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COVID-19 Update for June 26: 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 26, 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 26: 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 26, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.   

The Latest News

Phase 2, part 2 now underway

Beginning on Monday, the second part of phase 2 commenced, which allowed nail and tanning salons, tattoo parlors, personal training, and massage therapy to open.  Indoor dining in restaurants is also now allowed under appropriate safety and distancing guidelines.

Phase 3 delayed one week

Phase 3 could have begun as early as June 29.  However, the Governor recently announced that we would delay the beginning of Phase 3 by at least one week, which means that July 6 is the earliest businesses under Phase 3 – including gyms and casinos – can now accept to resume regular activities.

National News

Updates to Paycheck Protection Program

The deadline to apply for a PPP loan is fast approaching:  June 30.  And for those who have already received a PPP loan, last week the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program – or P4 – Act was proposed in Congress for businesses still struggling despite already having received a PPP loan.  The new program would allow small businesses with less than 100 employees to apply for a second loan.  So far it’s unclear how likely it is for the P4 Act to become law.  Additionally, in response to criticism about a lack of transparency, the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department have agreed to release some details about individual PPP loans.  (For previously mentioned PPP resources, please visit the Available Resources for Massachusetts Businesses section, listed later in this update.)

Main Street Lending Program off to slow start

After launching on June 15, the Main Street Lending Program is having trouble attracting lenders.  The program is proving challenging for banks, with its higher minimum loan amount ($250,000), five-year terms and deferred principal payments with low interest rates.

Ban on green cards extended, temporary work visas frozen

Earlier this week, the Trump administration extended a ban on green cards issued outside the U.S. until the end of the year, and added a new ban of H-1B visas (frequently used by major American technology companies), H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), J-1 visas (exchange students), and L-1 visas (managers of multinational corporations).

Dr. Fauci testifies before Congress

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before a House committee earlier this week.  Among other points, he said he was “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine would be developed soon, an increase in testing is planned, he’s concerned about surges in some states, and he does believe systemic racism affects the impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans.

Massachusetts News

Governor Baker requests $1.1 billion supplemental budget bill

Earlier this week, the $1.1 billion supplemental budget bill the governor has requested was released, demonstrating the tremendous amount of expense the state has spent to fight the pandemic.  Specific items among the request include $350 million for protection gear, $247 million to cover increased rates for human services, home care, and group home workers, and $81 million for childcare needs.  State lawmakers are expected to approve the supplemental budget bill.

Massachusetts unemployment rate rises to 16.3% for May

The state’s unemployment rate for the month of May continued to rise, beating the previous month’s record of 15.1%, to 16.3%, and also achieving the dubious distinction of being tied for fourth-worst in the country.

Massachusetts achieves lowest rate of virus transmission in the country

According to the website Rt.live, which has been tracking transmission rates of COVID-19 across the country, Massachusetts has the lowest rate, with an Rt value of 0.67.  This value basically represents how many other people are likely to contract the virus from an infected person.  (An Rt value of 1.0 signifies rapid spread.)

Court houses to reopen on July 13

Court houses throughout Massachusetts are planning to reopen on July 13 on a limited basis, while still planning to conduct most business virtually.  Entry at the court houses will be limited to people attending in-person proceedings, people conducting business with a clerk’s, register’s or recorder’s office, people meeting with probation, and people conducting business at other open offices in the court houses—and all attendees will be screened to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

State sets Sales Tax Holiday Weekend:  August 29-30

On Tuesday, the Baker administration that the state’s 6.25% sales tax will be waived on many purchases during the weekend of Saturday, August 29, through Sunday, August 30.  Governor Baker said he hoped people would take advantage of the tax-free purchasing to support local businesses.

Industry News

Education

According to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, more than 2,000 educators have received layoff or nonrenewal notices, representing continued economic uncertainty and fallout from the pandemic at town and state levels.

Health Care

A new report discusses how frontline healthcare workers are suffering from fatigue and post traumatic stress disorder, and may take months to recover.

Restaurants and Hospitality

The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020 was introduced earlier this week in the House of Representatives by a bipartisan coalition.  The Act aims to establish a $120 billion relief fund for independently owned restaurants.

Transportation

The MBTA has created an app that offers real-time crowding information:  “crowded,” “some crowding,” and “not crowded.”  These categories are still based on the new lower caps the T implemented earlier.

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:

In honor of all the high school seniors around the country have missed out on these last few months, we cheer the Boston valedictorians who persevered and stayed dedicated to doing the best they could.  Congratulations, and best wishes!

 

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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