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COVID-19 Update for April 3: Here’s What Massachusetts Businesses Need to Know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday,
April 3, 2020
, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for April 3: Here’s What Massachusetts Businesses Need to Know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday,
April 3, 2020
, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday, April 3, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.

The Latest News

CARES Act, with Paycheck Protection Program, enacted

On March 27, the U.S. Congress approved and President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which aims to provide significant support for individuals and businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.  The Paycheck Protection Program provision, meanwhile, offers small businesses immediate access to liquidity through a new loan program tied to prior-year payroll.

The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. It represents a massive financial injection into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.

This package includes billions of dollars in small business loans; grant programs for healthcare providers; emergency funding for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; and significant funding to help specific industries like air travel and national security recover from this period of economic instability.

It also includes relief checks for up to $1,200 per individual and $2,400 for married couples.

Paycheck Protection Program launches, April 3

As part of the March 27 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a provision known as the Paycheck Protection Program was established to offer small businesses immediate access to liquidity through a new loan program tied to prior-year payroll.  Earlier this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration shared its application and fact sheet and now banks and other lenders are gearing up to start distributing $349 billion to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.  Initially, banks are prioritizing current customers in accepting applications.

Massachusetts News

Massachusetts extends non-essential shut-down to May 4

Earlier this week Governor Baker extended the closure of non-essential businesses from the original date of April 7 to May 4.  The list of what was considered an essential business was widened, however.

Governor Baker also issued new guidance on hotels and other lodging establishments in the Commonwealth, and as of March 31, virtual shareholder meetings were also allowed.

Massachusetts State House Update

House Speaker Robert DeLeo told representatives Tuesday that the chamber would soon take up a bill temporarily banning evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency, and he said talks are ongoing about whether and how the House can conduct formal sessions remotely or after its July 31 deadline.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee late Tuesday approved emergency legislation providing temporary protections for renters and homeowners during the COVID-19 emergency – measures intended to ensure housing security while people are being advised to stay home to achieve collective public health goals.

Consideration of Business Interruption Insurance

Legislation was filed this week to declare Bill SD.2888 an emergency law that would require every insurance policy that insures against loss or damage to property to include the loss of use, occupancy, and business interruption (directly or indirectly resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic) in its policy coverage for businesses with less than 150 full-time-equivalent employees.

State tax filing postponed to July 15, in alignment with federal tax deadline

In alignment with the federal tax deadline, which was earlier postponed to July 15, Governor Baker announced on March 27 the state’s tax deadline would also be extended to July 15.

We encourage any of our clients who have questions about these deadline postponements to contact us as soon as possible.

Remote notarizations coming to Massachusetts?

In order to continue to move forward on legal transactions and documents during the time of the government-mandated shutdown, the Massachusetts legislature is working on a workaround solution that may involve videoconferencing.

Although there has yet to be consensus on the issue, many are committed to looking for a way forward.  We will continue to provide updates on this issue as they are available.


Industry News

Manufacturing:

Some manufacturers are adjusting their production lines and making themselves essential by switching over to production of medical personal protection equipment.

Construction:

This week Governor Baker scaled back what he will allow to be deemed essential in the construction industry – only private sector construction work related to housing.  Public sector construction can also continue.

Real Estate

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pointed to the fact that none of the measures the Fed has taken to ease the effects caused by the pandemic has targeted the commercial real estate sector, which may result in lingering effects on commercial real estate in Boston.  Additionally, the number of people working successfully from home may recalibrate the demand for office space in the city.

Restaurants and Hospitality:

The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams have teamed up to support Massachusetts restaurant industry workers through the Restaurant Strong Fund, which will provide grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts. The goal is to provide “$1,000 grants to as many qualifying grantees as possible.”

To qualify for a grant, workers must meet the following qualifications: be a full-time tipped compensated employee (minimum of 30 hours total per week, can be multiple restaurants), employed for three months or longer at the same location, and have worked in a restaurant, bar, cafe, or nightclub in Massachusetts. They must also submit a completed application form and the last two pay stubs received.

Transportation

Massachusetts is set to receive about $1 billion in federal public transit emergency aid, which is expected to sustain mass transit operations for the upcoming uncertain months.


Available Resources for Massachusetts Businesses

Boston Main Streets Foundation offers small business grants

Boston Main Streets Foundation is now accepting applications for small business grants after establishing a $100,000 COVID-19 Response Fund.  The fund plans to distribute $1,000 grants to individual businesses based on specific conditions.

WorkShare for Employers

The Massachusetts WorkShare Program offers a smart alternative to layoffs.  Instead, employees work reduced hours, and collect unemployment to cover lost income for the remaining hours they previously worked.

Updates from the Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been revamping its Disaster Loan Assistance portal to simplify the process.  Now, applicants are only required to upload two forms to initiate the process:  SBA Form 5 (Business Loan Application)/5C (Home or Sole Proprietor Loan Application) and Form P-019.

Additionally, the SBA came out with new debt forgiveness information.  The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.  Under this program, the SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020, and the SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.

Resources from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD)

EOLWD manages the Commonwealth’s workforce development and labor departments to ensure that workers, employers, and the unemployed have the tools and training needed to succeed in the Massachusetts economy.

Support offered by companies across the country

Companies around the world have announced additional policies and programs to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.


How You Can Help

The community-minded response of Massachusetts’ business community has been nothing short of extraordinary. There are plenty of ways to contribute to the statewide effort to navigate this crisis.  Here are few:


Future Updates and Additional Resources

We will be providing regular updates over the next several weeks as new developments are made available.  If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to reach out.  We are here to help you with your tax and business advisory needs.

In the meantime, you can refer to the following agencies and associations for the latest information:

And a Last Good Word…

We all need some good news right now – here’s some from this week:

The Patriots were part of a different kind of team effort recently, as the team’s plane touched down Thursday at Logan Airport filled with much needed N95 masks from China.  Governor Baker’s administration identified and purchased the masks from China, but initially was stymied by the issue of transporting them back to Massachusetts.  Governor Baker then thought about who he knew who had a plane, and said that once he called the Krafts, they “immediately went to work on the logistics associated with this, and did not stop until they could make it happen.”

 
COVID-19 Business Resources

Disclaimer:  The contents of this resource are for general informational purposes only.  While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, the information is provided “as is” and no representations are made that the content is error-free.  We have no obligation to update any content, comments or other information for retroactive or prospective interpretations or guidance provided by regulators, financial institutions or others.  The information is not intended to constitute legal advice or replace the advice of a qualified professional.  There are areas of the CARES Act where additional clarification from the Treasury Department and the SBA is needed.  Your judgment and interpretation of the act may be needed.  Users should consult with their legal counsel and representatives of the lending institution regarding the proper completion of their application and supporting documentation.

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