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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. Submit questions 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. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

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 the new Public Health order taking effect this week, vaccine guidelines for businesses and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.

PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES ORDER #15

Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) has issued Emergency Order #15, which eliminates outdoor gathering limits (while maintaining physical distancing) and removes outdoor face covering requirements, among other changes. While indoor face covering requirements remain in effect in Dane County despite last week's Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, PHMDC officials have confirmed to us that businesses can hold unmasked events outdoors, as long as physical distancing is maintained.

The new order goes into effect Wednesday, April 7, at 12:01 a.m. Changes in the order include:
 
-- Numbers at outdoor gatherings must be limited to ensure people who don’t live together can maintain six feet physical distancing at all times;
 
-- Face coverings remain required in indoor public spaces, but face covering requirements for outdoor spaces are removed;
 
-- Schools and childcare policy requirements, including distancing and cleaning, have been updated;
 
-- Self-service food stations (e.g., salad bars, buffets and sampling) may resume; and
 
-- Saunas and steam rooms may reopen, with certain provisions.

Indoor gathering and capacity limits remain unchanged. That includes:

-- A gathering inside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 150 individuals. A gathering inside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 350 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet physical distancing and face coverings are required.

-- Indoors, restaurants may open up to 50 percent of their capacity, and tables are not limited to individuals from the same household or living unit, providing six feet of distancing is maintained between customers who are not members of the same household or living unit. Outdoors, restaurants may open up to 100 percent of their capacity, provided they meet the other industry-specific requirements in the order, including that patrons are seated and physically distanced.
 
-- Indoors, taverns may open up to 25 percent of their capacity. Outdoors, taverns may open up to 100 percent of their capacity, provided they meet the other industry-specific requirements in the order, including that patrons are seated and physically distanced.

-- Businesses continue to be limited to 50 percent of approved building capacity and must have written cleaning and hygiene policies in place.

Read the full order here.

If you have questions about the order or other issues impacting your business, please continue to submit them through our Q&A portal here and our staff and team of regional partners will work to get you an answer. All responses are posted on our website here.

VACCINE GUIDELINES FOR BUSINESSES

With businesses playing a critical role in encouraging widespread vaccination from COVID-19 (and all Wisconsin residents 16 and older now eligible for vaccination), the state has released new resources to assist businesses in continuing to contribute to the vaccination campaign.
 
Among the resources are guidance for effectively encouraging vaccination among employees, information about how to set up a workplace vaccination clinic, and links to posters that can be downloaded or adapted for posting in workplaces.
 
You can find guidance to help promote vaccination among employees here, a customizable PowerPoint presentation through this page, and information on how employers can raise awareness and connect employees with vaccination options here.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM EXTENSION

The application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended until May 31, 2021, after President Joe Biden signed the extension last week. The PPP authorization has been extended through June 30, 2021 to provide the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) additional time to process applications received by the application deadline.

The Biden administration also recently announced several changes to the PPP aimed at providing relief to small and minority-owned businesses. Those changes include:

-- Revising the loan calculation formula to help sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals – many of which are women and people of color – receive more relief, and establish a $1 billion set-aside for businesses in this category without employees located in low- and moderate-income areas;

-- Eliminating an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions from obtaining relief through the PPP;

-- Eliminating an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners who are delinquent on their federal student loans from obtaining relief through the PPP; and

-- Ensuring access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to apply for relief.

For the latest PPP FAQ document for lenders and borrowers, click here.

SMALL BUSINESS PANDEMIC SUPPORT GRANT PROGRAM EXPANSION

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has announced an additional $15 million for the county’s Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, which launched last year and is being administered by Dane Buy Local. Funds for the new grants were made available through the recently adopted federal stimulus legislation.

Funds are still being awarded from the $4 million allocation the county announced in January, which prompted more than 2,800 applications with an average grant request approaching $18,000. To date, the program has received more than $14 million to assist Dane County small businesses throughout the pandemic.

The application for this round is expected to open by mid-April.

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

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