Child care centers to close in Massachusetts; Baker waives waiting period for unemployment


BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday further steps being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus and help the residents and businesses whose lives have been upended by the outbreak.

Beginning on Monday, March 23, all child care centers will be closed, according to Baker. He said emergency programs staffed by teachers and other volunteers will be set up for families of healthcare employees and other emergency personnel who are working to combat COVID-19.

Baker also said he signed emergency legislation to waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

“This important change will ensure that we can get much-needed unemployment assistance to workers who are impacted by COVID-19,” he said.

Baker said the state’s labor department is deploying additional workers to process the “significant spike” in claims. He asked that people file those claims on the state’s website.

In addition, Baker announced that for small businesses, the sales and meals or room occupancy tax payments for March, April, and May won’t be due until June 20. Any interest or penalties that would normally apply have been waived.

As of Wednesday evening, Massachusetts had 256 COVID-19 cases — including five in Bristol County — and more than 2,000 residents currently in self-quarantine.

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