What’s open, what’s closed and the latest state news
Washington State has rolled out a website with resources, links and official updates for businesses, workers and citizens to understand the state’s response related to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, March 23, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide order that requires everyone in the state to stay home and stay healthy, unless they pursue an essential activity. The order bans all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes. It closes all businesses except for essential businesses. If you are unsure if your business should close, you can submit an inquiry to the state via this online form.
WA State Department of Commerce
The Washington State Department of Commerce is leading the state’s effort to minimize the economic impact of COVID-19. The department has set up a resource website that addresses COVID-19 related issues, including employment, financial assistance, insurance, health updates, small business tools and more. This is a great “first step” for any business being impacted.
Program & Service Impacts
COVID-19 Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic stimulus package created to address the COVID-19 impacts was approved by the US Congress and signed by the president in late March. The bill includes support for individuals, small businesses, big corporations, hospitals and public health, education systems, and local, state and federal government programs. Learn more about help for small businesses:
Small Business Provisions
Summary of CARES Act sections for small business
- Disaster loan assistance. Businesses that have shut down or closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak can apply for disaster loan assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The process begins here. For additional information, contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center by calling 1-800-659-2955 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mortgage or small business loans. Small businesses that have loans with private lenders are encouraged to contact their lender directly to discuss possible payment deferrals or reductions due to financial hardship. Many lenders are expanding or modifying loan programs for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner has information regarding health insurance, business insurance, event cancellation insurance, travel insurance and more.
Relief for tax filing
The state’s Department of Revenue can work with impacted companies that request an extension on tax filing. Tax deadlines have been extended. The Annual 2019 return is now due June 15. The Quarter 1, 2020 return is now due June 30 for businesses that file quarterly. Contact the department at 360-705-6705 to work through issues or concerns.
Workers’ Compensation coverage and benefits
Employers of healthcare workers and first responders should be aware of the Industrial Insurance Act, which allows for healthcare and treatment of COVID-19 when work-related activity has resulted in probable exposure to the virus and certain criteria are met.
Employment information for employers and workers
The Washington State Department of Security is updating information daily regarding employment benefits that are impacted by COVID-19. Here are some direct links:
- Workers who are laid off work temporarily or who have their hours reduced due to the COVID-19 business slowdown may be able to receive unemployment benefits. EMERGENCY RULES HAVE BEEN ADOPTED FOR BOTH WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS. Employees can file for employment benefits here. Important terms to know:
- Standby means workers do not have to look for another job while they collect unemployment benefits, so long as they stay in contact with their regular employer. Workers must accept any work that they can do without breaking isolation or quarantine that is offered by the employer, such as telework. When workers file a claim, they can request up to four weeks of standby. If needed, the employer can request up to an additional four weeks of standby (for a total of eight) as long as the worker will be returning to work full-time when business picks up again.
- Partial Employment or Shared Work: Under certain circumstances, workers may work part-time while collecting unemployment benefits.
- Employees who are asked to quarantine by a medical professional or public health official as a result of exposure to COVID-19, but are not sick, and who are not receiving paid sick leave from their employer may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
- Workers of employers who have shut down operations temporarily because an employee is sick, and as a result, those workers have been asked to isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19, may be eligible for unemployment benefits and may qualify for standby during this time if they are not receiving payment from their employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off. Basic eligibility requirements for a claim can be found here.
- Employees that contract COVID-19 and need to take time off can utilize employer-paid sick leave time if it is available. The Department of Labor and Industries has information about Paid Sick Leave. When this leave is not available, Paid Family & Medical Leave may be available to help.
- Should an employer go out of business as a result of COVID-19, employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they are out of work due to a “lack of work.” These benefits are intended to assist workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
- Additional details regarding what benefits and programs may be available to workers who are financially impacted by COVID-19 are in an easy-to-read reference guide that provides a list of scenarios related to COVID-19, and the benefits that may apply.
The state’s Export Assistance Team/Division can help companies identify alternative markets and provide firms with STEP Vouchers to defray the costs of trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, interpreter and translation services, business matchmaking, export training programs and more.
In addition, The Small Business Administration’s Export Working Capital Program can help small businesses obtain working capital advances from lenders on export orders, export receivables or letters of credit.
Office of the Governor
The Washington State Governor’s Office is continually updating resources for businesses regarding COVID-19 related restrictions, financial assistance, export assistance, employer and worker assistance, and insurance assistance.
Area Chambers of Commerce
Greater Spokane Incorporated and the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, in addition to other local chambers, are maintaining a COVID-19 website that provides helpful business resources, related state and federal news and legislation, and online webinars to help businesses in the recovery process.
Public Health information
Employers who need guidance on social distancing, food service and other COVID-19 related issues can contact the Spokane Regional Health District. The health district is providing helpful recommendations for businesses and other organizations that seek guidance in taking precautions to minimize COVID-19.
Resources for all businesses:
Funding campaigns (crowdfunding, donations, etc)
Buy Now, Play Later Initiative set up by Washington Tourism Alliance to assist small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak by encouraging customers to purchase gift cards. Businesses can sign up for the program here.
Guidance for restaurants: