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COVID-19 Update for June 19: 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, June 19, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.   

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for June 19: 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, June 19, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.   

The Latest News

Announcement expected this week on second stage of Phase 2

Although technically in Phase 2, some businesses – including nail and tanning salons, tattoo parlors, personal training, and massage therapy – were told to wait until later in the phase.  Indoor dining at restaurants also falls into the second stage of Phase 2.  An announcement of when that second stage can begin is expected any day.

National News

Updates to Paycheck Protection Program

In the latest changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, eligibility has been expanded now that the SBA has revised its rules on a business owner’s criminal background.  Also this week, revised loan forgiveness applications were released – a “borrower-friendly” application, and an “EZ version.”  One hundred thirty billion dollars is still available in the Paycheck Protection Program. (For previously mentioned PPP resources, please visit the Available Resources for Massachusetts Businesses section, listed later in this update.)

Main Street Lending Program launches

After months of preparing, the Main Street Lending Program finally launched on Monday.  The program offers loans ranging from $250,000 to $300 million.  A Main Street loan, unlike other loans, requires no payments of principal in the first or second year, and no interest payments in the first year.

SBA reopens EIDL program

More than a month after the Small Business Administration closed the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to new applicants, with exception of agriculture-related businesses, the SBA has reopened the program to all small businesses.  According to data available through June 12, the program had only loaned $90.9 billion of the $366 billion available.

Fed Chair warns economic downturn could disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, warned that while some aspects of the economy are starting to improve, already disadvantaged groups were at most risk the longer the economic downturn continued.  He anticipated that more assistance from Congress and the Fed may be needed in the future.

Stimulus payments arriving as Visa cards cause confusion

While some people eligible for stimulus money from the CARES Act received their share via direct deposit or paper check, about 2.5% of those receiving funds are getting them via a debit card, although many don’t realize it.

Travelers refusing to wear face masks could be banned from air travel

Airlines for America, a trade industry group, announced a group of major airlines, including Delta, Southwest, United Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue will require passengers to wear face masks while traveling or risk being banned from future travel.

Massachusetts News

State announces additional administrative tax relief measures for businesses

On Thursday, Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Senate President Spilka and House Speaker DeLeo announced additional tax relief measures for local businesses, with special focus in the restaurant and hospitality sectors.  Included in these measures are postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes until September, and all penalties and interest will be waived.

Guidelines eased for child-care centers

After much pushback, the state is easing its original guidelines for reopening child-care centers.  Masks for children older than two will be recommended but not required.  Also no longer required – checking each student’s temperature before entering the building, or having an extra teacher in each class.  These changes are expected to help enhance the ability of the centers to stay open at all.

Industry News

Education

Traditional community college students may be jolted from their current academic paths at a much higher rate due to job loss, housing instability, and family situations as a result of the pandemic.

Also, the University of Massachusetts announced it is developing a partnership with Chapman University, shifting its strategy from creating its own new online college to partnering with an existing program.

Meanwhile, UMass Amherst announced it would plan to send students home from their first semester before Thanksgiving, while MIT plans to do the same, although it isn’t planning to allow all students to come back to campus in the first place.  Instead, just 60% of undergrads can come back to campus, and all of them will have single rooms.

Closer to home, according to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, at least 66 school districts have recently sent out layoff notices, ranging by district from a few to more than 100.  Taunton, Weymouth, Medford and Brookline have been hardest hit so far.

Health Care

With new guidelines in place, hospitals are now working to attract more regular patients, while convincing them that the health care organization is safe.

Restaurants and Hospitality

With people coming back to restaurants for outdoor dining, an announcement regarding when indoor dining can resume is expected this week.

Retail

Although retail sales rebounded in May, stores were in most cases employing fewer employees, leading to a changed landscape for many retailers.  Additionally, although total sales rose 17.7 percent in May, they were still down 8 percent overall from February.

Meanwhile, according to a recent survey by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, 30 percent of respondents suggested their business may not survive the pandemic.

Available Resources for Massachusetts Businesses 

Previously mentioned PPP resources:

Additional and previously mentioned resources:

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 state 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:

As we continue to celebrate the good news being shared throughout this time, here’s a story that really feels affirming:  throughout the pandemic, a rise in compassion shown by individuals toward complete strangers swelled.  Michelle Figueroa, founder of the Good News Movement, talks about this in a recent Boston Globe article.

 

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.

Any written tax content, comments, or advice contained in this article is limited to the matters specifically set forth herein. Such content, comments, or advice may be based on tax statutes, regulations, and administrative and judicial interpretations thereof and we have no obligation to update any content, comments or advice for retroactive or prospective changes to such authorities. This communication is not intended to address the potential application of penalties and interest, for which the taxpayer is responsible, that may be imposed for non-compliance with tax law. 

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