MA Four Phase Approach to Reopening

MA Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito have released their comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. View Reopening MA Report. Click here for details on four-phase approach.
 
When can my business reopen? Guidance for industries on the reopening plan.
General Business Guidance

Information to help businesses meet the self-certification requirement to reopen. All businesses must meet these requirements before reopening. Businesses operating to provide Essential Services may remain open and have until May 25, 2020 to comply with these mandatory safety standards.

  • COVID-19 control plan template – Template that satisfies the written control plan requirement for self-certification

  • Compliance attestation poster – Poster that customer facing businesses are required to print, sign, and post in an area within the business premises that is visible to workers and visitors

  • Employer and Worker posters – Posters that businesses can print and display within the business premises to describe the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, and cleaning and disinfecting

Sector Specific Protocols and Best Practices

Sector specific guidancefor businesses deemed safe to open in Phase I, II, and III is available.

MA Temporary Capacity and Gathering Limits (Effective 12/26/2020 – 1/24/2021, unless otherwise extended by Governor)

Massachusetts will implement temporary capacity limits to stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise. The revised limits supersede existing limits in the Phase 3, Step 1 Sector-Specific Protocols. These limits are in effect until January 24, 2021 unless further extended by the Governor. See capacity and gathering limits at mass.gov.

 

Roll Back to Phase 3, Step 1 (Effective 12/13/2020)

Governor Baker has announced that effective Sunday, December 13, all communities in MA will return to Step 1 of Phase 3, of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. This will reduce indoor capacities across a broad range of sectors of the economy and tighten several other workplace restrictions. See full press release and flyer for details on restrictions included in roll back and updated guidance. Visit mass.gov for further information.
 

Mandatory Night-Time Closing Period for Certain Businesses and Activities (Effective 11/5/2020)

 
All businesses, facilities, or activities included within the categories listed below must close their premises to the public each day not later than 9:30pm and may not re-open their premises to the public before 5am the following day. Operators of affected organizations may keep their premises open to employees and other workers during the mandatory closing period and otherwise conduct business activities and operations that do not involve admitting customers, patrons, or members of the public to their premises.
  • Restaurants, provided however that restaurants may offer food and non-alcoholic beverages for take-out and by delivery during the mandatory closing period
  • Arcades and Other Indoor and Outdoor Recreation
  • Indoor and Outdoor Events
  • Indoor and Outdoor Theaters, Movie Theaters, and Performance Venues
  • Drive-In Movie Theaters
  • Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities
  • Golf Facilities
  • Recreational Boating and Boating Businesses
  • Outdoor Recreational Experiences and Educational Activities
  • Casinos, Horse Racing Tracks, and Simulcast Facilities
  • Driving and Flight Schools
  • Zoos, Botanical Gardens, Wildlife Reserves, and Nature Centers
  • Close Contact Personal Services
  • Fitness Centers and Health Clubs
  • Indoor and Outdoor Pools (Public and Semi-Public Swimming Pools)
  • Museums/Cultural & Historical Facilities/Guided Tours

Restriction on Service and Sale of Alcohol During Mandatory Closing Period (Effective 11/5/2020)

 
During the daily mandatory closing period (9:30pm – 5am), no person, business, organization, establishment, premises, or service holding or operating under a license issued pursuant to Chapter 138 or Chapter 23K of the General Laws may sell or serve or provide alcohol of any kind to any person anywhere in the Commonwealth.
 

Resources for Retailers and Employers to Keep Employees, Customers and Community Safe

Small Business Assistance – Funding For Your Business

Small Business Assistance Grants: Athol, Phillipston, Templeton, Winchendon

Small business assistance grant funds of up to $10,000 are now available to businesses located in Athol, Phillipston, Templeton and Winchendon to assist with the impacts of COVID-19. Visit https://newvuecommunities.org/aptwmap/ to learn more about program guidelines and to obtain an application or contact Bill Brassard at NewVue Communities at 978- 288-0180, bbrassard@nvcomm.org

Gardner Small Business Assistant Grant Program

Gardner’s Department of Community Development and Planning will be holding a Public Hearing on Thursday, December 3 at 2pm to seek input regarding a revision to the Microenterprise Assistance Grant Program that would increase the maximum eligible award amount from $5,000 to $10,000. Actual award amounts would vary based on documented losses incurred and eligible expenses. Applications are being accepted from micro-enterprise businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic.
 
For questions, or to request the Zoom link to attend the hearing, contact Jeff Legros in the Community Development and Planning office: jlegros@gardner-ma.gov. Business Owners and Managers: see the required Document Checklist and apply now.
 

Federal CARES Act – Paycheck Protection Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. See more information here

Please direct all questions to the MA Districts Office at MassachusettsDO@sba.gov or 617-565-5590.

