1. MASSACHUSETTS - PHASE II, STEP 2 BEGINS MONDAY, JUNE 22ND

    MASSACHUSETTS - PHASE II, STEP 2 BEGINS MONDAY, JUNE 22ND

    On Friday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Step Two of Phase II of the Commonwealth’s four-phase reopening plan, Reopening Massachusetts, begins Monday, June 22 to allow additional industries to resume operations under sector-specific guidelines. Businesses and sectors set to begin operating in Step Two of Phase II are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards. 

    The following are eligible to reopen in Step Two of Phase II:

    • Indoor table service at restaurants
    • Close contact personal services, with restrictions
    • Retail dressing rooms, by appointment only
    • Offices, at 50% capacity

    Safety protocols and other information remain available at www.mass.gov/reopening. Read the full press release here for more details.

    SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION UPDATES

    June 30th is just around the corner – and marks the deadline for when lenders can submit PPP applications to SBA. Thank you for your work to get the word out on this rapidly-approaching deadline over the past few weeks.

    Last week, 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%.

    COMMONWEALTH PLACES GRANTS

    On Friday, MassDevelopment announced $225,000 in funding for a new round of Commonwealth Places grants. This Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places funding is being made available specifically to help community partners prepare public space and commercial districts to best serve their population during communities’ economic recovery efforts. Eligible projects may include outdoor seating spaces, sidewalk retail venues, partitions to support social distancing, and more.

    Non-profits and community groups are eligible to apply for grant awards of up to $25,000. Up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 31, 2020. Read more in the Request for Proposals here.

    TAX RELIEF MEASURES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

    Last week, Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced additional administrative tax relief measures for local businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. 

    This tax relief builds upon previous similar tax extensions and includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses that would be due from March through August, so that they will instead be due in September. 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 businesses 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. 
    • For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period. 

    The Department of Revenue will issue emergency regulations and a Technical Information Release to implement these administrative relief measures.

    OTHER ADMINISTRATION UPDATES

    • On Friday, the Governor issued a proclamation for Juneteenth, declaring June 19, 2020 Juneteenth Independence Day.
    • Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration filed legislation to create a framework for certifying Massachusetts law enforcement officers, provide accountability, ensure that police departments in and outside Massachusetts have access to candidates’ training and disciplinary records, and provide incentives for officers to pursue advanced training to better serve their communities.
    • The Administration also announced pop-up testing sites for participants of large gatherings. Find a testing site near you.

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