|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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 changes included in the new local public health order, a preview of this week's Lunch(UP)date and the latest in state legislative action relating to COVID-19.
NEW PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER FOR DANE COUNTY
Today, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) issued Emergency Order #13, which further loosens restrictions on indoor and outdoor gathering limits, updates face covering requirements, and lifts certain restrictions on games and competitions, among other changes. The new order goes into effect this Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 12:01 a.m.
The new order includes (comparable provisions from the previous order are in italics):
-- Up to 25 people at indoor gatherings where food or drink is offered or provided and up to 50 people at indoor gatherings where food or drink is not offered or provided. Individuals must maintain six feet physical distancing and face coverings are required. (Previously limited to 10 people at all indoor gatherings, with physical distancing and face coverings).
-- Up to 100 people at outdoor gatherings where food or drink is offered or provided and up 150 people at outdoor gatherings where food or drink is not offered or provided. Individuals must maintain six feet physical distancing, and face coverings are required at gatherings of more than 50 individuals. (Previously limited to 50 people at all outdoor gatherings, with physical distancing).
-- The types of face coverings allowed are being updated to reflect new CDC recommendations. Under the new order, a face covering must be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head and must fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face. Cloth face coverings must be made with two or more layers of breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
Also under the new order, a face covering does not include bandanas, single-layer neck gaiters, face shields, goggles, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, shirt or sweater collars pulled up over the mouth and nose, or masks with slits, exhalation valves, or punctures. (Previously, a face covering did not include face shields, mesh masks, masks with holes or openings, or masks with vents but did include items such as bandanas and neck gaiters.)
-- Face coverings are required outdoors while participating in a sporting event, including drills, practices, scrimmages, games or competitions, unless the sport is played individually, or played with physical distancing at all times. Face coverings are also required outdoors while attending a gathering of more than 50 individuals. (Previously "strongly recommended" outdoors when not possible to physically distance).
-- Games and competitions are allowed for all sports. In most situations, individuals must wear face coverings. Six feet physical distancing is required, except when an individual is actively participating in the sport. Sports that cannot maintain physical distancing at all times are limited to 25 individuals indoors, and 100 individuals outdoors, not including employees. (Previously, physical distancing between individuals not from the same household or living unit had to be maintained to the greatest extent possible for low-risk sports. Games and competitions were allowed only for low-risk sports, with physical distancing maintained to the greatest extent possible and in compliance with gathering limits. Physical distancing was still required at all times for medium- and high-risk sports.)
-- The provision limiting regulated childcare and four-year old kindergarten groups to 15 is removed. Indoor youth settings must follow gathering limits. (Individual groups or classrooms were previously limited to 15 children, with no interaction or contact between individual groups or classrooms and physical distancing to the greatest extent possible.)
-- Temporary retail stores are able to operate under the same requirements as permanent retail stores. (Temporary retail stores were not previously allowed.)
Provisions that remain unchanged include:
-- Face coverings are required in enclosed buildings, while driving with people who are not part of your household, and outdoors at a restaurant or tavern.
-- Businesses continue to be limited to 50 percent of approved building capacity and must have written cleaning and hygiene policies in place.
-- Indoor seating at taverns continues to not be allowed. Customers may enter taverns only to order, pick up and pay for food or beverage.
-- Provisions for schools, continuing education and higher education institutions, industry-specific requirements, health care, public health, human service, infrastructure, manufacturing, government, and religious entities and groups remain unchanged.
Read the full order here.
For a comparison of what is allowed under the previous order versus the new order, click here.
LUNCH(UP)DATE WITH PUBLIC HEALTH MADISON & DANE COUNTY
To discuss the new order and provide updates on vaccinations, case data and more, PHMDC officials will join us Thursday, Feb. 11 at 12:15 p.m. for this week's Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber program presented by Perkins Coie where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying connected, curious and informed.
Register here for this free event.
This program is your opportunity to get your questions answered. Submit in advance any questions you may have for Public Health or the Chamber at email@example.com.
STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
On Friday, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed Assembly Bill 1, a broader COVID relief package. In addition, shortly after the state Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 3 last week to put an end to his statewide face covering requirement, the Governor issued a new order to immediately reinstate the requirement and keep it in effect until March 20.
Following last week's actions, a mask requirement remains in effect statewide unless overturned by subsequent legislative action or a ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. (Regardless of what happens at the state level, Dane County's mask order is still in effect.)
The Chamber opposed SJR3 because face coverings are a scientifically proven mitigation strategy that protects public health and builds public confidence that businesses can be frequented safely. In AB1, the Chamber supported liability protections for businesses, individuals and schools but opposed a prohibition on businesses from being able to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM TAX DEDUCTIONS
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) awarded forgivable tax-free loans to businesses facing financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because that money was not taxed as income, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2020-27, determining that expenditures paid with those funds are not tax deductible under current federal and state laws.
Last month, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which effectively reversed the IRS determination. The appropriations act includes the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, which provides for the full deductibility of ordinary and necessary business expenses that were paid with a forgiven or forgivable PPP loan.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue (DOR) decided to follow the original IRS determination that expenditures paid with PPP funds are non-deductible. Without legislative correction, the result would be an estimated $450 million in taxes on PPP recipients.
In response, legislative Republicans have drafted an amendment to Senate Bill 2 that would align the state with federal action, making PPP expenses tax-free. SB2 cleared the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Revenue on Feb. 4 and is awaiting scheduling for a vote by the full body.
For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.
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