May 15, 2020

Governor Previews Reopening Plan


Earlier this week, Governor Baker released an outline of the reopening plan that is expected to be announced and expanded upon on Monday, May 18. The final plan and parameters are expected to include details on the companies and industries to be included in the Phase 1 “Start”, and Phase 2 “Cautious,” steps in the reopening plan. Note the three dimensions for Phase 1 openings on Social Guidance, Safety Standards for Workplaces, and Sector Specific Protocols and & Best Practices.  Mandatory safety standards for all workplaces are also listed.

We recommend everyone familiarize themselves with these standards so that you can be properly prepared to reopen.  Make sure to check the RAM website,  on Monday and watch your email for frequent RAM updates.

Click here for Governor' s power point slides of reopening plan.

Click here to see the 4 phased approach.



Updated Family and Medical Leave Regulations

On May 8, the Department of Family and Medical Leave issued updated program regulations (458 CMR 2.00) to address outstanding implementation issues.  DFML is in the process of establishing dates for the required public hearing and comment period.  RAM will update members when such information becomes available. Any members with comments or concerns regarding these proposed regulations may contact RAM General Counsel, Ryan Kearney, via email at [email protected].  The draft regulations may be found here.



Small Business and the COVID-19 Crisis: Your Questions Answered

NBC10 is producing a monthly Facebook Livestream to focus on concerns of the small business community during the COVID-19 crisis.  The focus will be reopening and retail.

RAM President Jon Hurst will be answering questions and hopes you will join him at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Here’s the link to the NBC10 Boston Facebook page where this will all happen.


SBA Updates PPP FAQs

The Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has updated its Paycheck Protection Program FAQs.  This document will be updated on a regular basis as further implementation rules are adopted.  RAM members participating in the PPP are encouraged to review this guidance as it may be relied upon as the SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules (“PPP Interim Final Rules”). 



Retailers Should Expect to See New Look Pandemic EBT Cards in Stores Soon


The MA Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently moved forward with a new federal program intended to reduce food insecurity in households with students who normally receive free or reduced priced school meals under the National School Lunch Program.
With federal funding from the USDA, the state is implementing a Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit that retailers need to be aware of, as it translates into $200 million in additional funds that will be available to be spent in our stores, with the potential for a second issuance of funds in June.  P-EBT benefits will provide recipients with additional money to buy food for their households – families with students who would have received free and reduced-priced school meals, but have lost access to those meals to due to the COVID-19 crisis and related school closures.  P-EBT benefits can be spent in the same way as SNAP.
There are about 500,000 students in Massachusetts that are eligible for this extra benefit.  For many, there will be no changes other than the addition of more funds on their existing EBT card.  But, for more than half of those students who do not reside in an existing SNAP household, a new look P-EBT card will be issued.  The cards will be issued in each individual student’s name.
Retail members that accept EBT payments now are not required to take any additional steps.  All members that accept EBT payments can accept P-EBT payments with no changes.  However, members are encouraged to educate staff on the existence of these new P-EBT cards.  They are to be treated the same as the EBT cards you are now familiar with, yet the customer using the card may not be fully familiar with this process.  Because the cards are issued in the student’s name, note that families may be using more than one toward payment, and in some cases will be using multiple cards.  This is allowed.  The cards will not have photos on them. 

For more information including helpful “Retailer Resources” visit


RAM Member Businesses Awarded Recognition Through Small Business Spotlight Initiative

The Qurate Retail Group (“Qurate Retail”) and the NRF Foundation have joined forces to share the stories of American small businesses during the unprecedented market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has been especially hard and challenging on small businesses around this country.  

The Small Business Spotlight initiative is their effort to connect the public to these small businesses through the QVC and HSN TV shopping networks, online and social platforms.  The theme "Retail Helping Retail" will be promoted through a multi-faceted approach aimed at telling the story and history of these small “mom and pop” businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.

RAM is proud to announce 4 of our members were selected from businesses across the country for the 20 coveted spots!

Congratulations to:

CB Stuffer, Swampscott
ECI Stores / Cutie Patuties & Cutiques, Leominster
Klem's, Spencer
Pastaio Via Corta, Gloucester



Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

As Massachusetts begins to reopen the economy, RAM members covered by Equal Employment Opportunity laws are reminded of their compliance obligations. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEO laws.  In an effort to assist employers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released updated guidance on issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.