COVID-19 Response2020-10-22T16:59:52-04:00

Information & Resources Regarding COVID-19 in the Berkshires

The team at 1Berkshire is monitoring developments and official guidance, and will continue to gather informational resources to share with our business community as we navigate these uncharted waters. We will use this page to provide updated information, useful links, resources, tips, and best practices for all of us living and working in the Berkshires. Please check back regularly for updated information.

1Berkshire is currently operating remotely to service the needs of the community during these trying times. Our team is actively engaging with all our major stakeholders to ensure the prosperity of our region. Please feel free to reach out to us at info@1berkshire or call us at (413) 499-1600.

Table of Contents

UPDATED October 22, 2020 – 4:53 PM

Virtual Town Hall

This weekly series focuses on the impacts that the COVID-19 crisis has had on our local economy and community.

Learn More

Enjoy a delish lobster roll from Berkshire PalateTakeout & Delivery

Find options in your area. Thank you for supporting the local economy. See on Google Map.

Restaurant List

Homebound Fun

A collection of fun and entertaining ways to survive social distancing. 1B Staff Picks throughout!

Visit Now

1Berkshire Member Toolbox for COVID-19 Response & Preparedness

As a Member of 1Berkshire, we are here for you. Please use this toolbox containing Guidance from Federal, State & Local Officials to help your business, employees, and clientele. Follow and share these links for up-to-date information.

Berkshire Resources

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Resources

  • Governor Baker’s Emergency Order (3/15/20) – Limit gatherings to 25 individuals (subsequently reduced to 10), prohibit on-premises consumption of food/drink at bars/restaurants, beginning March 17.
    • As of May 18, 2020, the Department of Public Health has issued a Safer-At-Home Advisory. People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are advised to stay home except for essential errands. All residents are advised to leave home only for healthcare, worship, permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities. Visit the link above for additional information and restrictions.
    • This order has subsequently been amended by the introduction of Reopening Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s plan for phased reopening of the economy. As of 7/6/20, Massachusetts is in Phase III Step 1 of reopening, which allows indoor and outdoor dining in restaurants and in bars that also have seated service of food prepared on site. Bars that do not serve food are not permitted to reopen until Phase 4, which will occur at a later date depending on ongoing progress against key public health metrics; bars are not permitted to masquerade as restaurants per a clarification to the restaurant safety protocols issued 8/7/20. See our Reopening Guidance section for additional information.
  • Governor Baker’s May 1 Order requiring the wearing of masks or face coverings in public places where six feet of distance between people cannot be achieved. Read the order for additional directives. Directions are available from the Centers for Disease Control for construction of a cloth mask or face covering (including sewn and no-sew options).
    • Subsequently, the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health has launched the Mask Up MA! initiative, further encouraging use of masks or face coverings in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Check out this page for information about and tips for the proper use of masks and face coverings.
  • On August 11, 2020, the Commonwealth released the first map of average daily cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, indicating community transmission risk levels for COVID-19. This map will continue to be updated on a weekly basis, and can be accessed as part of the COVID-19 Response Reporting page.
  • Self-Quarantine Instructions for Travelers to Massachusetts – All travelers to Massachusetts – including Massachusetts residents returning home – are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, except (as of October 5) travelers from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington arriving in Massachusetts do not need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Mass.gov COVID-19 Updates and Information page (updated daily).
  • MassGovernor on YouTube – this channel carries live and recorded streams of Governor Baker’s COVID-19 response press updates.
  • Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health
    • Department of Public Health COVID-19 Community Impact Survey – Take this Massachusetts Department of Public Health survey to anonymously share how COVID-19 has impacted you; the data will be used to help create new solutions. This survey is open to anyone who lives in Massachusetts and is over the age of 14.
  • Mass.Gov Flu Facts

Federal and International Resources

  • Text Alerts – Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to your phone and stay up to date with the latest news + updates from the Commonwealth. Para recibir alertas de mensajes de texto de la Mancomunidad de Massachusetts, envíe un mensaje de texto con COVIDMAESP al 888-777.
  • MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center’s Private Sector Hotline: 508-820-2094  (M–F8AM – 4PM)
  • Berkshire Medical Center toll-free hotline for questions/concerns: 855-BMC-LINK – or – 855-262-5465  (7 days/week, 7AM – 7PM)
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health: 617-983-6800  (24-hour emergency hotline)

Note: As of July 11, the EIDL Emergency Advance program has allocated the funding appropriated by Congress, and is no longer being issued. 

