Massachusetts on Monday launched a program offering unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, those working for the gig economy and others impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits -- but who are unable to work due to the pandemic -- can apply online to receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Those eligible for the benefits include self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers and those with limited work history.
“As a Commonwealth, we are committed to doing everything in our power, and moving as urgently as possible to get workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis the benefits they deserve,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a press release.
“With the implementation of this new federal benefit program, we can better support workers not normally covered by the unemployment system like those who are self-employed or work in the gig economy.”
Those seeking benefits must provide certification proving they are "otherwise able and available to work but are prevented from doing so by circumstances relating to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member," according to a press release from Baker's office.
People able to work from home with pay and those receiving paid sick or other leave do not qualify for the program.
Those receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week may still be eligible, as are those working fewer hours due to the crisis.
Massachusetts on Sunday reported 146 more deaths from the new coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll from the outbreak to 1,706.
Massachusetts is in the midst of what officials describe as a surge of coronavirus cases in the state, and every day since Tuesday, health officials have reported new deaths in the triple-digits.
Gov. Charlie Baker said last week he is looking for 14 days of steady declines in positive coronavirus tests before the state can open up again.
He stressed governors throughout the Northeast will need to coordinate on reopening and that the state's ambitious contact-tracing system will need to be working well, so that any flare-ups can be quickly tracked down and contained.