Business & Worker Update: Aug. 5, 2020

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aug. 5, 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?

Aug. 5, 2020


What you need to know about…

Business guidance updates


Indoor service prohibition for bars, taverns, distilleries and wineries amended

On July 28, it was announced that indoor service at taverns, breweries, wineries, and distilleries was to be prohibited. A July 31 update clarified that such indoor service is prohibited unless certain food service is provided. Food service comprises a reasonable number of menu items, preparation of food onsite by an employee and not a contractor, and proper permitting/licensing for food service under local jurisdiction. Alcohol service, delivery and consumption at all establishments must end at 10 p.m. until Phase 4.


Seating arrangement rules for restaurants, bars, wineries and distilleries amended

On July 31, Gov. Inslee issued a clarification of regulations affecting food and liquor service establishments. The update clarifies acceptable seating arrangements indoors and out. The memo also summarizes recently modified rules to affect gatherings, live entertainment, indoor recreation, weddings and funerals.


Indoor fitness guidance amended

Business activity guidance for indoor fitness and training has been updated to clarify face covering requirements, adjusted occupancy limits, and allows for a greater variety of sport and fitness training activity to take place. "Indoor fitness and training" does not apply to pools, sporting activities, or outdoor group fitness classes. The governor's memo urges that outdoor settings for fitness training and team sports are preferred to indoor settings and should be utilized to the greatest extent possible. The updates will be effective Aug. 10. Clarification on certain details within the document is forthcoming. 


Questions about the Safe Start Plan?


Ask questions about workplace safety, Safe Start phases, relief programs, paid sick leave, unemployment and more. Our Business Response Center is standing by to respond.


Submit your question here.


What you need to know about…

Employee mental and emotional well-being


Identify and address behavioral health issues to improve productivity

The Washington State Department of Health's (DOH) COVID-19 Behavioral Health Group Impact Reference Guide describes normal mental and emotional impacts that may manifest in the workplace. Stress over risk of job loss, changes in the nature of work, or personal challenges may contribute to lost productivity. Employees grappling with increased anxiety or stress may be irritable or forgetful. The DOH guide offers information that can help employers recognize symptoms of mental or emotional distress and offer relevant support strategies.


Connect with resources for mental and emotional support

The pandemic has affected every Washingtonian personally but differently. The state coronavirus website features a selection of demographic-specific resources and hotlines for mental and emotional support. The new Washington Listens website and hotline offer nonclinical support to those confronting anxiety or stress. If your company has an employee assistance program, that may be a valuable resource to remind employees of. These resources provide opportunities to relieve anxiety and regain balance as the pandemic wears on.

What you need to know about…

Rental assistance and evictions


$100 million in CARES Act funding allocated for rental assistance to Washingtonians

The Washington State Department of Commerce is distributing nearly $100 million in federal funding to prevent evictions by paying up to three months of past-due, current and future rent to landlords for eligible participants. The program aims to reduce some of the stress faced by both renters and landlords during the pandemic.


Eviction moratorium extended through Oct. 15

On July 24, Governor Inslee announced the extension through Oct. 15 of a statewide eviction moratorium that temporarily prohibits residential evictions. The moratorium further prohibits assessment of late fees, treatment of unpaid rent as enforceable debt, and rent increases upon residential tenants. Review the full document for details on the provisions and exceptions to the moratorium.

What you need to know about…

Statewide broadband access


Broadband mapping initiative to address internet infrastructure gaps

The Washington State Department of Commerce announced a new initiative to map relative access to high-speed internet across the state. The mapping initiative is to identify infrastructure gaps to advance the state's goal of universal broadband access by 2024.


Take a one-minute survey and test your internet speed

The Department of Commerce's statewide broadband survey provides you an internet speed test and provides the state valuable information to address internet access gaps. The survey takes under a minute for most to complete.

What you need to know about…

Small business information


Small business webinars review available relief and resources

This monthly webinar series reviews 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, small business relief funding, workplace safety measures, and other topics important to employers. The next webinar will be held on Aug. 11 at 8:30 a.m. and the next Spanish-language webinar will be held on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. For additional resources and assistance programs, visit the Department of Commerce website.


Thoroughly document receipt of any CARES Act funding

The Office of Management and Budget has offered advice on documenting receipt and expenditure of federal relief funding. Grantees must maintain records to support that expenditures met the terms of conditions of awarded funds.

What you need to know about…

Unemployment insurance


Job search requirement remains suspended through Sept. 1

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