March 31 E-News Update:

Gov. Baker Extends Order Limiting Operations to COVID-19 Essential Services, Provides Updated Guidance and FAQs on What/Who is Essential

Governor Charlie Baker today issued an extension of his previously issued emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public through Monday, May 4th, 2020.

  • The order is here.   
  • The updated list of COVID-19 Essential Services is here
  • COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs are here, providing further guidance on a rolling basis with regular updates.

Many members have expressed questions as to whether or not their businesses are essential, or if they can continue to operate in some form of limited capacity, in the absence of a clear designation.  From the guidance: 

If a business, organization, or facility is unsure about whether or not it is considered “non-essential” it should:  First, carefully review the Order, the essential services list and the posted FAQ to confirm that the business, organization, or facility is not addressed in some way.  Second, if “non-essential” status is still unclear, make a good faith determination about whether it is “non-essential”, based on: i. the Order’s purpose, which is to “minimize all unnecessary activities outside of the home during the state of emergency”; and ii. how similar businesses, organizations, and facilities are treated under the Order.  Third, if the business, organization, or facility decides to remain open pending more detailed legal advice, strictly adhere to all applicable guidance from the CDC and DPH regarding social distancing and environmental cleaning and disinfection.

RAM has been in constant contact with the Baker Administration throughout this crisis.  Key discussions have occurred around what/who is essential vs. non-essential.  RAM has advocated for clear guidance for our members, and for the ability for those members who wish to, to continue to serve customers in a safe, protected and controlled environment.  We have encouraged the Administration to look to the examples set in other states, such as CT and NH, who continue to expressly allow for closed stores to process, fulfill, ship and deliver online orders, as well as allowing for curbside pickup, while strictly following CDC guidance.  Based on the new order and guidance, non-essential businesses can NOT open and offer curbside pick-up.  Yet, online sellers may continue operations under a specific exemption for  “Workers supporting ecommerce through distribution, warehouse, call center facilities, and other essential operational support.” 
Members should also note the following bulleted FAQ:

  • Q:  If my business is non-essential, can I go to my place of business to perform routine maintenance on the facility, attend to perishable products or property, or perform other necessary tasks?
  • A:  If you are the owner of a non-essential business, you may go to your business facility as needed to take care of crucial tasks that cannot be done remotely or to retrieve necessary materials or documents.  Your employees may not go to your bricks-and-mortar place

RAM continues to work with the Administration to clarify how similarly situated operations should be allowed to serve their customers in a safe manner.


U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) – Grants and Loans

Federal CARES Act – States Awaiting Guidance
Included in the federal CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established to be offered though SBA-guaranteed loans to small and medium sized businesses.  The loans are to be administered and offered through local banks.  The SBA hasn’t yet released full details on how it will be implemented and we expect to receive additional guidance from the SBA later this week.  Be sure to watch for RAM emails and check our website.

Disaster Loans
The SBA is now accepting applications online for its Disaster Loan programs.  Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, and often take a few weeks to process.  How to apply for SBA Disaster loans: