Business & Worker Update: July 8, 2020

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July 8, 2020 

The Business and Workers update is a weekly newsletter providing news and information to help businesses and workers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The information is compiled by the state Economic Resiliency Team (ERT), part of the Joint Information Center.

What should Washington workers and employers know this week?

July 8, 2020


What you need to know about…

Masking and COVID-19 notification requirements for businesses


Businesses may not serve any customer not in compliance with face covering requirements


As of July 7, businesses are required to demand that all customers and employees comply with the statewide face covering requirement. The statewide order requires that masks be worn inside any building or business open to the public, outdoor public areas when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, and other settings. No goods or services are to be furnished to customers not in compliance with statewide face covering requirements. Refer to the original order for a full list of requirements and exceptions for face coverings. Individuals with certain health or medical conditions are excepted and are not required to produce documentation of the condition to be considered exempt.


Face coverings required at most Washington workplaces


The Safe Start plan requires that all Washington workers must wear a cloth face covering at minimum at the workplace. There are certain exceptions for working alone and for individuals with communication or medical issues that masks might complicate. Workers must wear respiratory protection appropriate for the exposure risk profile applicable to their work setting. Employers must provide (at no cost to employees) and require the use of personal protective equipment appropriate for the activity being performed.


Employers must notify local health department if COVID-19 spreading at the workplace


Employers must notify the employer’s local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if the employer suspects COVID-19 is spreading in the employer’s workplace, or if the employer is aware of two or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.


Best practices to address unmasked customers detailed


The Office of the Governor has offered best practices for business owners in summary of recent face covering requirements. Anticipating exchanges between businesses and unmasked customers, the document offers some do's (ask if a medical issue complicates mask use, arrange certain safety accommodations) and don'ts (ask for details or proof of disability or medical condition).

"Washington’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if, together, we act safely and follow health recommendations"

John Wiesman, Washington State Secretary of Health

What you need to know about…

Safe Start Progress


Virus activity increasing statewide


The effective reproductive number, commonly referred to as the "R-naught" number, currently indicates that the virus is increasing in transmission. At 1.7 in Western Washington at 1.3 in Eastern Washington, current figures indicate that the average infected person infects more than one other person, and potentially causing an exponential increase in disease activity.


All Safe Start advancement paused


Citing increased transmission statewide, all further Safe Start phase advancements have been temporarily paused. Secretary of Health John Wiesman adds, "We must redouble our efforts to keep our physical distance, wear face coverings, and limit the number of people that we see each week."


Benton, Franklin, Yakima counties enter modified Phase 1


Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties all continue to report high test positivity rates and rates of transmission and have not yet been able to advance within the Safe Start plan. These three counties have been advanced to a modified Phase 1 to maximize responsible economic activity. Modified Phase 1 allows for some indoor spiritual gatherings, some retail activity, and some personal services (all with important restrictions). Refer to the "What's open in each phase?" page for a detailed breakdown of Safe Start phases.

What you need to know about…

Industry-specific workplace safety guidance


Bar seating, live music prohibited in bars and restaurants statewide


In a clarification of Restaurant and Tavern Rules, bar-style seating and live music are prohibited in Phases 2 and 3. Restaurants and taverns in Phase 2 or beyond are permitted to resume self-service buffets, condiment or salad bars, and other similar communal food sources and drink stations. The latest memo further details sanitation, physical barriers, and other important practices. The full Restaurant and Tavern sector guidance document has been updated to reflect these changes.


Some out-of-state construction workers must self-quarantine or test for COVID-19 prior to working in Washington state


Construction workers from any state not bordering Washington must self-quarantine for 14 days before working on a job site in the state. Alternatively, the worker would be eligible upon receipt of negative test results for COVID-19 administered within Washington state. If the individual were to leave and return to Washington state, the worker would have to re-establish eligibility by testing or self-quarantining.


Gathering size limits and business activity limits are distinct


Under phases of the Safe Start plan, a gathering is a non-religious social occasion or activity. In Phase 1, gatherings are prohibited among non-household members. Phase 2 permits gatherings of five or fewer, Phase 3 permits 50 or fewer, and Phase 4 relieves limits on gatherings. Business activities, on the other hand, are typically based building occupancy or some other standards. Business activity limits change by sector and by the locality's Safe Start phase.

What you need to know about…

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reopened


Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act signed into law


The U.S. Small Business Administration has resumed accepting PPP applications following the July 4 passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8. The Paycheck Protection Program offers forgivable loans designed to directly incentivize small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. More than $130 billion in funding remains available in the program budget.


PPP Loans available for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons


More than just small businesses are eligible for PPP funds. Tribal businesses, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, sole proprietors, independent contractors and those who are self-employed are among those who can benefit from this forgivable loan program.


PPP loans are forgivable if funds used for payroll and certain operational expenses


Paycheck Protection Program loans will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. At least 60% of any forgiven amount must have been used for payroll. Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.

What you need to know about…



Work search requirement, waiting week suspended through Aug. 1


Typically, unemployment insurance applicants must show that they are actively looking for work while collecting unemployment benefits. That requirement will remain suspended through Aug. 1. Claimants can continue to answer “no” to the job search question on their weekly claims until the suspension is lifted. Visit the ESD job search requirement page to check the status of this suspension as August 1 approaches. Also temporarily waived is the "waiting week", wherein claimants would normally not be paid following their first week of eligibility.


Inbound calls to Employment Security Department restricted through July 12


Inbound calls to the unemployment claims center will be limited to allow agents to focus on outbound calls to resolve complex issues for the longest-waiting customers. Customers can still submit weekly claims online or use the automated telephone system to file a weekly claim at 800-318-8400. Customers may also call the questions hotline for general unemployment questions unrelated to specific claims at 833-572-8400. Visit ESD's FAQ page for answers to common questions about returning to work.


Resources available for job searchers


The Employment Security Department offers a host of resources for job searchers. WorkSourceWA connects prospective workers with job opportunities and workshops. ESD labor market resources help workers identify in-demand career paths. The most recent Top 25 Occupations report, for example, identified high demand for registered nurses and software developers.

What you need to know about...

Quarterly worker’s compensation reporting


Late penalties on second-quarter payments may be waived for up to 90 days.


The L&I Employer Assistance Program acknowledges the burden of COVID-19 and affords many employers some flexibility in payment of quarterly dues. The quarterly report must still be filed by the July 31 deadline, but enrollment in the Employer Assistance Program may permit up to 90 additional days to pay. Contact Collections Education & Outreach and include your L&I account ID in your request to enroll in the Employer Assistance Program, or call 360-902-4817 to reach L&I Employer Services.

What you need to know about…

Small business educational programming


Requirements and Resources for Small Businesses webinar


This webinar series offers information specific to small businesses and a panel of state agency representatives to respond to live Q&A on UI, Return to Work, PPP – many things employers need to know. The next webinar will be held on July 16 at 1:30 p.m.