LEICESTER COVID-19 INFORMATION

Leicester parks are now open but Town Buildings remain closed to the public.  The Leicester Town Hall can be reached by phone and email. Residents can drop off payments and documents in the locked black box now located at the BACK ENTRANCE to Town Hall.  

For more information on the Governor's phased reopening plan please visit www.mass.gov.

On April 13, 2020, the Leicester Select Board voted to extend the due date for property taxes from May 1st to June 1st and the due date for exemption, abatement and deferral applications for real property tax from April 1st to June 1st.  The Board also voted to waive interest and other penalties for late payment of any taxes or fees for payments due on or after March 10th where payment is made after the due date but prior to June 30th.  Contact the Treasurer/Collector's office at 508-892-7004 with any questions.

Leicester residents have tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance (CMRPHA).  Due to HIPPA concerns and State Department of Public Health guidance, the Town will longer be posting the number of cases.  Public health nurses and staff are working closely with the patients and will notify others who may have been in contact with them. CMRPHA will continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure any affected residents are properly monitored, quarantined and isolated as each case dictates.  The Regional Health Alliance maintains a COVID-19 information line for residents to call at 508-799-1019. If you have questions for the CMRPHA that you would like to place via email, they can be reached at [email protected].

Information on Tax Payments During Town Hall Closure
Please be advised that the Office of the Treasurer Collector will NOT be staffed on a daily basis – hours will be worked as needed.  Tax payments can still be paid via mail, online or the drop-box located on the outside wall at the main entrance to the Town Hall.  The drop-box will be emptied on a daily basis.  Tax information can be requested via email, fax or phone – please note that with the limited hours the office will be staffed, phone calls may not be returned on a consistent schedule. PLEASE SEND EMAILS VIA OUR WEB PAGE LINK FOR PROMPTER REPLIES!!  Health insurance payments can be made via mail, online or the drop-box located on the outside wall at the main entrance to the Town Hall.  All Municipal Lien Certificates (MLC’s) will be processed on a weekly basis.  Any updates will be posted here as soon as they are received.

Information on Obtaining Veterans Services During Town Hall Closure
Due to the ongoing issues with COVID-19 all face to face meetings with veterans at the town hall have been suspended. Our Veterans Services Officer Jason Main will continue to work with the state so veterans receiving chapter 115 benefits will continue to receive them. If you need to submit documentation for your benefits you can do this on of three ways. 1. Scan the documentation and email to [email protected] 2. Mail to the Veterans Service Officer town of Leicester, 3 Washburn Sq Leicester Ma. 01524 3. You can also drop them in the drop box at town hall in an envelope labeled for the Veterans Service Officer. If you are looking to discuss a claim, begin filing for Chap 115 benefits or have another issue please email [email protected] and we can set up a telephone call or video call if needed. I will be checking the voicemail of the office line weekly so as a last resort you can leave a message there. Thank you for understanding in this uncertain time and I am honored to serve our veterans.

Information on Reaching the Assessor's Office During Town Hall Closure
Due to COVID-19, the Town of Leicester Assessor's office will be working remotely.  Please be advised that we will return telephone messages, respond to email requests/questions and process mail as quickly as we can.  You may leave a voicemail at 508-892-7001.  Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time.

Resources for Residents
Food Pantries:  Greenville Baptist Church opens their food pantry to the public on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 12-2pm and the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 6-8pm.  St Joseph's Church operates a food pantry on Tuesdays from 5-7pm & a thrift shop and can be reached at 508-892-7407

Unemployment Benefits: Unemployment Insurance has expanded to individuals whose hours have been cut or in addition to those who have been laid off due to COVID-19. For more information visit: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-unemployment-and-coronaviru...    The state is hosting virtual town halls every day this week to answer questions from individuals about the process.  More information about the town hall times can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/forms/massachusetts-department-of-unemployment-assi....

Disaster Loan Assistance:  The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets. For more information, visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Stay Informed and Get Help:

  • Get information from trusted sources. Visit https://www.mass.gov/covid19 for the latest news, case counts, and lab testing results.
  • Call 2-1-1 with questions
  • Text the keyword COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive notifications to your phone
  • Follow the State Department of Public Health on Twitter @MassDPH - information is updated several times daily
  • Take care of your emotional health and help others do the same. If you need emotional support during these stressful times:
    • Call 2-1-1 and choose the “CALL2TALK” option
    • Samaritans is continuing operations 24/7, as always. During this unprecedented time, it can feel overwhelming to receive constant messages about COVID-19. Call or text their 24/7 helpline anytime at 877-870-4673.
    • The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.

