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The Network Effect
The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

Submit questions about the Forward Dane reopening strategy, CARES Act, availability of assistance for your business and more by visiting Slido.com and entering the event code #ASK4BIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com.


Good evening --

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and our organizational efforts to inform and ensure an effective community response.

Today's highlights include Dane County entering the next reopening phase, a Chamber/Public Health partnership to bolster public confidence and the chance to apply for a new statewide small business grant program.

FORWARD DANE PHASE TWO IN EFFECT

Today (June 15) at 8 a.m., Phase Two of the Public Health Madison & Dane County Forward Dane reopening plan went into effect. Some highlights from the order include:

--All businesses that previously had a capacity limit of 25 percent may increase their capacity to 50 percent while continuing to make adjustments to schedules and workplace configurations to ensure physical distancing. Public Health has developed a guide to help businesses determine what constitutes 50 percent capacity.

--Mass gatherings, defined as a planned event with a large number of individuals in attendance, are now limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Meetings, trainings, conferences and weddings are considered mass gatherings. Commercial facilities now have the same limits as other spaces.

--Businesses are responsible for regulating any lines that may form for entering their establishment. This previously only applied to retail businesses.

--Salons and spas are no longer required to operate by reservation only.
 
--Door-to-door solicitations are allowed.
 
--For restaurants, there is no longer a limit on the number seated at tables, though all diners still need to be part of the same household or living unit.

--Outdoor playgrounds and splash pads are now open to the public. Additionally, childcare and youth settings (i.e. summer camps) now have limits differentiated by age group.

In addition to meeting all the metrics for Phase Two, we currently meet all Phase Three metrics. If these metrics hold or improve over the next two weeks, we could move to Phase Three as early as July 6.
 
It's important to note the Forward Dane plan requires businesses to document staff receipt and acknowledgement of new hygiene, cleaning and protective measure policies before reopening. Best practices and templates developed by Public Health can be found here.

We also encourage you to continue asking your questions on issues impacting your business on our Q&A portal at slido.com. Click here to submit your question and our staff and team of regional partners will work to get you an answer. All responses are posted on our website here.

#JUSTASK CAMPAIGN

As our region continues to reopen, we also want to bolster public confidence by sharing the many changes businesses are implementing to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers. In collaboration with Public Health, the Chamber has launched #JustAsk, a campaign to encourage people to feel comfortable asking questions about the steps businesses are taking to provide safe spaces.

Businesses interested in participating in this campaign can print and display this flyer (Spanish-language version coming soon) to encourage customers to #JustAsk about the policies and procedures being implemented to keep them safe.

In addition, you can share your reopening plans through this portal so we can aggregate reopening best practices by industry type and socialize them with businesses and the broader community.

"WE'RE ALL IN" APPLICATIONS OPEN

As of today, small businesses can apply for "We're All In," a $75 million Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) initiative designed to provide direct assistance to those most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Funded largely through the CARES Act, these $2,500 cash grants will assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

To be eligible, businesses must:

--Be a Wisconsin-based, for-profit business;

--Employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, including the owner;

--Earn greater than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues (gross sales and receipts); and

--Have started operating prior to Jan. 1, 2020, and been in business as of Feb. 2020. Seasonal businesses should use the highest total FTEs employed during the season.

To apply for grant assistance, click here. The application process closes June 23 at 11:59 p.m.

VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP

Last week, the Chamber hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as leaders in the technology space assessed current needs for their businesses and shared projections for the three phases of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: relief, reopening and recovery.

As one might expect for companies in the tech space, moving to a distributed workforce was easier for them than for other industries. For many, this is creating internal conversations about what the future of their office spaces should look like and whether more employees should be allowed to work from home long-term.

From an economic standpoint, there was a consistent hope that the message around our community’s and nation’s response to COVID-19 should move from "fear to caution" and to ease concerns from the public who could be skeptical to reengage with businesses that have been most immediately impacted by the outbreak, such as restaurants and retail. Another consistent theme was the importance of employee health and how companies are working to check in with employees and provide opportunities to boost wellness.

The Chamber has also convened lenders, developers, commercial property owners, manufacturers, hoteliers, retailers, and insurance, biotech and healthtech leaders as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

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For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.

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