By Beth David, Editor
The big news is that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close their brick and mortar operations as of noon on Tuesday of this week until at least April 7.
Visit here for a list of essential businesses that are allowed to stay open: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services
On Tuesday, the governor filed legislation to help municipalities in the state better cope with the realities of a shut-down amid a public health crisis (https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-files-legislation-to-address-challenges-faced-by-municipalities).
The legislation would provide administrative relief to cities and towns so that they may utilize workers more efficiently, especially retired workers.
It also gives relief for permits that may expire or cannot be granted due to the shut-down; suspends the time limits on hearings until the end of the state of emergency; extends local tax deadlines by allowing municipalities to waive late fees for tax bills; modifies MCAS requirements.
The bill will also allow establishments licensed to sell alcohol for on-site consumption to sell wine and beer by take-out and delivery, with some restrictions (yeah, I know, I should’ve put that first, huh?).
If you do not have a computer, you may call 211, which is also available online at https://mass211.org
The Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has announced transition to phone and appointment-only reservations for required in-person transactions. Appointment reservation times will be available on a rolling basis up to two business days in advance on https://www.Mass.Gov/RMV in the myRMV Online Service Center under “Make or Cancel a Reservation.”
The RMV has also extended all deadlines for inspection stickers: all non-commercial vehicle inspection stickers that expire on March 31, 2020 must be inspected by May 31, 2020; all non-commercial vehicle inspection stickers that expire on April 30, 2020 must be inspected by June 30, 2020; Non-commercial vehicles that are issued a failed inspection sticker that is due to expire in the month of March, 2020, must be re-inspected by May 31; non-commercial vehicles issued a failed inspection sticker due to expire in the month of April, 2020, must be re-inspected by June 30; the one free re-test for these vehicles is also extended to May 31 or June 30 provided the re-test is performed at the same inspection station that performed the initial inspection; regardless of the date of inspection, vehicles issued a failed inspection sticker due to a safety defect (indicated by a sticker with a red letter ‘R’) shall not be operated until appropriate repairs have been completed; all motorcycle inspection stickers originally set to expire on May 31 must be inspected by June 30.
To see all the changes the RMV has made due to the crisis, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.
On the federal level, the date to file taxes has been moved to July 15, with a suspension of all penalties and interest. All IRS (Internal Revenue Service) centers are closed to in person transactions. The IRS continues to process tax returns and issue refunds. Visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus for details on changes made due to the current crisis.
To keep informed, visit https://www.mass.gov/covid19 for daily updates. To see the governor’s press briefings, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/MassGovernor/videos. You may also text “COVIDMA” to 888-777 on your cell phone to receive alerts.
For federal guidelines, visit https://www.coronavirus.gov
Hanging out at home, and other fun stuff
See Quarantine Streaming for a list of movies you can stream at home, compiled by Rob Gonsalves, our DVDevelopments guru.
Please continue to find out ways to hang out with friends virtually. Use conference calling on your landlines. Call your service provider to find out how to make that work. Use Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Zoom and conference/meeting software to see people in real time.
You’ve been seeing the commercials on TV for months, now is the time to take advantage of them. Many of the platforms are offering free trials during the crisis.
Here’s something fun and interesting. The Washington Post ran an article about how cell phone tracking is being used to see how well people are social distancing. In Mass., we get an “A” while Wyoming gets an “F.” Check it out at https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Beware of scams
Yes, unfortunately, there have been some scammers out there trying to take advantage of people’s fears. There is NO cure or quick fix for this virus. Your best chance is not to get it in the first place, and the best way to avoid it is to stay at home. Use take-out, use the delivery services, or be as quick as you can about it if you need to go to the store or the restaurant for take-out.
Check on your neighbors, but do it by phone or text or email. We are so lucky to have so many ways to connect these days. Use them.
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