• COVID-19 Resources, Programs and Information COVID-19 Resources, Programs and Information

    BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES!

    October 13, 2020:  COVID-19 Update: Fall Preparedness Strategy The Baker-Polito Administration provided an update today on a series of initiatives that will keep supporting the residents of the Commonwealth to stop the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the state’s readiness status heading into the fall and winter.

    September 29, 2020: COVID-19 Update: Opening Further Phase III Businesses & Activities In Lower-Risk Communities The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that effective Monday, October 5th, lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step II of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. All other communities will remain in Phase III, Step I. Governor Charlie Baker also issued a revised gatherings order. Industry specific guidance and protocols for a range of Phase I, II, and III businesses will also be updated.

    September 23, 2020: COVID-19 Update: Community Grant Funding to Support COVID-19 Recovery The Baker-Polito Administration today announced more than $85K in Community Places Grant Funding through MassDevelopment, as well as $650K in COVID-19 Community Grants to reduce infections, morbidity and mortality among Black, Latinx and other people of color in the hardest-hit cities in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the administration announced updates to the reopening rules for restaurants.

    September 20, 2020: September 25th Deadline to Apply for the Ashland Microenterprise Grant Program. There is CaresAct funding being utilized to address emergency needs in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. $10,000 grants will be awarded to individual businesses that are considered a microenterprise. A microenterprise is defined as a commercial enterprise that has 5 or fewer employees (including the sole proprietor) and is a for-profit entity. Funds may be used for working capital to cover business costs, such as rent, staffing, utilities, technical assistance, general support and stabilization of the business. Funds may also be used for personal protection equipment (PPE). Microenterprise Assistance grant funds may not be used for major equipment purchases, purchase of real property, construction activities, business expansion, or lobbying. Applications are available  HERE and are due by September 25th at 5:00 PM.  For Frequently Asked Questions and to Learn More Click HERE

    September 10, 2020: The Town of Natick receives state microenterprise grant supporting local businesses. Natick has received over $300,000 to support local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as is part of a $19.6 million award of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to Massachusetts through the 2020 CARES Act.   The Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) is assisting a consortium of 23 cities and towns across metropolitan Boston, including Natick, to administer these grants. Applications are now being accepted for the Natick Microenterprise Grant Program, which provides grant to address emergency needs of small businesses arising from the Coronavirus. Individual grants of up to $10,000 are available for microenterprises owned by Low or Moderate-income people. CLICK HERE to read complete article (additional information on eligibility and application process) Applications are due by September 25th!


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    September 3, 2020: *COVID-19 TESTING UPDATE*
    Thanks to the Staples’ Corporation, Free, Drive-through COVID-19 Testing Resumes in Framingham Starting Thursday, September 3, at the Company’s Headquarters at 500 Staples Drive;
    Free, Walk-up COVID-19 Testing Remains Available at Amazing Things Art Center on Hollis Street and The South Middlesex Opportunity Council Building on Bishop Street.  View more information about COVID-19 testing in and around Framingham here.

    September 3, 2020: CLICK HERE to watch Covid-19 update, "Enhanced Support for Higher Risk Communities" from Governor Charlie Baker

    August 25 2020: CLICK HERE to watch  Covid-19 update, "Food Security Grants, Updates on Schools, Community Data" from Governor Charlie Baker

    August 18 2020: CLICK HERE to watch  Covid-19 update, "Food Security Grants, Updates on Schools, Community Data" from Governor Charlie Baker

    August 11, 2020: CLICK HERE to watch  Covid-19 update, "Enhanced Community Data, Targeted Responses" from Governor Charlie Baker

    August 7, 2020, CLICK HERE to watch Covid-19 update, "New Gathering Limits, Enhanced Enforcement" from Governor Charlie Baker and Administration officials.

    July 31, 2020, CLICK HERE to watch Covid-19 update, "Tracing COVID-19 Clusters, #MaskUpMA Campaign" from Governor Charlie Baker and Administration officials.

