Massachusetts offering COVID-19 grants to small businesses

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BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts is highlighting efforts to help small businesses survive the economic turmoil they have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, nearly 1,600 companies received grants totaling $ 78.6 million under a COVID-19 business grant program. This is the third round of grants to be awarded since December 21, Governor Charlie Baker said at a press conference Thursday.

So far, the administration has provided nearly $ 195 million in direct financial support to more than 4,100 small businesses out of a $ 668 million fund set up to support small businesses across the state.

The aid is aimed at businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, including restaurants, small retailers and indoor entertainment venues, Baker said.

The remaining money will likely go to tens of thousands of businesses in the coming weeks, Baker said. Grants of up to $ 75,000 are still available, he added.

“The program we operate is the largest small business grant program using COVID relief funds currently in the United States,” the Republican said during his visit to Ristorante Saraceno, a restaurant in Boston’s North End.

Applications for the next round of grants must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The program will provide grants of up to three months of operating expenses, to be used for payroll and employee benefits, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debts.

Grants are focused on restaurants, bars, caterers and food trucks; indoor leisure and entertainment establishments; gymnasiums and fitness centers; event support companies (photographers, videographers); personal services (nail salons, hairdressing salons, independent pharmacies); and independent retailers.

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SURVEY VACCINES

The state should consider setting up COVID-19 vaccination centers near polling stations in the next local election, Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin suggested Thursday.

The move could help those who are eligible for vaccination receive their first vaccine in a nearby and convenient location after voting, Galvin said.

In a letter to Baker, Galvin pointed out a number of communities around the state that were holding elections in March, including Newton, Andover, Lexington, Wellesley and Duxbury.

“Due to social distancing protocols that are already in place, larger premises are already being used for voting,” the Democrat wrote.

All Massachusetts cities will hold their annual elections throughout the spring, straddling the period when most residents should be able to receive their first immunizations, Galvin added.

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