Clarifying Frequently Asked Questions for Borrowers
 
 
Fidelity Bank’s CARES Act Support Team has developed a set of PPP Loan Forgiveness FAQs to assist in providing the clarity you need to make informed decisions with confidence during this difficult time. Click here to review the PPP Loan Forgiveness FAQs.
 
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Guidance
 
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application, which will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period (begins with the disbursement of their loans).
 
To apply for forgiveness of your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you (the Borrower) must complete this application as directed in these instructions, and submit it to your Lender (or the Lender that is servicing your loan). Borrowers may also complete this application electronically through their Lender.
 
This application has the following components:
  1. the PPP Loan Forgiveness Calculation Form
  2. PPP Schedule A
  3. the PPP Schedule A Worksheet
  4. the (optional) PPP Borrower Demographic Information Form.

Simpler PPP Loan Forgiveness for Loans of $50,000 or Less

The SBA will continue to process all PPP forgiveness applications. Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application. Click here to view the instructions for completing the simpler loan forgiveness application. Click here to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan program / Emergency Economic Injury Grant ($10,000 Forgivable Advance)

IMPORTANT NOTICE – LAPSE IN APPROPRIATIONS: SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on the EIDL program, please visit here

Please direct all questions to the MA Districts Office at MassachusettsDO@sba.gov or 617-565-5590.

SBA Express Bridge Loans – Gap Funding

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge LoanRead here for more information.

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program Guide. Contact lender relations team with questions at MassachusettsDO@sba.gov or 617-565-5590 or visit sba.gov. For SBA Approved Express Lenders see: SBA MA Lender List (organized by region).

Additional Resources:

PDF: Economic Injury Disaster Loan STEP-BY-STEP Application Overview

RECORDED WEBINAR: SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Overview

Handout: SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus

SBA Debt Relief

As part of SBA’s debt relief efforts:

  • The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.
  • The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

For additional debt relief measures, see here.

If you have questions about your current loan and whether or not your loan is automatically deferred, please contact your Loan Servicing Office directly using the following information: Birmingham Disaster Loan Servicing Center (800-736-6048, BirminghamDLSC@sba.gov), El Paso Disaster Loan Servicing Center (800-487-6019, ElPasoDLSC@sba.gov)

Emergency Microloan Program

The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation has launched an Emergency Micro-loan Program to assist small businesses in need of funding due to hardship stemming from COVID-19. Loans of up to $20,000 will be awarded to qualifying local businesses. Click here for more information or visit choosenorthcental.com/lending

Tax Relief for Small Businesses

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses which have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. For the full press release, click here. For list of filing and payment extensions and penalty relief, visit mass.gov. Also find information on tax or debt resolutions

Federal Tax Relief Provisions (further details found at mass.gov)

The Employee Retention Tax Credit is a tax credit against federal tax liability that can benefit almost any employer (regardless of size and including tax-exempt organizations) whose business has been either fully or partially suspended by government orders due to COVID-19, or whose revenues have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Payroll Tax Deferral is another tax provision that can make a difference for employers. The CARES Act allows eligible employers to defer payment of part of their payroll taxes (which they would normally remit on a bi-weekly or monthly basis) to two larger payments; half due on December 31, 2021 and half due on December 31, 2022.

State Tax Relief Measures

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) is actively monitoring the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus. Please visit their COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update page for the latest on filing and payment extensions and penalty relief, tax or debt resolutions, communicating with DOR, and more.

Unemployment Assistance

MA Governor Charlie Baker has filed legislation to sustain unemployment benefits and provide an estimated $1.3 billion in unemployment insurance relief to the Commonwealth’s employers over two years. See press release for more information.

For further information, visit https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-and-unemployment-what-you-need-to-know

MassHire North Central Career Center Update

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, The MassHire North Central Career Center office will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Virtual services will be provided to customers. If you are seeking Unemployment Insurance Service please file your claim at www.mass.gov/DUA or contact the DUA call center at 1-877-626-6800. Please be aware that you may experience significant wait times on the toll free line. If you have a deadline to attain your RESEA requirement, staff will be reaching out to you to ensure that your unemployment benefits will not be impacted by these changes. 

For employers who are impacted by COVID-19, please visit mass.gov for updated information on how to proceed with claims and information that can help you navigate this unusual situation.  

Face Coverings Required In Public

(See Order) All persons in Massachusetts over the age of 5 years old are required to wear a mask or cloth face covering over their mouth and nose when in a public location, whether indoors or outdoors.

Other Helpful Resources

NEWSLETTER

Stay in touch with GGCC information by signing up to receive our eNewsletter.