Coronavirus Resource Guide
Updated 3.27.20. While the crisis with COVID-19 is constantly changing, we are making sure to update this page daily with the resources you may need. For your convenience, we've posted several guidance documents here for your reference. Some can be printed and posted in your break rooms and shared with employees and customers. Please call us at 802-839-1928 and tell us how you are effected.
Stay Home, Stay Safe Order
The Governor has ordered all non-essential/non-critical businesses to shut down 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. You can Click here to view the VRGA/VSFA Document Description of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.
NAICS code guidance list
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has provided a detailed list to help determine which sectors and activities are critical. This document includes clear “yes” or “no” indicators next to each NAICS code determining whether a business may continue in-person business. Find further information and FAQs here.
Retail services list by store
VRGA has compiled a list of businesses in the state providing shopping hours for vulnerable members of the community, curbside pickup and other services in response. If your business is offering special services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please reach out to us to be added to this list.
Food producers and manufactures
VSFA is working on compiling a list of our producer and distributor members who are staying open to manufacture products for retailers. Stay tuned for updates and access to this list.
Be Prepared: What Businesses Can Do:
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. If it is not possible, here are ways to limit exposure to your employees and customers along with helpful links.
If you are staying Open:
- All businesses with 500 employees or less need to hang this Employee Rights Poster up as per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Here is the FAQ on that Poster.
- Do this checklist: Coronavirus and Preparedness Checklist
- Watch this Tutorial Video
- Hang this sign in your public/employee bathroom: Handwashing Steps
- Educate your employees about the virus, including its transmission and prevention, Print this: Stop the Spread of Germs
- Printable Symptoms of Coronavirus
- Read this Cleaning and Sanitation Guide for Food Retail and Manufacturing
- Closely monitor the CDC, WHO and Vermont Health Department
- Know who is at risk for serious illness.
- Printable Sheet on Keep Germs from Spreading
- Fully read this Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID 19
- Watch this webinar on What You Need to Know About COVID-19 - Food Safety from UVM Extension with VRGA/VSFA.
- If needed, we have compiled a list of Commercial Cleaning Services in Vermont, VRGA is not promoting these companies, we are just compiling the information as it comes in for your benefit.
- Offer curbside delivery or home delivery if possible.
- If some of your employees can work from home, here is the Employee For from Home Guide.
- See Childcare section below.
with access to the public:
- Follow the above staying open list, plus:
- Offer other shopping hours, specific to vulnerable populations.
- Limiting the number of customers to ensure enough space between people in your store.
- Use Creative ways to set up your store so that people have 6 ft of space between them if possible.
without access to the public:
- Follow above staying open list, plus:
- Offer Curbside Pickup and Delivery.
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet between persons.
- Require employees to practice appropriate hygiene measures, including regular, thorough hand-washing.
- Require employees who are sick remain home.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Once you have completed this checklist, Check out this webinar on creative ways to stay in business: Your Store is Closed but your business Isn't
If you are temporarily closing your business:
- Direct your employees to contact the Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Line:
- Existing UI Claimants: Claimant Assistance Line - 877-214-3331
- Employers: UI Employer Services - 802-828-4344
- General questions: Department of Labor Commissioner’s Office - 802-828-4301
- The online unemployment claim system is now live at: https://labor.vermont.gov/unemployment-insurance
- Reference Department of Labor's FAQ's.
- See Financial Assistance section below
Emergency Federal Response Bills
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The comprehensive aid package includes direct payments to Americans, an expansion of unemployment insurance and billions in aid to large and small businesses. As of March 26th, the bill has been passed by the senate and resides with the House. The House has scheduled a vote for Friday, March 27th. Once the bill is passed by the House, it will move ahead for signature from President Trump. We are closely monitoring the passage of this bill and will provide a summary of the final passed bill when it is available. Associate Member Gravel & Shea, a Burlington-based law firm, has provided this explanation on eligibility, terms of loans, and forgiveness opportunities.
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. Find out specifics of the leave provided by the bill in this document: Paid Sick Leave/Medical Leave/Family Leave.
CURRENT LABOR LAW: The Vermont Department of Labor has issued guidance to staff. "Staff shall not deny claims for able and available issues due to a claimant being isolated or quarantined at the direction of a health care official due to potential or verified exposure to the COVID-19 disease. These individuals shall be treated as temporarily unemployed through no fault of their own, and able and available, for the purpose of UI benefits."
PROPOSED LAW: The Vermont House has passed the bill H.681 that proposes to relieve employers of charges for unemployment benefits paid to an employee for a maximum of four weeks because:
- the employer:
- temporarily closed their business at the request of health officials.
- voluntarily closed their business due to the actual exposure of workers at the business to COVID-19.
- an employee has been directed by a health official to quarantine as a result of COVID-19.
- In order for employers to be relieved of UI charges, the bill does require that the employee be rehired when the business reopens or upon completion of the employee's period of quarantine.
- The bill still needs to be considered by the full Senate before being reviewed by Governor Scott.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) is seeking to understand and document the impacts of COVID-19 on Vermont businesses. Please fill out the survey below with accurate information to allow the ACCD to learn the true impact of COVID-19 on business in the state.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster loans
As of Friday, 3/20/20, this loan is now available to Vermont small businesses.
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
- SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.
- For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website.
Here are some tips as you navigate the application:
- SBA has updated their website and application process to make it more user-friendly! You can now download the application and see which supporting forms/documents you need ahead of completing the application.
- Documents that may be requested when applying include recent federal tax return, profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet. See full list here.