Note: As of August 8, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program ceased accepting applications. It had previously been extended from July 6 2020 to August 8.

Note: As of June 15, the SBA began once again accepting new EIDL and EIDL Advance applications from qualified small businesses. Between 5/5/20 and 6/15/20, new applications were open only to agricultural businesses.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Note: On October 9, 2020, the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department announced a simpler Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness option for borrowers of $50,000 or less. See the release here.

Note: As of August 8, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program ceased accepting applications. It had previously been extended from July 6 2020 to August 8. 

NOTE: On June 5, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act became law. Among other provisions to make forgiveness criteria easier to meet, this legislation reduces to 60% the percentage of PPP money that must be spent on payroll (previously 75%), allows borrowers 24 weeks to spend the funding (previously 8 weeks), and extends the repayment period to five years (previously two). Read about all of the provisions here

SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program 

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Note: As of July 11, the EIDL Emergency Advance program has allocated the funding appropriated by Congress, and is no longer being issued. 

SBA Debt Relief

Guidance for Employers

Massachusetts Resources

Federal and International Resources

Reopening Guidance

Current Reopening Phase: Phase III (Vigilant), Step One – Additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits.

Note: Effective Monday, October 5, lower-risk communities may move to Phase III, Step Two of reopening. See the Commonwealth’s press release and the Phase III section of this page for additional information.

Note: Effective Monday, September 28, restaurants may seat a maximum of 10 people at a table (up from 6) and restaurants with bar areas may use them for seated food service, provided other social distancing measures are followed. Review the updated Restaurants Safety Standards and Checklist guidance here. As of 9/28,  self-serve beverage stations are permitted, as long as appropriate guidelines are followed. See the retail safety standards page for details. Other communal serving areas (such as salad bars) must remain closed.

Note:  Effective Tuesday, August 11, the governor’s gathering order is amended to reflect a maximum of 50 attendees at outdoor gatherings (previously 100), and all attendees must use face coverings and observe 6ft social distancing standards. Effective 10/5, outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings in Step Two communities (those cities and towns that have not been listed as “red” high-risk communities in any of the previous three Department of Public Health weekly reports) may have a capacity of 100.

Note: Effective August 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts – who do not meet an exemption – must follow new travel orders including: completing a travel form, producing a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival, or quarantining for 14 days. Failure to comply may result in a $500 fine per day. Read about the travel order here.

Reopening Massachusetts – The Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.

Federal Guidance

Additional Resources

  • MA Small Biz Reopening Guide – This online resource from the Mass Growth Capital Corp. and Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corps helps businesses navigate available guidance and tools that will help them reopen safely and successfully.

Phase II, Step Two – Effective Monday, June 22

On Friday, June 19, Governor Baker announced that Phase II, Step Two would begin on Monday, June 22. Below is a summary of businesses permitted to reopen and operational modifications already-open businesses will be permitted to make. The Commonwealth entered Step One of Phase III on Monday, July 6, 2020.

  • Restaurants
  • Close Contact Personal Services
    • In addition to barber shops and hair salons (which were permitted to reopen in Phase 2, Step 1), close contact personal services are now permitted to reopen in accordance with state guidance. Close contact personal services are defined as any personal service delivered through close physical contact with the customer, including but not limited to the following: hair removal services; massage and body treatments; nail care services; skin care services; other hair services; makeup salons and makeup application services; personal trainers (by appointment only, with only one customer allowed in the facility at a time); and tanning salons.  See the Workplace Safety Standards guidance and summary checklist for additional information about the standards with which Close Contact Personal services must comply in order to reopen.
  • Offices
    • May resume occupancy of up to 50% (previously 25% as of June 8), but employers are still encouraged to allow employees to work from home. See Office Space Safety Standards.
  • Retail
    • Dressing rooms are permitted to reopen by appointment. See Retail Safety Standards.
    • Note: As of 9/28,  self-serve beverage stations are permitted, as long as appropriate guidelines are followed. See the retail safety standards page for details. Other communal serving areas (such as salad bars) must remain closed.

