The Town of Bedford recognizes our business community is an important part of the fabric of our community, and we aim to support you during this difficult time. We have provided a list of COVID-19 updates below for businesses. Please contact Alyssa Sandoval, Economic Development Director, at [email protected] with any questions.
MASSACHUSETTS REOPENING GUIDANCE
Phase III Step 1 Reopening
The Baker-Polito Administration announced that on Monday, July 6, 2020, Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin and updates on gatherings will be in effect. The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued updated guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:
- Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues;
- Museums, cultural and historical sites;
- Fitness centers and health clubs;
- Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact;
- Professional sports teams, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators.
Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase III are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards. Businesses should consult sector-specific protocols and the When Can My Business Reopen? pages at www.mass.gov/reopening.
CARES Act Small Business Assistance
Please see this breakdown of the major provisions for small business assistance included in the recent Congress' CARES Act.
- COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). An emergency grant of up to $10,000: Small businesses may apply directly to the federal Small Business Administration to receive an economic injury disaster grant of up to $10,000 that does not need to be paid back. See this link for criteria and to apply: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/. The money would be paid out to business owners directly after submission of the application. It can be used to maintain payroll, cover paid sick leave and service other debt obligations.
Important: Remember to check the box to receive the Loan Advance when you fill out your application!
- Paycheck Protection Program. Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount. The Payroll Protection Program is for eligible small businesses impacted by COVID-19 (typically businesses with fewer than 500 employees).
The SBA and Treasury released revised guidance documenting recent changes to the PPP program outlined in the PPP Flexibility Act. Businesses have up to 10 months following the “covered period” of their loan to submit their loan forgiveness form.
The SBA and Treasury posted a new, streamlined loan forgiveness application for all PPP borrowers. There is also a new “EZ” version of the forgiveness application for certain borrowers who meet any of the following requirements:
- Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
- Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
- Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%
- Businesses may apply for the EIDL grant as well as the PPP Loan. If applying for both, the emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000 will be subtracted from the amount forgiven in a PPP Loan.
- Refundable Employee Retention Credit. A payroll tax credit to help retain employees administered by the IRS. Consult a financial professional to determine if this is a good fit for your business. May not be combined with other new SBA forgivable loans noted above.
Small Business Tax Relief: The Baker-Polito Administration announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses which have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.
- Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.
- The Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to implement these administrative relief measures, and they are expected to be finalized before Friday, March 20, 2020.
WORKFORCE AND EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
- Governor Baker signed S.2599 to provide unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This legislation will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
- WorkShare program is a tool to help employers avoid layoffs during a downturn: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/workshare-information-for-employers. Workshare allows an employer to reduce hours for workers and supplement the hours with unemployment to retain full-time paid workers.
- Rapid Response program is a state-funded employment program that works closely with companies to avert layoffs and keep a skilled workforce engaged in the existing regional economy or industry: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/rapid-response-layoff-aversion
STAYING UP TO DATE
BEDFORD RESTAURANT INITIATIVE
Following Governor Baker’s announcement of restrictions to on-premise dining, the Town worked quickly with our local restaurants, and purveyors, to find ways to ensure their businesses could stay open during this tumultuous time. We are proud to announce the launch of www.BedfordTakeOut.com. Bedford is lucky to have so many wonderful dining options available to our residents and workforce, and wanted to make sure our residents and workers knew which establishments are staying open, and the options available for delivery and pick-up. The Town will be updating the website as we receive changes in status from local businesses.
Bedford Food Bank
To assist and support Bedford residents in need during this difficult time, the Town of Bedford has established a temporary food bank at John Glenn Middle School (JGMS). If your company is able to, please consider making a financial donation to the Bedford Food Bank to assist us in providing food to these vulnerable populations. Further details are provided at: https://www.bedfordma.gov/bedfordfoodbank.
CDC AND OTHER COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES
- CDC Business Planning Pandemic Check List
- CDC “Stop the Spread of Germs” Poster
- SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
- CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- DPH Guidance and Recommendations
- Massachusetts Guidance for Businesses
Please check the Town of Bedford website for continuing local government updates on COVID-19 at https://www.bedfordma.gov/.