Unemployment assistance & small business recovery loan funding

Wednesday, the Massachusetts legislature and the Governor signed legislation eliminating the one week waiting period for unemployment insurance.  The new law (SB2599), which is effective as of March 10, will expire 90 days after the end of the state of emergency. Please note that the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Division of Unemployment Assistance are also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment in the following circumstances:

  • The workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. Workers must remain in contact with their employer and be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do, but do not otherwise need to be looking for work.
  • An employer may extend the period of the shut-down to eight weeks, and the employees will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods.

*Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.

Also, Governor Baker has announced a $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund, administered by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), to provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits.

Open to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits (negative impact must be verifiable), the fund is being offered with no payments due for the first 6 months, then 30-months of principal and interest payments and no prepayment penalties. Businesses can apply for loans up to $75,000.  For more information on this program, visit the MGCC website.

Important Update: Due to the availability of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds, MGCC is no longer accepting applications to the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund as of 12:30 p.m. on March 19. Massachusetts companies can apply online at the SBA website.

TAM will continue to keep you informed about developments related to COVID19.  As always, do not hesitate to contact TAM with any questions or concerns.

Massachusetts RMV opens eight locations with new protocols

TAM continues its outreach with federal and state agencies on issues relating to CDL licensure, vehicle registration, medical cards and other regulatory issues impacting the industry. Please note that the most recent RMV release still maintains the status quo with regards to CDL licenses.

Our hope is that we will see an extension at some point that correlates with changes already made to traditional licenses (60 day extension) , but at the moment we do not. We are also hopeful for a directive from the FMCSA regarding medical cards as well but at this point that too is status quo.

The most recent press release from the RMV regarding their facilities is included below.

Massachusetts RMV Opening 8 Locations with New Protocols Today, March 19

New location protocols will prioritize ONLY transactions that cannot be completed online, over the phone or by mail. Road tests remain suspended through at least March 20.

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing that eight of its 30 customer service center locations will be open today, March 19th, while asking that customers who do not have immediate needs for required in-person services delay their visits. These RMV facilities prioritize regional availability, accessibility and facility size and capacity and will prioritize ONLY transactions that cannot be completed online, over the phone or by mail. To assist with “social-distancing” and reducing facility volume, customers are asked to not bring multiple individuals with them. Meanwhile, AAA locations will continue to offer select RMV services to AAA members and road tests will be suspended indefinitely.

Further, new protocols will be in place to mitigate customer queuing. Customers visiting the open centers will be issued tickets on a first-come, first-served basis with priority given to those customers with transactions that cannot be completed online. Tickets will designate for customers whether they will be served in the morning (9 a.m. until 12 p.m.) timeframe or the (12 p.m. until 5 p.m.) timeframe in groupings. Limited tickets will be issued based on the Service Center capacity and number of customers that can be served realistically through the course of the day. Any remaining customers will be asked to leave and return another day.

These steps are being taken following Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a State of Emergency the week of March 9th to complement the work that has been underway for weeks across state government to keep residents safe and healthy.

“While we will have eight Registry of Motor Vehicles Service Centers open to address the needs of residents and business customers, we ask the public to respect the new protocols – that only those customers visit who do not have a credential extension, who have an immediate deadline, or who cannot conduct their business online, by phone, or by mail,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Customers who do visit one of the eight centers will need to take a ticket and understand that new protocols are intended to keep them and other members of the public safe and healthy.”

“The RMV is offering priority ticketing for those customers who have essential business that cannot wait as we must strike a balance between continuing with business transactions while protecting the health and safety of the public,” said Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler. “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in-person transactions will be conducted in keeping with guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Response Command Center.”

Only the following eight RMV centers will be open on March 19th and until further notice: Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield and Worcester. Hearings will be conducted at Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Springfield and Worcester. Hearings at the Pittsfield RMV occur weekly on Wednesdays and are scheduled to resume on March 25th . No hearings will be conducted in Plymouth.

Road tests for permit holders are postponed at all locations through at least Friday, March 20th. Class D and M road tests will resume only after cleaning, personal protective equipment and social distancing protocols have been put in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission for permit holders, road test examiners and others who accompany permit holders for their tests. Because the Governor’s Executive Order provides that Learner’s Permits dated between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 will continue to have an active status until sixty days after the printed expiration date.

