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.
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.