May 18, 2020

RAM Disappointed with Reopening Plan  


RAM President Jon Hurst expressed frustration and disappointment today, shortly after hearing the details of Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic reopening plan.  Hurst said:
“We are incredibly disappointed with how Governor Baker has treated retail businesses throughout the health and economic crisis.  Massachusetts has been one of the most hostile states in the nation toward small retailers.  States like NY — that were harder hit by the pandemic — worked with small retailers to help them operate and continue to do so, with openings at the end of next week.  Other than MA, retailers will be open for business across New England this Memorial Day Weekend.  Unfortunately, that is not the case here in MA.
While protecting public health is important and something we all support, it defies logic to declare that the opening of barber shops and hair salons is safe, while claiming opening small retail businesses is not. The same is true for the opening of churches and large office buildings. Having two or three people in a retail shop is every bit as safe, if not safer, than the allowable businesses in Phase One.
The Baker Administration has consistently picked winners and losers during this crisis, and it is disappointing to see that trend continue in the re-opening plan.  Retail businesses are ready and able to open safely now with limited number of people in stores and for appointment shopping. By not allowing that until late June, many small, Main Street businesses will close forever.”
Baker released his plan today, calling for the gradual reopening of the Massachusetts economy.  The plan is a four-phased approach to reopen non-essential businesses, provided the Commonwealth maintain progress on certain COVID-19 health and testing trends.  Today is the first day of Phase One.  Each phase will last for a minimum of three weeks, and a reversal in the public health data trends could freeze or reverse the reopening plans.  The Reopening Massachusetts page includes all of the information related to the phased reopening, including:



Retail stores continued to be limited in Phase One, with the only expansion to allow for curbside pickup and delivery only on May 25th.  Very few details can currently be found at the “When can my business reopen” page, and there are no additional “Sector-specific” guidelines at this time.  We will notify you as additional information is posted or becomes available.  Retail stores and restaurants are not slated to open until Phase Two. 
All businesses seeking to reopen will need to strictly adhere to the guidance, and self-certify compliance in order to reopen.  All “Essential Businesses” can remain open and have until May 25, 2020, to comply and self-certify.  A COVID-19 control plan template is provided on the state site to satisfy the written control plan requirement for self-certification.  Required employer and employee posters are available for download, as is the Compliance attestation poster that customer facing businesses are required to print, sign, and post in an area within the business premises that is visible to workers and visitors.


Manufacturing, construction and houses of worship can open today.  Barbershops and hair salons, pet grooming and car washes can open May 25th, and all have Sector -specific guidelines posted.
Members are encouraged to monitor the RAM website for frequent updates.

Take Action!  

Are you disappointed in the  Governor’s arbitrary, scientifically inconsistent, and economically damaging reopening plan?  Then let him, the  LT. Governor and your state legislators know today!  Click here and go to our grassroots link and send them an email stating how your business is at risk!


SBA Issues PPP Forgiveness Application

In addition to issuing updated Paycheck Protection Program FAQs as reported last week, the Small Business Administration also published a long awaited Loan Forgiveness Application .   The application provides step by step instructions on how borrowers are to complete the application and provides important guidance regarding requests for forgiveness.  RAM anticipates that further changes to the forgiveness rules will be forthcoming from the SBA as well additional interpretative guidance.   Members are encouraged to monitor both RAM and SBA communications regarding PPP to remain up to date.


Public Comment Period for FML Regulations


As outlined in our notification last week, the Department of Family and Medical Leave is updating its regulations (458 CMR 2.00).  The Department now has information on the formal comment period including information on how public hearings will be conducted.  The Department will be conducting a hearing on June 11th via WebEx.  If social distancing restrictions permit an in-person hearing, the Department will issue additional information on any applicable restrictions for a session in Boston on June 12, 2020.  If in-person hearings can be held, the Department will also conduct a hearing in Springfield on June 11, 2020.  This hearing will also be accessible by WebEx.  Please check the DFML website prior to the hearing dates for more information.