Coronavirus Resource Guide

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

Vermont Forward Reopening Plan

Governor Phil Scott has unveiled his "Vermont Forward" reopening plan. The plan calls for a staggered reopening of all industries as vaccination rates increase.  The Governor and his cabinet announced a phased reopening timeline between Friday April 9th and Independence Day. These phases - or steps - are based on prescribed benchmarks, specifically the percentage of which all Vermonters are vaccinated.


The Full Vermont Forward Plan is available here and will be updated as we progress through the phases.

The ACCD held a webinar to discuss the plan on April 14th. The recording is here. The slides are here.

We Are Currently in Step 2 of the Vermont Forward Plan

Under Step 2: Effective Saturday, May 1st Group A and B businesses are allowed to open to 100% capacity so long as retailers provide 6 feet of space for every shopper and they comply with the universal guidance and work safe guidance from the ACCD. Group A includes: Outdoor Businesses, Low or No Contact Professional Services, Farmers Markets, Outdoor Recreation and Fitness, Retail Operations, Lodging, Campgrounds, and Other Accommodations, and Religious Facilities and Places of Worship. Group B includes: Manufacturing and Distribution, Restaurants, Catering, Food Service, Social Clubs and Bars*, Hair Salons and Barber Shops, Close Contact Businesses (Gyms, Fitness Centers, Spa’s, Nail Salon’s etc), Indoor Arts, Culture and Entertainment, Meetings of Public Bodies.

*Restaurants, Catering, Food Service, Social Clubs and Bars must still stop service at 10pm nightly in accordance with Addendum 15 to Amended and Restated Executive Order No 01-20

Universal Guidance for Businesses is here.

It includes:

A small portion of businesses are still operating under restricted guidance. If you do not see your business category listed above check the ACCD website for specialized guidance.

Updated Travel Quarantine Guidance From Vermont Forward

Effective Friday, April 9th: No quarantine is required with a negative test within 3 days of arrival in or return to the state. The next change in quarantine requirements is not projected to occur until June as part of step 3 of the Vermont Forward plan.

Staying Safe and Compliant

Mask Use for Employees

Useful Print Outs

Cleaning:

State of Emergency Extended to May 15th

View the full order  

The latest order continues the state of Emergency to May.

The Governor has begun the Vermont Forward reopening plan. We will continue to update the Vermont Forward section of this webpage as we advance through the phases. Please refer to that portion of this page for information on travel, business operation, etc.

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 Step 3 of the Vermont Forward Plan. 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

Federal Response


Temporary Small Business Window for PPP Loans is closed, PPP is now available for all businesses again until May 31st.

SBA is currently implementing the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. You can sign up to receive email alerts on program changes here. The American Rescue Plan Act provides an additional $7.25 billion in funding for the PPP and expands PPP eligibility to include additional nonprofits (including certain labor organizations) and digital news services providing local news and public health guidance.

The American Rescue Plan also created a new, simpler, forgiveness application for PPP loans under $150K.

Simple Forgiveness Form for Loans Under $150K

On March 30th, 2021 President Biden signed the PPP extension act into law. The act extends the application period of the PPP program until May 31st, 2021.

The PPP Program has reopened

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is launching today! This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. This funding is a GRANT, not a loan. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. 

Applications open on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon ET. See How to apply for more detail.

A sample application is available here. Guidance from the department is available here.

Qualifying businesses are:

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

Alcohol Sales: Take Out, Curbside and Delivery Orders Allowed

Continues with State of Emergency (Currently set to end April 15th)

Curbside and to go alcohol is now a broader issue, with a bill (H. 313) moving through the legislature that may allow continued to go sales following the end of the Governor's State of Emergency. VRGA is monitoring the bill and will keep members informed as it moves and changes. Below is guidance based on current to go regulations.

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.

Work Search Requirement Waiver

At his 4/27 Press Conference, Governor Scott announced that the Work Search Requirement waiver would be expiring on May 9th, 2021. At that time the work search requirement will be a requirement for all persons receiving standard unemployment payments. Valid work search is proof of three attempts at employment per week, applicants must provide proof of work outreach each week when submitting work search information to continue to qualify for unemployment. The department has emphasized that there will still be protections in place for those facing unemployment due to COVID-19, with a self certification by applicants allowing them to skip the work search requirement if they attest to a COVID qualifying exemption.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment 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 was scheduled to end on March 14th, 2021 after an extension. It has now been extended again through September 4th, 2021, with an extension of the timeline for benefits to a maximum of 53 weeks of unemployment compensation.

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

Keeping Employees SafeLet's Grow Kids Childcare Options

FDA Daily UpdatesThe Wage and Hour Division FAQ

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

 OSHA COVID 19 Prevention and InformationAgricultural Related COVID-19 Resources