Chamber News

October 13, 2020 Likes Comments

'Please behave' isn't working so neighboring towns step up fines

"Please follow the guidelines" isn't working.

So as Massachusetts enters 'a COVID autumn,' and more cities and towns find themselves in high and moderate-risk territory, two of our neighboring communities have apparently decided to get tough.
 
Last week, Natick’s Board of Health voted to levy fines as high as $1,000 for "egregious" violations of the board’s safety measures intended to protect the community against COVID-19.
 
Infractions include violating a quarantine order; parents/guardians lying on a daily school form that attest a child doesn’t have COVID, or hasn’t come into contact with anyone that potentially has the virus; and not wearing a face mask where one is required, Wicked Local reports .
 
Natick’s school committee had previously announced a $300 fine for families that knowingly lie on the school’s daily COVID forms after dozens of students violated self-quarantine order. As many as 50 students attended parties after they were exposed to people who tested positive.
 
Framingham’s health department has begun to levy a $500 fine for those violating the state limit on gatherings in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the MetroWest Daily News.
 
The News also has a story about teens who say they do not want the new normal to become normal.
 
Wearing shirts reading “You have the power to save a life,” they’re taking to street corners and parks offering free masks and hand sanitizer, while aiming to convince residents to take the coronavirus seriously.
 
D-Line track repairs delayed
 
If you’ve been looking forward to the end of all those shuttle buses and track and signal improvements to the MBTA’s Riverside Line, you’re about to be disappointed.
 
Originally set to be finished about now, anticipated completion date has been pushed to next fall. The T says the change is due to a work pause in March due to the COVID crisis.
 
Bus shuttles will replace train service on most weeknights and weekends through December as a result of the Green Line D Track and Signal Project, the Fenway Portal Project and the Brookline High School Expansion Project. This Line D Service changes page provides latest shuttle information and schedule. You may also subscribe to T alerts at www.mbta.com/alerts.
 
New PPP forgiveness rules benefit smallest of borrowers
 
I spent too much of my three-day weekend trying to understand the ramifications of the latest interim final rule from the Small Business Administration. Not sure I’ve been entirely successful.
 
The new rules streamline the forgiveness application process for Paycheck Protection Program loans of $50,000 or less (or 3.57 million of the outstanding PPP loans, totaling approximately $62 billion).
 
The cutoff seemed both surprising and arbitrary because both small-business groups and lawmakers in Congress have repeatedly supported a $150,000 automatic cap, writes Andy Medici for the BBJ.
 
Neil Hare at Forbes says the $50,000 cutoff was selected because almost all borrowers at that level or lower are sole proprietors, independent contractors, or employers with one employee. Here’s the relevant links if your PPP loan is at or under $50,000.
While this appears to be a step in the right direction, it’s not the preferred automatic forgiveness that lawmakers on both sides of the isle say they favor, but can’t seen to execute.
 
What’s really needed is Congressional action to resolve a myriad of still outstanding forgiveness questions (and, of course, a second stimulus), including, questions about the deductibility of expenses used with PPP funds.
 
The IRS has ruled that expenses normally deductible for a business cannot be taken if used with PPP money. Advocates (pretty much everyone except the IRS on this one) argue that if the PPP was intended to be a grant. So why create a new tax burden on these businesses the government was trying to bail out?
 
“PPP is a loan and remains one until forgiveness is received. As lenders have 60 days to review forgiveness applications and the SBA 90 days, most borrowers won’t receive a forgiveness decision until Q1 or Q2 of 2021, if then, with the likely backlogs to come,” writes Hare.
 
“So, the question becomes, do borrowers take the deductions now and amend their tax returns upon full or partial forgiveness, or not take the deduction and receive a refund if all or part of their PPP loan is not forgiven? And, what of any potential penalties and interest?”
 
This is all so frustrating and all so unnecessary.
 
Upcoming
  • Dine Around Needham returns tomorrow. Dine Local tomorrow (Oct. 14) for the third round of this mix and match local restaurant sampling. In addition to multiple dinner options, Hearth Pizzeria and French Press are offering lunch specials. Details here.
  • The Massachusetts Health Connector hosts a webinar tomorrow (Oct. 14) at for employees who have recently lost employer sponsored coverage.  Register and details. General information about the state’s Health Connector and the types of coverage available here.
  • The Support Latino Business Impact Fund is accepting applications for Latinx-owned businesses. The application period closes on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 12am PT. Don’t miss your chance to receive between $1,000 and $5,000 in funds. Visit SupportLatino.Biz and apply.
Last, but not least
 
The Newton-Needham Dining Collaborative, the chamber’s restaurant committee, is launching a contest Thursday designed to encourage and reward folks for dinning locally.
 
Each week from Oct. 15 to Nov 15 we’ll be awarding restaurant gift cards or restaurant themed prizes to entrants who dine inside, outside, enjoy take out or delivery, or even just visit any participating restaurant in Newton and Needham.
 
All you have to do to enter is share your experience with a #keepmakingmemoriescontest hashtag on Instagram or Twitter or upload your photo directly from your phone or desktop via the form that will be live starting Thursday here.
 
Your entry can be of you, your meal, your receipt, or even just of outside a participating restaurant.
 
There will be a random drawing from all entries each week, as well as special prize drawings for those who submit seven entries in seven consecutive days (or 30 entries in all 30 days). No purchase is necessary (complete rules here) but we certainly hope you’ll help support and help us promote our restaurants at this critical juncture.
 
Bon appetit,
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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