Coronavirus Resource Guide

While the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing, we are making sure to update this page regularly with the resources you may need.  Please call us at 802-839-1928 and tell us how you are affected.

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.

State of Emergency Extended to November 15th

View the Full OrderNew Work Safe Additions as of 9/18/20Executive Orders Summary

The latest order continues a mask requirement for the general public, requiring mask use by all when close contact is unavoidable, and clarifies the ability of the agency of administration to issue guidance to State agencies, departments and employees on return to the worksite.

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.

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.

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.

VSFA 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 ResourcesGuidelines for Businesses from CDC and Vermont Department of Health

Stay Safe and Compliant

All Industries

Additional Health and Safety Considerations

Mask Use for Employees

Useful Print Outs

Cleaning

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

VSFA/VRGA Webinars

In the spirit of cooperation during hard times, these VSFA and VRGA Webinars are open to all. Webinars include presentations on “Planning for Business Interruption,” “Dealing with Workplace Conflict,” “E-Commerce,” “Doing Business in these Uncertain Times.” Click the button below to access past webinars and register for upcoming programming..

Visit VSFA's Webinar page

Labor Issues

CURRENT LABOR LAW: Labor law during COVID-19 has rapidly changed and adapted to the situations that have arisen. Check the The Vermont Department of Labor (DOL)  website for consistently up to date information. For specific issues you cannot find answers to, reach out to the VSFA team so we can assist. Breakdowns of major changes/additions to the labor law system are below. Associate Member Gravel & Shea, a Burlington-based law firm, has provided this overview of the expanded employment benefits that have been recently passed by the Vermont Legislature and Congress. 

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   

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.

VSFA Associate Member Gravel & Shea: Attorneys at Law shared a rundown on April 22 of the amendment bill as it moved through congress in their Eat+Drink Vermont blog post

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 

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.

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

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.

EZ Forgiveness Applications

Some businesses may qualify for an “EZ Forgiveness Application”. The SBA has prepared this checklist form to help determine if you qualify. If you can check at least one of the form's three boxes, submit it to your lender (or the lender that is servicing your loan). Borrowers may also complete this application electronically through their lender. If you are unable to check one of the boxes, you cannot use SBA Form 3508EZ and instead you must apply for forgiveness of your PPP loan using SBA Form 3508

CARES Act  

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.

Read the current CARES Act bill

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.

APPLY NOW for the Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) Grant

Deadline: November 15th
Calling all producers! The Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program (VCAAP) application deadline is Sunday, November 15th. Money is still available. Don't underestimate this opportunity!

Some reasons to apply: Were you planning a NEW show/festival/or other event in 2020? Did you plan an uptick in revenue from a new line of products for the restaurant or food service industry? Did you have to fund website upgrades or new marketing expenses to reach different markets/consumers?

Other Notes:

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. Find out specifics of the leave provided by the bill in this document: Paid Sick Leave/Medical Leave/Family Leave.

Read the full FFCRA Act

Click here for a quick overview of the FFCRA

Read the FAQ on the FFCRA Act here.

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.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Agricultural Related COVID-19 ResourcesBusiness Income InsuranceLet's Grow Kids Childcare Options

CDC Webinar 3/18/20FDA Daily UpdatesThe Wage and Hour Division FAQ

NRF Guidance for Essential Retail ServicesSmall Business Administration Disaster Loans

Tips from the Attorney General and Business LeadersGuidance for Preparing the Workplace

HR Compliance Bulletin on CoronavirusCovid 19 What you need to knoStop the Spread of Germs Printout

Employee Work from Home GuideCoronavirus and the WorkplaceHR Communicable Disease

OSHA COVID 19 Prevention and Information