Covid-19 Updates for Businesses – Madison Avenue Business Improvement District

Madison Avenue Business Improvement District
29 East 61st Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10065
p.212.861.2055

Covid-19 Updates for Businesses

March 24th, 2020   

Updated June 14, 2020

Please note that items are listed on this webpage not by order of importance, but rather by order of the date in which we learned of the item. That way, people who visit this page on a regular basis can find out what is new.

Phase 1: Links for the State’s guidance, safety plan template & attestation form for retail reopening in Phase 1 (curbside/in-store pickup & delivery)
Phase 1: Curbside and In-Store Pickup Retail Guidelines for Employers and Employees
Phase 1: New York Forward Safety Plan Template
Phase 1: MUST AFFIRM: Interim Guidance for Curbside and In-Store Pickup Retail Business Activities During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Phase 2 guidance, safety plan template & attestation forms
Essential and Phase II In-Store Retail
Hair Salons and Barbershops
Retail Rental, Repair, and Cleaning
Offices
Real Estate
Vehicle Sales, Leases, and Rentals
Commercial Building Management

BID Creates Poster for Reopening Common Protocols for Madison Avenue
To aid our members, and to provide answers to clients and the press about Madison Avenue’s reopening, we prepared the following set of protocols. Click here to download: Madison Ave Reopening Posters8.5×14). They are based upon what retailers already told us that they will do, and the retail reopening standards already set by New York State which retailers must certify they are adopting prior to opening. The posters are sized at 8 1/2″ x 14″. There two versions of the poster, each a reverse version of the other. If you wish to customize the poster, please let us know and we can provide you with graphics and text files. We are pleased to offer the poster for you as a window cling. Please let us know if you would like the version with the black background with white letters, or the reverse.

US Small Business Administration Releases Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application
The SBA has recently released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application (please click here to download). Please note that a safe harbor under applicable law and regulation exempts certain borrowers from the loan forgiveness reduction based on FTE employee levels. Specifically, the Borrower is exempt from the reduction in loan forgiveness based on FTE employees described above if both of the following conditions are met: (1) the Borrower reduced its FTE employee levels in the period beginning February 15, 2020, and ending April 26, 2020; and (2) the Borrower then restored its FTE employee levels by not later than June 30, 2020 to its FTE employee levels in the Borrower’s pay period that included February 15, 2020.

New York State Mandates Health Screening, Social Distancing and Sanitization Standards For Retailers
The regions of New York State that have met the seven public health benchmarks necessary for reopening non-essential businesses may begin Phase 1 of the reopening process. This includes curbside retail pickup. If the benchmarks continue to be met after two weeks operating in Phase 1, then Phase 2 reopening can take place, which includes the full reopening of stores to customers.

While the New York City, the Mid Hudson Region and Long Island have not met the benchmarks for Phase 1, we should very much pay attention right away to the rules that have been set up for curbside pickup (click here to download). Among those rules are that:
— retailers must conduct regular cleaning and disinfection at least after every shift, daily, or more frequently as needed, and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of shared objects (e.g. registers) and surfaces, as well as high transit areas, such as payment devices, pickup areas, restrooms, common areas;
— retailers must train all personnel on new protocols and frequently communicate safety guidelines;
— retail businesses may only operate at 50 percent of the maximum occupancy;
employees must wear face coverings – and these face coverings must be supplied by the business;
— businesses must post signage inside and outside of the retail location to remind personnel and customers to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
— businesses must establish a communication plan for employees, visitors, and clients with a consistent means to provide updated information;
— businesses must maintain a continuous log of every person, including workers and visitors, who may have close contact with other individuals at the work site or area, excluding customers and excluding deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means;
— businesses must implement mandatory health screening assessment (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) before employees begin work each day and for essential visitors (but not customers), asking about (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days. Assessment responses must be reviewed every day and such review must be documented.

Retailers will be required to sign an affidavit saying that they read and will abide by these guidelines before being allowed to open (click here to download).

The State has created this planning document to help you in developing your protocols (click here to download).

CDC Offers Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Businesses from the Coronavirus
While this document (please click here to download) does not give guidance on how to disinfect apparel or accessories that have been tried on in-store, it does give clear advice on the materials and best practices for preventing Covid-19 from being on surfaces within your business.

EPA List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
Please click here to download the list of New York State Registered Disinfectants based on EPA List. To get more information about these products from the EPA, please click here.

National Retail Federation Releases Reopening Checklist
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has developed a very helpful checklist of items you should consider prior to reopening your store. Considerations related to Employment, Logistics/Operations and Health Policy are all outlined in a very handy format. You can download and review this document by clicking here.

International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Reopening Best Practices Guide
The guide covers planning and communication, common-area adjustments and traffic flow and serves retailers, restaurants, developers and service providers. You can download the Guide by clicking here.

Main Street Lending Program Announced by US Department of the Treasury
Main Street is designed to provide support to small and medium-sized businesses and their employees across the United States during the current period of financial strain by supporting the provision of credit to such businesses. The availability of additional credit is intended to help companies that were in sound financial condition prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic maintain their operations and payroll until conditions normalize. Main Street loans are full-recourse loans and are not forgivable. To learn more, please click here.

The National Restaurant Association created a booklet offering reopening guidance for the restaurant industry. To download and review the guide, please click here.

Non-Essential Retail Establishments Now Permitted to Fulfill Delivery Orders Placed Remotely Via Phone or Online
New York State issued additional guidance that allows non-essential retail establishments (as defined by the Empire State Development Corporation) to fulfill delivery orders placed remotely via phone or online. Please note that only one employee may be physically present at the business location to fulfill orders. We encourage you to let your neighbors and enforcement officials know that you’re operating under these guidelines by posting a sign on the door or front window like this one (please click here).

New Funds Approved for the CARES Act
The President approved a new round of stimulus funding, including $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program. For businesses that have not applied for the PPP, but still would like to, our recommendation is to apply immediately.

East Side Small Business Town Hall organized by Council Member Keith Powers
Please click here to watch the full event.

Mask Order for Employers of Essential Workers
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order directing employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical masks free of charge to wear when directly interacting with the public. If you are an essential business currently operating on Madison Avenue and are having difficulty in sourcing masks for your employees, please contact us and we will do all we can to assist you in procuring masks.

Watch Manhattan Borough President’s Small Business Virtual Town Hall
Please click here to watch the full event.

HelpMainStreet.com gift card portal
This portal helps promote small businesses with existing gift card programs where clients can purchase the gift card directly online from the retailer.  If you’re a business with a gift card program: please visit helpmainstreet.com and see if your venue is listed. If it isn’t, click the “Don’t see your favorite business?” button and fill out your details. You should see your venue listed shortly or someone will be back to you. To learn more, please click here.

GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative
Small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis can sign up on GoFundMe to start a fundraiser to benefit their small business. Local community members are able to search small business relief fundraisers on GoFundMe to find favorite small businesses they’d like to support. If a small business raises $500 on their GoFundMe and meets certain eligibility criteria, they may be considered to receive a $500 matching grant from the Small Business Relief Fund. Please click here to learn more.

OSHA Released New Covid-19 Guidance for Retail Workers
The federal Occupational & Health Administration has released a non-technical, single page document for your review by clicking here. You can get further information by visiting the OSHA Covid-19 website by clicking here.

Updated Small Business Guidance from the City of New York
The NYC Department of Small Business Services has updated its Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to Novel Coronavirus page. Please click here to view. We particularly appreciate the handy comparison chart of the financial assistance programs offered by government agencies. Please click here to view the chart.

NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has created a helpful Small Business Program Guide that documents both government and private funding and promotional initiatives for small businesses harmed by Covid-19. You can download the guide by clicking here.

Attention Restaurants:  NYC & Company Promotion for Restaurants Providing Takeout or Delivery
NYC & Company, the city’s official destination marketing organization and producers of NYC Restaurant Week, has developed a highly interactive (and highly promoted) website for restaurants offering takeout or delivery. To list your restaurant for free (you do not need to be a NYC & Company member), please click here.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time for small businesses. The application is not yet open, but they are asking businesses to sign in to express their interest. To do so, and learn more, please click here.

Facebook has also created helpful Covid-19 resource guides for a variety of business categories:
Restaurants & Cafes, please click here;
Retail, please click here;
Salons & Spas, please click here;
Fitness & Recreation, please click here.

The Red Backpack Fund for Female Entrepreneurs
Since its inception, Spanx and The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation have been dedicated to elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship. Knowing the ripple effect that empowering women can have to strengthen neighborhoods, cities and countries, The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish the Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis. To learn more and apply, please click here.

Madison Avenue Now Social Media Campaign
As featured in WWD, to keep our local clients engaged while New York is on “Pause,” the BID created and funded a sponsored “ Madison Avenue Now” social media campaign on Facebook & Instagram targeted to the Upper East Side (Zip Codes 10021, 10022, 10028, 10065, 10075 & 10128) that will highlight a special offer, product or experience at a Madison Avenue retailer. These special offers can be something that can be enjoyed now in-store or online, or enjoyed at a later date when our stores will reopen. We can also highlight special experiences that you are able to offer, such as a virtual fitness class, or Zoom talk about fashion trends, or an incentive to purchase for a later date – “A Gift Card for the Future.” For businesses that have multiple locations, the offer or experience need not be exclusive to your Madison Avenue location.

