There is great work being done to help address the current crisis. Most importantly, everyone is doing their part to keep themselves and others physically distant to stop the spread of the virus. There will be times in the coming weeks though when we will all likely struggle as we strive to get through this together, so here's a suggestion: think about how awesome it will be when all this is behind us, and what you are most looking forward to: hugging a friend?, breakfast out at a diner?, a beer at your favorite local establishment? One very small but welcome thing to look forward to as well - no more Coronavirus emails! But for now, today's update includes:

1. Federal $2 Trillion Assistance Bill Agreement
2. Maine Restrictions on Non-Essential Businesses
3. Latest Local Restaurant Options List
4. PayItForward / PayItBack
5. Maine Resources Summary from the DECD
6. Community Updates Facebook Group
7. MainersTogether Effort

1. Federal $2 Trillion Assistance Bill Agreement

Last night Congress and the President announced they would be moving forward with a federal $2 Trillion relief package to help individuals and businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. The legislation will provide direct one-time payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits, and provide hundreds of billions in support to the business community.

It will be critically important for everyone to fully understand the provisions of this legislation once it's official and detailed, so as to make the best decisions from among all of the available options for businesses and organizations regarding loans, employee retention, etc. We'll provide follow-up details once this bill is signed and enacted.

2. Maine Restrictions on Non-Essential Businesses

Governor Mills announced new restrictions on Maine non-essential businesses that will go into effect tonight. The mandate requires non-essential businesses to close to the public for the next two weeks. The executive order also orders the closure of non-essential businesses where more than 10 employees work in a space in which physical distancing is not possible.

3. Local Restaurants Providing Service

Here is the most current list of local restaurants that are providing service for area residents, with details about their offerings, hours, and take-out and/or delivery information:

4. PayItForward / PayItBack

Supporting our local businesses during this challenging time is critical. Here are two suggested approaches to help us all think about ways we can help:

 “PayItForward” encourages people to continue to support local businesses and their employees during this difficult time. Here are some ways to do that:

* Buy merchandise online
* Utilize take-out or delivery
* Buy a gift card, gift certificate, etc. to use later
* Use service providers virtually
* Pay now for future services you know you’ll need later
* Share social media posts from your favorite businesses
* Provide a review of a business online

“PayItBack” encourages all community members to think back to all the times local businesses supported your charitable effort, donated to your children’s sports teams, gave to community groups, contributed to a school initiative, etc. Those same businesses now could use your support. So please do your part to keep the vital fabric of our region healthy, by safely supporting local businesses now.

5. Maine Resources Summary

The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development has put together a helpful information sheet for businesses, employees and individuals. It outlines financial assistance programs from the State of Maine to date:

6. Community Update Facebook Group

We want everyone to know how your business or organization is responding to the current crisis. We've created a Facebook Group called  "Biddeford + Saco Community Group"  . This is an online space where any business or community member can post and share information about new policies, procedures, hours, or other approaches they are taking to help mitigate the impact of this virus. Please post updates there, and share this Group with your contacts so we can bring everyone together to get the word out about what we are all doing to get through this challenge.

7. MainersTogether Effort

The Maine People’s Alliance has developed a website to help support community efforts in responding to the distress caused by this pandemic. It’s a resource where community members can give, volunteer to help, or let others know what you need.