Coronavirus: Massachusetts congressional delegation calls for economic relief loans for state’s small businesses
Days after Gov. Charlie Baker submitted economic relief loans through the Small Business Administration, the Massachusetts congressional delegation sent a letter to the agency on Wednesday backing his call for emergency assistance as result of the coronavirus.
Both U.S. senators and all nine U.S. representatives signed the letter to the Small Business Administration that could provide economic injury disaster loans.
Those loans provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses until normal operations resume.
“This ongoing public health emergency has already caused significant disruption and economic harm to our constituents and is likely to continue for weeks or months to come,” the letter read. “The Small Business Administration (SBA)’s assistance in making low-interest loans available to Massachusetts small businesses is urgently needed.”
A survey by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency found that more than 700 businesses have already been affected, including businesses in all 14 counties.
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey signed the letter, as well as U.S. Representatives Richard Neal, Jim McGovern, Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating, Joseph Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Seth Moulton, Ayanna Pressley and Lori Trahan.
Warren also called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would provide direct help to those financially harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. It includes universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt and protecting and expanding affordable housing.
The number of cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts increased to 256, up by 38, according to an update from the state’s Department of Public Health.
Amid the pandemic, Baker prohibited restaurants from serving patrons inside their establishments until April 6. Many restaurants have remained open while implemented new takeout menus and delivery service. Others have closed temporarily.
“With the restaurants, I am able to offer takeout,” said Tam Le, who owns two restaurants near Boston. “Both restaurants have dine-in, so, waitstaff, we’ll figure it out. How do I take care of them? How are they taken care of financially? That’s going to be a challenge.”