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  • 06/15/2020 8:26 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    June 12, 2020

    More than 500 essential workers and 1,600 providers receive financial relief, additional grants to be issued through mid-July

    The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today that 525 essential workers have received financial help for child care and more than 1,600 child care providers have received stipends as part of the award of nearly $11 million in federal CARES Act funding to Maine. Additional grants will be awarded to child care providers through mid-July.

    Maine DHHS announced the award of the federal funds on April 22 and has since distributed over $6 million, with the remainder to be distributed by mid-July under a plan that supports Maine families and child care providers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Throughout this pandemic, child care providers have kept children safe while their parents work on the frontlines to maintain critical services for Maine people. I am deeply grateful for those efforts,” said Governor Mills. "This additional funding is going directly to our frontline workers to offset the costs of child care and to child care providers, allowing them to serve more families who are now returning to work and supporting our efforts to restart Maine’s economy.”

    "Maine families and child care providers have risen to the considerable challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "We are pleased to distribute this financial support and we welcome the reopening of additional providers.”

    “We are proud to support hardworking Maine people by expanding access to high-quality child care and to support our dedicated providers throughout Maine,” said Todd Landry, Director of the DHHS Office of Child and Family Services.

    As of today, over 75 percent of Maine’s approximately 1,800 licensed child care providers are open, up from about 50 percent in April. Recognizing the ongoing needs of the public while prioritizing children’s safety, Maine DHHS has permitted child care providers to remain open throughout the State of Civil Emergency to serve Maine families, including parents who are essential to Maine’s response to the pandemic. The DHHS Office of Child and Family Services has distributed updated guidance to promote the health and safety of children, families, child care providers, and their communities. The Office has also worked with child care partners to match working parents with providers who remain open.

    Maine received $10,953,470 for child care under the CARES Act in late April, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families' Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. The CCDBG program helps eligible low-income and working families to afford child care and supports providers in delivering high-quality care.

    DHHS has distributed these funds in two ways:

    • Child care subsidies for essential workers: Under the CARES Act, child care subsidies typically available only to low-income families became temporarily available to essential workers, regardless of their income.  This includes health care workers, first responders, emergency medical services personnel, state employees, grocery store staff, environmental services professionals, and others. Since late April, 525 essential employees in Maine have received a child care subsidy under the CARES Act, supporting 793 children. This assistance supports households where all parents/guardians are essential employees who are reporting to work outside the home. The subsidy amount is based on the child’s age and child care costs in their area and is paid weekly on parents’ behalf directly to their child care provider. Additional applications for this expanded temporary assistance are pending and the deadline for new applications, as previously announced, is today. Families who are eligible under the standard income limits, including essential workers, may apply for subsidies at any time. Those interested in learning more may visit the Child Care Subsidy section of the Office of Child and Family Services COVID-19 response page
    • Stipends for child care providers: Child care providers affected by the pandemic received assistance through the CARES Act to help them address immediate expenses. Since late April, Maine DHHS has paid one-time stipends to 1,650 providers, based on their capacity and the extent of their current operations. The stipend totals $75 per licensed child care slot for all providers and an additional $100 per licensed child care slot for providers who were open and providing care. 

    DHHS is now preparing to distribute the remaining CARES Act funds to support child care providers in resuming or continuing operations.

    • Grants for child care providers:  All licensed providers who are currently open or will be opening by June 30, 2020 will receive grants to help them serve children and families as the economy gradually reopens. Maine DHHS opened the grant application process on June 8 and will accept applications through June 21, 2020. Eligible child care centers will receive a one-time grant of $3,000 while family child care providers, which have lower enrollment limits, will receive a one-time grant of $750. Grant awards will be issued as soon as possible and no later than mid-July.

    This federal funding builds on the strategies Maine DHHS has implemented to support Maine families and child care providers in response to the pandemic, including:

    • Paying the parent portion of costs in the child care subsidy program;
    • Paying the child care subsidy on behalf of children when providers are closed due to COVID-19;
    • Extending all current child care subsidy awards for three months to allow families additional time to submit documentation;
    • Implementing emergency, temporary child care licenses to meet the needs of essential employees;
    • Regularly distributing guidance to child care providers about appropriate health and safety precautions.

