May 22nd Information & Resources Update
Summary: State Legislature Passes Additional Unemployment Insurance Relief for Workers & Businesses
The state Senate and House have passed legislation aimed at providing additional unemployment relief, both to workers and businesses.
An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System
, now proceeds to the Governor for his signature. The legislation carries an emergency preamble, meaning if signed by the Governor, it will take effect immediately.
The legislation includes the following provisions:
- Effective January 1, 2021, expands the maximum allowable benefit period for unemployment claims from 26 to 30 weeks following any week that exceeds 100,000 unemployment insurance claims.
- Effective March 10, 2020, exempts an employer’s experience rating from the impacts of an unemployment claim resulting from the effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus or the effects of the governor’s March 10, 2020 declaration of a state of emergency, and directs resulting charges to the solvency account that are not paid for by federal funds for either a year from the effective date or 6 months after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency, whichever is later.
- Effective March 10, 2020, provides that benefits paid for an employee separated from an employer as a result of any circumstance related to or resulting from the effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus or the effects of the governor’s March 10, 2020 declaration of a state of emergency, shall not be charged to the account of any employer to the extent that such benefits are paid for by federal fund for either a year from the effective date or 6 months after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency, whichever is later.
- Allows nonprofit organizations a 120 day extension from the date of the next scheduled payment due after the effective date of this act prior to paying a required contributions to the unemployment insurance system.
Coronavirus Relief Fund for Cities & Towns
Last week, Baker-Polito Administration announced plans to distribute up to $502 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CvRF) to cities and towns across the Commonwealth for eligible COVID-19 response costs.
- Click here to access guidance on the formal distribution process for these funds
- Click here to access a letter to Municipal Executive Officers on CvRF from the Secretary of Administration & Finance
- Click here to view a webinar on CvRF hosted by A&F and the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA)
Municipalities, through their chief executive officer, may apply online for estimated FY20 needs. These funds will help address any existing deficits in FY20, thereby avoiding the need to use reserves to fund a deficit or carry one into FY21. Municipalities will then have the opportunity to request funding for FY21 eligible COVID-19 costs at a later date.
These federal funds must be utilized by municipalities consistent with parameters established by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES” Act) and guidance from the US Treasury Department. Under federal law, eligible uses must be necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID–19, and may not be used to substitute for lost revenue. They cannot have been budgeted as of March 27, 2020 when the CARES Act was enacted, and may not supplant state or municipal spending. Additionally, the expenditures must be incurred on or after March 1, 2020, and up to December 30, 2020. Recently released federal guidance clarifies that CvRF resources can be used as the local FEMA match.
Questions from municipal leaders should be directed to your Division of Local Services (DLS) field representative, or via email to
State Reopening Plan Summary & Guidance
The following is a summary sent by the Partnership on Monday, May 18th, re-issued here for those still in need of reopening information and resources.
Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration released its Reopening Plan, Phase 1 of which began, in part, on Monday May 18th.
Businesses that have operated during the closure because they offer “essential services” will continue to do so throughout the phased reopening. However, they will be required to meet new Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards by Monday, May 25th.
Click here to access the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards
Each of the 4 phases will last a minimum of three weeks
and could last longer before moving to the next phase:
- If public health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, and/or the entire state may need to return to an earlier phase
- The state will partner with industries to draft Sector Specific Protocols in advance of future phases (example: restaurant specific protocols will be drafted in advance of Phase 2)
Safer at Home Advisory
Effective this past Monday, May 18th, the Department of Public Health updated the Stay at Home Advisory, replacing it with a new, “Safer at Home” Advisory. The new Safer at Home Advisory instructs everyone to stay home unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity. It also advises those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home with the exception of trips required for health care, groceries, or that are otherwise absolutely necessary. All residents must continue to wear a face covering in public when social distancing is not possible, and individuals are advised to wash their hands frequently and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms. Restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect.
Mandatory Self-Certification for Reopening Businesses
In order to reopen, a business must develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Required Materials are located on mass.gov/reopening, and include:
- COVID-19 control plan: Businesses may complete a template to fulfill this requirement. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval, but must be retained on the premises of the business and be provided in the event of an inspection. Click here to access a template COVID-19 control plan.
- Compliance attestation poster: Businesses are required to sign a poster, attesting that they have completed a COVID-19 control plan, and post it in an area within the business premises that is visible to employees and visitors. Click here to download the poster.
- Other posters: Businesses are required to post signs and posters describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning, and disinfecting. These include an Employer Poster and a Worker Poster.
Phase 1: First Portion, Began Monday May 18th
Upon implementing new COVID-19 safety standards and completing a self-attestation checklist, the following sectors were permitted to reopen this past Monday, May 18th:
- Places of Worship
- Hospitals and community health centers who attest to meeting specific capacity criteria and public health/safety standards will be allowed to resume a limited set of in-person preventative, diagnostic and treatment services
Each business or Place of Worship will be required to meet the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards referenced above before reopening. Additionally,
each industry also has a series of Sector Specific Protocols
, that detail the policies workplaces should enforce to maintain compliance:
Phase 1: Later Portion, Starting May 25th
The following sectors, industries, and activities will be permitted to resume on May 25th:
- Auto dealers and wholesalers (curbside pickup only)
- Car washes
- Hair salons / barbershops
- General office spaces (except in the City of Boston)
- Lab space
- Libraries (curbside pickup and delivery only)
- Pet grooming
- Retail (curbside pickup only)
- Certain outdoor recreation activities (including beaches; parks; drive-in movie theaters; select athletic fields and courts; most fishing, hunting, and boating; outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations)
- Other health care providers (not included in the May 18th categorization) who attest to meeting specific capacity criteria and public health/safety standards will be allowed to resume a limited set of in-person preventative, diagnostic and treatment services
Sector Specific Protocols
have been published for some of the industries included in the later portion of Phase 1;
please click the hyperlink to access the corresponding
Sector Specific Protocols
. It is critical to review the detailed guidance; for example, office space re-opening on May 25th will be limited to 25% of building capacity.
Public Health Metrics to Determine Advancing to Later Phases
Each phase will last a
minimum of three weeks
and could last longer before moving to the next phase; public health data will determine advancement to later phases. If public health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, and/or the entire state may need to return to an earlier phase.
Key public health metrics will determine if and when it is appropriate to proceed through reopening phases. They include:
- COVID-19 positive test rate
- Number of individuals who died from COVID-19
- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals
- Health care system readiness
- Testing capacity
- Contact tracing capabilities
Sector-Specific Protocols for industries opening in later phases will be published in advance of future phases (example: restaurant specific protocols will be drafted in advance of Phase 2).
In publishing this information, the administration has stressed that
this is not an exhaustive list
of all possible businesses that can open in each phase; it may be updated from time to time.
- Auto dealers and wholesalers (browsing inside the showroom with restrictions)
- Libraries (browsing inside the Library with restrictions)
- Retail (browsing inside the store with restrictions)
- Casinos (hotel & restaurant portions only)
- Driving schools (behind-the-wheel training or observation of another student driver; online instruction currently allowed)
- Hotels (currently open to serve essential workers and vulnerable populations; reopen to serve other guests with restrictions)
- Other personal services (such as nail salons, day spas, massage therapy, tattoo parlors, electrolysis studios)
- Restaurants (can begin opening dining areas; currently open for takeout and delivery)
- Casinos (gaming area)
- Bars (establishments that only serve alcohol and do not have kitchen areas that prepare food on-site)
- Gyms, fitness studios
- Movie theatres
- Performance venues (such as concert halls, theatres)
- Large venues (such as arenas, stadiums, night clubs, race tracks, other sports venues)
To Be Determined
- Amusement parks
- Flight schools (specific plan being developed)
Enforcement of new safety standards is a joint responsibility between the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), and local boards of health. Before reopening, businesses must self-certify that they will operate in compliance with the new safety standards and protocols. They will be required to complete a checklist and post a series of posters in a place where they can be viewed by employees and customers. The business must produce this self-certification, if requested by the local board of health, DLS, or DPH.
In some cases, business will also be required to develop a written COVID-19 control plan. Enforcement will scale from verbal consultation and redirection, to written redirection, to fines, and finally to cease-and-desist letters. Local boards of health that need assistance or guidance can call the DLS hotline at (508) 616-0461 x9488 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the 495/MetroWest Partnership &
the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our
MetroWest Weekly Employer Town Hall
Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our continuing weekly discussions surrounding critical issues business are facing right now. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.
These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held
each Wednesday afternoon starting May 6th, at 1:00 PM via Zoom
Click here to sign up!
- Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
- Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you.
Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at
The 495/MetroWest Partnership