We are living through a very difficult time right now as our country struggles to contain the COVID-19 virus. One of the most important things to all of us right now is access to reliable information about closures, public orders and other directives.
The Chamber is working hard to make sure we convey that information as quickly and accurately as possible. As fast as things are moving the best place for you to access that information is on our website or by friending Monte Chamber on Facebook.
At this point most events and meetings in our community have been postponed or cancelled, that goes for our Chamber meetings as well. Many offices and businesses are also closed or on altered schedules so call ahead before you go somewhere.
(Updated July 27, 2020)
The Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce stands in support of Governor Tim Walz’s statewide masking requirement.
COVID-19 has impacted every corner of our state and every aspect of our lives. As Minnesotans so often do, we’ve come together to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors. We’ve done it in many ways – some simple, some more onerous. We’ve worked from home, grappled with e-learning for our children, forgone trips to the gym, and dealt with isolation and loneliness. We’ve missed milestones of all types – celebrations like graduation and birthday parties, as well as sadder occasions like funerals and good-byes. We did all this together, with the hopes that our shared sacrifice would spare thousands more from illness and death.
We’ve made progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 here in Minnesota. But as we watch other states deal with rising numbers, we know the threat is still very real. We must continue to come together.
Doctors and researchers have told us that wearing a mask or other face covering is a simple and effective step we can take to slow the spread of the virus. It is something that many of us are able to do – and something that everyone who is able should do. The simple act of grabbing your mask as you leave your home can have enormous impact, protecting yourself and those around you.
We applaud Governor Walz for issuing a mask requirement, taking the onus off of individual business owners, restaurant and retail workers, and cities and counties to require and monitor on their own. Wearing a mask helps keep our businesses open.
We ask all Minnesotans to do the right thing and wear a mask when necessary. The shared sacrifice of wearing a mask is most certainly worth the reward of getting back to our lives.
FAQ-‘Mask Required’ Sign PDF’s
FAQ-Requirement to Wear Face Coverings
What are the requirements for face coverings at work?
Generally, workers are required to wear a face covering at all times when indoors, when outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, or when specific industry guidance has stricter requirements. Please see Stay Safe Guidance for Businesses and Organizations to find information about specific work industries. Industry-specific requirements that differ from or impose greater requirements than the Executive Order are also summarized at Face Covering Requirements and Recommendations under Executive Order 20-81. Businesses are responsible for clearly communicating the applicable requirements to their workers.
The Executive Order also identifies a number of situations where a face covering may be temporarily removed, such as when a worker is working alone (for example, when in a closed office, a cubicle with walls above face height when social distancing is maintained, or other enclosed space with no other individuals present). In addition, if a worker cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability, a business must provide an accommodation to the worker if possible.
Are businesses responsible for requiring that workers, customers, and visitors wear a face covering?
Yes, it is the responsibility of the business to require that its workers, customers, and visitors are wearing face coverings consistent with the provisions of Executive Order 20-81.
Businesses must update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to align with the requirements of Executive Order 20-81. Businesses must also communicate to workers and customers that face coverings must be worn when required by the Executive Order—meaning, when indoors, for both customers and workers, and also when outdoors for workers, when social distancing cannot be maintained—unless circumstances allow for the temporarily removal of the face covering. At a minimum, businesses must communicate face covering requirements by clearly posting signage in places that are visible to all workers, customers, and visitors. A best practice would be for businesses to notify customers about face covering requirements through communication while they are making reservations, appointments, or placing orders for pickup.
Where can business owners find masking materials for their storefront?
Digital and print materials related to the #MaskUpMN campaign are available for download on the State of Minnesota’s COVID-19 website.
What should a business do when a worker, customer, or visitor claims to be exempt from the face covering mandate?
The Executive Order contains exemptions to the face covering mandate, including for certain medical and mental health conditions and disabilities. When a customer or visitor claims to be exempt due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, businesses may not require proof of the condition or disability or require customers or visitors to explain the nature of their condition or disability. When possible, businesses must provide accommodations to customers and visitors who are unable to wear a face covering (for example, by offering curbside pick-up) and mitigate worker and customer exposure to individuals who are unable to wear a face covering.
If a worker claims to be exempt from face covering requirements, businesses must follow the requirements of applicable laws (including civil rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act) that relate to verification of a worker’s condition or disability. The business should also provide any exempt worker an accommodation to the extent possible. For example, if the worker will interact with customers, visitors, or other workers, the employer could offer the worker the option of wearing a face shield as an alternative. The employer should also consider taking steps to mitigate the worker’s interaction with other workers and, if the business is customer-facing, with customers as well.
What should a business do when customers or workers refuse to comply with face covering requirements?
When an employee does not claim a legitimate exemption from face covering requirements (for example, due to a disability) but still refuses to wear a face covering, businesses should take appropriate disciplinary action.
If a customer who does not claim a legitimate exemption refuses to comply with face covering requirements, businesses should assess the situation and determine how best to proceed, using normal procedures for dealing with a difficult customer. Because businesses have an obligation to protect their workers from hazards—including COVID-19 infection—businesses must take steps to mitigate or eliminate the risks posed by a person who refuses to wear a face covering.
Here are some best practices to consider:
· If a customer (or visitor) enters or attempts to enter without a face covering, communicate face covering requirements to the customer, offer the customer a face covering, and request that they put it on.
· If a customer continues to refuse to wear a face covering, decline services to the customer, or request that the customer not enter the premises or leave the premises.
· The business may also offer the customer service alternatives, if available, including curbside pick-up, home delivery, or retrieving merchandise for the customer.
· Based on its assessment of the situation, the business may also determine that there is a need to engage law enforcement to assist.
Nothing in the Executive Order provides businesses with the right to physically restrain or remove a noncompliant person when it would not otherwise be legal to do so. Employees and management should avoid direct enforcement in situations that would put themselves or others at risk of harm and instead consider engaging law enforcement.
Can a worker refuse to perform job duties if a customer is not wearing a face covering?
If workers, acting in good faith, have a reasonable belief that they have been assigned to work in an unsafe and unhealthy manner, they may refuse to perform the job duties assigned if they have requested that the business correct the hazardous conditions.
It is the responsibility of businesses to provide their workers with a safe and healthy workplace. If a customer refuses to wear a face covering, a business needs to take action to mitigate workers’ exposure to the customer, while making reasonable efforts to obtain the customer’s compliance.
Who provides and pays for the face covering if workers have to wear them?
Businesses are encouraged to provide face coverings for all workers to ensure compliance with the Executive Order. If an employer requires that all workers wear the same uniform face covering, such as one with their business logo on it, they will likely purchase the face covering and provide it to workers. However, the law provides that an employer can deduct from a worker’s wages the cost of a uniform so long as it does not reduce the worker’s pay below the minimum wage for hours worked. The amount of the deduction for a face covering may not exceed the cost of the face covering to the employer. The maximum deduction for all items that are part of a uniform allowed by law is $50. If the employer provides the face covering and deducts the cost of the face covering from the worker’s wages, the employer must reimburse the worker the full amount deducted for the face covering when the worker’s employment ends and the worker returns the face covering to the employer.
If an employer chooses not to provide the face covering, workers are responsible for acquiring their own face covering and wearing it while at work to comply with the Executive Order.
Does a face covering need to meet an employer’s “appropriate attire” requirements?
Appropriate attire requirements are developed and enforced by the business and, in some instances, by law. Employees should speak with their employer and review the employer’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as well as any employee handbook or applicable employer policy.
Can a worker be disciplined by an employer if they wear a face covering even if a wearing a face covering is not required?
No, Executive Order 20-54 provides that an employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against a worker for wearing a face covering that the worker has personally acquired as long as the face covering does not violate industry standards or existing employer policies related to health, safety, or decency.
How will authorities determine if my business is compliant with the face covering mandate?
The Executive Order states that a business is in compliance with the Executive Order if:
1. The businesses’ workers are wearing face coverings as required by the Executive Order;
2. The business has updated their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to address the face covering requirements to align with the requirements of the Executive Order;
3. The business has posted one or more signs visible to all workers, customers, and visitors instructing them to wear face coverings as required by the Executive Order—meaning when indoors (all persons) and, outdoors (workers only) in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained; and
4. The business makes reasonable efforts to enforce the face covering requirements with respect to customers and visitors.
The previous four sections discuss the steps that businesses can take to ensure compliance with the Executive Order.
When assessing a situation involving potential violation of the Executive Order, a local law enforcement agency or state regulatory agency should consider the seriousness of any non-compliance. Factors relevant to the seriousness of the non-compliance include but are not limited to: the number of workers and customers not requiring face covering as required by the Executive Order; how long and how often workers and customers are not wearing face coverings; the consequences of workers and customers not wearing face coverings, including indications the business is associated with the transmission of COVID-19; and the actions taken by the business to prevent and respond to their workers’ and customers’ non-compliance with face covering requirements.
The objective of any enforcement action will be to achieve compliance with the Executive Order to protect the health of Minnesotans.
RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES
The completed business preparedness plan is not required to be submitted to Department of Labor & Industry for approval, but needs to be made available upon request.
Non-Critical Sector industrial and office-based businesses that are non-customer facing are allowed to reopen as long as they have created a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
Businesses that were included on the Critical Sector list are required to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) COVID-19 guidelines and OSHA standards, but they are not at this time required to have a written COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
A Few Important Reminders about Coronaviruses and Reducing the Risk of Exposure:
- Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight will reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects.
- Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection.
- Disinfectants kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. EPA-approved disinfectantsexternal icon are an important part of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If disinfectants on this list are in short supply, alternative disinfectants can be used (for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions). Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
- Store and use disinfectants in a responsible and appropriate manner according to the label. Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together–this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
- Do not overuse or stockpile disinfectants or other supplies. This can result in shortages of appropriate products for others to use in critical situations.
- Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used when you are cleaning and disinfecting. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed based on setting and product. For more information, see CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
- Practice social distancing, wear facial coverings, and follow proper prevention hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS & EMPLOYEES
- U.S. Chamber guide for employers – Outlines how to work with and communicate to employees, make a business continuity plan before and after employees become sick.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for business – Health and workplace details and suggestions for COVID-19 impacts on different types of businesses and employee activity.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) travel advisories – Ongoing updates on travel advisories within the United States and abroad.
- Minnesota Council – Society of Human Resource Management (MNSHRM) – Resources for HR professionals (login required).
- U.S. Department of Labor guide to FMLA in public health emergencies
- Information about business interruption insurance – A FAQ developed by the Insurance Federation to provide answers on business interruption coverage.
SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES
CORONA VIRUS Emergency Loans
A GUIDE FOR MINNESOTA BUSINESSES WHO NEED HELP
Over the past few weeks, several state and federal programs have been built to assist small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Different programs make sense for different businesses, so we’re providing this summary guide to help small businesses quickly see which programs might be right for their situation.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- Summary of Program: The SBA PPP is a new federal $350 billion loan program at SBA for small businesses, self-employed people, and gig workers to help them from going under due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If employers maintain payroll, the loans would be forgiven.
- Why this might make sense for you: If a self-employed person needs compensation or a business or nonprofit needs funds for employee compensation, including: salaries, wages, commissions, or similar compensation; cash tips or equivalents; vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; payment required for providing group health care benefits (including insurance premiums); payment of retirement benefits; and payroll taxes. Funding may also be used for payment of interest on mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, and interest on pre-existing debt obligations
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
- Summary of Program: Congress authorized a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that covers those who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits, such as independent contractors and self-employed people. The program was authorized but must be created by the states, so Minnesota must build out this program before it can be implemented. More information will be available soon, however it could be several weeks before payments begin.
