On May 18, the Baker-Polito Administration released Reopening Massachusetts, the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19. The Administration also released a new “Safer At Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities, as a way to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19. Starting today, based on current public health data and trends, Massachusetts will begin Phase 1 of a cautious reopening, and workplaces that are permitted to open are required to follow new safety protocols and guidance.
Learn more about the reopening process at www.mass.gov/reopening
To view ALL press releases from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, click here.
Current Reopening Phase: Phase 1 (Start) – Limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions.
- Reopening Massachusetts. The official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ reopening plan.
- Reopening Massachusetts Report. View and download the Commonwealth’s report on reopening the economy.
- Reopening: When Can My Business Open? Visit this link to learn more from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts about the different phases of reopening, and which types of businesses can reopen during each phase. This resource will be updated from time to time as the situation allows.
- Submit Questions and Comments About Reopening Massachusetts. Use this form to ask questions or provide feedback to the Commonwealth regarding the Reopening Massachusetts effort.
- Reopening: Four-Phase Approach. Visit this link for information about the four phase approach to reopening the Commonwealth’s economy.
- Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ Return to the Workplace Guide. Download this free handbook for employers containing guidance, templates and checklists regarding inviting employees back to work, workplace safety, and compliance with state and federal regulations.
- Guidance for industries on the reopening plan. Download this PDF for additional information on businesses and activities summarized in the Reopening Massachusetts report.
Restaurants & Lodging: Phase 2
- Restaurants MA Safety Standards. These workplace safety standards for restaurants are posted in advance of the Governor’s initiation of Phase 2 to allow restaurants time to prepare to operate in compliance with these mandatory health and safety standards.
- Restaurants MA COVID-19 Checklist
- Operators of Lodgings MA Safety Standards. These workplace safety standards for lodging are posted in advance of the Governor’s initiation of Phase 2 to allow operators of lodging time to prepare for reopening in compliance with these mandatory standards.
- Operators of Lodgings MA COVID-19 Checklist
- For more information and updates, visit Reopening Massachusetts, the official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ reopening plan.
Hotlines and Text Alerts:
Text “COVIDMA” to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to your phone and stay up to date with the latest news and updates from the Commonwealth.
Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) has established a toll-free hotline for questions regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It is open from 7 am to 7 pm seven days a week – call 855-BMC-LINK, or 855-262-5465
The toll-free BHS Nurse Triage Line for COVID-19 that has been operational for over a month is seeing reduced calls, and therefore will have a new schedule beginning Sunday, April 19th. The new hours are 8 am to 6 pm, seven days a week, instead of the current 7 am to 7 pm. We want to thank the many thousands of people who have used this essential service, and if there is a need to go back to the original hours, we will do so.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Emergency Operations Center’s Private Sector Hotline: 508-820-2094 (M–F, 8AM – 4PM)
Massachusetts Department of Public Health 24-hour emergency hotline: 617-983-6800
Small Business Owners’ Guide to the CARES Act. Learn about the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and the programs and initiatives that will soon be available to small businesses through the SBA: click here.
Department of Labor – Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Employer Paid Leave Requirements. This page from the DOL explains the new requirements around employer paid leave in the FFCRA. For additional information, check out the Department of Labor’s FFCRA Questions and Answers page.
OSHA COVID-19 Standards for Workplaces. This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. To view, click here.
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings: click here.
Massachusetts WorkShare Information for Employers. The WorkShare program is an alternative for employers faced with a cut in workforce. Employers can divide available work between affected employees instead of laying off workers. It allows employees to receive a part of their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits while working reduced hours. For more info, click here.
Apply for 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. Eligible individuals include self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history. Applicants can learn more and apply at www.mass.gov/pua.
- Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program
- SBA Express Bridge Loan Program
- SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- SBA Debt Relief
- Emergency Order re: Essential Services and Assemblage Guidance
- MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center’s Private Sector Hotline
- Executive Office of Labor & Workforce Development Resources
- Administrative Tax Relief Measures
Small Business Administration (SBA) Resources:
- Coronavirus Relief Options
- Paycheck Protection Program: an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
- SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
- SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application
- 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 Debt Relief: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application is now available to be completed through your lender. For more info, click here.
The Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses. The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment (OEE) is proud to offer The Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses as an acknowledgement of the devastating economic impact that the COVID -19 pandemic has had on the Massachusetts small business community.
The Empowerment Grant Program aims to support the well-being and continuity of small businesses by providing access to capital and empowerment through engaging in OEE resources.
Grant resources will be focused on small business owners serving Massachusetts Gateway Cities. The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment encourages minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and/or immigrant-owned small businesses located in gateway communities to apply.
For more info, click here. Application deadline is May 29, 2020. Funding decisions will be made by June 12, 2020.
IRS Information: Coronavirus Tax Relief for Businesses and Tax-Exempt Entities
Filing and Payment Deadline Extended. The deadlines to FILE and PAY federal income taxes are extended to July 15, 2020. Click here to get answers to your questions on the filing and payment deadline.
