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 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!
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,
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 Massachusetts, Although 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 Guidance, In-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:
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.
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)
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.)
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
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!
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: