Coronavirus Resource Guide

 Our Team is updating this daily as more information becomes available to support you, your business, and your employees.  

Critical Updates Effective November 20th 2020 Until Further Notice

By order of Governor Phil Scott:

Mandatory Travel Quarantine in Effect for Non-Essential Persons

Due to rising COVID-19 case counts across the Northeast, effective on November 10, 2020, the State of Vermont has suspended its leisure travel map and implemented a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont

Essential Travel

People traveling for essential purposes, including work, do not need to quarantine. Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, to attend preK-12 school and college if commuting daily, or to perform work for businesses that are currently allowed to operate. For more information about which businesses may operate and how they may operate, view the Work Safe Guidance. The current State of Emergency requires employers to use remote work and telework whenever possible to avoid unnecessary work travel. Businesses and employees must only travel for work related trips when absolutely necessary. Individuals engaged in a daily commute to and from their job are expressly exempt from the need to quarantine by Executive Order.

Persons should not travel to, from, or within Vermont if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or if they meet the criteria for needing to Isolate or Quarantine.

Staying Safe and Compliant

Requirements For All Industries

Additional health and safety consideration for all business, non-profit and government operations:

Mask Use for Employees

Food Retail Operating Requirements (General stores, convenience stores, etc)

Retail Operating Requirements

Retailers may begin to reopen concurrent to ACCD sector guidance including:

Bars, Restaurants and Food Service Operating Requirements

For more resources related to reopening head to the ACCD website: Restart Vermont Resources

Useful Print Outs

Cleaning:

State of Emergency Extended to December 15th, Social Gatherings Banned

View the full orderExecutive Orders Summary

The latest order restricts all public and private social, recreational, and entertainment gatherings (indoor and outdoor) to one single household. There should be no social gatherings of any type or size until the restriction is lifted. It also orders the closure of bars and social clubs to for in-person service as of 10PM on November 14th. As of 10PM on November 14th, restaurants must cease in-person service at 10PM.

The Governor has ordered all non-essential/non-critical businesses to shut down, unless included in the current implementation of the “restartvt” phased reopening plan (see industry specific guidance higher up on this page), and directs all non-essential residents of the state to remain at home throughout the duration of the order, leaving only for essential reasons. While we cannot provide legal advice on whether your specific business can stay open, we can steer you in the right direction.

Find out here what businesses are deemed Critical and Essential.

Businesses deemed critical to public health and safety are urged to offer curbside pickup to the extent possible. We strongly encourage you to offer this service.

Statewide Mask Mandate Ongoing

Per Governor Scott’s July 24th Executive Order, there is an ongoing mandate for Vermonters to wear masks when in the presence of others. This mandate has been continued through the extension of Governor Scott’s State of Emergency, and is anticipated to continue until the State of Emergency ends. There is a signage component to the order, detailed below.

Businesses and non-profit and government entities shall implement measures notifying customers or clients of the requirement to wear masks or facial coverings, which may include, but shall not be limited to, posting signage stating that masks or cloth facial coverings are required and denial of entry or service to customers or clients who decline to wear masks or facial coverings.

Recommended signage can be found here.

VRGA strongly encourages members to:

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has published the following guidance on the mask order:

"As of Saturday, August 1, 2020, Vermonters and visitors are required to wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth any time they are in public spaces, indoors or outdoors, where they come in contact with others from outside their households, especially in congregate settings, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.

A person who declines to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a medical or developmental issue, or difficulty breathing, shall not be required to produce documentation, or other evidence, verifying the condition."

Mandatory Health & Safety Requirements for all Business, Non-Profit & Government Operations

Employees will be required to complete, and employers must document, a training on mandatory health and safety requirements as provided by VOSHA, or another training program that meets or exceeds the VOSHA-provided standard.

This training is available here.

Businesses that are open to the public will be required to conduct pre-screening or health surveys to verify each employee has no symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath), including temperature checks to the extent possible, prior to the start of work each day.

The Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Agency (VOSHA) has developed training and other materials to inform Vermonters on appropriate safety measures necessary to return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Training and other materials were developed in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

VOSHA Resources Guidelines for Businesses from Vermont ACCD

State of Vermont Expands Hazard Pay Grants to Essential Retail Employees - Employers Apply Now!

The application period for the expanded hazard pay grants will close on Friday, November 13, 2020 at 11:59pm. An additional $8 million has recently been designated for the program by the Vermont Legislature, employers should apply immediately to ensure their employees are included!

Grants will be awarded through an online application process and funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. To find all pertinent information, click here.

Prior to starting the application, employers should have the below information prepared and available to reference. Grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis. We advise you to apply as soon as possible.

Find the application here

Find application guidance here

Find application instructions here

You will need to fill out two spreadsheets with eligible employee information:

Federal Response

Updated Heroes Act

The Federal response to the COVID-19 crisis is ongoing, with the US Congress locked in debate about how and when to release emergency response measures to the public. A number of proposals have gone back and forth in Congress since the last bill signed by President Trump. The newest bill that passed out of the House, an updated HEROES Act, was not taken up by the Senate prior to the November Election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that a COVID Relief Package is something he wants to pass by the end of December.

The unpassed Democratic bill would:

We’re unsure what the new senate relief package McConnell has spoken about will look like, but we are monitoring the situation and will relay information as soon as we receive it.

Paycheck Protection Program Information

The PPP officially closed to applicants on August 8th, 2020. There is a possibility of a revival of the program in upcoming federal stimulus efforts. VRGA is monitoring stimulus packages to ensure members are notified of PPP renewal. Information on changes to the PPP Program and the steps needed to seek forgiveness are outlined below. VRGA recommends closely reading the SBA guidance on the PPP when applying for forgiveness and utilizing PPP funds. You should begin to seek forgiveness of your loans as soon as possible! Contact your lender directly with questions.

Recurring PPP Webinars with the SBA Vermont District Office

Key Takeaways from the PPP Flexibility Act:

Remember, you must follow the treasury and SBA guidelines for loan use to qualify for loan forgiveness. We urge you to contact your bank as well, to ensure you collect the right documents to present when asking for loan forgiveness.

You can find answers to questions frequently asked by borrowers in this SBA FAQ: PPP FAQ

Consider this set of guidelines from the SBA as well: SBA Guidelines for Use of the PPP

Important to note generally:

You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:

Payroll costs include:

Please Note: You must keep documents to prove your use of the loan is in accordance with these guidelines if you are going to seek loan forgiveness. We urge you to contact your bank and find out exactly what documents they will want from you down the road.

PPP Program Forgiveness Information

General PPP Forgiveness

The SBA has issued instructions for requesting forgiveness of PPP loans, as well as an application for doing so.

The application has four components: (1) the PPP Loan Forgiveness Calculation Form; (2) PPP Schedule A; (3) the PPP Schedule A Worksheet; and (4) an (optional) PPP Borrower Demographic Information Form. Borrowers are required to submit items (1) and (2) to their lender.

The SBA’s guidance provides for four broad categories of costs that are eligible for forgiveness: (1) payroll costs; (2) business mortgage interest payments; (3) business rent or lease payments; and (4) business utility payments. Subject to some exceptions, forgiveness is generally available for costs incurred with respect to these items during the borrower’s “Covered Period,” which is the eight-week period that begins on the date the PPP loan was disbursed. As with prior guidance, the SBA requires that at least 75%

Simplified PPP Forgiveness Application - For Loans of $50,000 or less

The SBA and Treasury have worked together to release a streamlined PPP forgiveness application for borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less. The application is a simple two page form that can be filled out by the borrower. The SBA began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for PPP borrowers on October 2, 2020.

To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan, You may want to review immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular

CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The comprehensive aid package included direct payments to Americans, an expansion of unemployment insurance and billions in aid to large and small businesses. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020.

VRGA Associate Member Downs Rachlin Martin has a number of articles summarizing changes and features of the CARES act here.

Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act: This guidance document will help you determine if you’re eligible, how much you can apply for, and how you can use it.

