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 May 18, 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 1 and Phase 2 is available.

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

The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:

  • Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues;
  • Museums, cultural and historical sites;
  • Fitness centers and health clubs;
  • Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact;
  • Professional sports teams, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators

The Governor also announced new guidelines on social gatherings, which will take effect on Monday, July 6 (except in Boston, where they will take effect, July 13). full press release

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

Please visit our Cleaning Services and Sanitation & Protective Materials pagefor 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

Gardner-Based Small Business Assistance

The City of Gardner Community Development and Planning Department is working to develop a small business COVID-19 Relief Assistance Grant Program to provide specific funding to Gardner-based small businesses. Funds will target micro-enterprise small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, contact the City’s Economic Development Coordinator, Maribel Cruz at mcruz@gardner-ma.gov. Results from the Gardner Small Business Owners Survey will help justify the need for funds. Full details here. 

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

The SBA has resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, visit here or visit sba.gov. Visit PPP guidance pageSee additional information on loan forgiveness below. 

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Click here to find a SBA Approved lender. 

SBA Approved Paycheck Protection Program Lenders in Massachusetts

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.
 
North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation Accepting Limited Number of PPP Applications

Applications are limited to small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, self-employed persons, and non-profit organizations who are unable to apply through a local bank or credit union and located within their service area. The NCMDC is also limiting its PPP loans to under $50,000. Businesses and entities with an established banking relationship or with requests larger than $50,000 are encouraged to contact their bank or credit union first to apply. Read more or contact scataldo@northcentralmass.com.

 
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

Funding for State and Local Governmental Entities, Institutions of Higher Education, Not For-Profit Entities, and Federally Recognized Tribes

CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grants

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is accepting applications for CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants under the authority of the Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which is the most flexible and responsive to economic development needs and priorities of local and regional stakeholders. The investments will support a wide range of non-construction and construction activities in communities across the country that are experiencing severe economic dislocations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. For more information and details on how eligible entities can apply, visit eda.gov/coronavirus or see FAQ.

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

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers. See here for more information.

Federal CARES Act Benefit Information

The Department of Unemployment Assistance is moving swiftly to implement three new public benefit programs that will expand unemployment eligibility; temporarily increase weekly benefits for all claimants; and allow additional categories of people to claim unemployment benefits. The move, the largest expansion of assistance for the Commonwealth’s workforce since the Great Depression, follows new guidance from the federal government regarding the CARES Act. For more information, visit mass.gov.

Employment Benefits for the Self Employed – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals are not able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts. Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.

Eligible claimants should visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) page to apply. For more information, visit mass.gov or click here

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

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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