Chamber News

March 25, 2020 Likes Comments

​Defining 'essential business' and other COVID related updates

We have multiple timely updates (including an item at the very end about takeout beer!) this morning:

Let's start with Gov. Baker's order this week requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide "COVID-19 Essential Services" to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of yesterday (March 24) until noon on Tuesday, April 7.
 
Impacted businesses are encouraged to continue operating through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order.
 
Here is the list of COVID-19 Essential Services detailing which industries, businesses, or services are considered essential and therefore may continue their brick-and-mortar operations.

The state has also prepared this page of frequently asked questions designed to respond to questions related to Baker's order. We understand that this page will be updated as new questions arise or circumstances change.

Note that if you operated a businesses deemed essential based on the "COVID-19 Essential Services" guidance, you do NOT need to apply for an Essential Service Designation.
 
However, businesses that are NOT covered under this "COVID-19 Essential Services" guidance can submit an online request to be designated as essential for the purposes of the Emergency Order.

Updates to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
 
The Small Business Administration has recently made adjustments to its EIDL program structure and process.
  • Moving forward, EIDL loans will defer payments for the first year (twelve months) of the loan. This is a change from the initial loan structure, which allowed payment deferral for four months.
  • There is an expedited process for loans under $500k, allowing them to bypass the requirement to submit current tax returns. Other IRS forms and guarantees will still be required. Please note that private non-profits don't qualify for this exemption.
  • Businesses can apply for the program here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
The chamber is hosting a webinar with the SBA on Friday designed to answer your questions and help you navigate this process. See more details below.
 
Update from the Division of Insurance
 
 The Division of Insurance issued guidance for insurance carriers yesterday, encouraging them to offer flexibility to individual- and business policyholders. Read the full bulletin here.
Updates from the Department of Unemployment Assistance 
 
The Department of Unemployment Assistance is hosting daily town hall meetings to guide attendees through the process to achieve a successful unemployment claim and to answer questions. Read more here. You can also learn more about unemployment benefits in light of COVID-19 at DUA's website, here; this page will continue to be updated.
 
Baker files bill to address challenges faced by municipalities (and, yes, take out beer)

Finally, on Tuesday the Baker-Polito Administration filed
An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and School Districts Resulting from COVID-19, which would provide administrative relief to state and local government entities impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Among other things, the bill would:
  • Allow municipalities to waive late-payment penalties for the 4th quarter tax bills, due May 1, and allow municipalities to change their tax bill due date from April 1 to June 1.
  • Allow municipalities to extend the deadline for property tax exemptions and deferrals. The current statutory deadline is April 1; this would allow municipalities to extend to June 1.
  • Permit establishments licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption to sell wine and beer by take-out and delivery, provided that the wine or beer is sold in the original sealed container, is sold in the same transaction as a purchase of food and is not over certain volume limitations.
Your chamber team is standing by to assist.
Don't hesitate to reach out.
Be safe and be well.
Chamber President

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