Baker announces $10M small business recovery fund, waiting period waived for unemployment benefits

Baker announces $10M small business recovery fund, waiting period waived for unemployment benefits

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced speeding up unemployment benefits as well as starting a $10 million emergency fund to give loans to small businesses suffering right now because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s no question everyone’s feeling the impact of the coronavirus at this point and it is certainly and tremendously disruptive to our daily lives,” Baker said.

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Baker said Monday the fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofit groups.

Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first six months.

Baker said he understands many people lose work and even an income while businesses close down to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Loans are available immediately with no payments due for the first 6 months,” he said.

Baker also stressed that no one should be in a group of more than 25 people right now, as the cases of coronavirus climb to nearly 200 in Massachusetts.

“The big message that everybody should take from this is non-essential gatherings of any significant size given the contagious nature of this particular virus are just simply a bad idea,” Baker said.

Starting Tuesday, the governor ordered all schools to close for the next three weeks.

But he says right now, they need to keep daycares open.

“I think the biggest challenge for us is that many of the people who work in the healthcare world and are first responders and people who need to be at work for public safety and health purposes rely on many of those providers to be able to do so,” Baker said.

As the situation quickly evolves, Baker wants to remind everyone to get their information from a reliable news source.

He has no plans to order a shelter in place right now.

“We don’t believe that’s an appropriate decision to be made at this time given the facts that are on the ground,” Baker said.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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