We’ve officially entered Phase One of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-phase plan for re-opening the Massachusetts economy.
And I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
How do you feel about the recommendations and how does it apply to your business or nonprofit and your ability to survive or succeed? Will you be opening your office
or lab next week? Offering curb side retail sales
Scheduling a haircut? Or are you feeling that your business or nonprofit was overlooked or misunderstood?
What’s open and what’s not
To review, Baker’s plan includes both general safety standards
and guidelines, as well as paperwork and signs every employer must complete and/or post prior to reopening. You’ll find when your business can reopen here
and must complete the following before reopening:
- You will be required to complete this form,
verifying that you have adopted required general protocols and safety standards. You do not need to submit this form, just keep a copy in the event
of an inspection.
- You will be required to sign this compliance attestation poster and post it where employees and visitors can see it.
- You will be required to post copies of these employer and employee
signs too, illustrating social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting rules
- And you’ll need to review this list sector-specific protocols and best practices for specific industries.
Retailers are allowed to offer remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up. Retail, restaurants, lodging, additional personal services (e.g., nail salons and
day spas) will be part of the second phase, perhaps three weeks from now.
Here’s my early take: By and large, Baker laid out a really smart, science-based, approach. I don’t really understand how you can maintain safe social
distance getting a haircut, but I’m sure that decision makes many folks happy.
On the other hand, why are “non-essential” retailers only allowed to sell curbside
After two months of shopping in grocery stores and pharmacies, most of us have successfully adapted to new protocols. Why not apply those lessons and
best practices and let other retail shops open under similar restrictions?
Although this isn’t Baker’s doing, here’s another concern: This timeline undercuts the Paycheck Protection Plan’s potential.
PPP rules say the funds must be spent in within eight weeks of receipt. That means retailers and restaurants have to bring back and pay employees now (while
they’re closed) instead of later (when they’re open, which would be a lot more beneficial). That’s not true most states, where stores are already open.
The PPP’s inflexibility is counterproductive.
More on the SBA’s forgiveness application
Speaking of the PPP, on Friday the SBA released the PPP application
borrowers must use to determine the amount of the loan that may be “forgiven” by their lender. The form and instructions include:
- Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
- Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
- Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
- Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
- Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was
Blum Shapiro breaks down what it means here
including noting the cap owners can pay themselves in compensation.
Last week the U.S. House passed the HEROES Act, which among other things would allow PPP loan holders to spend their funds over 24 weeks instead of the
current eight. But that change, and others, needs to be approved by the Senate which has yet to show any desire to take up the new bill.
Boston to meal delivery companies: Pretty please
While Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller does not believe the city has the authority
to cap those meal delivery fees, Boston seems to think it might.
Last week, several Boston City Councilors and an aide to Mayor Walsh put delivery companies on notice: Curb fees during the pandemic or the city will impose
fee caps as is being done in San Francisco and other cities, reports Universal Hub
Grubhub is threatening a legal fight and says a cap would hurt consumers and drivers.
Speaking of Fuller, a reminder that she’ll be joining us for a Zoom conversation this Thursday at 9 a.m.
What the taxman sayeth about working remotely
Working remotely or having employees work remotely may have tax implications. The Mass. Department of Revenue (DOR) has issued guidelines
covering a broad base of telecommuting-related taxes.
There are separate sections on:
- Personal Income and Withholding.
- Sales and use tax nexus
- Corporate income tax
- Paid family and medical leave Working remotely
- NBC10 is producing a Facebook Livestream to focus on concerns of the small business community during the COVID-19 crisis. Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst will
be answering your questions about the reopening plan at 2 p.m. this afternoon (May 19).
- Verizon is offering small business relief grants for small businesses facing immediate financial threats due to COVID-19. These grants are meant to
help small businesses meet payroll, pay rent, and cover additional immediate operational needs. Applications are due tomorrow (May 20). Info here.
Don’t forget to send me your thoughts about the reopening plan.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber