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SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER UPDATES

Message from the president

May 26, 2020
Yesterday marked the second stage of the reopening Phase 1 (START) with hair salons and barbershops, retail for remote fulfillment and curbside pickup, and more recreation and outdoor activities, among others, coming back online. It also marked the deadline for Essential Services to comply with the new workplace safety standards. Businesses with office spaces that have been operating as an Essential Service have until July 1 to comply with occupancy limits.
In order to reopen, you must:
  • Develop a COVID-19 Control Plan that includes the implementation of the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards. You don't need to submit your workplace control plan, but you must keep it on site and available should an inspection be required.
  • Implement sector-specific guidelines and protocols (where applicable).
  • Start with a complete Self-attestation that you are in compliance with the required Safety Standards. This must be posted in a location visible to employees and visitors.
  • Post both the Employer Guidance and Rules to Keep You Safe at Work posters. The Employer Guidance must be posted in a location visible to visitors while the Rules to Keep You Safe at Work must be posted in a location visible to your employees.
Our Guide for Reopening Your Workplace may be helpful and includes all required documents.
If you need assistance or have questions with your plan or unsure where you fit in the phased reopening, please contact us. We are here to help.
Nancy Creed
President

Quickly Evolving News

May 22, 2020
As our business community begins to move towards its new normal, so, too, is the Springfield Regional Chamber. While we have been working remotely and, under the Essential Services guidance, providing services in-house by appointment, we are eager to get back into our offices and into a new routine.
To help keep my team, our Chamber members, and visitors safe, we have developed our own Visitor Reopening Guide. We're sharing it to assure you we are in full compliance with all mandated requirements, sector-specific protocols, and common-sense practices.
Our team has been fully-trained on our protocols. We have plenty of PPE appropriate for our workspace to share with you, and we will be conducting screening and temperature checks for all staff every day.
We love when our members drop in to visit, but under our new guide, we require visitors to schedule appointments in advance. We'll allow just one visitor in the office at a time, with specific protocols in place. Our team will be wearing masks/face coverings and are asking our visitors to do the same. Where our visitors are, according to health guidance, unable to wear a mask or face covering, we kindly ask you to schedule a virtual visit with us. Where our visitors are unwilling to do so, we will reschedule that visit to a virtual one.
As you review our guide, I hope that you understand our thought process. We must all work together, and we want to do our part to support the return of our business community and the revitalization of our economy.
I wish you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.
May 20, 2020
As we continue on this crazy COVID-19 journey, we are finding more help along the way.
LISC has opened a new round of small business grants to support businesses in underserved communities.
The Commonwealth has posted a list of vendors and manufacturers who have done business with the state and who can provide reopening supplies. I encourage you to visit our web site and shop local where you can.
The SBA issued new information about the Loan Forgiveness component of the Payroll Protection Program, including the forgiveness application with business-friendly guidance, including a new exemption for those who made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.
The SBA updated its FAQ on the Program, and is in the process of developing a FAQ document for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. We expect more information in the days to come, so continue to visit the Federal Cares Act section of our Resources page.
Your Chamber has also created Mandatory Safety Workplace Standards posters to be displayed at your business. These posters feature safe practices for employers and standards to keep your employees safe. They're also available in Spanish on our Resources page.
As yesterday’s poll shows, we have a ways to go before getting to the other side of this pandemic. And yet, we are in a much better place than we were: we are on the road to resurgence.
May 19, 2020
Yesterday, the Governor and its Reopening Advisory Board launched its reopening plan. As you know, we were part of a presentation to the Board and we were pleased that we could play a role in the plan’s development. Today, we meet with the Board again and will be sure to continue to share your voice as we move into the next phase of this economic journey.
Here’s what we know:
We are now in a “safer at home” mode, easing some of the restrictions placed on our daily lives.
There are new workplace standards we must follow – no matter the industry, no matter the business.
We know our “essential” businesses can continue to operate with new standards and guidelines in place.
We have more clarity around the industry sectors that can begin to come back online – again, following the standards and guidelines set forth.
Sector-specific guidelines will help us reopen safely and responsibly, and more will be coming online.
We know that each phase of reopening will last a minimum of three weeks. But if we don’t follow the guidelines and the “safer at home” advisory, wear a mask and social distance, we may find ourselves moving back a phase, not forward.
May 18, 2020
Today is a monumental day for our Commonwealth as Governor Baker officially unveiled our reopening plan as part of its four-phased approach to reopening our economy. While the Commonwealth is in the START phase (phase 1), the public health data will determine when and how we move into the future phases (CAUTIOUS – Phase 2, VIGILANT – phase 3 and NEW NORMAL – phase 4), and if that data shows an increase in number of cases, we may have to revert back to a previous phase.
In order for ANY business to reopen, they must follow the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards; develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how they will prevent the spread of COVID-19; self certify that a Control Plan has been developed and maintain the self-certification on site; display a self-attestation poster on site; and display posters around workplace standards. You can find all this and more in our resources center.
As of today, the Commonwealth is under a “Safer at Home” Advisory, requiring masks and face coverings, social distancing and suggesting restricted travel to and from essential services, healthcare, worship, outdoor activities, shopping, and permitted work.
All businesses deemed essential under the previous advisory may continue to operate following these new requirements and standards and have until May 25, 2020 to comply. Construction, manufacturing, and places of worship may now also be open with detailed guidance on these sectors of industry.
Hair salons, car washes, pet grooming, retail (curbside pickup only), general office space, beaches, and other outdoor activities and more may reopen on the 25th.
Sector-specific protocols and best practices have been developed by the Administration and must be followed, along with checklists to help guide your operations.
Other services such as nail salons, bars, hotels, and restaurants are anticipated to reopen in phase 3, and stadiums, sports venues, large performance areas, and the like are anticipated to reopen in phase 4. Review the state’s Reopening website for when your specific industry sector may reopen. Sector-specific protocols for phases 2-4 are in development and will be posted on the State’s site when available.
I encourage you to review the guidance and our resources center to ensure you are ready and compliant.
I close with the Commonwealth’s sentiment that, until a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is available, life will not return to normal. We each have a collective responsibility to ensure that reopening proceeds smoothly and safely. I know the businesses in our region will take that responsibility on with pride as we move forward through Phase 1, into Phase 2, and beyond to a time of full reopening and the end of COVID-19.

A Brief Pause for In-Person Programming

All around us, our region is taking action to minimize the spread of COVID-19. In congruence with the guidance of Governor Baker as well as the actions of other chambers and organizations, the Springfield Regional Chamber will pause in-person programming until May 1, at which point we will determine next steps.

We intend to reschedule our current events, including Fire & Ice, the Mayors' Forum and our Beacon Hill Summit, when it is safe to do so. Just like you, we are taking this situation seriously and day-by-day.

BUSINESS DOESN'T STOP... AND NEITHER DO WE

Business hasn't stopped, and your Chamber hasn't either. Our legislative advocacy work in Boston continues. Board and Committee meetings will continue virtually. And our staff will continue to work, be it in the office or from home, to serve our members during this challenging time.

A NEW STRATEGY

New developments call for a new strategy. To that end, we're refocusing some of our resources to support digital member and community engagement.

Be on the lookout for webinars, our regular newsletters, as well as exciting member stories and engagement opportunities on our social platforms. We will continue to build community and support commerce, even "from home.”

REFUNDS

We will be processing refunds for anyone who has already purchased admission to events previously scheduled in the near future: Multi-Chamber Speed Networking Breakfast, Mayor's Forum 2020, Fire & Ice, Beacon Hill Summit 2020.

Thank you for your patience and support, and please reach out to us with questions or concerns.