NEW CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL

US Chamber of Commerce announces its Small Business Update to discuss the new coronavirus relief bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On December 22, 2020, our team had the amazing opportunity to sit in on the US Chamber of Commerce (CO- by U.S. Chamber of Commerce) update on the new coronavirus relief bill and how it relates to businesses. Topics included: a second PPP distribution, updated tax information and loan forgiveness, and other items to help US businesses.

U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Neil Bradley, and Content Director at CO— and host of their Blueprint series, Jeanette Mulvey, discussed how Congress is zeroing in on a new coronavirus relief deal that will include a new round of funds for small businesses across the country and what the new bill could mean for businesses.

This opportunity was brought to us locally by Peters Township Chamber of Commerce. If you are interested in updated business news and educational series like this seminar, we highly recommend that you connect with your local chambers and with networking organizations like Women’s Business Network, Inc.

 

Here are some of their top takeaways:

– Businesses can apply for PPP loans if they didn’t before
– A new ‘second draw’ PPP will offer businesses additional aid
– Eligible PPP expenses have changed
– Paycheck Protection Program loans are not taxable
– Changes to the employee retention tax credit (ERTC)
– EIDL grants will reopen
–  A new grant program for live venues

 

Rewatch the US Chamber of Commerce event and see more details on their website here.

COVID-19 Communication Guide

A guide to help communicate with your consumers during COVID-19 business changes

Communicating with your customers and clients when a new mandate is released is vital to the success of your business. Some businesses are affected to the fullest extent and others are not affected at all, and it is our job as business owners, marketers, and PR directors to make sure that the community knows what the new mandates are, if they have affected your business or not, how they will be affected by those changes, and who they can contact for more information if they need it. The better you communicate with the consumers, the better chance you have to succeed in this ever-changing business climate that is currently being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are some of the main general questions that consumers, clients and customers want to know about your business during COVID-19 and regarding new mandate changes. We have also listed some suggestions on how to answer them.

Remember that you might have different services or adjustments that may go to different audiences, so your messages and their mediums will need to be tailored to those specific people.

You will also likely send out your information in different rounds which include different levels of information. For example, your first round will be more broad as you digest the new mandate information and figure out how to adjust and your next rounds will include more details as you adjust your services based on the needs of your consumers during the new mandates.

General Consumer Questions:

ARE YOU CLOSING?
If NO → How does this affect your business?
→ Even if there are very little or no changes to your business, you should still communicate that there have been new mandates set forth by the state, and they do not affect your normal business operations and if anyone has any questions, how can they get a hold of you.

If YES:
→ Make it clear when you plan to close (date & time)
→ Make it clear when you plan to reopen (date & time)
*The mandate dates & times may not be specific enough to your business hours

Does your business generally charge a monthly fee?
If NO → Skip to the next question.
If YES:
→ Explain how you plan to move forward with the monthly fee?
→ WILL THEY STILL BE CHARGED?
→ Are you offering something different to make up for not having (some/all) your services available?

Are you adjusting your services?
→ These may be adjusting as you go, so be broad but let people know where they can go to keep updated on these adjusted services and then as they adjust – continue to communicate with your consumers.

Where can they go to get more information?
→ This can be your website, social media, client logins, emails, texts, etc.

Who can they contact for questions? (One point person.)
→ You may have one or more people taking questions while you are open, closed, or have adjusted services. Just make sure to be clear on who the public should contact.

Make sure to have help checking all of your public-facing information. It takes at least 2 sets of eyes (and brains) to make sure you get all of your bases covered!

Where to change this information: (UPDATE OFTEN AND WHEN THERE ARE ANY CHANGES)

Website:
– Website (Pop-up: we don’t like them, but they are really effective in this situation)
– Website – HOME PAGE
– Website – COVID-19 Update Page (Create or keep updated if you have a page)

Social media:
– Social Media – Create COVID-19 UPDATE (FB & GMB)
– Social Media – PIN THE POST
– Social Media – Change your Banner image to reflect the changes
– Social Media – Create Highlights (IG)
– Social Media – Change Profile and Info pages
– Social Media – Change Hours if needed
– Social Media – Change COVID Services if needed (FB)

Google Listing:
– Google Listing – Create COVID-19 Posts (1 per week with updates)
– Google Listing – Change Hours
– Google Listing – Change Services

DIRECT COMMUNICATION LINES TO YOUR CLIENTS & CUSTOMERS:
– Direct communication lines like Emails, Text Messages, and Business Apps are great ways to get your information out immediately but sometimes are forgotten in the hustle of distributing new information.
– Remember to use these more direct messages cautiously and consistently, but do not overwhelm your clientele by respecting their information and time.

