Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) Economic Resiliency Team: Business & Workers Update 7/30/2020

Jul 30, 2020  -  Uncategorized

WHAT SHOULD WASHINGTON WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS KNOW THIS WEEK?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS TO CURTAIL SOCIAL INTERACTION AND CLOSE CONTACT

Regulations tightened for restaurants and bars.

Citing the need for fewer, shorter, and safer interactions among Washingtonians, new business activity guidance has been issued for restaurants and bars. Until Phase 4, indoor dining is limited to members of the same household and a maximum of five persons at a table, and restaurant occupancy is to be capped at 50%. Alcohol service must end at 10 p.m. and bar seating and game areas are prohibited. Indoor service at taverns, breweries, wineries and distilleries is prohibited. Outdoor service is permitted at these businesses, however.

Enhanced restrictions for weddings, funerals to take effect August 6.

Under new guidance, wedding and funeral ceremonies are permitted in Phases 2 and beyond, but receptions are now prohibited. Occupancy of indoor settings for ceremonies is limited to 20% capacity or up to 30 people, whichever is less (as long as social distancing may be observed). Outdoor ceremonies are limited to 30 persons. Ceremonies must follow all provisions of the "Religious and Faith-based Organization" guidance. These restrictions are effective July 30 for events planned after July 28 and effective Aug. 10 for those planned prior to July 28.

New restrictions to affect indoor recreation.

Indoor entertainment and recreation settings are to be closed, as well as indoor card rooms, until Phase 4. Indoor movie theaters may operate at 25% capacity in Phase 3.

Announced changes to affect fitness centers on hold, will not take immediate effect.

Recently announced changes to fitness center and indoor recreation guidance are on hold and will not take immediate effect. The State continues to evaluate the best approach to govern a wide variety of related activity. Updates will follow within the week.  In the meantime, qualifying businesses are expected to continue to work under the guidelines already in place.

Live entertainment prohibited.

Live entertainment performed for an audience is now generally prohibited. This prohibition applies without regard to the nature or location of the event or compensation of the performer. Musical performances, stage productions, or substantially similar activities are all generally prohibited. Refer to the guidance memo for more details on the prohibition and its exceptions for performances among household members.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

HIGH-RISK WORKER PROTECTIONS

Mandated accommodations for High-Risk Workers extended by proclamation.

Proclamation 20-46.1, mandating accommodation for “High-Risk Workers” (as defined by the CDC), has been extended through the remainder of the state of emergency unless rescinded or amended. The Governor’s memo clarifies rights afforded to workers “at increased risk” or workers that “might be at increased risk”. The proclamation protects workers at increased risk from working conditions that may expose them to the virus. Employers are to explore “any and all” options for alternative work arrangements to protect at-risk workers from loss of employment while isolating them from the virus.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

EXPANDED FACE COVERING REQUIREMENTS

Masks now required in all indoor settings outside the home, many outdoor settings.

Every person in Washington must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are outside of their home or dwelling unit. Face coverings may be removed in outdoor settings if social distancing is preserved. Face coverings may also be removed while engaging in excepted activities such as eating or drinking, communicating with a party who is deaf or hard of hearing, and other activities detailed in Proclamation 20-03.1.

Masks now required in all outdoor settings where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Congregation of non-household members is considered to be a leading current vector of the disease. Accordingly, outdoor masking (when six feet of distancing cannot be maintained) has been expanded to encompass non-public areas. Refer to Proclamation 20-03.1 for more details on the expanded masking requirements.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

UNEMPLOYMENT

$600 weekly additional unemployment benefit has elapsed.

The week ending on July 25 was the final week in which claims paid will include a $600 marginal weekly benefit atop the standard benefit. The $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) was a provision of the federal CARES Act. Any future program must first be settled in Congress and signed into law by the President. Washington state has called on Congress to continue FPUC without major changes, but the state may not act without federal initiative.

Unemployment benefits are back-paid in case of adjudication or processing delay.

Claims that require adjudication or additional processing will not miss out on benefits. If a claim is adjudicated in favor of the claimant, benefits will be paid back to the date of eligibility. Eligibility for federal benefits will not be lost if a claim is adjudicated favorably. Although the FPUC program has concluded, claimants eligible for benefits between Mar. 29 and July 25 will be back-paid their weekly benefit amount and the extra $600 weekly benefit to their date of eligibility once their claim is resolved.

Other state and federal unemployment insurance programs remain active.

State UI benefits, as well as other benefits created by the CARES Act like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA, which expands eligibility) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC, which provides 13 additional benefit weeks for eligible claimants), will continue. Refer to ESD.WA.GOV for more information on current unemployment programs and resources.

Job search requirement remains suspended through August 1st.

Governor Inslee, with support from the Legislature, has extended the suspension of the job search requirement for unemployment benefit claimants through Aug. 1. Claimants may continue to answer “no” to the job search question on weekly claims until the suspension is lifted.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

FEDERAL RELIEF PROGRAMS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Paycheck Protection Program accepting new applications through August 8th

The Paycheck Protection Program offers potentially forgivable loans to a recently expanded roster of small businesses and nonprofits to support workforce retention. Forgiveness is reduced if full-time headcount declines or if salaries and wages decrease. Refer to the program's website to review application materials and eligibility requirements.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans may cover common operational expenses

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are designed to provide economic relief to small businesses confronting a temporary loss in revenue. While the EIDL Advance program has concluded, the loan program is ongoing. Borrowed EIDL funds may be used to cover a variety of operational and capital expenses made challenging by the pandemic.  EIDL terms propose a modest 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and a 2.75% rate for nonprofits with a 30-year maturity and automatic one-year deferment period before monthly payments must begin. These flexible and low-interest loans are available to a variety of eligible small businesses.

SBA Express Bridge Loans may offer expedited loans to small businesses

The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses with an existing business relationship with an SBE Express Lender to quickly access up to $25,000. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

SBA Debt Relief programs may cover principal, interst, and fees of some federal loans

As part of SBA’s relief efforts, the agency will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months. SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to Sept. 27, 2020.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT...

LOCAL-LEVEL BUSINESS RELIEF AND SUPPORT

Auburn, Puyallup, Renton deploying CARES Act funds to support small business

The cities of AuburnPuyallup, and Renton are mobilizing federal CARES Act funds to offer relief to local small businesses. Local governments statewide are working with the Washington State Department of Commerce to mobilize federal relief funds to support their business communities - refer to your county economic development organization website for information on local relief and funding programs.

$8.6 million in CARES Act funding to be deployed to support small businesses statewide.

The United States Economic Development Administration recently announced the distribution of $8.6 million in federal CARES Act funding to Washington state. $4 million of that is directed to reach communities in Eastern Washington. The funding will be administered as a revolving loan fund, establishing reliable access to capital at modest rates for small businesses in communities all over Washington. Refer to your county economic development organization website for information on local relief and funding programs.

Small business webinars review available relief and resources

The “Small Business Requirements and Resources – COVID-19 Impact” webinar, offered in English and Spanish, covers information  specific to Washington small businesses. A panel of state and federal partners is present to respond to live Q&A regarding unemployment insurance, returning employees to the workplace, relief funding, workplace safety measures, and other topics important to employers. The next webinars will be held on July 30 at 1:30 p.m. and August 11 at 8:30 a.m. (English) and July 30 at 8:30 a.m. (Spanish).

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