    July 16, 2020, Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) - Microenterprise Assistance ProgramOn Thursday, July 16th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that a consortium of twenty three (23) communities across Metropolitan Boston, including Natick, was the recipient of a $4,950,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) to assist small businesses reopen from the COVID19 pandemic. This funding is part of a $19.6 million award to the state from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to address emergency needs resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the resources awarded to the consortium will used for grants of up to $10,000 for microenterprises – for-profit businesses that have five (5) or fewer employees, including the owner ... Click on Title Above to Read Entire Report

    July 6, 2020: Reopening Massachusetts: Baker-Polito Administration Initiates Transition to Third Phase of Four-Phase Approach The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that on July 6, Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin and updates on gatherings will be in effect. For the City of Boston, Phase III and the gatherings order will take effect on Monday, July 13.  The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued updated guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

    June 2020: Gaston Institute Report on COVID-19 and Latinos in MassachusettsAlthough much is still unknown about COVID-19, it is clear that the social and economic contexts in which we live and work are shaping the distribution of COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality in the United States and elsewhere.1 These social and economic contexts, known as the social determinants of health, are the “conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.”2 Thus, it is not surprising that among other determinants we have witnessed significant disparities in the incidence, and outcomes of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity, income, housing conditions, types of employment, and access to health care. When we consider the evolution of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, it is also not surprising that Black and Latino populations have experienced disproportionate effects. From February 1, 2020, when Massachusetts identified its first COVID-19 case, to June 16, 2020 more than 105,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.3 Because COVID-19 testing has been performed by a variety of private firms, the race and ethnicity of these cases are not always identified (despite a state mandate that this data must be collected). As a result, the race and ethnicity of 35% of COVID-19 cases are unknown in Massachusetts. Of the known cases, however, the racial-ethnic disproportionality is evident: among Blacks and Latinos, the incidence of COVID19 dramatically surpasses their representation in the population ... Click on Title Above to Read Entire Report

    June 25, 2020: DESE Releases Initial Back-to-School GuidanceIn-person learning a priority, health and safety requirements outlined,
    Today, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released initial guidance for school reopening this fall that prioritizes getting students safely back to school in person, following a comprehensive set of health and safety requirements. The Department is also requiring schools to create hybrid learning plans to teach students in-person and remotely on alternating schedules, and to have robust remote learning plans in place, should those alternate learning models be needed.
     
    In addition, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the allocation of approximately $200 million from the Commonwealth’s federal Coronavirus Relief Fund for costs related to reopening public schools...

    June 5, 2020: Congress approves sweeping changes to PPP,  The Senate last night unanimously approved the House bill that will increase flexibility for small businesses to use loan funds received through the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

    June 1, 2020: Framingham’s Mayor Spicer issued an Executive Order on temporary zoning, permitting, and licensing supports for restaurant re-openings, including outdoor uses: These temporary changes will be in effect until the state of emergency ends or when the City Council codifies related by-law changes, whichever occurs first. Framingham’s City Council has scheduled public hearings on potential zoning amendments related to outdoor restaurant uses, to begin on June 16, 2020, which will be followed up by Planning Board hearings.

    June 1, 2020: The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) issued a New Advisory on processes for restaurants seeking to provide outside alcohol service. Under this temporary policy (which will expire in November), state approval is not required for space plans for outdoor or patio service, and local licensing authorities of cities and towns may proceed to review such changes without waiting for ABCC review.

    Listed below are links to many of the resources available to both businesses and individuals during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

    FEDERAL, STATE & LOCAL RESOURCES/PROGRAMS/ORDERS and UPDATES

     

    Requirements for Indoor Gatherings During Phase III Step 1:

    • Capacity:
      • No more than 40% of the approved maximum occupancy load of that indoor space.  If the indoor space  does not have a dedicated occupancy load, you’ll need to cap the capacity to no more than 8 people per 1000 square feet of indoor space.  At no time the gathering can exceed 25 people even if the indoor space is more than 3000 square feet or the 40% limitation has a higher capacity than 25.
    • Preventive Measures:
      • Social distancing of 6-ft from each person
      • If participants are seated in tables and meals will be served, each table must also be at least 6 feet from each other
      • Wearing face covering at all times (except during eating or drinking)
      • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer as needed
      • Do not attend if symptomatic or being told to isolate/quarantine by a healthcare provider or a public health authority
         

    Initial Guidance for School Reopening: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  

    Main St. Matters!: Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT Launching Main ST. Matters! A funding program that offers grants to small businesses to help them get through these difficult times.