Employee Retention Credit Available for Many Businesses Financially Impacted by COVID-19. The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of the qualified wages an eligible employer pays to employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. You can get immediate access to the credit by reducing the employment tax deposits you are otherwise required to make. Also, if your employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, you may get an advance payment from the IRS. Click here to get details on the retention credit.
Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave for Workers and Tax Credits for Small- and Mid-Size Businesses. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (PDF) gives all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. Click here to get details on paid leave for employees.
Non-profit and Cultural Resources
COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County. A coalition of philanthropy and business partners has joined together to create a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based (501c3) organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in Berkshire County.
Co-led by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Berkshire United Way, COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County has launched to provide flexible resources to 501c3 organizations in our region working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. Grants will help fund frontline human services organizations that have deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations. These operating grants are designed to address gaps in services and increase capacity of organizations to meet basic needs of individuals and families. For more info, click here.
Mass Cultural Council COVID-19 Relief Effort for Organizations: The Safe Harbors Program. The Safe Harbors Program seeks to provide broad assistance to Massachusetts arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in the form of webinars and online tools, empowering leaders to assess their organization’s current financial situation, create an actionable roadmap for the future, and determine their eligibility and the appropriateness for accessing resources through various COVID-19 funds. To deliver on this work, the MCC is partnering with the Nonprofit Finance Fund to provide a powerful assortment of webinars and online resources, coupled with capacity-building coaching services, to assist leaders in preparing plans and making decisions. For more info, click here.
Mass Cultural Council COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals. The purpose of the COVID-19 Relief Fund is to support individuals whose creative practices and incomes are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Grants of $1,000 will be available to Massachusetts individual artists and independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists who have lost income derived from their work as a direct result of COVID-19 related cancellations and closures.
Program guidelines and online application are now available. The application deadline is April 22, 2020 at 11:59pm. Grants will be awarded by geographic region proportional to that region’s application demand. The individual grantees in each region will be randomly selected. For more info, click here.
Fun, Learning, and Fitness from Home!
Activities and videos from our Downtown friends
Paint and Sip at Home!
While Berkshire Paint and Sip remains closed for public parties, Michelle the Painter continues to create online painting tutorials for you to follow along with. Over 30 Paint & Sip videos for ADULTS to choose from and now there are some for the kids too… COOKIES AND CANVAS!
Learn how to paint the adorable ostriches above using only 3 brushes and 6 colors: https://youtu.be/IcjRh75N0Ek
Paint and Sip at Home:
Click here to view all videos!
Each video provides step-by-step instructions for you to follow along with. A materials list is provided and you can print a picture of the completed painting to use as a personal reference if needed.
Berkshire Museum at Home!
The Museum has launched a new series of online experiences for our community including daily programs for early learners, downloadable worksheets and Daily Doodles inspired by the word of the day, a new podcast “What’s in the Basement?” exploring the Museum’s broad collection, and a series of written pieces centered on the featured exhibition She Shapes History.
Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness is now Virtual!
Your on-going wellness is our number one priority – especially during these challenging times. In order to help keep you healthy, happy and peaceful, BYDF is now offering on-line classes for you via Facebook Live, YouTube, Zoom and Google Hangouts to enjoy at your leisure from the comfort and safety of your own home!
These classes are FREE of charge as a gift to the community during these challenging times. While donations are not expected or required, we very much appreciate any contribution you’d like to make to help support our teachers and studio: Click Here to Contribute to Instructors
FREE Resources from Radiance Yoga!
*LIVE Stream Classes: Click here to view a weekly schedule of free live classes and sign-up to receive your link. Connect with other yogis and practice together at a time when we need community more than ever!
Radiance Yoga Online (first 15 days are FREE): Just like Netflix, Radiance Yoga Online is a membership subscription with on-demand yoga, meditation, barre and fitness classes taught by your favorite Radiance Yoga teachers. Get ready to roll out your mat and choose your style of class, experience level, teacher and the amount of time you have to practice.
1Berkshire created Berkshire BINGO as a way to have fun AND support local businesses from home!
Take pictures, screenshots or videos of you completing 5 in a row, then share on Facebook and tag 1Berkshire.
BTG’s Learn from Home Series!
Berkshire Theatre Group is now offering live weekly online classes and talks, for all ages, on their Facebook page, presented by their incredible artists and alumni! All videos will be available on BTG’s website, after the video is complete. A weekly schedule will be sent out via email from BTG (sign up here), and posted on social media.
BSC’s Education Department is hosting FREE weekly virtual workshops for the public!
There will be monologue workshops on Thursdays in May from 4 to 5:30 pm. For more information, visit barringtonstageco.org/education-bsc
Additionally, every Tuesday morning at 10 am, join the Education Department on their Facebook page for live story readings!
Follow @educationbsc on Facebook for videos and more!