Phase 2, Step 1 – Restaurants, Lodging, and Retail

  • Restaurants
    • Restaurants MA Safety Standards: These workplace safety standards for restaurants are posted in advance of the Governor’s initiation of Phase 2 to allow restaurants time to prepare to operate in compliance with these mandatory health and safety standards.
    • Restaurants MA COVID-19 Checklist
    • As of Monday 9/28, restaurants are permitted to seat up to 10 people at one table, and restaurants with bars are permitted to use them for seated food service, provided that other social distancing protocols are followed. Specific details are outlined in the checklist and safety standard documents.
  • Lodging
  • Retail Businesses

Phase III, Step One – Began Monday, July 6 (July 13 in the City of Boston)

Phase III, Step Two – Beginning Monday, October 5 in lower-risk communities (defined as communities that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health weekly reports – hereafter referred to as “step two communities”). All other communities remain in Phase III Step One.

Below are links to sector-specific guidance. Where changes have been made, the date of these updates will denote these changes.

Phase III also offers revisions to the governor’s Gatherings Order:

  • Indoor gatherings are limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space.
  • Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25 percent of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions, and more. This does no apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible.
  • This revised order does not supersede previously-issued sector guidance, and is effective beginning Monday, July 6 (Monday, July 13 in the City of Boston).
    • Note: As of Tuesday, 8/7, the order has been revised to reflect a maximum of 50 people at outdoor gatherings (previously 100) on both public and private property. All attendees are required to wear face coverings and observe 6ft social distancing standards.
    • Note: As of Monday 10/5, indoor gatherings remain limited to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings at private residents and in private backyards remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities. Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step I communities and a limit of 100 people in lower-risk Step 2 communities.

Phase III also saw the revision of Public Health Guidance:

  • New guidance has been issued allowing additional health care services and visitation guidelines with the onset of Phase III. Read the updated public health guidance here.

Phase III also saw a revision to the Governor’s travel order:

  • As of August 1: All visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts, who do not meet an exemption, must follow new travel orders including: completing a travel form, producing a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival, or quarantining for 14 days. Failure to comply may result in a $500 fine per day. Learn more here. 
  • Upcoming Webinars:

