercial package policy (which includes those coverages and third party liability coverage). The limits of each coverage, including for principal loss of business income coverages, will usually be listed at the front of the policy (the Declarations pages), although a number of additional or supplemental loss of income coverages and their applicable limits may be included in the body of the policy. Each such coverage should be considered separately against your current circumstances to determine the existence and extent of any coverage.
Most principal business income coverages are limited to income losses that result from a fire or other covered physical loss to the insured building or contents. Typical language imposing such a physical loss requirement for business interruption looks like this:
We will pay for the loss of Business Income you sustain due to the suspension of your operations during the period of restoration. The suspension must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property at the described premises. The loss or damage must be caused by or result from a covered cause of loss.
These two requirements (caused by direct physical loss to covered property and caused by a covered cause of loss) make it unlikely that many business income losses resulting from coronavirus impacts will be covered, because such impacts — closures due to government orders and/or for business reasons — do not ordinarily involve a physical loss or damage to the insured’s property. Even if these requirements are met, many (but not all) business interruption coverages in property policies have applicable explicit exclusions for losses caused by viruses, and/or closures ordered by the governments.
These limitations will preclude coverage of business income for many, if not most, insureds. However, it is critical to carefully examine the applicable provisions of your policy to confirm that the limitations exist and are applicable to your specific circumstances. Other more general exclusions, such as for losses resulting from pollution, may also be asserted by insurers. Moreover, while virtually every business is already impacted by coronavirus, the nature and precise causes of business income losses are evolving and such causes must be carefully considered before ruling out a viable business interruption claim.
A final word about principal business interruption coverages: In the past few decades, with the rise in globalization, the length of supply chains has expanded, and the impacts of a disruption to one business on other businesses have become important and insurable. Such coverages are sometimes known as contingent business interruption, and in the recent years of “soft” markets for insurers, many competed by expanding coverage, and narrowing or eliminating exclusions. This heightens the need for a careful review of your policy and your circumstances.
This same competitive environment has led many insurers to include additional or supplemental coverages for specific circumstances. Such coverages are often subject to a sub limit well below the principal business income coverage. They may not require physical injury to covered property or be subject to exclusions applicable to the principal business income coverage. These specialty coverages include event cancellations insurance, coverage for income losses you suffer because of your business depends on another business, and coverages for government-ordered closures in limited circumstances. While the limits of such specialty coverages may be a fraction of the principal business income limits, (e.g. in the tens of thousands vs. hundreds of thousands or millions), they may provide a valuable source of income to buffer some of the impacts of the coronavirus on your business.
Please contact Joseph Sano in our insurance and reinsurance practice group at email@example.com if you have any questions.
March 19th, 2020
City of Cambridge COVID-19 Daily E-Newsletter and Key Resources
As has always been the case, Citizen Observer/Tip411 will be used to update you on crime and other public safety issues. However, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, we are contacting you to make you aware of the ability to sign up for Cambridge-specific COVID-19 email updates, which will be sent nearly each evening, with the latest news and resources. If you are interested, please subscribe at http://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19emails.
If you are proactively seeking updated information throughout the day, the best source is the dedicated Cambridge COVID-19 website: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19.
To submit a tip via text message text TIP650 and your tip to 847411
Alert delivered to the following groups: Cambridge PD Citywide, Business Alerts, Press Releases, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 1 – East Cambridge, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 3 – Inman/Harrington, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 4 – The Port, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 5 – Cambridgeport, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 6 – Mid-Cambridge, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 7 – Riverside, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 8 – Agassiz, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 9 – Peabody, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 10 – West Cambridge, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 11 – North Cambridge, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 12 – Cambridge Highlands, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 13 – Strawberry Hill, Cambridge PD: Neighborhood 2 – M.I.T., Private – Harvard Square Business Association, Private – Central Square Business Association, Private – Inman Square Business Association, Private – East Cambridge Business Association, Private – Kendall Square Business Association, Kendall Square Security Network Association , Private – Cambridge Public Safety Association, Private – Cambridge Hotels, Private – Cambridge Banks, Private – Cambridge Biotechs, Private – Porter Square Business Association, Private – Cambridge Higher Ed, Private – Cambridge Gov’t, Private – Cambridge Security, Private – Cambridge Real Estate, Private – Cambridge Retail, Private – CPSA Master, and Private – Cambridge Charter and Private Schools
City of Cambridge Announces Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund
We hope you and yours continue to be well, healthy and safe.
We just received the attached from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (“ABCC”) regarding an automatic extension of the delinquency reporting period for those who qualify (see attached). The ABCC has also informed us that as it continues to publish documents related to the COVID-19 emergency, they will be published at: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/covid-19-abcc-advisory-information. Any questions relating to this ABCC Advisory should be directed to them via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Thank you, be well.
Nicole Murati Ferrer, Esq., Chair
Cambridge License Commission
Pole and Conduit Commission
831 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
March 18th, 2020
Cambridge public health department to implement take out and food market guidance. A MIT biomedical research scientist (Cambridge resident Jill Crittenden) who has expertise is in the spread of virus via food handling led the initiative with Sam Lipson.
March 17th, 2020
A loan fund of $10 million has been created to provide financial relief to Massachusetts businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will receive and process all applications for this fund. Applications can be found on our website at empoweringsmallbusiness.org
General Terms and Conditions
Open to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by the COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits
Negative impact must be verifiable
Loan amounts up to $75,000
Loan amount not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the 1st quarter of 2020
No payments due for first 6 months, then 30-months of principal and interest payments (direct debited)
Annual interest rate 3%
Personal guarantee required of all owners with 20% or more interest in the company
Personal credit score under 575 will require an exception
All asset lien on business
No prepayment penalty
Ineligible businesses include companies involved in real estate investment, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis or firearms. Companies with past due tax liabilities or tax liens or currently in bankruptcy (Corporate or Personal) are not eligible.
Approval contingent on business being profitable prior to 3/10/20 and no adverse personal credit reports 60 days past due for the last six months.
How to Apply
Please complete the 2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund application found at empoweringsmallbusiness.org
Attach the following required information
· 2018 business and personal tax return
· Internally prepared 12/31/19 financial statements
· YTD 2020 internally prepared financials
Completed application and attachments can be sent to MGCC at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund”
2020 SMALL BUSINESS RECOVERY LOAN FUND APPLICATION
- Information on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts loan recovery program
- Upcoming SBA webinars
Massachusetts Small Business Recovery Loan Program
How to Apply:
Please complete the application found on MGCC’s website, EmpoweringSmallBusiness.org.
Completed applications can be sent via email to email@example.com with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund”.
MGCC can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Loan Fund Details:
- Who Qualifies: Open to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits (negative impact must be verifiable).
- Terms and Conditions: This fund is being offered with no payments due for the first 6 months, then 30-months of principal and interest payments and no prepayment penalties.
- Businesses can apply for loans up to $75,000.
#2 – Update from the SBA – SBA Coronavirus Special Topic Conference Call Series in collaboration with U.S. Commercial Service
There is a whole series of conference calls that the SBA is hosting in collaboration with the U.S. Commercial Service, one of which is next Tuesday about the SBA Disaster Loan Program.
For series and to register: http://www.ctexporters.com/special-topics-conference-calls/
March 16th, 2020
As a follow-up to this evolving national emergency, we will continue to be here as a resource for our members and the greater Harvard Square community.
I am sure you have been inundated with information, but just in case, here are important links to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and city of Cambridge websites with the latest updates:
Last year we recommended that you all sign up for the City of Cambridge Code Red Alerts. If you have not done so, we encourage you to do so; here is a direct link: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/F8C030CDD4FF
HSBA member Tom Crowley has shared the following guidance for businesses in efforts to help alleviate financial burdens that many businesses will face in the coming days and weeks ahead. “At the moment, there is a potential for programs to be created by the government to offer short term loans to hopefully offset the reduction of business you all may face. I recommend immediately calling your bank and beginning the conversation to see what your options are. This early contact may allow you to react quicker when and if these programs are made available.” Please call Tom with any questions you may have. Tom Crowley, CFP® Financial Advisor, 1692 Mass. Ave, Office. 617-491-1190 www.edwardjones.com/tom-crowley
Below please view this Human Resources Update information assembled by HSBA member, Comprehensive Insurance Providers. We hope you find it useful to you and your employees.
Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201) with implications to employers of fewer than 500 employees. The Senate is likely to pass the bill in the next week.
Paid Family Medical Leave
The bill provides 12 weeks of job-protected paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave—of which the first 14 days may be unpaid—for employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Employees may use accrued personal or sick leave during the first 14 days, but employers may not require employees to do so.
This leave benefit covers employees who have been working for at least 30 calendar days.
Among other uses, employees may use the leave to respond to quarantine requirements or recommendations, to care for family members who are responding to quarantine requirements or recommendations, and to care for a child whose school has been closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the first 14 days, employers must compensate employees in an amount that is not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. These pay requirements apply to only the COVID-19-related leave reasons listed above.
The provisions will go into effect 15 days after the date of enactment and expire on December 31, 2020. The bill would provide those who qualify with two-thirds of their average monthly earnings, with a cap of $4,000, for up to 12 weeks. The benefits could be paid retroactively and would be available for those who had to leave work starting Jan. 19.
Paid Sick Leave
Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide full-time employees 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for specific circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g., self-isolating, doctors’ visits, etc.).
Part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours of paid sick time equal to the number of hours they work, on average, over a 2-week period.
Employers must compensate employees for any paid sick time they take at their regular rates of pay.
Employers will be required to post a notice informing employees of their rights to leave.
As currently drafted, the bill expressly provides that it does not preempt existing state or local paid sick leave entitlements.
Small businesses (defined as having 50 employees or less) would be reimbursed for providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave.
For employers who already provide paid sick leave, the additional leave made available under the House bill should still be provided, and employers would not be allowed to make changes to their existing policies to avoid offering additional paid leave.
The provisions will go into effect 15 days after the date of enactment and expire on December 31, 2020.
The bill provides $1 billion in emergency unemployment insurance (UI) relief to the states: $500 million for costs associated with increased administration of each state’s UI program and $500 million held in reserve to assist states with a 10 percent increase in unemployment. Besides the necessary increase in unemployment, in order to receive a portion of this grant money, states must temporarily relax certain UI eligibility requirements, such as waiting periods and work search requirements.
To this point in time, the following has taken place to respond to the crisis:
According to guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on March 12, 2020, states can pay benefits when:
An employer temporarily closes due to COVID-19 and employees can’t work.
An employee is quarantined but expects to work when the quarantine is over.
An employee leaves his or her job due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
Federal law doesn’t require employees to quit their jobs in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits related to COVID-19. Though, the department noted, employees who are receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave are generally not considered unemployed because they are still receiving pay. So they would likely be ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits while receiving such pay.
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the US Department of Labor (USDOL) is taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers. These actions were begun in advance of the House passage of the Coronavirus Response Bill.
For current unemployment claims:
All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be considered good cause, and lateness will be excused.
All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
The Department of Labor issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing law flexibly. Under the DOL guidance, DUA may now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.
To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the Administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
The state is filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment in the following circumstances:
The workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. Workers must remain in contact with their employer and be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do, but do not otherwise need to be looking for work.
An employer may extend the period of the shut-down to eight weeks, and the employees will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods.
Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.
The pending federal legislation note above proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.
We are pleased to report that MEMA has collected enough small business loss data to prepare a request for EIDL to be submitted by Governor Baker to the SBA. The City of Cambridge is in the process of assisting Governor Baker with requesting the SBA EIDL program. More info: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/small-business-assistance-for-covid-19
March 12th, 2020
An Important Message From Harvard Square.