- Why this might make sense for you: If you are an independent contractor or self-employed person who would not typically be eligible for unemployment benefits, but you have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minnesota Small Business Emergency Loan Program
- Summary of Program: Minnesota Small Business Emergency Loans are made through an approved lender – you can find FAQs, application materials and lenders on the DEED website. These loans are for $2,500 to $35,000 and at a 0% interest rate. There is a total of $30 million available for this program.
- Why this might make sense for you: If you are affected by Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08, this program could provide a 0% loan to help you meet expenses.
Minnesota Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
- Summary of Program: This program provides a 80% loan guarantee for loans up to $250,000 made by a qualified economic development lender within this program. Details for business are not yet on DEED’s website but DEED and agency partners are reaching out to lenders to make them aware of this new program – look for more details soon. This program is intended to incent the private market to make loans to small businesses and provides the guarantee for those loan dollars. The state is providing a loan guarantee of $10 million which is likely to leverage between $20 and $25 million in lending by private banks.
- Why this might make sense for you: Your lender will consider your situation and may require this guarantee in order to lend money to your business.
Unemployment Insurance Shared Work Program
- Summary of Program: The Shared Work program offers an alternative to layoffs for employers facing a temporary downturn in business. Administered by DEED’s Unemployment Insurance Division, the program allows employers to divide available hours of work among a group of employees instead of implementing a full layoff. These employees may then receive partial unemployment insurance benefits while working reduced hours. The purpose of Shared Work is to avoid a layoff, not to subsidize wages.
- Why this might make sense for you: Shared Work can help employers avoid the difficulties that can go along with a layoff. If employees keep working during a temporary slowdown, employers can more quickly gear up when business conditions improve. Learn more about the Shared Work Program on our Unemployment Insurance Division’s website
So given these options, where should you start?
1. First, we recommend is contacting your insurance company. You may have access to benefits you’ve paid into through your policy that could be helpful during this time.
2. Next, call your bank. Your banker will have advice for you on:
- Their own resources
- They may refer you to local lending programs such as those available through non-profits (like the Small Business Emergency Loan Program) or loan programs available in certain cities or counties across Minnesota
3. If you’ve been denied credit by a bank or the SBA, you should call any of the approved lenders for the Small Business Emergency Loan Program that serve your geography.
4. If you do not use a bank and/or do not have insurance on your business:
- You can call any of DEED approved lenders for the Small Business Emergency Loan Program for possible access to the program and other resources available through our lending partners.
- You may also call a lender in the Small Business Loan Guarantee program, when those lenders are identified. Please note that these lenders are likely banks or local development organizations who have underwriting criteria.
- You could call your city or county to see if they have a revolving loan fund that is available to your business. Please note that not many cities in the metro area have these revolving loan funds and those that do will have underwriting criteria.
Visit the COVID-19 Information for Employers and Businesses page on the DEED website for more resources related to business assistance, Unemployment Insurance and FAQs.
KEEPING WORKPLACES SAFE AND HEALTHY
- U.S. Chamber guide to healthy habits – Background on COVID-19 and best practices to stay healthy and deal with employee diagnosis.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates – Ongoing updates on the disease, how it is spread, where is exists and testing.
- Minnesota Department of Health resources – Updates on cases in Minnesota, best practices to prepare and prevent spread in workplaces.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 health updates – Detailed updates on risk factors, symptoms, treatment.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guide for workplaces – Specific to federal standards for preventing spread in workplaces.
- Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) COVID-19 resource page (English) – Daily updates on the number and nature of Coronavirus cases in Minnesota and best practices for citizens to remain safe and healthy.
F.A.Q. about Executive Order 20-04: Providing for the Temporary Closure of Bars, Restaurants, and Other Places of Public Accommodation
In response to the potential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, MNsure is offering a special enrollment period for eligible Minnesotans who do not have health insurance.
Those who are eligible can enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure from Monday, March 23, through Tuesday, April 21.