CARES ACT FAQs: Small Business from Senator Sanders Office also provides significant information.


FFCRA Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act included a number of provisions related to paid family/medical leave and paid sick leave, including a tax credit for employers intended to fully cover the cost of leave: The effective date of this legislation is April 1st, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020. The second of three bills passed by Congress in response to COVID-19 creates emergency paid sick leave along with paid family leave for individuals impacted by coronavirus/COVID-19. Employers can claim a 100 percent refundable tax credit against payroll taxes for employers and sole proprietors.

Read the full FFCRA Act

Click here for a quick overview of the FFCRA

View this Document for more information on Paid Sick Leave/Medical Leave/Family Leave

Read the FAQ on the FFCRA Act here.

The Department of Labor recorded a webinar on the FFCRA. Please continue to frequent this web address regularly as the Department will continue to update the compliance assistance information available there.

General COVID-19 Updates

Governor Scott and Commissioner Levine Issue Gathering Size Advisory

Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, have announced an advisory on social gatherings, strongly recommending they be limited to 10 or fewer people.

Noting that Vermont has seen an increasing number of cases as a result of socializing, and many states are now pointing to private social gatherings as a contributor to spread of COVID-19, the State is providing firm recommendations to limit these types of events.

Alcohol Sales: Take Out, Curbside and Delivery Orders Allowed

Expires November 15th (follows expiration of State of Emergency)

Per a directive from Governor Phil Scott, a temporary allowance has been made for take out, curbside and delivery sales of spirits, spirit based, malt and vinous beverages given the following:

If you are considering offering this, we strongly encourage you to contact your Insurance agent to discuss your current Liquor Liability coverage.

The permissible hours for delivery shall be from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. For deliveries, the licensee shall be able to travel from town to town or from place to place carrying orders for delivery of any alcohol product they are licensed to sell and authorized to deliver hereunder without a delivery permit, provided the following conditions are met:

Labor Issues

CURRENT LABOR LAW: Labor law during COVID-19 has rapidly changed and adapted to the situations that have arisen. Check the Vermont Department of Labor website for consistently up to date information. For specific issues you cannot find answers to, reach out to the VRGA team so we can assist. Breakdowns of major changes/additions to the labor law system are below.

Refusal to Return to Work

The Department of Labor reminds unemployment claimants who have been placed on temporary layoff or furlough related to COVID-19 that they must return to work if called back by their employer. Refusal to return to work, when being offered the normal rate of pay and number of hours per week, may result in the termination of unemployment benefits and the need to repay certain benefits.

If your employees have refused to return to work and are instead continuing to draw unemployment benefits, you must report this to the state Department of Labor. Employers should complete the online refusal to work form.

Pandemic Emergency Employment Compensation

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extends regular unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks to claimants who have exhausted their 26 weeks of benefits on July 1,2019 or anytime after. If you have exhausted your unemployment benefits any time after July 1, 2019, you may be eligible for PEUC. This program is currently scheduled to end on December 26th, 2020

Pandemic Unemployment Claims (PUC)

The Department of Labor has announced that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program (part of the federal CARES Act) is now available to accept unemployment claims from those not eligible for the regular Unemployment Insurance program (self-employed, sole proprietors, independent contractors).

More information on the PUA application process and eligibility

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance info

Watch this Vermont Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Demo: How to fill out the form

Resources

VRGA Webinar Page

CDC WebinarKeeping Employees SafeLet's Grow Kids Childcare Options

FDA Daily UpdatesThe Wage and Hour Division FAQ

NRF Guidance for Essential Retail ServicesSmall Business Administration Disaster Loans

Tips from the Attorney General and Business Leaders

Attorney General's CAP Small Business HelpGuidance for Preparing the Workplace

HR Compliance Bulletin on CoronavirusCovid 19 What you need to know

Stop the Spread of Germs PrintoutEmployee Work from Home Guide

Coronavirus and the WorkplaceHR Communicable Disease

 OSHA COVID 19 Prevention and InformationAgricultural Related COVID-19 Resources