Small business issues

Business closures and stay-at-home advisory. Governor Baker outlined a stay-at-home advisory beginning Tuesday, March 24th at noon. The Governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close their physical operations to workers and customers. Grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, gas stations and other essential retail stores will remain accessible, and he said he would not be ordering people to stay in their homes. If you do go out or take a walk, Baker stressed that people should use “common sense” and observe social distancing. “Everyone is advised to stay home and limit all unnecessary activities,” Baker said. The new executive orders will remain in place until April 7. Essential businesses also include delivery and packaging operations, medical facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Restaurants offering take-out food can also continue to operate. Medical marijuana dispensaries will remain open, but recreational pot shops must close. The governor also said the MBTA would continue to operate, but urged people to only use the T if necessary. The stay-at-home advisory was reassessed by Governor Baker on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 and due to the expected surge of COVID-19 cases, this order has been extended until Monday, May 4, 2020. You may view executive orders here. The essential services emergency order has been extended to May 18, 2020. A Reopening Advisory Board was also launched that will produce a plan to the Governor by May 18. The Administration further announced that the Department of Public Health’s Stay At Home Advisory remains in effect and gatherings of 10 or more people remain prohibited until May 18, 2020. To view additional information, please click here.

Continue to buy locally during COVID-19. Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) recently launched a MDAR COVID-19 resource page. You will find resources for consumers, to provide the most relevant and timely information about where you can access fresh, local food from farmers and producers across the Commonwealth. Please click here for more information.

Restaurant Relief through the CARES Act. When the federal government passed the $2 trillion stimulus package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) it included several helpful provisions for small restaurants. The programs can be found by clicking here.

There will be administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sector. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes due in March, April and May. These taxes will now be due on June 20.

SBA Resumes Accepting PPP Applications. The US Small Business Administration is now accepting applications for the second round of funding of the Paycheck Protection Program from lenders. Businesses can use the SBA’s find a lender tool here. To view the list of lenders who participated in the first round of PPP click here. All businesses impacted by COVID-19 should work with their lender to apply as soon as possible.

Other relief for businesses. A number of resources have been put in place to aid businesses affected by COVID-19. To see the latest list for businesses, including low interest loans and other services, click here.