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COVID-19 Update for September 2: As We Close Out the Summer, 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 Wednesday, September 2, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.   

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Insights  <  COVID-19 Update for September 2: As We Close Out the Summer, 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 Wednesday, September 2, 2020, here are the latest updates leaders in Massachusetts’s business community need to know.   

National News

New stimulus package update

Although far from a deal, after the latest Republican offer, the two sides are now about $900 billion apart, which is much closer than the $2.4 trillion that separated their plans at the beginning of August.  It’s unclear if party leaders will continue negotiations this week.

The latest Paycheck Protection Program news

Latest guidance from the Small Business Administration changes the compensation limits for PPP borrowers who are considered owner-employees.  As a result, for owner-employees who hold less than a 5% stake in their company, the cap on their compensation is subject to the rules for employees, rather than owners.  (For previously mentioned PPP resources, please visit the Available Resources for Massachusetts Businesses section, listed later in this update.)

Massachusetts News

Most office workers not expected back until January

Only one-fifth of workers are expected to go back to the office as of September, with most not expected to return until after the new year, according to a poll by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

Extra $300 in unemployment benefits expected soon

With the approval by FEMA of the funding late last month, Massachusetts expects it can start offering those collecting unemployment benefits an extra $300 within the next couple of weeks.

Despite lower infection rates, economy doesn’t bounce back

Although Massachusetts currently has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, the state economy’s reliance on leisure and accommodations, higher education, and health care make the economic rebound much harder to achieve.

Phased approach to reopening schools encouraged

The Coalition to Safely Reopen Schools is asking for a phased approach to reopening schools to ensure that all safety guidelines are met and that schools are ready, and not rushed, to reopen.

A moving day like no other

With September 1 marked as the traditional “moving day” for greater Boston schools, this year saw rents down more than 3% compared with this time last year, and more than 13,000 apartments remain available in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville.

Q2 numbers show good news for state banks

With one exception, Massachusetts banks fared much better than their counterparts throughout the country.  Subtracting Berkshire Bank’s more than half of a billion dollars it wrote on its goodwill balance (which shows up as an expense), Massachusetts-based banks posted a 7% increase in net income compared with the second quarter of 2019.

Somerville to potentially enter Phase 3 on September 8

As the last remaining community in Massachusetts to not move into Phase 3 of the state’s economic reopening plan, Somerville announced this week that it tentatively plans to move into the next phase as of Monday, September 8.  The plan is expected to be confirmed on Thursday.

Governor declares September as Emergency Preparedness Month

Governor Baker has declared September 2020 to be Emergency Preparedness Month in Massachusetts to encourage residents, families and organization to prepare for emergencies and disasters.  (September is also National Preparedness Month.)  The Commonwealth will kick off the annual observance by launching a public “Thank You” campaign on social media to recognize the tireless efforts of essential workers and organizations that have been doing so much to keep Massachusetts prepared and safe throughout the pandemic.

Massachusetts falls out of top 10 for travel destinations

Although Boston is typically a top travel destination, this Labor Day it’s fallen out of the top 10 for 2020 destinations, from number 4 to number 18.  With no travel restrictions, Florida has taken over the number one spot.

Industry News

Education

As students arrive at schools throughout the region, there has been concern.  But some good news coming out of the Broad Institute shows that the positive rate is less than 1 in 1,000 among New England college coronavirus tests.

Still, since not all students are coming back to school, small towns built around colleges are feeling the economic repercussions.

And many students arriving on campus at schools throughout greater Boston are spending their first few days in isolation, until a COVID test comes back negative.

Adding to universities’ economic woes, many students are now petitioning their schools for tuition discounts.

Nonprofits

Mayor Marty Walsh announced at the end of the month that the Boston Resiliency Fund recently dispersed another $1.2 million in grants to nonprofits that have been supporting Boston residents with food access and rent.  In total, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed over $25 million.

Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted by the Massachusetts Cultural Council reported that cultural nonprofits have lost $425 million as a result of the pandemic, and face an uncertain future.

And the Main Street Lending Program recently announced it was open to nonprofits.

Restaurants and Hospitality

Five colleges in greater Boston received approval to house 2,044 students across nine area hotels in an attempt to de-densify the student population.  Boston College, Emerson College, Fisher College, Northeastern University, and Suffolk University are all taking advantage of this creative housing solution.

Meanwhile, the hospitality industry has been so economically hard-hit by the pandemic that some are suggesting that rather than a PPP 2.0 for hotels, what they really need is a TARP 2.0.

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:

At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., last month, word came that giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a new baby giant panda cub!  At 22 years, she is the oldest giant panda to successfully give birth in the United States.  Congratulations, Mei Xiang!

 

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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