Updated 7/20/2020 at 1:00 p.m. Updates in bold
Governor Tom Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on July 15, signed new orders for targeted mitigation efforts for bars, restaurants, gyms, and gatherings in response to the recent rise in COVID cases in certain areas of the state. The new orders include:
Bars and Restaurants:
All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:
- Prohibition from conducting operations unless the facility offers sit-down, dine-in meals or is serving take-out sales of alcoholic beverages. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.
- Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.
- Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.
- Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e. tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
- Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.
- Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.
Other events and gatherings:
Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:
- Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
- Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
- The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
Gyms and fitness facilities:
All gyms and fitness facilities, while permitted to continue indoor operations, are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. All activities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1 order, and must provide for social distancing requirements of persons being at least 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to gatherings.
Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, including the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Law, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.
Business Reopening & Operating
All businesses must continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning.
Guidance for businesses is provided here. (Updated 6/12/20)
Guidance for schools is provided here. (Updated 6/12/20)
Guidance for sports is provided here. (Updated 6/12/20)
A FAQ regarding business safety measures is provided here. (Updated 6/9/20)
A required notification poster for employees is provided here.
A FAQ providing additional clarification on cleaning and safety is provided here.
Protection Equipment and Cleaning Supplies & Services
Hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning products, plastic barriers
(Contact individual stores for in-stock items)
- Coles Hardware – 1089 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
- Commercial Stainless – 570-387-8980 (glass/plexiglass barriers only)
- Renco Ace Hardware – 2251 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
- Sabo’s LLC – 1700 Orange St., Berwick, sabosllc.com
- Staples, The Office Superstore, 1005 Scott Town Plaza, Bloomsburg
- Wal-Mart – 100 Lunger Dr., Bloomsburg
- 3B Consultant Services – 570-799-5774
- MaxWorx – 272-202-4435
- Marr Development – 570-416-0570
- ServPro of Columbia Montour & Sullivan Counties – 570-759-0966
Members that provide these products or services and are not listed should contact the Chamber.
A webinar discussing the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Credit, and other resources is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel.
Federal loan programs
PPP and EIDL loans are being accepted and processed, though funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. The application period for PPP has been extended to August 8th.
– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to small businesses, including sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, as well as some non-profit organizations, that maintain their payroll during the emergency. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.
- The most up to date information, including the application and loan forgiveness forms, are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website. (Revised 6/12/20)
- Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.
- A guide to PPP loan forgiveness is available here.
Applications can be submitted to approved lenders. Contact your commercial lender or banking institution for specific application requirements.
– The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides businesses with less than 500 employees working capital loans of up to $2 million. Click here for details about the program and to apply.
All available funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated.
Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.
Federal tax credit programs
– The CARES Act also created a new employee retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allowable qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an eligible employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000.
Click here for details from the IRS.
State grant program
– The COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grant Program was established to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hazard pay is intended to keep front-line employees working in sectors that are vital to every Pennsylvanians’ existence. The program will help employers provide hazard pay for their employees to retain current employees. This reimbursement-based grant is for employers who will be offering hazard pay over the eligible program period. Applications will be accepted July 16, 2020 through July 31, 2020. Apply here.
Businesses, healthcare non-profits, public transportation agencies, and certified economic development organizations may apply for funding for employers located and operating in Pennsylvania within one of the following eligible industries:
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Food manufacturing
- Food retail facilities
- Transit and ground passenger transportation
- Security services for eligible industries listed above and commercial industries that were not closed as a result of the Governor’s Business Closure Order
- Janitorial services to buildings and dwellings
For more details, visit the PA DCED website.
– The COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. The application window for the first round of funding ended July 14th. The second round is expected to open the first week of August.
To be eligible to apply, a business must:
• Be physically located, certified to do business, and generate at least 51% of their revenues in Pennsylvania;
• Have annual revenue of $1 million or less prior to the impact of COVID-19; and
• Have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees prior to February 15, 2020.
Click here for additional details about the program.
Click here for a guide to completing the application.
Columbia County businesses should apply at reinvestment.com.
Montour County businesses should apply at impactservices.org.
– The COVID-19 Columbia County Relief Block Grant (Small Business/Tourism Program) will utilize the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s web-based grant management system only as a technical assistance resource. Review and allocation of available monies will be overseen by Harry Mathias. Funds will remain with the County Commissioners until disbursed to small businesses. The application window opened on July 17th.
A statutory clause states that “priority” is to be given to businesses that did not receive a loan or grant through the Federal Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Disaster Loan Program. Therefore, those business’ fixed cost calculation will be adjusted upward by 5%.
The County Commissioners have set aside a fund of $3,000,000 for this grant program. If sufficient funds are not available to fully fund the intended target, all qualifying businesses will receive a pro-rata share of the $3,000,000 set aside amount. No awarded grant will exceed $100,000.
For purposes of this grant, “fixed cost” is defined as base costs involved in operating the business and will consist of:
- Rental lease/mortgage payments
- Property and liability insurance costs
- Property taxes (if paid by the business)
- Utilities to operate the business facility
- Lost inventory due to the COVID-19 emergency
Who is eligible?
- Any for-profit businesses or individuals doing business as businesses with base location in Columbia County, PA.
- One Owner per business may apply.
- Must be in business by March 1, 2019 and still in business on July 1, 2020
- Must intend to stay in business through, at least, July 1, 2021
- Total employees less than 100 OR an entity primarily engaged in the Tourism industry
- Business must be based in Columbia County, PA
- Net Profit in March 1-June 30, 2020 window must be less than Net Profit in March 1- June 30, 2019 window.
- Must not owe federal, state or local taxes
- Must not be subject to criminal justice process as per the question in the application
- Most recently filed federal tax return
- Entity documents including DBA or FBN certificate and proof of ownership
- Business License (if sole proprietor)
- Government Issued ID
- Evidence of fixed costs including: mortgage/rent/lease payments, utility costs, license fees, property tax bills, property and liability insurance bills, attest to any inventory lost
TIMELINE OF THE GRANT PROCESS:
- July 16: Commissioners approve the amount of funding, grant process and timeline
- July 17: Grant application window opens.
- August 10: Grant application window closes
- August 10-August 18: Team compiles data, determines qualifying businesses, determines 5-month fixed cost calculation or ceiling amount, calculates pro-rata share in applicable
- August 20: Grant amounts recommended to Commissioners
- August 21: Letters of approval sent out to qualifying businesses including Grant amount and Grant contract
- Checks will be issued upon return of grant contracts to the County Commissioners Office.
Grant applications must be completed and submitted through the Foundation’s grant website. Applicants may access the grant application by visiting www.csgiving.org. Click on the homepage banner “Columbia County Relief Block Grant (Small Business/Tourism Grant Program)”. The deadline to apply is Monday, August 10, 11:59 pm, online. For questions about the online grant application, contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, email@example.com, 570-752-3930, ext. 2.
– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. There is a limited pool of funds available so interested businesses should apply now as soon as possible.
There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.
For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.
– A growing number of companies have set up relief funds, online tools, classes, and other resources at no cost in response to the impact on small-business owners. This link contains a list that Inc. is curating and continuously updating.
Business Tax Deadlines Extended
In addition to extending tax filing and payment deadlines for individuals, the Commonwealth has also extended a number of business tax deadlines, including moving the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020 and removing the requirement for some businesses to make prepayments of Sales and Use Tax for April, May and June 2020.
Full details are available on the PA Department of Revenue’s website.
Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to individuals not eligible for regular benefits, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Click here for more information and to apply for PUA. Qualifying self-employed individuals will need to submit a copy of the Governor’s order closing businesses, available here.
The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides additional UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.
New temporary paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave Act programs are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1 and they expire December 31. Both programs are in addition to any leave the employer already offers. Click here for a guide for employers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Click here for details from the IRS about the tax credits for paid leave.
The U.S. Department of Labor has released a required posting and FAQ regarding the FFCRA which went into effect April 1.
• Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
• Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions
Small Business Recovery Program
The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business is establishing a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”
The SBRP will assist regional small business with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.
“This will be a fabulous learning opportunity for our students, under the supervision of our amazing faculty,” said Shawver. “It will provide the subject matter expertise necessary to provide guidance for our small business and assist them in recovering from this negative economic impact.”
Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form that can be found here.