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Modified COVID-19 Guidelines from Governor Baker
In response to the ever-changing situation in Massachusetts regarding COVID-19, Governor Charlie Baker has issued new guidelines regarding gatherings. This new order prohibits restaurants and bars from on-premise consumption but still allows for take-out and delivery services (observing social distancing protocols).
The gatherings threshold has now been limited to 25 people. It includes fitness centers, conference rooms, theaters, etc. This does not impact grocery or retail stores, pharmacies, shopping centers, and other locations. For a complete list of information on public gatherings please read the Governor’s guidelines:
On March 15th Governor Baker also released the following information regarding Unemployment Assistance:
Unemployment Assistance: The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the US Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers.
For current unemployment claims:
- All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
- Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
- All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
The Department of Labor issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing law flexibly. Under the DOL guidance, DUA may now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or 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.
To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
EOLWD and DUA are also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:
- Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
- Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
- An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
- If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.
Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.
The pending federal legislation proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.
Once again, NFIB will try to pass along information to you as it becomes available. We wish you, your families and your workers the best during these challenging times. Please feel free to contact us at (617) 482-1327 or by email at [email protected] with any questions.