Earlier this week, the RMV began helping residents with ‘social-distancing’ by reducing the need for some customers to physically come into a Service Center for certain transactions. As of March 16th, the RMV implemented a deadline extension: residents with Class D and Class DM driver’s licenses, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits that have an expiration date between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020, will have a 60-day extension applied to that customer’s credential.

This deadline extension does not apply to customers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) or those whose end of stay in the United States is the same as the expiration date on their driver’s license, ID card, or Learner’s Permit.

Customers eligible for this extension should wait to visit an RMV Service Center or AAA office (if a member of AAA), and renew credentials after the State of Emergency is over.

The RMV has taken other steps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In keeping with recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the RMV has adopted enhanced cleaning practices for facilities, purchased additional contactless hand sanitizer dispensing stations, issued anti-viral disinfectant wipes and individual size hand sanitizers to certain employees, and expanded areas to be disinfected.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the RMV has continued with safety-critical “back office” functions, even as all Registry customer service locations closed on March 16th and 17th. The critical work of ensuring license discipline continues, including the processing of both in-state and out-of-state convictions and mail.

More than 40 Registry transactions may be conducted online. The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to update the public on COVID-19 response and precautionary measures online.


FMCSA publishes expanded Emergency Declaration – 2020-002

Yesterday the FMCSA released an updated Emergency Declaration related to commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.

The declaration can be located on FMCSA’s website.

In the updated declaration, FMCSA further clarifies what operations are included in the emergency declaration, including a clarification of “mixed loads” operations. We encourage all individuals to review the official declaration to determine if your operations are included in the declaration.

TAM requests Massachusetts implement policies to support industry

Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts is sending a letter to the governor and key government officials today. The letter requests they consider implementing policies that will help the industry as it continues to provide critical services to the state during the COVID-19 outbreaks.

The full letter is available below, and can be downloaded as a PDF.

March 18, 2020

His Excellency Charlie Baker, Governor
Office of the Governor
State House, Room 360
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Governor Baker,

On behalf of the over 200 member companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing to ask for your assistance in making sure that the trucking industry will be able to continue to safely deliver medicine, food, fuel, water and other basic necessities to communities and homes throughout the Commonwealth.  While we sincerely appreciate the leadership that your Administration has shown so far, we know that there may be difficult decisions ahead related to closures and travel restrictions.  In the unfortunate event these decisions must be made, we respectfully ask that you recognize the essential role trucking serves in the Commonwealth.

As you know, the trucking industry provides 93% of all goods used by residents and businesses in Massachusetts.  This includes delivering to hospitals, community health centers, grocery stores, convenience stores, government agencies, and other entities that residents rely on in times such as these. If the Commonwealth considers further actions to limit travel, close public facilities, quarantine communities or effectuate a “shelter in place”, I respectfully ask that you consider implementing the following policies:

  • Explicitly exempt trucking services for the delivery of essential goods from any restrictions. Guidelines that make clear the role of shipping necessities by truck will ensure smooth resupply and delivery.
  • Support the ability of the trucking industry to continue to provide critical services by providing alternatives for drivers who need to renew or obtain commercial drivers licensing credentials.
  • Keep public and private rest stops open. Commercial drivers have temporary relief from federal Hours of Service regulations, but they must manage fatigue as they respond to this emergency. Rest stops are an irreplaceable component, along with commercial truck stops.
  • Support best management practices for trucking. While many trucking companies already adhere to high standards for workplace safety, state government can provide guidance for the health of drivers, including possible testing for COVID-19. Clear guidance on public health assets is important to our employees, and our drivers, who are typically away from home for extended periods of time.

TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, we represent a wide variety of companies ranging from small, family owned trucking companies with a single truck to large national trucking companies with thousands of trucks.  I appreciate your consideration of the trucking industry’s concerns at this important time.  Without the aforementioned policies, it will be more difficult to ensure that the shelves are stocked and emergency supplies reach first responders and medical personnel.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.  I can be reached at (617) 695-3512.


Kevin Weeks
Executive Director


Secretary Stephanie Pollack
Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Secretary Marylou Sudders
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Secretary Tom Turco
Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

Mr. Jamey Tesler, Acting Registrar of Motor Vehicles
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Baker-Polito Administration are working closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to activate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which would provide assistance to eligible businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.

The first step in this process is to meet a minimum threshold of affected businesses within Massachusetts and provide this information to the SBA with a formal request for activation of the EIDL within the Commonwealth. To do this, MEMA posted an online survey tool to collect economic loss data from small businesses across the state. Small businesses were asked to complete the survey and return it to MEMA . The response through Monday March 16, 2020 has been overwhelming and thanks to all the small businesses who participated. At this time, MEMA has collected enough small business loss data to prepare a request for EIDL to be submitted by Governor Baker to the SBA. They are no longer collecting Small Business economic loss surveys and are now in the process of assisting the Governor with requesting the SBA EIDL program.

EIDL offers Massachusetts businesses who are experiencing hardships resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak access up to $2M in emergency loan capital with rates capped at 3.75%. They are currently working with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to activate the EIDL program. They will update the page when the program formally opens. You can learn more about the SBA’s response to COVID-19 here.

Once activated, all small businesses within affected counties will become eligible to apply directly through the SBA. Businesses who did not fill out the initial survey remain eligible to apply once the program is activated. In addition, businesses who did fill out the initial survey will still need to apply for the EIDL program through SBA..

RMV emergency extensions does not apply to CDLs

Today, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sent out the following clarification concerning drivers license extensions. The extension does not apply to holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).

The Massachusetts RMV is taking an important step following Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a State of Emergency the week of March 9th and to complement the work that has been underway for weeks across state government to keep residents safe and healthy.

Due to the recent activity surrounding COVID 19 (Corona Virus), the RMV is taking measures to reduce customer visits in our Service Centers and AAA offices. One of these actions includes extending the expiration date of certain credentials.

All Class D and Class DM driver’s licenses, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits that have expired or are expiring between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020, will have a 60-day extension applied to the current expiration date.

This deadline extension will not apply to customers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) or those whose end of stay in the United States is the same as the expiration date on their driver’s license, ID card, or Learner’s Permit.

The RMV will implement this 60-day extension to the current expiration date for Class D, Class DMs, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits within the RMV system the week of 3/16 – all people with expired/expiring credentials physically dated between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020, will have an active status within the RMV system with extended expiration date. For example, if the credential expires on April 15, 2020, the RMV system will extend the expiration to June 15, 2020 and display the same. The RMV is not providing updated credentials to reflect the extended date.

This does not apply to vehicle registrations at this time. Most vehicle registrations can be renewed online at Mass.Gov/RMV.

Hours of Service suspension

The following information has been provided by the ATA regarding Hours of Service. TAM will continue to monitor information provided by all sources as this situation evolves, and will send as many updates as needed. Once the FMCSA issues the details on the proclamation itself we will be sure to forward it to you accordingly.

From the American Trucking Association…

Following President Trump’s address, we understand that FMCSA will be issuing an emergency proclamation suspending federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for operations engaged in emergency relief related to COVID-19.

We expect FMCSA to post the specific criteria of this proclamation on their website, including clarifying information about the types of loads and work covered. Motor carriers and drivers remain responsible for ensuring that drivers are receiving sufficient rest and are not operating fatigued. ATA will continue to monitor any emergency proclamations and will notify ATA membership as soon as they become available. For more information, please reach out to the ATA Safety Policy Team.

Additionally, Congress and the president are negotiating an initial emergency legislative package, which is scheduled to be taken up in the House soon, most likely today. ATA legislative staff are reviewing the current package and negotiations, and an update will be shared later today with a summary of that package. There is also discussion of future legislation that could be taken up as early as next week.

Areas like sick leave, small business assistance, food assistance and other areas are all under review. The situation is fluid and changing daily, if not hourly, but we are tracking your calls and input and tracking work by policymakers.

Emergency Declaration Information

To provide vital supplies and transportation services to a disaster area in the United States, emergency declarations may be issued by the President, Governors of States, or FMCSA. These declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain Federal safety regulations, including Hours of Service, for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort. See 49 CFR 390.23 for the actual emergency regulation.

Relief from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is limited to a maximum of 30 days, unless extended by FMCSA itself.

The information below reflects currently available relief:

  1. Drivers responding to provide “direct assistance” to an “emergency” meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor, are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergency, even though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
  2. These exemptions, when in effect, only apply to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do NOT exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. (However, a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions – read the declaration for details.)
  3. Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.
  4. The list of Emergency Declarations below may not be complete. Declarations may be in effect even if not listed here. Read the declaration itself for all details.
  5. There is no requirement to carry a copy of the declaration in the vehicle unless stated so in the declaration itself.
  6. Drivers and carriers should coordinate with State emergency officials before providing assistance. State regulations regarding size and weight, permits, taxes, etc. may not have been waived.
  7. Even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not operate vehicles with fatigued or ill drivers, or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways.