Resources for Helping You Navigate the COVID-19 Waters
In a move designed to keep small businesses afloat, the CARES Act provides that businesses with fewer than 500 employees — including sole proprietors and nonprofits— will have access to nearly $350 billion in loans under Section 7 of the Small Business Act during the “covered period,” which runs from February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020. The loans, which are referred to as “paycheck protection loans” are fully guaranteed by the federal government through December 31, 2020. A separate section of the CARES Act calls for a portion of these paycheck protection loans to be forgiven on a tax-free basis. The CARES Act also expands access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans under Section 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act to include not only businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but also sole proprietors and ESOPs.
This program is available to companies and nonprofits with less than 500 employees, as well as self-employed individuals that were in operation prior to February 15, 2020. Applicants will be required to sign a good faith certification that their business or nonprofit has been affected by COVID-19 and that funds will be used to retain employees and existing debt obligations. The loans have no borrower or lender fees associated with them and are guaranteed 100% by the government and not by the company or individual.
The borrower is required to use the money on payroll costs, debt obligations, rent and utilities. The greatest benefit to the borrowers is that if the funds are used for these purposes and other qualifications are met, the borrower is eligible for up to 100% loan forgiveness. Debt forgiveness is typically considered taxable income to the business or business owner, however, under this law the forgiveness is completely tax free.
In order for the loan to be completely forgiven employers must use the funds for the purposes previously listed during the first 8-week period after the loan origination. They must also maintain the same level of full time employees (FTEs) during this period that the company had on average during portions of the previous year. Should this percentage of FTEs decrease, the amount of the loan forgiven decreases proportionally.
The Small Business Administration website has been updated to provide you with information to start the loan application process. The programs as of now are first come first serve with a set amount of funds available. We urge to you to begin the process by doing the following:
- Find a local SBA banker/lender at http://www.sba.gov/LenderMatch
- Access the SBA loan application site at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
- Your completed application can be uploaded directly on this site
- If you need immediate cash to bridge payroll, inventory or other overhead expenses, you should apply for an Express Disaster Bridge Loan. The Terms of this loan are:
- Up to $25,000 available while waiting on a decision on additional loans
- A fast turnaround to get funds at work immediately
- The Express Loan can be repaid in full or in part by subsequent proceeds from an Express Economic Injury Disaster Loan
We urge you to visit the www.SBA.gov website for specific information to submit your application.
Employee Retention Credit
Employers that have been forced to close their business due to a government-mandated shutdown will be allowed a refundable payroll tax credit for retaining their employees. The credit is generally available to a business whose operations have been fully or partially closed due to a government mandate or whose gross receipts have declined by more than 50% compared to the same calendar quarter for the previous year. For a business with 100 or fewer employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit regardless of whether the business is shut down or not. The credit is limited to 50% of the first $10,000 of compensation paid per employee. This credit is available for wages paid from March 13, 2020 through the end of 2020. Please note that this credit is not available if you choose to obtain a Small Business Loan as described further below.
Delay of Payroll Taxes
The CARES Act allows businesses to delay the 6.2% employer portion of the Social Security payroll tax for the remainder of 2020. The delayed tax liability would then be paid back 50% by December 31, 2021 and 50% by December 31, 2022. Please note that this deferral is not available if you choose to obtain a Small Business Loan as described further below.
Tax Provision Applicable to Individuals and Businesses
Paid Sick and FMLA Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides federally paid sick leave for employees unable to work or telework because of COVID-19. In general, it provides:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because he/she is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at 2/3 of regular pay because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or to care for a child (under age 18) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVIS-19; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at 2/3 of regular pay when an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Act applies to employers with less than 500 employees, although employers with less than 50 employees my qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
Modification of Net Operating Loss (NOL) Carryback
The NOL carryback provision was previously eliminated by the TCJA in 2017. The new provision would allow carrybacks for up to five years for net operating losses (NOLs) recorded by C Corporations in tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020. This provision also allows taxpayers not subject to the corporate income tax that incur NOLs, including individuals and sole proprietorships, to receive the temporary NOL carryback capabilities provided to corporations, as described above. This provision may provide businesses and individuals that incur losses in 2020 with substantial refunds. If carried back to 2017, the related refund would be based on the higher pre-TCJA tax rates—providing an additional benefit.
FDA is sharing information about best practices to operate retail food stores, restaurants, and associated pick-up and delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard workers and consumers.
This addresses key considerations for how foods offered at retail can be safely handled and delivered to the public, as well as key best practices for employee health, cleaning and sanitizing, and personal protective equipment (PPE). This is not a comprehensive list. We encourage consulting the references and links provided below by CDC, FDA, EPA, and OSHA for more detailed information. This will be updated as FDA receives further information and inquiries.
Managing Employee Health (Including Contracted Workers)
Instruct employees with symptoms associated with COVID-19 to report them to their supervisors. Instruct sick employees to stay home and to follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Consult with the local health department for additional guidance.
If employees are sick at work, send them home immediately. Clean and disinfect surfaces in their workspace. Others at the facility with close contact (i.e., within 6 feet) of the employee during this time should be considered exposed.
Instruct employees who are well, but know they have been exposed to COVID-19, to notify their supervisor and follow CDC-recommended precautions (see below).
Inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, while maintaining confidentiality.
Implement workplace controls to reduce transmission among employees, such as those described below that are included in CDC’s Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.
- Employers – Pre-screen (e.g., take temperature and assess symptoms prior to starting work).
- Employers – Disinfect and clean work spaces and equipment, and consider more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
- Employees – Regularly self-monitor (e.g., take temperature and assess symptoms of coronavirus).
- Employees – Wear a mask or face covering.
- Employees – Practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet from other people whenever possible.
For additional information when employees may have been exposed to COVID-19, refer to CDC’s Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.
For additional information on employee health and hygiene and recommendations to help prevent worker transmission of foodborne illness, refer to FDA’s Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook.
Note: If FDA recommendations differ from CDC’s regarding employee health and COVID-19, follow CDC.
For returning previously sick employees to work, refer to CDC’s Guidance for Discontinuation of Home
Isolation for Persons with COVID-19.
Follow CDC and FDA information on PPE (i.e., gloves, face masks/coverings, and protective gear).
Frequently review CDC’s Interim Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019.
Understand risk at the workplace—use OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
www.fda.gov 1 April 2020
Food Safety Information
Personal Hygiene for Employees
- Emphasize effective hand hygiene including washing hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Always wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and avoid working with unwrapped or exposed foods.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Use gloves to avoid direct bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
- Before preparing or eating food, always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands after.
Managing Operations in a Foodservice Establishment or Retail Food Store
Continue to follow established food safety protocols and best practices for retail food establishments and important COVID-19 recommendations, including the following:
Follow the 4 key steps to food safety:
Always — Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Wash, rinse, and sanitize food contact surfaces dishware, utensils, food preparation surfaces, and beverage equipment after use.
Frequently disinfect surfaces repeatedly touched by employees or customers such as door knobs, equipment handles, check-out counters, and grocery cart handles, etc.
Frequently clean and disinfect floors, counters, and other facility access areas using EPA-registered disinfectants.
Prepare and use sanitizers according to label instructions.
When changing your normal food preparation procedures, service, delivery functions, or making staffing changes, apply procedures that ensure:
- Cooked foods reach the proper internal temperatures prior to service or cooling.
- Hot foods are cooled rapidly for later use – check temperatures of foods being cooled in refrigerators or by rapid cooling techniques such as ice baths and cooling wands.
- The time foods being stored, displayed, or delivered are held in the danger zone (between 41°F and 135°F) is minimized.
- Proper training for food employees with new or altered duties and that they apply the training according to established procedures.
Help customers maintain good infection control and social distancing by:
- Discontinuing operations, such as salad bars, buffets, and beverage service stations that require customers to use common utensils or dispensers.
- Finding ways to encourage spacing between customers while in line for service or check out in accordance with the applicable state or local requirements.
- Discouraging customers from bringing pets—except service animals—into stores or waiting areas.
Continue to use sanitizers and disinfectants for their designed purposes.
Verify that your ware-washing machines are operating at the required wash and rinse temperatures and with the appropriate detergents and sanitizers.
Remember that hot water can be used in place of chemicals to sanitize equipment and utensils in manual ware-washing machines.
If you donate food to food recovery or charitable organizations, check for state and local guidelines. You can also find further information at Conference for Food Protection.
www.fda.gov 2 April 2020
Food Safety Information
Managing Food Pick-Up and Delivery
- Observe established food safety practices for time/temp control, preventing cross contamination, cleaning hands, no sick workers, and storage of food, etc.
- Have employees wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, or after touching high touch surfaces, e.g., doorknobs, and doorbells.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as counter tops and touch pads and within the vehicle, by wiping down surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Make sure to read the label and follow manufacturer’s instructions on use.
- Establish designated pick-up zones for customers to help maintain social distancing.
Practice social distancing when delivering food, e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived.
- Conduct an evaluation of your facility to identify and apply operational changes in order to maintain social distancing if offering take-out/carry-out option by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, when possible.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by storing in appropriate transport vessels.
- Keep cold foods cold by keeping enough coolant materials, e.g., gel packs.
- Keep hot foods hot by ensuring insulated cases are properly functioning.
- Keep foods separated to avoid cross contamination, e.g., keeping raw foods separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
- Ensure any wrapping and packaging used for food transport is done so that contamination of the food is prevented.
- Routinely clean and sanitize coolers and insulated bags used to deliver foods.
www.fda.gov 3 April 2020