  • 06/15/2020 8:24 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    June 12, 2020

    The Mills Administration announced today that it has accelerated the first day that lodging establishments in Maine can begin serving out-of-state visitors who meet either the 14-day quarantine requirement or the State’s new testing alternative. Lodging establishments may now begin serving these individuals on Friday, June 26 rather than Wednesday, July 1 (Stage 3). Accelerating the start date will help lodging establishments safely serve visitors during a key weekend of Maine’s tourism season  leading up to the July 4th holiday. 

    This update does not change any other start dates associated with Stage 3, which is scheduled to begin July 1. Per the Administration’s announcement on Monday, residents of New Hampshire and Vermont, who are exempt from Maine’s 14-day quarantine requirement and testing alternative, may stay at Maine lodging establishments beginning today. 

    “We continue to move to safely reopen Maine’s economy,” says Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “Maine looks forward to safely welcoming out of state visitors to enjoy all that Maine has to offer during the 4th of July Holiday.”

    Further, the Department of Economic and Community Development posted additional Stage 2 and Stage 3 COVID-19 Prevention Checklists for businesses and activities. In response to feedback from businesses and public health experts, the Department has also updated guidance for some businesses that are already open. The checklists, written in close collaboration with industry leaders and public health experts, outline health and safety guidance that businesses and activities must commit to comply with in order to reopen.

    Additional Stage 3 Checklists

    1. Massage Facilities  

    Updated Checklists: 

     Stage 1 

    • Barbering and Cosmetology – Hair 
    • Dog Grooming 
    • Drive-in Theaters 
    • Golf Courses and Disc Golf Courses 
    • Religious Gatherings 


    Stage 2 

    • Lodging 
    • Campgrounds/RV Parks 
    • Day Camps and Summer Recreation 
    • Museums 
    • Barbering and Cosmetology - Nails 
    • Tanning Salons 


    Stage 3 

    • Tattoo, Body Piercing, Electrolysis, and Micropigmentation Establishments 
    • Overnight Summer Camps 


    The Mills Administration earlier this week unveiled an alternative to the State’s 14-day quarantine requirement for people entering Maine. The multilayered plan, called Keep Maine Healthy, aims to protect the health of Maine people and visitors while allowing the opportunity for people to visit Maine and support Maine small businesses during the summer months. 

    The plan rests on three cornerstones: 1) having visitors certify that they have received a recent negative COVID-19 test to stay in lodging establishments, such as hotels, as an alternative to quarantine; 2) increasing symptom checks at places where visitors tend to go; and 3) supporting community promotion of COVID-19 prevention best practices and public health education. 

    In addition to the prevention measures, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced earlier this week a new standing order and significantly expanded testing for people throughout Maine that will support employees of Maine’s tourism industry. Lodging and customer service employees are the core of the Maine tourism experience, and this expanded testing will ensure they have access to testing to protect themselves, their families, and the people at their hotels or other hospitality sites. 

    This alternative comes as testing capacity in states continues to expand and testing restrictions continue to be relax. According to the National Governors Association, more than half of states no longer limit testing to people with symptoms or to a close contact who has COVID-19 while more than a dozen states allow anyone to be tested. 

    While air travel has significantly decreased due to COVID-19, most summer visitors come to Maine by car. The States of Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey – from which Maine receives nearly half of its summer visitors – have performed testing at a level equal to 10 to 14 percent of their populations cumulatively. 

    Additionally, new tests continue to be developed, which will help expand the number of people coming to Maine who can “know before you go.” 

  • 06/15/2020 8:24 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    June 12, 2020

    Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement today on the hospitality and tourism industry’s proposed economic recovery plan:

    “COVID-19 has hit Maine’s tourism industry hard and has caused people from across the country to question whether it is safe to travel. That is why my Administration has worked hard to put forward a testing alternative that protects the health of Maine people, visitors, and employees and that allows us to market Maine as a safe place to visit. Just yesterday, I received a message from a person in Maine who was initially frustrated by the proposal, but who told me that, in the end, it may have saved the life of her family member. Here is what she wrote to me:

    ‘My husband works in healthcare administration in Maryland. Save for FaceTime, I haven’t seen him since early March. We planned that he would drive from Maryland tomorrow (Friday) to Maine. We were upset with Gov. Mills’ announcement on Monday, concerned that he wouldn’t be ‘let into’ the state so he proactively took a COVID-19 test early Tuesday. He learned just two hours ago that he’s COVID positive. He is asymptomatic and will take an antibody test later today. This was a clear shot across the bow for our family as we have an extended “familial bubble” that includes an immuno-compromised family member which may have led to devastating consequences. You have my permission to cite this experience but respectfully request that you not identify our family.’

    “Our plan is working, and our Administration is working hard to protect the health of Maine people and ensure that our state is a safe place for people to visit this summer. I, too, am deeply concerned about our economy. But I can think of nothing more devastating than an outbreak or resurgence of this deadly untreatable virus during the height of tourism season. Nothing would be worse for our economy and for the tourism industry, in particular. I want visitors, staff and the public to know that they are protected by every means possible.

    “I welcome proposals from all sectors of our economy regarding business losses and will be asking my Economic Recovery Committee to take them into consideration as we work to mitigate the damage to Maine’s economy caused by COVID-19 and as we consider ways to jumpstart economic recovery. The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is also meeting and collaborating with my Administration on potential uses of the coronavirus relief funds, and I hope they will take these proposals into consideration as well.

    “This proposal also underscores the need for Congress and the President to provide greater aid to the states, which all governors have repeatedly advocated for, as the repercussions of this virus continue to reverberate across every sector of our economy, from commercial fishing, to agriculture, to health care, and many more. As the COVID-19 pandemic affects every part of our economy in every region and every state in the nation, this aid will be crucial in jumpstarting a broader economic recovery, and I know Maine’s Congressional Delegation will continue to fight for it.”

  • 06/15/2020 8:11 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON—The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, issued new and revised guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  This guidance implements the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA), signed into law by President Trump on June 5, 2020, and expands eligibility for businesses with owners who have past felony convictions.

    To implement the PPPFA, SBA revised its first PPP interim final rule, which was posted on April 2, 2020.  As described in detail in our announcement on June 8, 2020, the new rule updates provisions relating to loan maturity, deferral of loan payments, and forgiveness provisions.

    In addition, as an exercise of SBA’s policy discretion in furtherance of President Trump’s leadership and bipartisan support on criminal justice reform, the eligibility threshold for those with felony criminal histories has been changed.  The look-back period has been reduced from 5 years to 1 year to determine eligibility for applicants, or owners of applicants, who, for non-financial felonies, have (1) been convicted, (2) pleaded guilty, (3) pleaded nolo contendere, or (4) been placed on any form of parole or probation (including probation before judgment).  The period remains 5 years for felonies involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance.  The application also eliminates pretrial diversion status as a criterion affecting eligibility.

    SBA issued revised PPP application forms to conform to these changes.  The guidance and revised application forms are available on SBA’s and Treasury’s websites.  SBA will issue additional guidance regarding loan forgiveness and a revised forgiveness application to implement the PPPFA in the near future.

    Click here to view the new Interim Final Rules.

    Click here to view the new Borrower Application.

    Click here to view the new Lender Application.

  • 06/12/2020 9:51 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    June 11, 2020

    Concord, NH - Today, Governor Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order #51 as part of the state's efforts to respond to COVID-19.

    Emergency Order #51: PDF file An order terminating Emergency Orders #4 and #24

    PDF filePortable Document Format (.pdf) . Visit for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.

  • 06/12/2020 9:38 AM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    June 12, 2020 Contact:

    10 Tips for Riding COAST Safely During the Pandemic Dover, NH – If you have not ridden public transit and COAST since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot has changed since the beginning of March.

    At COAST, they are sanitizing and sterilizing buses throughout the service day to make sure their buses are safe to ride.

    COAST has also treated all of their vehicles that are used in curb-to-curb transportation for older adults and individuals with disabilities with an EPA registered water-based antimicrobial nanocoating solution that provides persistent and continuous protection against microbes (bacterias, molds and viruses).

    For passengers, until there is an effective treatment or vaccine, here are some recommended steps for a safer and more enjoyable trip on public transit. Some are now seen as common sense; others are specific to public transit and common courtesy:

    1. Stay at home if you are not feeling well. If you are sick or experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay at home. Do not touch your face, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow – not into the air or your open hand. Contain your microdroplets from your nose and mouth as much as possible.

    2. Talk less and quietly onboard public transit. You release microdroplets whenever you speak, especially when you talk loudly and yell.

    3. Wear a face mask or covering. As recommended by public health officials, you are urged to wear a face mask or covering while making a trip on public transit. This protects both yourself and others from potential coronavirus-carrying microdroplets, and they are an added tool given that adequate physical distancing may not always be possible, especially when ridership begins to increase.

    4. Use available hand sanitizer when you board the bus. Spray a small amount of hand sanitizer on your hands at the time of boarding (available at the bus entrances) so that when you move back into the seating area, anything you touch is being touched by your just sanitized hands.

    5. If you can, avoid the most heavily traveled times and travel when there are less people. Yes, there remain times when the buses are more crowded. These times will vary by bus route.

    6. Be patient, respect other passengers and drivers, and pay your fare. We are all in this together. Be considerate; treat others like how you would like to be treated.

    7. Minimize your conversations with the bus operators and please keep your distance. While the bus operators are always happy to help answer questions, they are using temporary curtains to protect them at bus stops. Please move through this area as quickly as possible and limit questions for now. If you need to ask a question, please do so from behind the “stand behind line”.

    8. Let other passengers exit the vehicle first. Let passengers get off from the vehicle first before boarding. Also give them adequate space to deboard and clear before you move to step aboard.

    9. Avoid making seating buddies unless you are riding together as a group; give extra space. Although physical distancing will not always be possible, spread out as much as possible when on the buses.

    10. Limit your touching of your face mask or covering. It helps reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus from your hands to other surfaces.

    COAST Executive Director, Rad Nichols, commented, “We are doing our part to make our buses safe to ride and we are operating to meet our many passenger’s daily transportation needs. Throughout this pandemic our staff have shown an incredible commitment to our mission to champion and provide customer-focused public transportation with a commitment to excellence in safety and service.”

    Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has provided public transit service to the Seacoast New Hampshire region since 1982. COAST is a non-profit agency, operating a regional public transit system that relies primarily on federal and local government support to operate. COAST is governed by a board of directors representing the communities served, two regional planning commissions, and many local and state agencies. COAST’s vision is to be an innovative leader in providing a broad range of public transportation services, connecting, and coordinating a robust network of transportation options for everyone.

  • 06/11/2020 9:50 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Concord, NH - Today, Governor Chris Sununu announced that New Hampshire's Stay at Home Order will expire on Monday, June 15, 2020 at 11:59 PM, along with the cap on gatherings of 10 or less.

    Additionally, Governor Sununu announced that Indoor Movie Theaters, Performing Arts, and Amusement Parks may begin reopening on Monday, June 29, 2020. Guidance for these industries will be released early next week.

    Note: All released guidance documents may be found at

    PDF filePortable Document Format (.pdf) . Visit for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.

  • 06/11/2020 5:02 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    The following websites are maintaining ongoing lists of businesses with gift card options:

    The following websites are maintaining ongoing lists of restaurants and other food shops offering these services:

    Purchase merchandise, tickets, and other offerings from the websites of businesses who have temporarily closed their brick and mortar locations:

    • First Pier's Maine Open Online is maintaining an ongoing list of Maine businesses with online stores.
    • Don't forget about supporting local artists & musicians in this same way! Many have websites and/or social media where you can buy from them directly.
    • Live Music Venues: While live music venues are unable to open for events, many have merchandise and gift certificates available for purchase on their websites.
    • Maine businesses: Add your online store to Maine Open Online!