COVID-19 has brought not only challenges to businesses and communities but also opportunities for increased communication with your business’s consumers, clients and customers. Whether the operations of your business have been altered because of the pandemic or they have stayed the same, it is important to provide information frequently. From your website to social media to your Google Listing, it is vital for your business to communicate consistently across multiple channels. In a time of uncertainty, make sure your business gives inquiring minds what they want to know.


Interested in Downloading the Covid-19 Communication Guide pdf? Fill out the form below!


New Temporary Statewide COVID-19 Restrictions

Today – Thursday, December 10, 2020 – Governor Tom Wolf announced new temporary statewide protective mitigation efforts:

“Today I am announcing additional, temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures in the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals: First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible. This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania.”

The new, limited-time mitigation orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. on December 12, and remain in effect until 8 a.m. on January 4, 2021.

“Each of the last two days we have reported the highest number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “In the past week, we have reported close to 1,100 new deaths from COVID-19 across Pennsylvania. The virus continues to strain our health care systems and the dramatic rise in cases among all age groups, including among school-age children, is alarming. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 37,500 cases among children age 5 to 18, yet 9,500 of those cases occurred in the past two weeks.”

The Order provisions outlined here are accompanied by supportive data used in part to make these decisions. The data provides a sampling of research that supports why limiting gatherings, reducing occupancy, and temporarily suspending some activities, among other efforts, are considered vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Two recent studies, one by Yale University and one by Stanford University, substantiate more than one of these mitigation efforts. Links to the full studies and additional data and research can be found on the Department of Health’s data page, here.

Limited-Time Mitigation efforts announced today include:

In-Person Dining and Alcohol Sales

  • All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.
  • Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law, or this or any other Order issued by the Sec. of Health or by the governor.

Indoor Gatherings and Events

  • Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited.
  • Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations set forth above during religious services, these institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship, as in-person gatherings pose a significant risk to participants at this time. While this an incredibly difficult recommendation to make, particularly at this time of year, faith leaders must carefully weigh the health risks to their congregants given the immense amount of community spread of COVID-19.

Outdoor Gatherings and Events

  • Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.

Capacity Limits for Businesses

  • All in-person businesses serving the public may only operate at up to 50% of the maximum capacity stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy, except as limited by existing orders to a smaller capacity limit.

Gyms and Fitness Facilities

  • Indoor operations at gyms and fitness facilities are prohibited.
  • Outdoor facilities and outdoor classes can continue, but all participants must wear face coverings in accordance with the Sec. of Health’s Updated Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings, including any subsequent amendments, and practice physical distancing requirements.

Entertainment Industry

  • All in-person businesses in the entertainment industry serving the public within a building or indoor defined area, including, but not limited to, theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, private clubs, and all other similar entertainment, recreational or social facilities, are prohibited from operation.

In-Person Extracurricular School Activities

  • Voluntary activities sponsored or approved by a school entity’s governing body or administration are suspended, but these extracurricular activities may be held virtually. This includes, but is not limited to, attendance at or participation in activities such musical ensembles, school plays, student council, clubs, and school dances.

K-12 School Sports and Youth Sports

  • All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused.
    • The Pennsylvania Principals Association is recommending a delay to the start of the winter sports season. The surge in cases among school-age children increases the risk that asymptomatic participants will spread the virus at a game or practice, in the locker room, while traveling to and from events, or at team meals, parties or other gatherings.

Professional and Collegiate Sports

  • Professional or collegiate sports activities may continue in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the Department of Health.
  • Spectators may not attend such sports activities in person.

“We know that COVID-19 thrives in places where people gather together,” Gov. Wolf said. “Therefore, these mitigation measures target high-risk environments and activities and aim to reduce the spread of this devastating virus.”

According to Yale University research, mitigation measures such as mandatory mask requirements, and gym and restaurant closures are policies that most consistently predict lower four- to six-week-ahead fatality growth.

“The work we do now to slow the spread of COVID-19 is not only crucial to keeping our fellow Pennsylvanians safe and healthy,” Gov. Wolf said. “It will help all of us get back to normal, and back to all of the things we’ve missed, faster. And it means more Pennsylvanians will be alive to celebrate that brighter future. This year, we show our love for our families and friends by celebrating safely and protecting one another.”

 

At True Fit Marketing we are committed to staying informed on the latest news that affects businesses. If you need help with any messaging, social media, or marketing during this time, please reach out. We love talking with and meeting new people!

