Baker announces $10M small business recovery fund amid coronavirus pandemic

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has announced a $10 million small business recovery loan fund to help companies struggling because of efforts to slow the coronavirus pandemic.

Baker said Monday the fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofit groups.

Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first six months.

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CONSTRUCTION SHUTDOWN

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is shutting down construction sites across the city.

Beginning Tuesday, he said, sites will have only enough staff to make secure them. Emergency repairs such as utility hook-ups and street repairs will be allowed.

Walsh also announced Monday the creation of a resiliency fund. The money will help with food, child care for health care workers, and technology to help schools teach remotely.

Walsh also announced all branches of the Boston Public Library will close. The return date for all items will be extended to 15 weeks.

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PUBLIC TRANSIT REDUCED

Subways, buses and commuter rails lines will begin running at a reduced schedule Tuesday in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Ferry service has been canceled.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Steve Poftak said the changes are being made based on guidance from public health professionals. A comprehensive list of schedule changes can be found at the MBTA’s website.

Poftak said the MBTA will continue assessing ridership needs with a focus on workforce access for hospitals and food distribution locations operated by the City of Boston.

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TRIAL COURTS CLOSED

Massachusetts trial courts have been closed to the public Monday and Tuesday in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, court leadership announced.

Courts will contact members of juries now hearing cases. Anyone with pending matters was asked to contact the clerk’s office Wednesday.

Court officials plan to review emergency plans while the courts are closed to the public, and judges and other court managers will prepare new measures to reduce the number of people entering courthouses.

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SPECIAL SHOPPING HOURS:

Stop & Shop stores are planning to open early for customers age 60 or over.

Starting Thursday, store will open from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. for older customers, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. They will be able to use a designated entrance to get into the store.

Store employees won’t be checking IDs but are asking other customers to respect the effort.

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PLIMOTH PLANTATION OPENS, THEN CLOSES

Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum that re-creates life at the time of the Pilgrims, opened for the season Saturday and then closed Sunday until further notice in response to the threat from the virus.

There were about 100 guests at the outdoor museum on Saturday, according to museum officials.

This was expected to be a big season for the Plymouth museum, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims in North America.

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DEATH ON FLIGHT TO BOSTON

Authorities said Monday a 59-year-old man who died while on a flight from Dubai to Boston has tested negative for COVID-19, the disease cased by the new coronavirus.

The Worcester resident had traveled to India this month and was returning Friday following a layover in Dubai. During the flight, authorities in Boston were notified of a passenger in cardiac arrest. The man was pronounced dead soon after landing.

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ABOUT THE VIRUS

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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