    Order Clarifying the Progression of the Commonwealth's Phased Workplace Re-opening Plan and Authorizing Certain Re-Opening Preparations at Phase II Workplaces (June 1, 2020)

    Executive Order on Temporary Zoning, Permitting and Licensing Supports from Framingham Mayor Spicer - June 1, 2020)

    Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Advisory (Regarding Local Licensing Authorities Approval of Outdoor Seating - June 1, 2020)

    Reopening Massachusetts ( The Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19: May 18, 2020)

    General Business Guidance for Reopening  (Information to help businesses meet the self-certification to reopen)

    • Covid-19 Control Plan Template - Template that satisfies the written control plan requirement for self-certification
    • Compliance Attestation Poster - Poster that customer facing businesses are required to print, sign, and post in an area within the business premises that is visible to workers and visitors
    • Employer Posters and Worker Posters - Posters that businesses can print and display within the business premises to describe the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, and cleaning and disinfecting

    COVID-19 State of Emergency (Updates, emergency orders, and guidance associated with the COVID-19 State of Emergency.)

    Mass211 (operates the statewide Covid-19 information line for the Massachusetts Energy Management Agency (MEMA) and Department of Public Health (DPH.) Every day, someone somewhere in Massachusetts needs to find essential community services, an after school program, a food bank, or where to secure care for an aging parent. Many face these challenges, but don't always know where to turn for help. The Solution is to Dial 2-1-1.)

    Federal Reserve Bank's Main Street Lending Program(Federal Reserve has announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program (Program) to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic)

    The Small Business Owner's Guide to the Cares Act 

    Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) : Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources

    Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
    (This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.) **SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Paycheck Protection Program 
    (An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.)  

    SBA Express Bridge Loans
    (Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.)

    SBA Debt Relief
    (The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits.

    Mass.gov Coronavirus Updates 
    (COVID-19 Updates and Information): Everything you need to know about COVID-19  in Massachusetts

    LOCAL AND OTHER RESOURCES/PROGRAMS

    Framingham's COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grant 
    (The City of Framingham has established the COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grant to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses within the City of Framingham that have had significant business disruption due to the impact of COVID-19. These grant funds will assist small business in the City of Framingham to cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs.)

    Facebook Small Business Grants Program
    (Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.)

    GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative
    (GoFundMe.org, the charitable and advocacy arm of GoFundMe, started the Small Business Relief Fund to benefit small businesses. Supporters can donate to the Small Business Relief Fund, which will issue $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.)

    LOCAL COVID-19 RELATED SURVEYS

    Natick: COVID-19 Business Assistance Survey (deadline extended until May 15, 2020)

    Framingham: Small Business Recovery Survey

  • Additional Resources Additional Resources

    BEHAVIORAL RESOURCES

    Mindwise Innovations offers Behavioral Health Resources for the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce including Free Business Consultation and COVID-19 Webinars*:  Webinars are over but recordings of the webinars are available!


    Leading During COVID-19: How Anxiety and Depression Impacts Teams
    In light of the current health crisis, business owners and leaders no longer have the option of not addressing the impact mental health and substance misuse can have on their employees. Watch Recording

    Supporting Employees During Times of Job and Financial Insecurity 
    As leaders and business owners, there’s never been a more critical time to communicate with your workforce and support employees with the resources available. Watch Recording

    What to Know About Behavioral Health for Remote and On-Site Teams
    There’s no question that mental health and substance misuse concerns are rising. Now more than ever, helping employees to address behavioral health needs is an unavoidable part of the job.Watch Recording

    How to Prioritize Psychological Safety and Anti-Stigma Remotely 
    Psychological safety is ultimately what will drive organizations forward, especially in times of high stress and uncertainty like today. Watch Recording

    CLICK HERE for additional webinar recordings from MindWise Innovations

  • Ashland Updates Related to COVID-19 Ashland Updates Related to COVID-19

    Order of Ashland Board of Health requiring until lifted by the Board of Health facial coverings by customers of opened essential businesses, and masks by employees, prohibiting all evictions (residential and commercial), prohibiting gatherings, and requiring social distancing: 

    Ashland is first municipality in Massachusetts to require all nursing home and assisted living staff to be tested for COVID-19

    Ashland Restaurant and Resident Relief Program

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