COVID-19 Guidance for Vermont Businesses
UPDATED – 4/02/20
If you have questions about whether your business meet the definition of “critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security” as per Governor Scott’s Executive Order, please review our Stay Home, Stay Safe FAQs and Sector Specific Guidance.
For public health information, visit: healthvermont.gov/covid19
Employees with COVID-19 related concerns in the workplace can contact the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Employees can submit a safety complaint form on VOSHA’s website, or call toll free at 1-800-287-2765.
To stay informed when new information becomes available, please sign-up for our COVID-19 Economic and Community Response Newsletter.
Financial Assistance for Small Businesses
On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law to assist business owners with immediate financial needs.
The Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA. A comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions is also now available. The guide is organized in Question and Answer format to help businesses find the resources that might be most helpful including:
- Payment Protection Program (PPP) Loans to provide cash-flow assistance to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.
- Small Business Debt Relief Program for immediate relief to small businesses with existing non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. The SBA also recently announced automatic deferments for borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants to provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
More on SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Small Business Administration has approved Governor Scott’s request for a disaster declaration. Disaster assistance is available to businesses and non-profit organizations in all Vermont counties.
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) offer up to $2 million in assistance per business, providing economic support to overcome temporary loss of revenue. EIDLs may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for private non-profit organizations, which are also eligible for EIDLs. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay, up to a maximum of 30 years. Small businesses with credit available elsewhere may not be eligible.
To apply online, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. Documents that may be requested when applying include recent federal tax return, profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet. For more information, call the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or e-mail [email protected]. For local SBA information, call 802-828-4422.
IRS Payroll Tax Credits
Payroll Tax Credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse small and midsize employers, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees, have also been announced by the IRS. Additional guidance, including how to claim the credits in advance, is being prepared and will post to the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief page as soon as it is available.
ACCD encourages businesses to seek professional business counseling and technical assistance before taking on additional debt and to help navigate the various programs and resources available. Vermont has a robust business technical assistance provider network, including the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). Click here to learn more and to request assistance from VtSBDC’s team of advisors.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, the VtSBDC created a Disaster Recovery Guide for Businesses, available on their website. This document may also help you begin your recovery. More resources and technical assistance providers can be found in the Business and Economic Resources section.
CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
For the full list of employer and business guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html
The latest amendments to Governor Scott’s emergency declaration include:
- Schools for preK-12 students are now dismissed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, unless otherwise ordered by the Governor if the COVID-19 response should allow. Schools are required to have continuity of learning plans for remote learning implemented on or before Monday, April 13, 2020.
- The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order requires all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order to suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue. The Stay Home, Stay Safe order will be in effect until April 15, 2020, though may be extended or shortened as needed.
- All businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state have been directed to put telecommuting or work from home procedures into place, to the maximum extent possible.
- All close-contact businesses are required to close, including gymnasiums, fitness centers and similar exercise facilities, hair salons and barbers, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors.
- Updated community mitigation measures further restrict the size of mass gatherings to 10 or less.
- All non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures, including all dental procedures, are ordered to be postponed in the safest but most expedient way possible.
- Sales of “to-go” beverage alcohol is permitted with the purchase of a meal, as well as the delivery of alcohol product by licensed retail stores.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended all in-person transactions,. The DMV will continue to process registration and license renewals and various other services online, by mail, or via telephone.
- Childcare centers across the state are closed for normal operations, except those serving essential workers. The Agency of Education will continue to provide additional details on guidance for schools and childcare facilities.
- All bars and restaurants statewide have been ordered to close. Food service establishments can continue to offer takeout and delivery service.
We are still interested in hearing from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please continue to share these impacts via the Agency Business Impact Form, which will help us assess the full impact as we work toward solutions.
If you have other inquiries, please contact us through our dedicated email address: [email protected].
The Agency has also established a hotline so that businesses may call to report impacts and be directed to resources: (802) 461-5143. The hotline will be staffed Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Guidance on Childcare for Essential Persons
Vermont Emergency Management has published a new list of who is considered an Essential Person in regards to the Executive Order regarding Childcare for Essential Service Providers. Families with Essential Persons who need help finding childcare can now submit a webform for assistance in connecting them with options for childcare for their children (up to grade 8). Families can also call 2-1-1 ext. 6.
Interactive Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot Map Now Available
The Vermont Department of Public Service has released an interactive Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot Map to help Vermonters connect to publicly available internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The map includes the location of the Wi-Fi hot spots and pertinent information about how to access them, including places where users can access Wi-Fi from outside the building or in a parked vehicle to encourage social distancing. Vermonters are encouraged to send information about Wi-Fi hot spots to [email protected] and review additional connectivity resources from the Department of Public Service online.
Translated Guidance for Vermonters
New fact sheet, translated into nine languages, has been added to Department of Health website under “Translated Materials.” The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Vermont has also posted a new series of COVID-19 videos in several languages.