Resources for Business Owners
Attention Businesses: If you are struggling to navigate information and programs relative to COVID-19, this tool put together by the Central Mass Regional Planning Commission can help: https://cmrpc.typeform.com/to/oUWJ28

CARES Act Information:  Information for small business owners regarding the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act can be found HERE

Meals Tax Relief:  The Baker-Polito Administration today announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses which have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.  The Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to implement these administrative relief measures, and they are expected to be finalized before Friday, March 20, 2020.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL):  Provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses until normal operations resume.Small businesses and non-profits affected by coronavirus should download, complete, and submit the SBA EIDL Worksheet at https://lnkd.in/ewF7VBy to expedite activation of the EIDL program. Completed forms can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by fax to (508) 820-1401. If you do fax the form, please include your email. Please note, this initial survey form is not a SBA loan application. When the EIDL program is activated, you will be contacted to apply directly to the SBA and this website will be updated with application details. For questions, please contact [email protected].

Disaster Loan Assistance:  The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets. For more information, visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

State Rapid Response Program: A federally mandated, pre-layoff service designed for companies and employees experience a layoff or closing.  Provides layoff aversion and early intervention services to companies and their employees. Contact the Central Massachusetts Program Coordinator Sandra Foley at 978-534-1481 x237 or via email at [email protected] for more information. Includes the State Workshare Program, which allows companies to reduce the work hours of permanent employees by 10-60% by providing unemployment insurance benefits to employees to supplement their temporary lower wage.  Apply for a workshare program at: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-workshare.

Small Business Recovery Fund: Verizon and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have set up a small business recovery fund that provides grants up to $10,000 for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The application for the grants can be found here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LISCSBGrant. 

Paycheck Protection Program:  If your business has been shut down or impacted due to COVID-19 restrictions, applications are now available for a new federal program available to help keep your business going and retain your employees. Banks will be able to provide federally guaranteed loans to business owners to cover up to 2.5 times their monthly payroll costs. This loan is eligible for forgiveness if you retain your employees. For more information, contact Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Milward at [email protected] or your local bank.

Save Small Business Funds:  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a fund to provide assistance to small businesses in the form of $5,000 grants. The Save Small Business Fund -- in collaboration with Vistaprint and with support from Merck, S&P Global Foundation, and Travelers -- will include contributions from corporations and philanthropies. The grant is expected to address small businesses’ immediate needs such as closures and job loss and will support their long-term recovery. Applications for the Chamber’s fund will open on April 20, 2020. In order to qualify a business must: • Employ between 3 and 20 people • Be located in an economically vulnerable community • Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information visit: https://savesmallbusiness.com/

LISC Grant:  LISC is now offering a grant for small businesses of up to $10,000 for businesses in Massachusetts impacted by COVID-19.  Applications are available now at https://www.lisc.org/boston/covid-19/small-business-recovery-grant-program/ and the application window will close on Friday April 24th at noon. 

How you can help
Volunteer: 

  • For those looking for an opportunity to serve their community, Cheryl Cooney of the Leicester Food Pantry is seeking volunteers to assist with their operations.  Many of the Food Pantry’s longtime volunteers are at a higher risk for COVID-19 so this would be an excellent opportunity for younger members of our community to step up and assist with helping alleviate food insecurity in Town.  For those interested in volunteering or scheduling an appointment to pick up food from the Food Pantry, please contact Ms. Cooney at 774-268-0438.  
  • Become a MRC volunteer to help your community respond to public health emergencies.  Volunteers are needed.  Visit www.MAResponds.org for more information
  • Volunteer for the new Community Tracing Collaborative by visiting https://www.pih.org/ma-response

Donate Blood: There is an urgent need for blood to help patients with chronic conditions and trauma as blood drives have been cancelled due to COVID-19.  Those who are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
 
Donate Medical Supplies: The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is asking businesses to donate critical medical supplies for our healthcare providers in the fight against COVID-19. Businesses can register to donate at this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TVP69NJ and a list of the supplies requested is provided in the photos.  Supplies can also be donated to healthcare organizations by visiting: https://www.massbio.org/news/blog/calling-on-all-life-sciences-and-healt...

Donate to the COVID-19 Relief Fund: First Lady Lauren Baker and the One8 Foundation are teaming up with philanthropists, business leaders, Eastern Bank, The Boston Foundation, and the Foundation for Business Equity to launch the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to support those across the state most impacted by this health crisis. The Fund will work in concert with regional non-profit leaders, community foundations, leaders on the ground and at the state level to understand the response and relief landscape locally and statewide to strategically fill in where gaps are pronounced. The mission is to ensure essential needs are understood in real time and provide resources for interventions that are effective and impactful.

Additional Information
Stay up to date with rapidly developing information regarding coronavirus in Massachusetts by visiting: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus...

For regular updates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html