- For more information, call the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail email@example.com.
- Process for Accessing SBA's Disaster Relief Lending - Updated 3/17/20
- Business Income Insurance Information from the Department of Financial Regulation
We are not personally promoting these lenders, we are just compiling the information as it comes in for your benefit. If you are a member of these banks they are offering special loans for people effected by COVID-19. If you have heard of other lending opportunities please reach out to us.
General COVID-19 Updates
The State of Vermont makes web-based form available to help ensure Childcare for essential workers:
- The State, with the help of Let's Grow Kids, has developed a web form to more easily collect information to connect the families of essential workers with childcare in schools and licensed childcare programs that are operating to provide services now through April 6, 2020, while school dismissal and general childcare service closures are in effect.
- Families can also call 2-1-1 ext. 6 or 1-877-705-9008 to speak to a childcare referral specialist.
- Eligible families can complete the form and the State, through the Agency of Education for school-aged children through grade 8, and Child Development Division for younger children, will work to connect essential workers who need childcare with options for their children.
- Essential workers who need help finding childcare should visit this website or call 2-1-1 ext. 6
Childcare programs with questions should call or email the Child Development Division: 800-649-2642 (option 3) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Schools with questions should contact the Agency of Education: 802-828-1130
CDC Mass Gathering Guidance
- Continue to monitor the CDC's Resources for Large Community Events & Mass Gatherings website
- Considerations for Postponing or Cancelling a Mass Gathering - review the CDC's guide here.
VSFA events affected by the COVID-19
If you have further questions on any of the below events, please contact email@example.com.
- Made in Vermont Marketplace, April 4-5 in South Burlington: Event management has announced that they are postponing this event will reschedule for Fall 2020. They have been in contact with vendors. Please stay tuned for the new date.
- May Connect, May 20 in Springfield: We have postponed this event until further notice.
- VSFA Spring Annual Meeting, Tuesday, June 2 in Chittenden: We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it continues to develop over the next few weeks. Right now we are still planning for our Spring Annual Meeting, set for June 2nd, but will update you if that changes. You may see meeting announcements and sponsorship requests in the coming weeks, but please know that if we do need to cancel all tickets and sponsorships will be refunded or transferred to our Fall Meeting.
- 2020 Summer Fancy Food Show, June 28-30 in NYC: We have been in contact with the national Specialty Food Association (SFA) and will stay in touch to monitor their decisions as the Coronavirus situation evolves. Currently SFA is moving forward with their scheduled event. They have created a Coronavirus information page on their website which they will be updating as things develop. VSFA understands the uncertainty in signing up for this show based on the current crisis and the unknown of receiving refunds in the event that they do cancel the show.
Business Advisor Resources
- Venture 7 Advisors - shares a blog post on Protecting your company in a crisis: “No one knows how long this health crisis and its economic aftermath will last. The speed and scale of these developments is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The speed and scale of your business response should be commensurate.” Venture 7 Advisors offer some time sensitive business survival recommendations to implement now.
- In her recent Food Biz Wiz™Podcast, retail expert Allison Ball of Allison Ball Consulting discusses the state of the CPG industry and how producers can respond and adapt to change during the COVID-10 Crisis. Listen to Episode 35: Adapting to Change: How to Move Forward in CPG.
Webinar: What You Need to Know About COVID-19
VSFA and VRGA collaborated with UVM Extension to present some basic information about the virus (SARS-CoV-2), the disease (COVID-19), and additional online resources. We respond to some of the questions we have received about COVID-19 in the context of the daily activities of food manufacturer/food handlers.
Webinar: Doing Business in these Uncertain Times
Presented by Paul Frank + Collins P.C. on 3/25, VSFA and VRGA members joined Senior Partners Karen Stackpole, Kris Brines, Chris Leff, Shane McCormack, and Bob DiPalma from Paul Frank + Collins for a live webinar to discuss employment issues, financing issues, contact problems and related questions that may arise as this pandemic continues to evolve. Download the slide presentation.
What VRGA is asking your Government Officials
VRGA President Erin Sigrist has been in touch with many state officials asking questions on your behalf. Check out VRGA's FAQ Page on questions already answered. If you have further questions or concerns, please call us at 802-839-1928 or email us.
What Our Members Are Doing: Be Creative. Be Safe.
Many of our members have tried to come up with ways to provide the goods people need while limiting their exposure to COVID-19.
Short Term: Focusing on online or phone sales, Curbside Pickup, Limiting Store Hours if they have a retail shop still open, , Contacting larger grocery stores to keep your product in stock, Adjusting production hours to avoid contact between employees, Free Local Delivery (PLEASE CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENCY TO LET THEM KNOW - most insurance companies are being good allowing this right now BUT you should definitely call your agent and let them know you are doing this as it may require some extra coverage).
Long Term: Talking with your banks, learning about Small Business Loans, Cancelling events, Focusing on Online sales if possible.
Support Local Business - Where your product is being sold
Support Locally Owned Stores - We have assembled a list of businesses in the state providing shopping hours for vulnerable members of the community, curbside pickup, delivery and other services in response to COVID-19. Please check this list for a store near you. If your product is being sold in one of these stores, please try to highlight that on your social media or website to promote folks to shop there.
Larger Scale Vermont Support - We wanted to share what Vermont Downtown Districts are doing in the midst of COVID-19 reaching Vermont. Here, you will find a list of the Downtown Districts of Vermont. On their web pages you'll be able to see what stores are temporarily closed, what stores have remained open, and most importantly, how you can help!