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5/19 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

The following is our latest on coronavirus response and news:

  • OPEN TEXAS PHASE II: Yesterday, Governor Abbott announced Phase II of the governments plan to Re-open Texas. Among the businesses that are allowed to reopen, offices may open with up to the greater of 10 individuals or 25 percent of the total office workforce, provided individuals maintain appropriate social distancing. Additional businesses that can reopen include Non-CISA manufacturing facilities at 25 percent of their facilities listed occupancy, child care centers, given they comply with federal and state health protocols including class ratios and social distancing strategies, and bars at 25 percent of the facilities listed occupancy, among others. The Governor’s Office also created checklists for bar patrons, child care families, and overnight youth camp families to ensure customers and families remain safe during Texas’ reopening. You can find a complete checklist and recap of the press conference here.

  • SURVEY: We've worked to keep our finger on the pulse of your company since the situation with COVID-19 began. In order to collect information on recovery, your Chamber has released a new survey so we can best communicate the severity of this crisis’ impact on your ability to re-open. SURVEY LINK.

  • SBA AND TREASURY RELEASE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LOAN FORGIVENESS APPLICATION: The Small Business Administration and the Department of the Treasury announced the release of the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. The SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities. The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplifies the process for borrowers, including:

  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period”

  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act 

  • Implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30

  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined

  • The application and instructions can be found here.

  • DOL RELEASES GUIDANCE ON PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION PROGRAM FOR STATES ON PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION PROGRAM FOR STATES: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has announced the publication of updated guidance, including FAQs, regarding the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program authorized by the CARES Act. Section 2107 of the Act creates a temporary federal PEUC program that provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits to an individual who has exhausted their regular unemployment compensation and provides funding to states for the program’s administration. The DOL's PEUC guidance for states can be found here.

  • DOL RELEASES ALERT TO HELP KEEP RETAIL PHARMACY, NURSING HOME AND LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY WORKERS SAFE DURING THE PANDEMIC: The U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect retail pharmacy workers and nursing home workers/long-term care facility workers safe during the pandemic.

  • DOL ISSUES FINAL RULE TO SIMPLIFY RETAIL OR SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT EXEMPTION: The Department of Labor announced a final rule to provide greater simplicity and flexibility to retail industry employers. Provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act allow employers in retail and service industries to exempt certain employees paid primarily on a commission basis from overtime. The rule withdraws two provisions from the Department’s Wage and Hour Division regulations that had previously made certain industries ineligible. Establishments in industries that had been on the non-retail list may now assert that they have a retail concept and may now qualify for the exemption. Those that were on the “may be” retail list may continue to assert they have a retail concept. The Department will apply the same analysis to all establishments to determine whether they have a retail concept and qualify as retail or service establishments. The rule will take immediate effect and can be found here

  • TEXAS PREPARES FOR FEDERAL LOAN FOR UNEMPLOYMENT, WILL LIKELY RAISE BUSINESS TAXES: The State of Texas has nearly exhausted its $1.9 billion Unemployment Trust Fund. The Texas Workforce Commission expects it to run out of money in the next three weeks. When it runs out, Texas will tap the federal government for what are called Title XII loans, so people will still be able to collect. This is exactly what it and dozens of other states did in 2009. Click here to learn more. 

Webinars for business

  • 5/19 USA TELECONFERENCE ON IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON BEGINNING FARMERS AND RANCHERS: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement is holding a public teleconference of the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (ACBFR) to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on beginning farmers and ranchers.The public conference call will be held on May 19, 2020 at 2:00 - 4:00 EDT. To listen to the discussion, call toll-free 866-816-7252 and use conference ID 6188761.

  • 5/20 INTRODUCTION TO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING (FEDERAL, STATE & LOCAL) In this LIVE Webinar facilitated by Cross Timbers Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), attendees will learn about important topics in government contracting (i.e. Federal, State, and local), to better prepare potential contractors on next steps to start or continue their government contracting program with confidence. Register here.

  • 5/21 RE-OPENING YOUR BUSINESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In this webinar, we’ll cover what employers need to know to successfully reopen, best practices, and how to maintain customer and employee safety as we work to transition from work-from-home to working in office spaces again. Moderated by Staci Benavides with LoneStar HR, LLC. Register here.

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