The sponsored social media campaign directs guests to a dedicated page on our website, https://madisonavenuebid.org/madison-avenue-now/, where we will list the experience of that day, as well as the offers/experiences of the last few days that have passed (unless the offer/experience is only available for one day). Each post will direct clients on how to redeem or utilize each offer or experience. The program will also be promoted on the homepage of the BID’s website, along with our other COVID-19 information.

There is no cost to participate in this program….we just want to keep the positive spotlight on Madison Avenue and its stores.  To take part, please send over to Matthew Bauer (mbauer@madisonavenuebid.org) the specific text that you would like us to post, and any graphics or social media tags that you wish to use. Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

Free or Low Cost Technology to Aid Small Businesses To Remote Work
The Open for Business Hub lists technology companies that are helping small businesses by enabling remote work throughout this difficult period. Find the list of offers to help by clicking here.

IRS Announces that an Employee Retention Credit is now available for many businesses financially impacted by COVID-19
On March 31, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. The only exceptions are small businesses who take small business loans.

Qualifying employers must fall into one of two categories:
1) The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter; or 2) the employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.  These measures are calculated each calendar quarter.

The amount of the credit is 50% of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit. Wages taken into account are not limited to cash payments, but also include a portion of the cost of employer provided health care. To learn more about this tax credit, please click here.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance extends eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UI benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors). This may be of benefit to a variety of Madison Avenue small business owners. Please click here to review the FAQs prepared by the New York State Department of Labor.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Update
We urge you to download (please click here) and carefully review the The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act, put together by the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. For a very detailed, thorough description of each of the provisions of the CARES Act that may relate to your business, please review this article by Cozen O’Connor, the government relations consultants of the NYC BID Association (please click here).

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant program from the US Small Business Administration provides an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance , and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.  Please click here to learn more and to apply.

The Paycheck Protection Program, administered through the SBA, provides loans that can cover such as expenses as payroll and rent. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution or federally insured credit union that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. Lenders began processing loan applications on April 3, 2020. Please click here to learn more and to aid you in applying for the program.

SBA Express Bridge Loans enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.  Please click here to learn more.

SBA Debt Relief:  As part of SBA’s debt relief efforts, the SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.  The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.  Please click here to learn more.

A Gift Card Primer from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Gift cards are being touted as an excellent way for retailers and restaurants to generate revenue now by giving clients a way to support these businesses while they are temporarily closed. Please click here for a helpful primer on gift cards prepared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

We also recommend that you review the Chamber’s Coronavirus Small Business Survival Guide by clicking here.

New York State Liquor Authority Guidance on Restrictions for Licensees and To-Go & Delivery Sales in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak
All the details can be found by clicking here.

Expert Business Consulting for Free, Supported by the US Small Business Administration
The New York Small Business Development Center provides small business owners and entrepreneurs in New York with the highest quality, confidential business consulting, training, and business research at no cost to you. To learn more, and to arrange an appointment, please click here.

For Restaurants:
The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund For “independent food and beverage businesses in need.” JBF is asking restauranteurs to fill out this link (please click here) to get more information on the fund criteria and the application process.

Under new, but limited circumstances, businesses with State Liquor Authority Licenses may be able to return unused liquor to the wholesaler or manufacturer. Please click here for the details.

Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
New York State enacted new emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave regulations to address the immediate need of employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation. To get the details regarding the new law, please click here.

New York State Essential Services List
To view the updated list of businesses that have been designated as essential by New York State, please click here.

NYS Department of Labor Shared Work Program
The New York State Department of Labor’s Shared Work Program may provide an alternative to your business for laying off workers. To learn more, please click here.

NYC Department of Health
The NYC Department of Health is regularly updating their page with information useful to businesses. For the must recent update to their site, please click here.

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Restaurant Service
Given that restaurants are able to provide takeout and delivery services, the NYC Department of Small Business Services has issues guidance for safe operations. To learn more, please click here.

NYC Business Tax Filing Extensions and the COVID-19 Outbreak
The New York City Department of Finance (DOF) recognizes that taxpayers and return preparers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak may be unable to meet certain New York City filing and payment deadlines. Therefore, DOF Commissioner Jacques Jiha is exercising his authority under the Administrative Code of the City of New York to allow for a waiver of penalties for DOF-administered business and excise taxes due between March 16, 2020, and April 25, 2020. Taxpayers may request to have the penalties waived on a late-filed extension or return, or in a separate request. To learn more, please click here.

New York State Sales Tax
The Governor announced:
The authority of the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to abate late filing and payment penalties pursuant to section 1145 of the Tax Law is hereby expanded to also authorize abatement of interest, for a period of 60 days for a taxpayers who are required to file returns and remit sales and use taxes by March 20, 2020, for the sales tax quarterly period that ended February 29, 2020.

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