February 25, 2021

State Relaxes Restrictions, Returns to 50% Capacity

Gov. Charlie Baker announced today that Massachusetts will continue to relax restrictions on business operations effective Monday, March 1, when the state will return to Phase 3, Step 2, and a 50% occupancy capacity across all business sectors currently allowed to open.  Employees will not count toward the 50% cap, only customers. 
The retail sector specific standards will include the new max occupancy limit of 50%, as well as allowing for a return of general use of dressing and fitting rooms.  Restaurants will no longer have a % occupancy cap and will be permitted to host musical performances, but must comply with similar previous standards that include mandatory table spacing, 90-minute table limits, and a 6 person per table limit. 
Unfortunately, food court seating within enclosed shopping malls will remain closed, with restaurants in food courts still restricted to take-out only.  The new retail and restaurant guidance will be updated and posted to the sector-specific protocols over the weekend.
The full text of today’s reopening announcement is here.
Others allowed to open to 50% capacity include indoor recreation activities such as roller-skating rinks, and indoor performance venues such as concert halls and theaters, with a max of 500 persons. 
Also, the Governor announced that Phase 4 of the Reopening Plan will begin on March 22nd.  In Phase 4, Step 1, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors.  Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.  Ballparks and stadiums will also be allowed to reopen at 12% capacity.  Other Phase 4 sectors, including bars, must continue to remain closed.
All members are encouraged to closely review the new guidance to ensure ongoing compliance with the sector-specific protocols.


Biden Administration Announces Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program


This week, President Biden announced several reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program as a means to help the smallest businesses and those that have been left behind in previous relief efforts. The changes-

  • Institute a 14-day period, starting Wednesday, February 24th, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the Program.
  • Help sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals receive more financial support.
  • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions from obtaining relief through the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners who are delinquent on their federal student loans from obtaining relief through the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to apply for relief.

The Small Business Administration announced that the agency will establish the 14-day exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Feb. 24. Additional information can be found on the SBA PPP website.



Save 3% on April 1st Health
Insurance Rates with RAMHIC

Whether you are a business about to renew your health insurance policy or looking to offer coverage through your business for the first time, RAMHIC provides members with access to important money saving discounts and value added benefits on a range high quality health insurance plans. With April 1st renewal rates now available, now is the time to join the increasing number of RAM members taking advantage of the Association’s fastest growing membership benefits program to start saving now.

Our Carriers

All small group plans offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and a select number of plans offered by Fallon Health, can be purchased through the RAM Cooperative at a 3% discount off available rates. If your business is enrolled in a small group offering by either of these carriers, you may be leaving money on the table by not renewing through the Cooperative in 2021.


How to Get Started

To learn more about plans eligible for the discount and to request a rate quote, members may contact their existing broker or our carriers directly and ask about your RAMHIC options.  For more information, click here to visit our website, regarding these offerings as well as additional ancillary benefits available through the Cooperative.  Members may also contact RAM General Counsel, Ryan Kearney, at 617-523-1900 or via email at [email protected]