Other Relevant Info

Grants and Relief Funds

Webinars

  • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Halls
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: The Visitor Economy This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Adam Davis (Managing Director, Shakespeare & Co.), Babara Vacarr (CEO, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health), Joe Thompson (Director, MASS MoCA) and Sarah Eustis (CEO, Main Street Hospitality). Panelists discussed the current state of affairs, the outlook, and the actionable opportunities their organizations are taking in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic event. (recorded 4/17/10)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall : Banking During Covid-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Bob Fraser (President and CEO, MountainOne), Jodi Rathbun-Briggs (Senior Vice President & Chief Lending Officer, Greylock Federal Credit Union), Gary Moynihan (Managing Director, Adelson & Company PC), Dennis Egan, Partner, Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook). Panelists discussed available resources and steps that businesses should be taking to successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. (recorded 5/1/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Food and Agriculture in the Era of COVID-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Orion Howard (Co-founder and Owner, Bright Ideas Brewing), Nick Martinelli (Founder and Owner of Marty’s Local), Cynthia Pansing (Executive Director, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures), and Jessica Vecchia (Co-Director, Roots Rising). Panelist discussed the local food system is operating during COVID-19, how they have pivoted to meet the needs of the moment, and what the future of food might look like in a post-COVID economy. (recorded 5/8/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Reopening the Berkshire Economy This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Senator Adam Hinds, Ben Sosne (Executive Director, Berkshire Innovation Center), and Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Executive Director, Hancock Shaker Village). The panel discussed the numbers that matter, budgetary impacts, and tactics and approaches needed to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening of the economic cornerstones of the region. (recorded 5/15/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Higher Education During COVID-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Dr. Jamie Birge (President, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Ellen Kennedy (President, Berkshire Community College), Dr. Maud Mandel (President of Williams College), and Dr. John Weinstein (Provost-Elect, Bard College at Simon’s Rock). The panel discussed the decisions their institutions are making, the challenges they are facing, and the landscape they face going forward. (recorded 5/22/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Summer in the Berkshires – Happening! But How? This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Brian Cruey (Director of Southern Berkshires, The Trustees of Reservations), Laurie Norton Moffat (Director & CEO, Norman Rockwell Museum), Mindi Morin (Managing Director, Canyon Ranch Lenox), and Lindsey Schmid (Vice President of Tourism and Marketing, 1Berkshire). (recorded 5/29/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: The Deeper Strains on Community This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Janis Broderick (Executive Director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center), Dr. Barbara Malkas (Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools), Kelly Marion (CEO of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center), and Candace Winkler (President and CEO of Berkshire United Way). The panel discussed impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on organizations the address food insecurity, early childhood care, domestic violence, and K-12 education, and on the populations they serve. (recorded 6/5/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: New Updates to Paid Family Medical Leave This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured William Alpine (Director, Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave), Kevin Kinne (Partner, Cohen Kinne, Valicenti and Cook), and Michele Morin (Vice President of Human Resources and Workforce Development, Hillcrest Educational Centers). The panel discussed changes to the Paid Family Medical Leave Act and how it could impact businesses in the Berkshires as the Act goes into effect. (recorded 6/19/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Census 2020 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured State Representative Paul Mark (Second Berkshire District), Michelle Lopez (Executive Director, Berkshire Immigrant Center), Mark Maloy (GIS, Data, and IT Manager, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission), Erica Girgenti (Director, Adams Council on Aging), and Mark Sebastino (Partnership Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau). The panel discussed why the 2020 Census is conducted, why counting every person is critical for the Berkshires, and how viewers can get involved in ensuring a complete count. (recorded 7/1/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening the Economy – Phase 3 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Senator Adam Hinds, John Lewis (Chief Executive Storyteller, SP3AK EASY Studio), Eric Kerns (Partner, TOURISTS), Jennifer Trainer Thompson (President and CEO, Hancock Shaker Village) discussing the steps, logistics, and potential impacts of Phase 3 reopening here in the Berkshires. (recorded 7/10/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening  Higher Education This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Gina Puc (Dean of Enrollment Management and Community Relations, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts), Matthew Sheehy (Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, Williams College), Adam Klepetar (Interim Provost, Berkshire Community College), and John B. Weinstein (Provost and Vice President, Bard College at Simon’s Rock) discussing the logistics, outlook, and peripheral impacts of the reopening plan for higher education institutions.
  • The Massachusetts Broadband Institute and KCST have launched public hotspots in several Massachusetts towns still waiting on completion of broadband networks to provide free access to students, teachers, entrepreneurs, and others. Towns in the Berkshires with these hotspots, or with municipally-launched hotspots are: Becket, Egremont, Florida, Monterey, New Marlborough, Sandisfield, Savoy, Washington, and Windsor.
  • The Support Network’s Virtual Support Group for Parents: Schedule & Referral Form
  • Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) – Provides food supports to help families with children who were receiving free and reduced-price school meals pay for food. See additional information here and here.
    • More P-EBT benefits were added in September 2020 to cover the days that school buildings are closed due to delayed start and/or students that are at home learning remotely for at least five days in a row. Click here to learn about September P-EBT.
  • Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is resuming full bus service beginning 8/31/20. Read the press release here, and view the BRTA schedules here.
  • buoy Symptom Checker. Massachusetts residents can use this tool to get advice from an online health assistant safely at home, for free.
  • 413cares.org is an innovative community portal providing online access for residents of Western Massachusetts to available resources like housing, healthcare, early education, and more. If you need help and aren’t sure where to start, type in your zip code and take a look.
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center – free and confidential counseling, shelter, legal advocacy, safety planning, teen dating violence prevention education, a 24/7 hotline, and much more
  • Massachusetts Health Connector
  • Neighbor-to-Neighbor Grant from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation
  • Mobile Worker Toolkit 
  • Resources for Freelance Artists
  • Assets For Artists Webinars for a Post-COVID World – Assets for Artists has redesigned its business and financial education programming to provide artists with new, crisis-focused, distance learning opportunities.
  • Coronavirus Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice – easy to read and full of useful info and tips.

For Individuals:

  • Other
    • Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation – Neighbor-to-Neighbor Grant Neighbor-to-Neighbor makes small grants (up to $1,000 during the response to COVID-19) to help those with overdue utilities, medical bills, short-term housing costs and transportation problems.
    • One Fair Wage – Tipped & Service Workers Support Fund Providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they aren’t getting to survive.
    • Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program – Emergency funding to those employed by or owning restaurants or bars, or employed by a restaurant or bar supplier facing unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.

For Businesses and Organizations:

  • General Business Support
    • Massachusetts Vacant Storefronts Program  – The purpose of the program is to help municipalities of the Commonwealth in their efforts to revitalize their downtowns and commercial areas.  Municipalities may apply to the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) for certification to designate a defined downtown or other commercial area, as a Certified Vacant Storefront District.  After achieving such a designation, and achieving a commitment of local matching funds, businesses or individuals may apply to the EACC for refundable EDIP tax credits for leasing and occupying a vacant storefront in that district.
    • Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation – COVID-19 Grants for Massachusetts Small Businesses. Grants up to $75,000 available for small businesses in Massachusetts affected by the pandemic. Application deadline: 11/12/20.
    • Facebook – Small Business Grants
    • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) LISC Small Business Relief Grants – Grants of $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, and $20,000 for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep them functioning and remaining vital facets of their local economies. Priority will be given to entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically under-served places. Applications are presently closed. Stay tuned for the next round of applications.
  • Innovation Challenges/RFPs
    • LEVER – Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge – LEVER seeks entrepreneurs who wish to build regional businesses that will create jobs in the
      Mohawk Trail region. Examples of qualifying businesses include woodland-related tourism, woodcraft, and woodland-derived natural products. Any entrepreneur seeking to establish and grow a sustainable, woodland-related business should apply. To participate, the entrepreneurs or their businesses must be located in a Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership (MTWP) member town. Challenge participants will receive six months of no-cost business acceleration from Lever, a leading entrepreneurship center based in North Adams, Massachusetts. Space is limited. Apply here.

Grants and Relief Funds

  • Artist Relief – Apply for a grant of $5,000. Available to practicing artists experiencing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19 who have lived and worked in the United States for the last two years.
  • Tipped & Service Workers Support Fund
  • Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program – Emergency funding to those employed by or owning restaurants or bars, or employed by a restaurant or bar supplier facing unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.

Best Practices & Tips

  • Practice good hygiene
    • Wash hands often. Avoid touching your face.
    • Avoid close contact. Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet).
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and areas.
  • Avoid meetings & travel
    • Use video and phone conferencing options when possible.
    • Postpone large meetings, gatherings, and events.
    • Assess the risks of business travel.
  • Stay home if…
    • If you feel sick, stay home.
    • If your immediate family feels sick, stay home.
    • Give sick family members their own room, if possible, and have only one family member care for them. Consider providing additional protections for household members who are 65 years or older, or who have underlying conditions. Limit visitors.
  • Stay calm & prepare
    • Stay calm. Know the signs and symptoms. Follow official resources to stay informed.
    • Consider stocking up on 30-day supply of prescriptions, plus non-perishable foods and toiletries. Please refrain from wiping out store shelves. The entire community can prepare.
    • Establish plans to telework, arrangements for childcare, ways to communicate with family and friends, and how to adapt to cancelled events.
    • Check in on neighbors and friends, especially people who live alone.

Questions or Concerns?

1Berkshire is currently operating remotely to service the needs of the community during these trying times. Our team is actively engaging with all our stakeholders to ensure the prosperity of our region. Please feel free to reach out to us at info@1berkshire or call us at (413) 499-1600.

Together, we can keep our Berkshire community and economy healthy and strong.