    Support Maine agricultural and seafood farmers:

  • 06/11/2020 4:33 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    New Hampshire Agriculture Relief Program

    Registration Open for Specialty Crop Producers

    The Governor has authorized the allocation and expenditure of $10 million in emergency funding from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to support New Hampshire dairy farmers, and specialty crop producers, including fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plant growers, and maple producers, with COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenues from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020.  Specifically, the Governor has authorized the allocation of $4.5 million to dairy farmers for milk price support; $1.5 million to specialty crop producers in order to ease the burden of substantial new COVID-19-related costs like extra cleaning and sanitizing, ensuring social distancing, and lost revenues; and $4 million for emergency grants to ensure stability in the food supply.  The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food (“Agriculture”) will administer these programs.      

    Specialty Crop Producers

    Agriculture will determine the relief funding to be made to specialty crop producers, including fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plant growers, and maple producers on a quarterly basis, provided that the producer: (1) had at least $50,000 of calendar year 2019 gross sales; and (2) has incurred COVID-19-related expenses and/or lost revenue during the applicable quarter.  The $1.5 million allocation will be divided up based on historical sales.  Agriculture will require eligible producers to submit actual COVID-19-related expense and lost revenue information on a quarterly basis, and, upon review, will process relief funding payments based on each farmer’s quarterly proportional share.  Agriculture will require all eligible specialty crop producers who intend to apply for relief funding to first register for this program.  

    The registration form is a mandatory prerequisite to later apply for relief funding under this program.  If a producer does not timely complete the online registration form, the producer cannot apply for relief.  More information about the application phase will be available soon.            

    Registration is open June 8, 2020, and ends on June 22, 2020 at 11:59 PM.  Register here for the NH Agriculture COVID-19 Relief Program – Registration.

    Agriculture’s Registration Fact Sheet is available here.

    Dairy Farmers

    Agriculture will determine the relief funding to be made to dairy farmers on a monthly basis, up to a total of $4.5 million.  Agriculture will calculate every dairy farmer’s COVID-19-related lost revenue from falling milk prices by comparing the price actually paid for milk shipped into the fluid milk market to the Agri-Mark Northeast Milk Price Forecasts, 2019-2020, dated February 28, 2020.  The lost revenue amount will be adjusted for: (1) insurance, by subtracting any payout if the dairy farmer had purchased insurance, or the premium amount that the dairy farmer would have paid had it purchased insurance; and (2) additional federal relief funding.  The monthly relief payment to each dairy farmer will be the dairy farmer’s lost revenue during the applicable month(s) adjusted for insurance and additional federal relief funding.  Agriculture will obtain this information and process payments automatically without the need for any formal request or application process.  Each dairy farmer, however, must submit a signed award agreement before receiving any relief funding.  The first payments will likely be made in June.  

    More information about this program will be available soon.      

    In addition, due to the uncertainty around the food supply, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) will reserve $4 million to make emergency grants should the need arise. In the event that Agriculture determines a specific industry requires support in order to continue production, GOFERR will work with Agriculture to administer aid to that industry consistent with CARES Act guidance. 
  • 06/11/2020 3:49 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)
    Women's Business Centers

    Learn about the NH Center for Women and Enterprise and how they support small businesses. Chandra Reber, NH CWE Director, will discuss how
    they support women and others looking to start and grow their business and how to access the programs and support available.

    We will also talk with a client of the CWE, Molly McGregor - owner of 'Beadorable Designs,' and hear how she worked with the CWE and was able to apply for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program to help keep her business operating during the pandemic.

    Register Here





The Falls Chamber of Commerce is a professional association of businesses in  the falls area.  We are the catalyst that facilitates business growth , prosperity, partnership and success for our members. 


Bonnie McNair, Executive Director
office hours by appointment: 472 High Street, Somersworth NH 03878



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