Business & Worker Update: Aug. 13, 2020

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aug. 13, 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. 13, 2020


What you need to know about…

Business guidance updates


Updates to Modified Phase 1 county regulations (Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties)

Counties operating under Modified Phase 1 status have unique rules for business activity. Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties had recent adjustments, including but not limited to indoor retail capacity, curbside library services and some pools being able to reopen. Please note that Chelan and Douglas counties have slightly different requirements as a result of its Modified Phase 1 application.  Refer to each county's COVID-19 webpage for specific local details


Amended indoor fitness, pool regulations now in effect

Recent updates to indoor fitness guidance took effect on Aug. 10.  Guidance is now consistent across Phases 2 and 3, face coverings are required except during strenuous exercise, and social distancing is defined as 300 square feet per person. Pools are also permitted to operate (with restrictions) in all Safe Start Phases, with the exception of some Modified Phase 1 counties. A new FAQ document illustrates how new regulations may affect common activities at fitness centers.

Under the new rules, unstaffed fitness facilities are no longer permitted to operate. Examples might include HOA or hotel pools or gyms. At least one employee must monitor the facility for its operation to be lawful.


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…

Unemployment and Work Search


Presidential Memorandum under assessment; effects not yet certain.

On Aug. 8, the Trump Administration issued a memorandum that referenced a program for lost wage assistance to eligible claimants. Washington state is assessing the Presidential Memorandum.

When additional information is available, the Employment Security Department (ESD) will communicate with claimants through its website, social media and direct claimant communications. ESD phone support specialists are not able to advise callers on this issue - the department discourages phone inquiries on the topic to maintain focus on claims resolution.


Services available to help Washingtonians return to work

The Employment Security Department (ESD) and workforce partners host a number of resources for workers and businesses. Unemployment and re-employment services, information on job and training opportunities and resources to maintain a skilled workforce can be found on ESD's Return to Work page.


Job search requirement remains suspended through Sept. 1

The job search requirement for unemployment benefit claimants remains suspended through Sept. 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…

Small business relief funding


Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) still available

The Small Business Administration's EIDL program offers relief to businesses experiencing a temporary loss in revenue due to COVID-19.  Borrowed EIDL funds may be used to cover a variety of operational and capital expenses. 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.


The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline has elapsed

The Paycheck Protection Program application deadline elapsed on Aug. 8. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is no longer accepting applications from participating lenders.  Applicants that successfully filed for loans before the deadline may wish to review SBA's PPP Loan Forgiveness FAQ document for instruction on management of potentially-forgivable borrowed funds.


SBA Bridge Loans, Debt Relief still available to small businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to offer bridge loans to businesses currently partnered with an SBA Express Lender for quick access to up to $25,000.  The SBA Debt Relief program will cover six months of principal, interest, and fees for all 7(a), 504 and Microloans in regular servicing or issued through Sept. 27.

What you need to know about…

Business consultation services & informational resources


Free, one-on-one small business consultation

What emergency relief funding am I eligible for? Is my business plan obsolete due to COVID-19? The Small Business Administration's Resource Partner Network connects business owners with professional advice. Connect with passionate and experienced local advisors and get judgement-free advice - at no cost to you.


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 Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. and the next Spanish-language webinar will be held on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m.


What you need to know about…

Local relief funding


Federal CARES Act funds supporting Washington small businesses

Federal CARES Act funds distributed by the Washington State Department of Commerce are now being issued in communities across Washington in the form of grant and loan programs. Refer to your local associate development organization webpage for news on local relief programs. Examples include programs offered by the cities of Auburn, Pasco, Puyallup, and Renton, and Snoqualmie.


Eviction Rent Assistance Program in the works

The Eviction Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent evictions by paying past due and current/future rent for people needing relief. Commerce will not directly distribute these funds. to individuals. Sign up to receive email notifications once service providers and application information are announced in each community. 

What you need to know about…

Workplace Safety


Free workplace safety and health consultation

The Department of Labor and Industries offers no-fee workplace safety and health consultation. Professional staff will identify hazards and help get your business in compliance with COVID-19 workplace safety requirements. No fines or penalties will result from issues uncovered during a consultation.


Mask exceptions and common questions detailed on L&I website

The Department of Labor & Industries has compiled a list of common questions about masks and their answers. Do delivery drivers and solo baristas need to wear masks? Only when interacting with others. Do masks create a buildup of carbon dioxide? No. For further reading, review the Department of Health's list of Myths and Facts about Masks.


Safe Start requirements compliance

The Safe Start plan requires a number of new safety measures of most Washington businesses based on the phase of your county. Should the state receive a complaint about a business, the first contact will always be a simple notice and an offer of education from L&I. If the business continues to knowingly operate putting employees and customers at a health risk, that may culminate in a "willful general citation" like those assessed upon illegally-operating fitness centers.