ROBERTSON: COVID-19 Update On Restaurants, Offices, Unemployment, Loans For Small Businesses

Below is a press release from State Rep. Dave Robertson’s Office:

TEWKSBURY, MA — This week marks an important step in the COVID recovery process, with another step towards returning to a normal sense of life. Over the past few weeks, thanks to your rigorous attention to wearing masks, sanitizing, and more – our numbers have fallen. While we were on the margins of the expanded hospital occupancy just weeks ago, the combined efforts of our communities commitment to protecting one another has rewarded us with falling numbers. Below I will touch upon both what this next phase entails, issues we are still addressing, and an important note for local business owners.

Phase two will allow indoor dining to return to restaurants. While outdoor dining has been allowed and is seemingly very popular, patrons will be allowed to return inside on hot or rainy days. Inside you will find table seating limited to six, and spaced by either barriers or six feet of distance. In addition to indoor dining many health and beauty services will reopen. This includes professional skin and nail care, salons, and body treatment. Tanning is also included in this list. For us men, beard trimming will be allowed again at barbers. Of course, as I have mentioned before, such businesses will need to adapt to institute new cleaning processes that protect you and employees. Another major change will be allowing office spaces to raise the occupancy limit to 50% of capacity. As always, if you are medically compromised or live with someone with such complexities, speak to your HR representative to notify them that such a return is not possible so you may continue working remotely.

These previous weeks have also involved discussion on several important legislative issues. While our education system and students have been a focus the entire pandemic we have had great concerns on what this coming fall will look like. Speaking with local superintendents, school boards, and parents my colleagues and I have begun planning to ensure gloves, masks, sanitizers, and “sneeze-guards” for student desks are in place. Younger children will likely struggle with masks, while older children traditionally switched classrooms as subjects changed. We are currently consulting with the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to begin addressing these problems well before school starts.

Another issue which has arisen is the delay in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance verification. PUA has retroactively requested verification on submitted accounts as part of fraud prevention. This by itself is a wonderful idea, but the implementation was a fiasco. We are focused on fixing this immediately, but those who are still struggling to upload information or have not seen an update should reach out to our office so we may expedite your case as quickly as possible.

Lastly, for small business owners especially, the Small Business Administration has begun accepting new loan applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. This program was shuttered for some time, but has reopened. Any qualified small business may apply for an EIDL, and you should discuss with your financial adviser the qualifications listed at SBA.gov. As a reminder, this is different than the Paycheck Protection Program, which is applied for through your bank.

I must again thank the residents of Tewksbury and Wilmington for keeping each other safe and healthy. Everywhere I go I see people understanding the severity of this disease, and wearing masks when around the general public. I look forward to updating you all again, and wish you all happiness and health in the meantime.

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