Coronavirus Resource Guide
While the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing, we are making sure to update this page regularyl with the resources you may need. Please call us at 802-839-1928 and tell us how you are affected.
Table of Contents
- APPLY NOW for the Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) Grant
- Statewide Mask Mandate Effective August 1st, 2020
- State of Emergency Extended to September 15th
- As you Reopen
- Business Resources
- Labor Issues
- Federal Response
- CARES Act
- General COVID-19 Updates
- Additional Resources
APPLY NOW for the Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) Grant
The Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application will become available Wednesday, August 19th.
Some producers may be eligible to apply for the Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance Application, a grant which is open to eligible farmers, meat and poultry processors, slaughterhouses, farmers markets, agricultural?food products?businesses, forest products businesses, and producer associations. A total of $8.5 million is available to help cover losses and expenses caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Statewide Mask Mandate Effective August 1st, 2020
Governor Phil Scott has signed an executive order that states, effective August 1st, masks will be required to be worn inside public places and outside if it is not possible to practice social distancing. This requirement will apply to everyone over the age of 2 years, except when eating, drinking, exercising or participating in strenuous activity. Additionally, those with medical reasons not to wear a mask will also be exempt; no written documentation will be required in order to preserve the medical privacy of individuals.
VRGA strongly encourages members to:
- Print or request signage and post it at the front door and in conspicuous places around your business
- Post the mandate on your social media to alert customers of the changes
- Communicate this mandate to your employees and customers as soon, and as often, as possible to alleviate any confrontations or uncomfortable situations.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development will provide guidance on its website once it is completed. VRGA will monitor this site and remain in contact with the Agency. We will share guidance as soon as it is available.
State of Emergency Extended to September 15th
The latest order enables cities and towns to enact stricter local limits for gathering sizes than those established by the State. Municipalities may also mandate shorter hours for the sale of alcohol by bars and clubs than those set forth by the Department of Liquor and Lottery.
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, 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.
Mandatory Health & Safety Requirements for all Business, Non-Profit & Government Operations
As detailed in Governor Phil Scotts recent order, 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.
Beginning May 4th, businesses that are open to the public will be required to conduct pre-screening or health survey 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.
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.
As you Reopen
- Go Through this Re-Opening Checklist
- Create a Health and Safety Plan; We’ve created this template with the help of The Richards Group.
- Read this Keeping Employees Safe Document
- Follow these Guidelines below from the Vermont Department of Health and CDC
- Retail operations are limited to 25% of approved fire safety occupancy; or 1 customer per 200 square feet; or 10 total customers and staff combined, whichever is greater. Operators must POST their temporary occupancy limit, and which method was used to determine it, prominently on all entrances. Posting templates are available at accd.vermont.gov.
- Employees shall not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work or job site if sick or symptomatic (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell).
- Employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job. Businesses and non-profit or government entities shall ensure customers observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on location, to the extent possible.
- Limit the occupancy of designated common areas, such as break rooms and cafeterias, so that occupants maintain strict social distancing of no less than 6 feet per individual. The employer shall enforce the occupancy limit and require employees to wipe down their area after use or shall ensure cleaning of the common areas at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask. Businesses and non-profit and government entities may require customers or clients to wear masks.
- Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization is required frequently including before entering, and leaving, job sites.
- All common spaces (when open) and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned regularly and, when possible, prior to transfer from one person to another, in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Prior to the commencement of each work shift, pre-screening and health survey shall be required to verify each employee has no symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell). At the present time non-contact thermometers are in short supply, however employers shall immediately order, and use their best efforts to obtain, thermometers in order to conduct routine temperature checks.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
- When working inside, open doors and windows to promote air flow to the greatest extent possible and limit the number of people occupying a single indoor space.
- No more than 2 people shall occupy one vehicle when conducting work.
- No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are allowed on site and any worker(s) who have contact with a worker or any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days.
- All operations shall designate a health officer on-site at every shift responsible for ensuring compliance with the Executive Order and the Addenda thereto and applicable ACCD Guidance. This person shall have the authority to stop or modify activities to ensure work conforms with the mandatory health and safety requirements.
- All business, non-profit and government operations must use remote work whenever possible. The Richards Group has provided guidance on setting up a Work from Home Guide available here
- All employees, including those already working (except healthcare workers, first responders, and others already trained in infection control, personal protection/universal precautions), must 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. Employers who need translations of the training have one week from the release of the translated training to complete this requirement.
- All businesses that have been closed for 7 or more days during the state of emergency must complete and keep on file a reopening and training plan (businesses with fewer than 10 employees at any physical location are not required to create such a plan, however, they must follow all other guidelines and employees must take the VOSHA training). VOSHA and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development have provided a template at accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/business/restart. The plan must, at a minimum:
- Adopt a phased approach to reopening which provides sufficient opportunity to operate first in a low density and low contact environment before making the incremental changes needed to accommodate more moderate density activity while?continuing to maintain health and safety. Update physical and administrative safety systems to accommodate COVID-19/VDH/CDC/VOSHA guidelines, health monitoring, including temperature checks, cleaning and sanitizing methods and physical distancing measures.
- Take appropriate measures to protect employees at greater risk of contact by virtue of their occupational role or setting.
- Businesses with fewer than 10 employees at any physical location are not required to create such a plan, however, they must follow all other health and safety guidelines above including taking VOSHA training.
For all mass transit CUSTOMERS/ RIDERS (in addition to the mandatory requirement for operators and staff) face coverings are mandatory on public transit conveyances and in stations and terminals.
Additional Health and Safety Considerations
- Use of shared workspaces, desks, offices, etc. is discouraged to the maximum extent practicable.
- Face-to-face staff meetings should be limited, and physical distancing must be observed.
- Consider staggered work shifts, break times, etc. and expanding hours to reduce the number of individuals working together and reduce contact with members of the public.
- To the extent possible, provide access to hand washing and/or hand sanitizer for vendors, and
- Limit staff travel between multiple sites.
- Ensure a safe process to receive supplies and deliveries.
- Consider accommodations for employees at higher risk from COVID-19 infection (as currently defined by the CDC) to work remotely or have a job tasks that minimize public interaction.
Mask Use for Employees
- The ACCD has mandated mask use for employees interacting with the public. The mandate reads “Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask. Businesses and non-profit and government entities may require customers or clients to wear masks.”
- Current towns with a mandate that customers wear masks in businesses are: Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, South Burlington, Manchester, Middlebury, Montpelier, Stowe, Vergennes, Wilmington and Woodstock. These mandates will be superseded by the Governors Executive Order when it becomes effective August 1st.
Useful Print Outs
- View this page with multiple Reopening Signage
- View this page with multiple CDC Signs for your business
- Read this guidance on face masks from the Vermont Department of Health
- Printable Symptoms of Coronavirus
- Know who is at risk for serious illness.
- Educate your employees about the virus, including its transmission and prevention, print this: Stop the Spread of Germs
- Hang this sign in your public/employee bathroom: Handwashing Steps
- Read this Cleaning and Sanitation Guide for Food Retail
- 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.
For more resources related to reopening head to the ACCD website: Restart Vermont Resources
- VT Farm to Plate has compiled a collection of resources to support businesses during COVID-19. This list includes funding/insurance, mentoring/matchmaking, food safety, technical assistance, and more.
- UVM Extensions New Farmers Project - Here is a list of COVID-19 Information for Farmers and Food Producers
- VtSBDC Financial Resiliency Resources - The Vermont Small Business Development Center has developed new guidance for businesses as they manage the financial impact of COVID-19.
- Business Lending 501 highlights the SBA funding opportunities available now as well as Vermont-specific resources. It includes guidance on the SBA application process and a checklist of financial documents needed to apply.
- The Self-Guided Assessment: Business Cash Flow tool helps businesses assess current cash flow, profit and loss, debt service, and expenses to give a fuller understanding of how loans might impact cash flow.
