Disaster Assistance

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (As of May 26, 2020)

Small Business Administration Releases New PPP Guidance

Friday evening, the US Small Business Administration released new guidance to assist businesses as they apply for forgiveness of loans issued under the Paycheck Protection Program.
The new guidance:
  • Keeps the current “75%/25% rule,” stating non-payroll costs cannot exceed 25% of the loan forgiveness amount
  • Provides more detail on the “alternative covered period,” explaining that it can begin with the borrower’s payroll cycle (not date of loan disbursement)
  • Includes bonuses and hazard pay as payroll costs eligible for forgiveness
  • Provides additional information on how loan forgiveness applies in the case of an employee who has been offered, but turned down a job
Click HERE to read the complete guidance from the SBA. In addition, new guidance was also issued for lenders, which can be found HERE.

Louisiana Department of Revenue Announces Additional Sales Tax Relief Provisions

Friday, the Louisiana Department of Revenue announced that they would be providing additional sales tax relief to businesses, under certain conditions, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Previous LDR guidelines allowed for March and April 2020 sales tax return and payment deadlines were extended to April 20 and May 20, respectively. Under the new rules, a taxpayer must file their March and April 2020 sales tax returns, and make payments and interest by June 30. To read more, click HERE for LDR’s official announcement.

Gov. Edwards: Louisiana will Move to Phase One Statewide on May 15, COVID-19 Stay at Home Order will be Lifted for Louisianans

On May 11, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the current Stay at Home order will be lifted on May 15 and that businesses, with a few exceptions, will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent of their State Fire Marshal capacity. Every business should ensure they have an up-to-date and accurate maximum occupancy number for their locations on which to base their reduced occupancy allowance. BRAC’s latest analysis provides guidance on identifying occupancy limits so that businesses can safely prepare for reopening.

Gov. Edwards Will Extend Stay at Home Order Until May 15

Goal: Continue Flattening the Curve and Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

As you know, today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he will extend Louisiana’s Stay at Home order until May 15 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.

That said, Louisiana has been very supportive of businesses, with consideration given to construction, modified retail and industrial work activities. As we hear Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi executing limited opening plans, we note that they are opening in some business settings that were never closed or restricted in Louisiana.

Under the extended order, which will be issued on Friday, May 1, businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, among other things. Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance may still be open. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.

Three major changes in the new Stay at Home order include:

  • Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.
  • Restaurants will be allowed to open outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
  • All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.

 

Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks in public.

“Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people and my mask protects you.”

Hopefully, Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, provided symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to surge testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks to keep everyone safe. Phase One occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent.

As Louisiana prepares for its next phase of reopening, business owners and faith leaders are encouraged to plan as well, including understanding their building’s maximum occupancy limits, which may require contacting local government or the State Fire Marshal’s office. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks.

Gov. Edwards intends to make his next announcement on moving to Phase 1 in Louisiana on or by May 11. Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on http://coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.

LED’s business hotline 1-833-457-0531 or e-mail to LEDBiz@la.gov remain available for additional questions.

Louisiana Business Community Shares Framework for “Safe at Work” Reopening of State’s Economy

Recently, LABI partnered with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to release a full framework for restarting the Louisiana economy in a responsible manner. The “Safe at Work” framework builds upon an executive summary released last week, and focuses on issues for businesses and elected officials around the state to consider as reopening plans are made. The framework may be downloaded directly here.

The report, developed in partnership with executives across a broad array of industry sectors and with peer business organizations and associations from around the state, includes the following sections:

·    Health and Safety First

·    Stay at Home and Safe at Work Order

·    Be Healthier, Safer, and Smarter at Work

·    Legal Protections for Recovering Businesses

·    Childcare and Daycare

·    PPE Supplies for Reopening Business

·    Consistent Statewide Regulations for Reopening

·    Second Wave Concerns

·    Disadvantaged Businesses and Rural Regions

·    Gradual or Phases of Reopening, Sector Considerations

·    External Readings on Reopening the Economy

The framework is meant to serve as a start to the conversation for returning more employees and businesses to work, rather than serving as a final, prescriptive set of answers or solutions.

“This framework provides sensible and safe solutions for our state’s businesses, and it makes clear, workable suggestions for our leaders to consider as they make decisions about reopening Louisiana’s economy,” said LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack. “During this unprecedented time of crisis, our state must come together and find the most responsible and effective measures that can get people back to work and get our economy back on its feet.”

Nearly 50 organizations from around the state have endorsed the framework, including The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. Both the executive summary and full commentary have been shared with Governor Edwards’ administration with the commitment of continued collaboration and support of the Resilient Louisiana Commission as it begins its work to strengthen sectors of the economy and recommend resilient return-to-work practices.

 

President Trump Signs Additional Funding Bill for Paycheck Protection Program, Loans to Resume Monday

Friday, President Donald Trump signed legislation that appropriates additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill, passed by Congress this week, has $321 billion for small business aid through the PPP and $60 billion to replenish the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, with additional funding for hospitals and COVID-19 testing as well.

The SBA announced that it would resume processing applications Monday morning at 10:30 am. As with the PPP’s first phase, businesses should work with their local lenders.

Click HERE to read more from Politico about the funding bill.

Congressional Action

Please find attached and at this link the U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist. This is the first of a number of resources we are developing to help you connect your members with the resources recently approved by Congress to respond to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

As many of you are aware, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the “Paycheck Protection Program,” the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

Please share the guide digitally with every small business owner and small business employee.

Recommendations for Businesses

As you look to pass accurate information to your workers and make important decisions regarding business operations, a good place to start is with the CDC’s recommended business strategies, which include:

For more information, see below or visit the website of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, a LABI member company, for a variety of other resources, fact sheets and fliers regarding COVID-19 including:

Information from Louisiana Workforce Commission

While Caronavirus is confirmed in only 10 parishes, the impacts will be felt statewide. The Louisiana Workforce Commission has provided guidelines and information regarding unemployment insurance for employers and workers affected by the crisis.

  • To see LWC’s guidance for workers, click HERE
  • To see LWC’s guidance for employers, click HERE

For more information regarding LWC’s operations and procedures during this time, visit their Coronavirus website.

Information from La. Department of Health

With 114 cases of coronavirus confirmed across 10 parishes (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, Caddo, St. Charles, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Terrebonne, Bossier, and St. John the Baptist) the Louisiana Department of Health has resources available for the business community.

  • To see LDH’s Guidance for Business and Employers, click HERE

In addition, LDH has also made some printable items available that can be placed around your place of business and company facilities.

For more information, visit LDH’s Coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the coronavirus in our state.

Information from US Chamber

Given the nationwide scope of this challenge, our partners in Washington at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have made resources available for American businesses and workers: