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 as of October 2, 2020.
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 guidance for businesses deemed safe to open in Phase I, II, and III is available.

MA Four Phase Approach to Reopening – Phase 3, Step 1 (Initiated Monday, July 6)

Upon reopening, all Phase I, Phase II and Phase III businesses must follow the sector-specific safety protocols and best practices linked here. Step 1 of Phase III will begin on Monday, July 6th. Additional sector guidance for future phases will be issued at a later date.

MA Four Phase Approach to Reopening – Phase 3, Step 2 (Initiated Monday, October 5)

Lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step 2 of Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. All other communities will remain in Phase 3, Step 1. Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) reports. Effective October 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step 2 of Phase 3 for lower risk communities only. Please see press release for details. 

Cleaning Services and Sanitation & Protective Materials to Reopen Your Business Safely

Please visit our Cleaning Services and Sanitation & Protective Materials page for information on local businesses who offer these services and products. 

If your business offers one of these services or products and would like to share your information, please contact us at chamber@gardnerma.com or (978) 632-1780.

Small Business Assistance – Funding For Your Business

NEW: Grants for Small Businesses, 50 Employees and Under

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made $50.8 million in grants available to support small businesses, microenterprises, and their employees, families and communities. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will be administering these funds to businesses experiencing economic hardship and a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Application to close 11/22/2020 at 12pm. See here for program details, eligibility, and required documents.

Gardner-Based Small Business Assistance

The City of Gardner is now accepting application for the Microenterprise Assistance Grant Program to assist micro-enterprise businesses that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. Grants will be awarded to eligible businesses that qualify, in the range of $3,000 to $5,000. Full details here or at Microenterprise Assistance Grant Program website. 

NewVue Communities, in partnership with the City of Gardner, is offering additional support to small business clients related to COVID-19. Technical assistance is available related to regulations for PPP loan forgiveness and identification of other potential sources of funding for eligible micro-enterprise businesses in the City. NewVue’s Small Business Department also offers one-on-one technical assistance for additional business services beyond COVID-19 related areas. For more information, see here. Client meetings can be set up via Zoom conference or telephone, or communications can be managed through email. Contact Flor Cintron at fcintron@nvcomm.org for more information or to setup an appointment.

Federal CARES Act – Paycheck Protection Program

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Current law dictates that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) close at the end of August 8, 2020. As such, SBA is no longer accepting PPP applications from participating lenders. Please visit sba.gov for further information. 

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.
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

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.  

Gatherings Order

Effective, Monday, October 5, the Governor has issued a revised gatherings order. The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities. Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step 1 communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step 2 communities. Read full gathering order

Face Coverings Required In Public

Effective Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Governor Baker issued an Order requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Exceptions include children under the age of 2 and those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. Full details are outlined in the May 1 Order. Additional information at mass.gov.

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