 

 

Statewide Restrictions for COVID-19

Updated: July 16th, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

On July 15th, 2020 Governor Tom Wolf announced new statewide restrictions to help fight against the COVID-19 surge in cases that Pennsylvania has been seeing. Earlier this month, it was announced that Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties had local guidelines that other counties did not have to follow, including not allowing alcohol to be served at restaurants and bars, but they were still allowed to sell it as take-out. 

Effective July 16th the following restrictions were put into a place statewide from Governor Tom Wolf:

• Indoor dining will be reduced to 25% capacity.

• Bars will only be open for sit-down meals and alcoholic beverages can only be served with food, bar service is prohibited.

• Telework is now mandated wherever it is feasible to. If telework is not possible, all COVID-19 policies and CDC guidelines must be followed.

• Indoor gatherings are only allowed to be 25 people or less.

• Outdoor gatherings are only permitted to be 250 people or less.

• All nightclubs are prohibited from operating.

View the Pennsylvania COVID-19 dashboard here.

View Governor Wolf’s statewide response here.

“During the past week, we have seen an unsettling climb in new COVID-19 cases,” Gov. Wolf said. “When we hit our peak on April 9, we had nearly two thousand new cases that day with other days’ cases hovering around 1,000,” (Governor.PA.Gov).

Because of this surge, Dr. Levine and Governor Wolf signed new orders for mitigation efforts to help flatten the curve of cases in Pennsylvania.

Bars and restaurants are allowed to still offer take-out, delivery, and dine-in if they follow the guidance from the order. This guidance includes, bar service prohibiting, only sit-down service (at a table or booth) is allowed. Take-out sales of alcoholic beverages is still permitted. Alcohol can only be served at the restaurant or bar when a meal is also being served to that party. Outdoor seating is still available. Masks are still required upon entering, masks must be worn by staff, and social distancing guidelines must still be followed. Indoor dining is limited to 25% of the occupancy of that restaurant.

Nightclubs are not permitted to operate under this new restriction.

Other events and gatherings must adhere to the following restrictions. Indoor events and gatherings must be 25 people or less. Outdoor gatherings must be 250 people or less. This maximum for indoor and outdoor gatherings includes staff.

All businesses are required to utilize teleworking capabilities. If teleworking is not possible, then the business safety order, worker safety order, and masking order must be followed.

Gyms and fitness facilities are allowed to continue operations, however it is suggested to prioritize outdoor activities. Social distancing requirements, masking requirements, and gathering limitations must be followed. 

Businesses not following these guidelines could be subject to fines, business closure, or other measures (Governor.PA.Gov).

Local playgrounds, community pools, and outdoor activities are still open. 

At True Fit Marketing we are committed to staying informed on the latest news that affects businesses. If you need help with any messaging, social media, or marketing during this time, please reach out. We love talking with and meeting new people!

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

Updated: June 12th, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) came into effect after the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) was signed into law on March 27th, 2020. 

On May 26th, 2020 the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives. On June 5th, 2020, after being signed by the President, this became Public Law No: 116-142 (Congress.gov).

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 establishes a, “minimum maturity of five years for a paycheck protection loan with a remaining balance after forgiveness” (Congress.gov). 

It also extended the covered period for which the loan recipient can use their funds. This extension went from eight weeks to 24 weeks when the funds can be used for specific expenses, while the recipient may remain eligible for forgiveness of the loan.  

Additionally, the bill also raises the non-payroll portion of, “a forgivable covered loan amount from the current 25% up to 40%” (Congress.gov).

According to the National Law Review, this bill also addresses rehiring employees. Some employees are unwilling to go back to work for various reasons and some are unable due to certain laws in different states. 

The borrower’s loan forgiveness amount will not be reduced if;

Borrower made a good faith, written offer to rehire such employee (or, if applicable, restore the reduced hours of such employee) during the covered period.

Offer was for the same salary or wages and same number of hours as earned by such employee in the last pay period prior to the separation or reduction in hours.

Offer was rejected by such employee.

Borrower has maintained records documenting the offer and its rejection.

Borrower informed the applicable state unemployment insurance office of such employee’s rejected offer of reemployment within 30 days of the employee’s rejection of the offer (Natlawreview.com).

The 75% of the PPP was to be used for covering payroll costs. However, with the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, in order to have the PPP forgiven, the minimum has been decreased to 60% of PPP funds needing to be allocated for payroll costs.

The last day that a PPP loan can be made is June 30th, 2020 (Natlawreview.com).

We are doing our best to stay on top of the latest news as it affects businesses. We know this is a tough time for many businesses and people. Please reach out to us if you need help with marketing, advertising, or reopening plans for your business: