From Davis|Kuelthau: COVID-19 Waivers: Can They Reduce Your Business Risk?

As states begin to reopen and loosen restrictions on public gatherings and business closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, business managers, event coordinators, and property owners are seeking to get back to a semblance of normalcy. However, at least in the near term, it appears that business will not be business-as-usual. Social distancing, personal protective equipment, and enhanced cleaning measures will be the new norm. READ MORE >>

From Davis|Kuelthau: Strategies for landlords in dealing with tenants in light of COVID-19

Tenant economic issues due to COVID-19 have been well publicized and programs have been put in place to help tenants. Landlords, on the other hand, feel much of the same pain but that pain has not been well publicized, nor has it been addressed by federal or state programs. READ MORE >>

General information

If you have general questions, here are some hotlines and websites that can help:

Milwaukee

Wisconsin

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
How to protect yourself | 中文 | Español

Accounting

From SIKICH: SBA Releases Forgiveness Application Form for PPP Loans

The recent CARES legislation was designed to provide an economic stimulus during the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the pillars of the CARES bill was the introduction of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. These loans were established to provide working capital to borrowers so they could continue to pay their employees during the pandemic… READ MORE >>

The U.S. Department of Treasury issued additional guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. Links to the resources provided by Treasury can be found on their webpage.

  • A top-line overview of the program can be found here.
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.
  • The application for borrowers can be found here.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created a new employee retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. The US Chamber of Commerce has published a guide.

To determine if your business would qualify for a business interruption claim, check with your business insurance policy or provider. While each policy could be different in a few cases, policies may cover losses on a limited basis if they include a clause known as ‘interruption by communicable disease’.

There are extensions at both the federal and state levels. Review these links for more info.

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. The Department of Treasury also has information available at Coronavirus: Resources, Updates, and What You Should Know.

Government

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR), like the IRS, automatically extended income tax payment and return due dates to July 15, 2020. Today the department announces additional measures including immediate steps to help small businesses with sales tax payments due on March 31. Small businesses can immediately request an extension to file sales and use tax returns due March 31, 2020 until April 30, 2020 and due April 30, 2020 until June 1, 2020. >>View press release

From MMAC’s governmental affairs team, the following is a preliminary overview of a federal stimulus package that has been agreed to by the White House and U.S. Senate. Given that this has not been formally approved by both chambers of Congress, the situation remains fluid and details may change. Also, read a detailed analysis of the bill from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  • A $500 billion loan program for businesses
    The biggest sticking point between Democrats and Republicans throughout the negotiations was $500 billion worth of emergency loans both for large businesses and municipalities grappling with the coronavirus outbreak. The current agreed-to version contains additional oversight provisions.
  • “Unemployment insurance on steroids”
    Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday afternoon that unemployment insurance will be expanded to grapple with a new surge in claims, calling it “unemployment insurance on steroids.” The new bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months. This money is in addition to what states pay as a base unemployment salary. This benefit would extend to gig economy workers, freelancers, and furloughed workers who are still getting health insurance from their employers, but are not receiving a paycheck.
  • Expanded funds for hospitals, medical equipment, and health care worker protections
    In a statement, Schumer reported to Senate Democrats that the latest bill will contain $150 billion for hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Of that money, $100 billion will go to hospitals, $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service, and the remainder will be used to increase medical equipment capacity.
  • Increased aid to state and local governments
    Schumer also said about $150 billion of federal money would be allocated for state and local governments who are dealing with the impacts of the crisis in their local communities, including $8 billion for tribal governments.
  • Direct payments to adults below a certain income threshold
    The legislation would include a one-time $1,200 check that would be sent to most adults making $75,000 or less annually, according to past tax returns. A $500 payment would also be sent to cover every child in qualifying households. The final policy marks a significant change from the direct payments initially proposed by Republicans, which would have given less to many individuals who do not have taxable income. It now includes the majority of adults who are under the $75,000 threshold and phases the payment out as people’s incomes increase.
  • Loans to small businesses
    There would be $367 billion in the bill aimed at providing loans for small businesses.

The US Chamber of Commerce released this bipartisan summary of the "CARES" Act on March 25, 2020.

>>View the perspective from MMAC's leadership

  • Order is effective for a full month:  March 25 (8 am) – April 24 (8 am).
  • Similar to other state orders, requires all Wisconsinites to stay at home except for activities defined as essential.  There are exceptions for which people can leave the house that are consistent with other states (going to the grocery store, going to the doctor, office, going to work for an essential company, etc.).
  • List of essential businesses allowed to continue operating is consistent with what other states have done (grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, take-out restaurants and bars, media, financial institutions, critical trades, hardware stores, shipping and logistics, transportation, etc.).  Also allowed to continue operating is any business identified in memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) detailing Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response
  • Individual companies judge whether they meet the definition of essential detailed in the order.  If a company concludes that it meets the definition, it can continue operating (no need to request permission or receive a designation from the State of Wisconsin or WEDC).  If a company is unsure if it meets the definition or wishes to request an exception, it should consult the WEDC website
  • All non-essential businesses must cease operations March 25, 2020.

For more information on actions being taken by the U.S. government is available at https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus and in Spanish at https://gobierno.usa.gov/coronavirus.

Workplace & Health

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees’ occupational exposure during a pandemic. These risk zones are useful in determining appropriate work practices and precautions.

 

Very High Exposure Risk:
  • Healthcare employees performing aerosol-generating procedures on known or suspected pandemic patients.
  • Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected pandemic patients.
High Exposure Risk:
  • Healthcare delivery and support staff exposed to known or suspected pandemic patients.
  • Medical transport of known or suspected pandemic patients in enclosed vehicles.
  • Performing autopsies on known or suspected pandemic patients.
Medium Exposure Risk:
  • Employees with high-frequency contact with the general population (such as schools, high population density work environments, and some high-volume retail).
Lower Exposure Risk (Caution):
  • Employees who have minimal occupational contact with the general public and other coworkers (such as office employees).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided interim guidance that may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
Recommended strategies for employers to use now are available at Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to CDC guidance, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay at home.