Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19

Updated March 23, 2020

Does the Governor’s Essential Services Order apply to my business?

An emergency order issued by Governor Charlie Baker on Monday, March 23rd requires all non-essential businesses to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customer, and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon.  Here is the Essential Services Order.

Businesses that provide "COVID-19 Essential Services" may continue to operate brick and mortar facilities during this time but are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers and customers.  Essential service categories in retail include medical supplies, pharmacies, groceries, alcohol, restaurant carry-out, quick serve and delivery (no on-premise consumption), pet supplies, gas stations, auto supplies and repair, fuel sellers, hardware and home improvement, home appliance, and laundry.  Members are urged review the complete list linked above.

The emergency order also updated the state-wide Gatherings Order, which now limits gatherings to 10 people.  To learn more about the Essential Services and Gathering Orders please click here.

Members are also advised to also check with their local governing bodies to see if more stringent restrictions may have been adopted. 


Where can I find state updates regarding changes impacting my business?  

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has compiled and continues to issue guidance for businesses and employers on its website  There you can find updates on Unemployment Resources, Gatherings Over 10 People, On-Premise Food Restriction, and Small Business Relief Funding programs. Members are urged to check the following link daily for the most up to date news and developments - COVID-19 Guidance and Directives - Businesses & Employers.

Members may also visit the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website for additional updates.

Are disaster relief resources available to assist businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions? 

Yes. Governor Baker has announced a $10M Small Business Recovery Fund.  The program is open to small businesses with less than 50 employees who can demonstrate an adverse impact on revenues resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.  Loans are up to $75,000, with an annual interest rate of 3%; there are no payments for the first six months, followed by 30-months of principal and interest payments. To learn more about the program including eligibility and application process please visit the Massachusetts Growth Capital Fund website at

In addition, Governor Baker has activated the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program in Massachusetts.  The EIDL will be able to provide Massachusetts businesses who are experiencing hardships resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak access up to $2M in emergency loan capital with rates capped at 3.75%.  Businesses can learn more about the federal loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration website here.

Are Unemployment Insurance resources available to my workers whose employment has been negatively impacted by the current crisis?

Yes. Both state and federal government have taken steps to expand coverage and provide flexibility from program requirements during this time.      

In Massachusetts, Governor Baker has signed legislation waiving the normal one-week waiting period for workers to receive UI benefits.  The move allows the state to immediately begin paying benefits to persons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

State and federal emergency regulations have also been adopted expanding access to UI benefits to any worker (1) quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or (2) leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or (3) to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work.  The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.  Members can learn more about these changes here. 

Other UI resources available to Massachusetts businesses include:


As the situation continues to develop, RAM will continue to add to this list of Frequently Asked Questions as answers become available.  Members are urged to check back regularly for updates.

Members may forward questions to [email protected] with the subject COVID-19 Questions.