- VtSBDC has created a 72-page Disaster Recovery Guide and workbook containing all the steps needed post-disaster to create the most successful and sustainable outcome for Vermont’s businesses.
- Food Export has Virtual & Online Services available. They offer export education and market development services that can be done online and do not involve travel including: Virtual Consultation, Lead Qualification Market Research, and more.
- 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.
- Molly Goodyear of 802Social prepared an introduction to, and tips on how to utilize, Facebook and Instagram for your business as you respond to this pandemic. Find her guide here on the VRGA website and watch the webinar here
- The national Specialty Food Association is providing a series of webinars for the specialty food industry related to COVID-19. These webinars are free to the public - Guests may need to create a username and password in order to add webinars to cart, but you do not need to be a member to do so. Once you add webinar to cart, an access link will become available on the webpage for download. Find and access the list of webinars available here.
VT Mentor programs and services
- One-to-one Free Consultations for Farm and Forest Businesses - If your farm or forest business is under pressure due to COVID-19 disruptions, UVM Extension Ag Business Program educators are available for coaching and can assist with locating resources."We can help with critical business decision-making, assessing changes to markets, financial planning and other issues facing your enterprises," says Ag Business Specialist Mark Cannella. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started, or use this listing to connect directly with one of the educators whose focus matches your priorities.
- Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) - Their Manufacturing Advisors are available for free remote crisis response consultations. Some specific and immediate services VMEC can provide include Support and Problem Solving, Supply Chain, Re-deployment of Resources and/or Re-Tooling and Manufacturer Connections (MXVT.org) and much more; visit their COVID-19 Resource page or contact at (802) 728-1432 or email@example.com.
- VMEC Live Forums - Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center has been hosting live forums focused on resources and learning to safely restart operations as effectively and efficiently as possible. VMEC’s previous COVID-19 Forums include: Reopening Plans (May 1), Safety and Training Plans (May 6), Return to Work Scenarios (May 13). Find their recorded sessions here: MXVT.org.
- SCORE VT - Support and mentoring are fully available remotely via video, phone, and email. Right now SCORE Mentors are tackling the triage processes for both HR-related business functions and finance/cash flow-related functions. They have 2 separate teams available to provide mentoring assistance for those situations. The rest of their volunteer base will handle the non-emergency mentoring clients and cases. If you don't already have a SCORE mentor, click here or call the office at 802-764-5899 to request one.
- Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) - Their team of experienced advisors are located throughout the state and are ready to assist you. Advising is confidential and provided at no-cost. To get started, find your Area Business Advisor.
Online Resource Series in VT
- Food Safety for Food Processors Podcasts: Interviews with Vermont food manufacturers capturing their response to the impact of COVID-19 on their companies. These companies share some practices they've implemented to adjust to these unique circumstances and keep manufacturing companies open. They've spoken to VSFA members Fat Toad Farm, Hidden Springs Maple, Slopeside Syrup, Bove's of Vermont, and Lake Champlain Chocolates.
- The Center for Sustainable Agriculture: Provides an Online Conversation Series: Sourcing & Selling Vermont Food in the Time of COVID-19. Find past and current webinars on Direct Sales, eCommerce & Agritourism for Vermont Farms, Getting Started with Online Sales, and more.
- Strolling of the Heifers Virtual Marketplace - A compiled list of Windham Grows Cohort Members, Artists, Crafters, Farmers and Friends of Strolling of the Heifers:
Online Vermont Business Directories
Vermonters are banding together to provide business directories for consumers. Check out the below options for listing your business and offerings.
- Made in Vermont Marketplace - While the 2020 Made in Vermont Marketplace has been postponed to this Fall, they have launched a Virtual Marketplace, a streamlined platform for exhibitors to link their website for online ordering, content, and more for consumers to browse and buy exhibitor products prior to their Fall event.
- Love Vermont -This is a new online directory of Vermont businesses who may be offering online gift certificates, but can also be supported through take-out meals, online shopping options, and/or other simple support options. They hope this resource will help mobilize loyal customers looking to provide much-needed support to their favorite local businesses.
- VT Department of Tourism - has created a Virtual Vermont section on their website and are looking for additional content! Think virtual tours, livestream animal cams, recipes using made in Vermont products, or any other unique way you are engaging with your customers online. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if have any content that you would like to submit for consideration.
In the spirit of cooperation during hard times, these VSFA and VRGA Webinars are open to all. Click the button below to access past webinars and register for upcoming programming.
Setting Up Shop Online
We understand that many businesses are shifting their focus to market and sell their products online in the wake of COVID-19. We have compiled a few resources that you may want to consid to help navigate that world.
1. How to set up an online platform: Uptown Cow has a comprehensive, easy to follow guide on how to set up an online platform. They also put together a Growth Guide for retailers that already have platforms.
2. Online Shipping Fulfillment: AGH Fulfillment and A Slice of Vermont can bring in specialty food vendors as long as their products are shelf stable without refrigeration. They can help you start selling through A Slice of Vermont or just do fulfillment for you if you are selling on your own website. AGH will offer free storage up to 1 pallet or equivalent for VSFA members. They'll work with you even if you only need a short term help during the shut down while your employees may be forced to stay at home.
Here is a brief outline. You can use one or both of their services:
- A Slice of VermontFree storage (8 sqft shelf)
- Free product photos (if necessary)
- Free online store page (and a page to track their inventory in real time)
- We collect 25% when their products are sold. We pay the shipping, CC processing, etc. The vendors will get a full 75% of the price they sell on our site
- AGH Fulfillment
- Free storage up to 1 pallet for VSFA members or $30 per pallet for non-members
- $2.50 per order + $0.25 per item
- Use our shipping account to save on shipping
- No long term contract
3. Online Wholesale Platform: Mable is a wholesale platform to help retailers, brands and distributors do business together. Mable's mission is to make it easier for retailers to stock & restock shelves, easier for brands to reach more retailers cost effectively, and easier for distributors to offer a simple ordering solution for their customers. Mable is a great way to get discovered by new retailers.
- Mable is free for your existing accounts. And they only charge a flat 10% commission on orders from NEW retailers they bring you. Check it out: https://meetmable.com/pages/start-selling
- View this infographic on how it works.
- If you are interested, here is a link to getting started: Mable Onboarding
- Feel free to reach out with any questions to Kristin who works with all their brands at email@example.com
Other Shipping Services
1. Unishippers of Burlington, VT is a locally owned and operated association of over 300,000 individual companies, nationwide, who have combined their shipping needs to qualify for the deep discounts that very large corporate accounts qualify for. Unishippers is a full service shipping company offering custom, reduced rate, shipping options. They offer a large selection of proven and reliable carriers like UPS for your small packages and over 35 freight carriers for heavier freight. As professional shipping consultants, Unishippers creates completely individualized shipping solutions for our customers.
- Please note: Unishippers is offering discounted rates to VRGA or VSFA member.
- View their Company Brochure and this UPS Express & Ground Services document for further information.
- To learn more visit unishippers.com or contact Len Rubin at 802-862-4889 or email len.rubin@Unishippers.com.
CURRENT LABOR LAW: The Vermont Department of Labor (DOL) 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.
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.
New Alphabetized Structure
The Vermont Department of Labor has implemented an alphabetized structure for the intake of weekly claims and inquiries, designating specific days of the week for individuals to contact the Department, based on the first letter of their last name. The structure will take effect on Sunday, April 12, 2020. View the new structure and find out more here.
DOL Virtual Town Hall Meetings
Vermont's DOL has announced dates and topics for on-going employer-focused Virtual Town Hall meetings.
- All town hall meetings will be uploaded to the DOL's YouTube channel.
- Find the full list of meetings and topics on their Virtual Town Hall Calendar.
Pandemic Unemployment Claims (PUC)
Department of Labor to Accept Unemployment Claims from Self-Employed and Others
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).
Watch this Vermont Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Demo: A How to fill out the form
The most recent federal response bill, The HEROES Act, has passed the house. The $3 trillion dollar bill includes a broad range of provisions: $875 billion for state and local governments affected by COVID-19, a second round of $1200 stimulus checks, $75 billion for expanded testing, $75 billion in mortgage relief, $100 billion for rental assistance, student loan forgiveness up to $10,000 per borrower, and expansions to federal nutrition and unemployment programs. The bill is expected to be rejected by the Senate in its current form.
Here are the highlights of the new bill:
- $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This includes $60 billion reserved for smaller banks that cater to underserved communities. That money will be further divided between banks with less than $10 billion in assets and those with between $10 billion and $50 billion in total assets. The SBA has warned Congress it will take some time to set this up.
- $60 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Grants. This includes $50 billion for straight EIDL loans and $10 billion to restore the [up to] $10,000 emergency small business grants. Note that the SBA rationed distribution of the grants, providing only $1,000 per employee up to $10,000 per applicant.
- $75 billion for hospitals and other healthcare providers. This a stop-gap until more is known about the resource situation, and another, possibly larger cash injection is likely in the next coronavirus bill.
- $25 billion for COVID-19 testing including funds for the development of nationwide and state-by-state testing strategies.
Changes to Payment Protection Program (PPP)
Recently, changes to the PPP Program have been made with the intention of making the use of PPP funds more flexible. The changes are still being examined for their impact. VRGA will provide members with a summary when it is available.
Recurring PPP Webinars with the SBA Vermont District Office
- PPP Forgiveness Webinar - A daily webinar to discuss PPP forgiveness
Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 10:00am
- Join online: https://meet.lync.com/sba123/sbmazza/SFFM2N9R
- Join by phone: (202) 765-1264; Code: 237511921#
- PPP & EIDL Webinar - A twice-weekly webinar to discuss PPP, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Advance, and information about updates to these programs
- Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00am - 10:00am
- Join online: https://meet.lync.com/sba123/sbmazza/6F6N4YK6
- Join by phone: (202) 765-1264; Code: 470177937#
You've Received Your PPP Loan: Guidelines to Remember When Utilizing It
If you have successfully received your PPP loan payment, there are some things to keep in mind. You must follow the treasury and SBA guidelines for loan use in order 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 information on what the loan can be used for in these treasury documents: PPP FAQ and PPP Fact Sheet.
- Consider this set of guidelines from the SBA as well: SBA Guidelines for Use of the PPP.
Key takeaways: 75% of your loan balance must go to payroll for maximum forgiveness. The remaining 25% can be used for mortgage interest, rent and utilities. These amounts can be applied to payments in the eight weeks following your receipt of the loan. What that means:
- You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:
- Payroll costs, including benefits;
- Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
- Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
- Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.
- Payroll costs include:
- Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each
- Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave;
allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group
health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement
- State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
- For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net
earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each
- Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each
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
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% of the forgiven amount be attributable to payroll costs.
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
7(a): Re an affordable loan product of up to $5 million for borrowers who lack credit elsewhere and need access to versatile financing, providing short-term or long-term working capital and to purchase an existing business, refinance current business debt
504: Provides loans of up to $5.5 million to approved small businesses with longterm, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization
Microloans: provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for profit childcare centers to start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000. These can be applied for through Community Capital of VT.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Process for Accessing SBA's Disaster Relief Lending - Updated 3/17/20
- Business Income Insurance Information from the Department of Financial Regulation
Other Grants and Programs
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Webinars for producers, farmers and ranchers
“CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.”
Ag producers can learn more about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and how to submit additional commodities for USDA consideration through the NOFA process. These webinars will be recorded and made available after each live event.
Webinar Dates & Topics:
- June 9 at 3:00 p.m. EDT - Outreach CFAP Webinar for Specialty Crops Producers
- June 11 at 3:00 p.m. EDT- Outreach CFAP Webinar for Dairy & Non-Specialty Crops Producers
- June 16 at 3:00 p.m. EDT - Outreach CFAP Webinar for Non-Specialty Crops & Livestock Producers
- June 18 at 3:00 p.m. EDT- Outreach CFAP Webinar on FSA Programs in the Time of Coronavirus
Visit the FSA webinar page for pre-registration links.
CFAP Call Center is available for producers who would like additional one-on-one support with the CFAP application process. Please call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. Reminder: June 22 - Last date to submit additional commodities for consideration into CFAP
Local Food in Your Community Program
Grants Available to Food Producers - The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has launched this program for projects that support and strengthen collaboration between communities and local producers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The application period for these grants closes on June 30, 2020.
General COVID-19 Updates
Update: On 5/8/20 Governor Scott announced that Childcare facilities would be allowed to reopen in a limited capacity starting June 1st. They adhere to all CDC and VT Dept of Health guidelines, requirements from the ACCD and are limited to ten people or fewer at this time.
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, 2020 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.
- VRGA/VSFA Connect: We have postponed this series of events until further notice.
- VSFA Spring Annual Meeting: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VSFA pivoted this year’s meeting to a virtual event in order to continue strengthening and supporting our community during these challenging times. Our Virtual Spring Meeting was held on June 3rd and while it was strange to not be together in person, it was a nice opportunity to stay connected with our community. Thank you to those who attended and participated, we hope you enjoyed the event. VSFA Members can access the meeting recording here.
- VSFA Fall Meeting: VSFA is still planning to hold this in-person event on Thursday, November 5th at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort in Stowe, VT. VSFA Board and staff will continue to monitor government guidance on mass gatherings and pivot this event if necessary. Learn more about our annual Fall Meeting here.
- 2020 Summer Fancy Food Show, June 28-30 in NYC:
The national Specialty Food Association (SFA) has officially cancelled their 2020 Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC this year which was set to take place on June 28-30. Read their full statement here. In this statement SFA says, "The immediate priority of the SFA is to guide member exhibitors and registered attendees through a process of receiving refunds or credits for the show. An extensive outreach campaign is underway to all exhibitor members and attendees." For more information on credits and refunds visit their 2020 Summer Fancy Food Show Refund Center.
Farmers' Markets in VT
Farmers’ Markets may re-open May 1st, using limited in-person operations to ensure consumer access to quality, healthy food. VAAFM has issued these guidelines, “intended to help farmers markets’ serve communities and provide direct access to healthy, nutritious foods, while also supporting local farmers and food businesses. Farmers markets must follow the guidance.”
This guidance includes: outdoor markets only, wearing of face masks by vendors, food only vendors, social distancing of vendors and customers, no congregating of customers, no entertainment.
Find the FAQ here to clarify the new COVID-19 Farmers Market Guidance
Guidance released on April 10 regarding farmers markets remains in effect at this time.
What VRGA is asking your Government Officials
VSFA Members are Associate Members of Vermont Retail & Grocers Association. VRGA has been in touch with many state officials asking questions on your behalf, once the question has been answered it will be on VRGA's FAQ Page. Our Team is working around the clock to make sure we have up-to-date information for you.
Here are some of the requests, press releases, and questions we are bringing to the conversation with your state officials:
- Check out VRGA's FAQ Page on questions already answered.
- VRGA's Letter to the Director of Vermont Emergency Management on suggestions on which businesses should be deemed Essential vs Non-Essential.
- See VRGA President Erin on WCAX on March 22nd with Vt. Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts discussing the impact of the coronavirus on the state's dairy industry and food systems; Erin discussed assistance available to help small businesses and the challenges grocers are having keeping the shelves stocked.
- Interview with VRGA President Erin Sigrist and Peter 'Fish' Case from Great Eastern Radio
What Our Members Are Doing: Be Creative. Be Safe.
Seven Days reports that Fat Toad Farm is sewing masks as part of Vermont Glove's new effort to enlist home sewers to help produce protective masks.
Bon Appetite Magazine featured Vermont Tortilla in their "Where to Order Your Favorite Pantry Staples Online" list.
Untapped Maple has implemented a local retail support program to their online shopping platform.
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!