Below you will find updates from the US Chamber, SC Chamber, SCRLA, CDC.GOV, and the US Chamber Foundation.
Additionally, I encourage you to:
And most importantly, be safe & be thankful, support local.
LATEST CDC UPDATES
To continue the conversation on transportation from Monday's Path Forward program, here is the video of the event. Please feel free to share this widely with your colleagues and networks.
SCRLA Developed Business Opening Guidelines
The South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Hospitality Industry Resilience Task Force has developed a set of opening and operating guidelines to help restaurants return to full operation safely when the time comes. South Carolina is committed to following the protocols set forth by Governor Henry McMaster.
The guidelines detailed in this Phase One plan are driven by three major considerations: safety, gradual and phasing in. The guidelines are designed to provide a basic summary of recommended practices that can be used to help mitigate exposure to COVID-19, including:
• Food safety
• Cleaning and sanitizing
• Employee health monitoring and personal hygiene
• Social distancing
The purpose of this guidance is to build on the already established best practices and requirements available to address specific health and safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.
Per our list of recommendations, we suggest beginning to phase in the opening of restaurant outdoor dining areas on May 4 with their being treated the same as takeout, curbside service and delivery from a regulation standpoint. We anticipate being able to open the dine-in areas of restaurants by the week of May 18, depending on safety considerations.
For more information click here: Phase One Recommendations
SC Chamber Organizes Working Groups to Develop Employer Liability Protection Recommendations
Legal Working Groups: The SC Chamber is coordinating with the SC Manufacturers Alliance, the SC Retailers Association, the SC Hospital Association, and the SC Medical Association on developing a list of actions and legislative recommendations to limit liability risks related to COVID-19. Members of the SC Chamber’s Legal Committee have identified legal experts within their law firms to draft recommendations and develop best practices for businesses. The attorneys are focused on COVID-19 issues related to workplace safety/OSHA issues, employment liability, premises liability, workers compensation, product liability for manufacturers transitioning to making PPE, and medical and healthcare liability.
In the coming days, SC Chamber will ask Governor McMaster and accelerateSC to consider and act on our recommendations. Some of our recommendations will require legislative action; as such, we will call for the Governor to bring the SC General Assembly into session as soon as it is safe to consider critical COVID-19 legislation to help businesses, including liability protections.
Federal Action: The SC Chamber has communicated our concerns about the high risks of legal liability related to COVID-19 to our federal delegation. We are pleased to see that US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making this issue a priority in the next coronavirus bill, which we expect will provide additional funding to state and local governments.
“You have to carefully craft the liability protection to deal with the money that would be supplied to state and local governments conditioned upon them enacting at the state level the kind of legislation that would provide liability protection for those that are seeking to go forward and get the economy back to work,” McConnell said.
accelerateSC Response Subcommittee Meets for the First Time
The Response Subcommittee of the accelerateSC Task Force met for the first time this afternoon to discuss many of the COVID-19 issues affecting business and how we start to move the state forward safely and sustainably. The committee’s stated goal is to identify challenges related to workforce capacity, workforce re-entry, critical industries, capital requirements, regulatory issues, and supply chain/logistics. Members include representatives of business associations, private businesses, as well as several government agencies. The full accelerateSC Task Force met for the first time last Thursday.
Items on today’s meeting agenda included (1) safety protocols/reopening guidelines, (2) access to PPE, (3) workforce concerns to cover childcare, recall resistance, persistent unemployment, and online training opportunities.
Discussion of these topics included items that we have heard from our SC Chamber policy committees persistently over the last few days like:
Also, SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts presented preliminary results from the SC Chamber’s accelerateSC COVID19 Business Survey. Read more here.
The next meeting will be next Tuesday, and the Governor said he expected the entire group’s work to be done within 30 days.
Last Call for COVID-19 Business Survey
The SC Chamber and SC Department of Commerce developed a survey to assist the accelerateSC task force by giving members critically needed data to make important decisions during the next 30 days. We value your input and ask that you please take 5 minutes to answer the survey. It will remain open until Friday, May 1st.
Community Request from Local Medical Centers
Local Florence hospitals are encouraging the community to be smart in handling personal health during the COVID-19 era. If you are suffering what might be a health challenging circumstance, the local medical centers are open and ready to help you. Patient safety is their number one priority, and measures are being taken to ensure that they can safely deliver patient care.
Again, all patients are asked to NOT delay their medical appointments, any required procedures, diagnostic testing or emergency room care. Please share this information with friends and family.
Promotional Information to Business owners, Chamber members, colleagues and friends:
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Due to overwhelming response the US Chamber of Commerce is no longer accepting applications for their Save Small Business grants. Please visit their “Save Small Business Initiative” page for additional resources and information.
Below please find the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s updates for today.
1. US Senate Passes Additional Funds for PPP
US Senate Democrats and Republicans have reached a deal and added additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The package, passed yesterday in the Senate by a voice vote, allocates over $480 billion total including funding for:
The US House could take a vote on the package as soon as Thursday of this week (tomorrow).
2. Governor McMaster Closes Schools for Remainer of School Year
In a press conference today, Governor McMaster and SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced that schools would close for the remainder of the school year. The Governor will issue an executive order next week that will lay out all of the exact details, but in their remarks, Governor McMaster and Superintendent Spearman noted the following:
3. Updates for Our Manufacturing Members
White House Defers Some Tariffs for Hard-Hit Companies: In an executive order announced on Sunday, President Trump deferred some tariffs, taxes, and fees for businesses that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Shortly after that, Customs and Border Protection and the Treasury Department (Treasury) issued a temporary final rule which allows companies to postpone certain payments on merchandise imported during March and April for 90 calendar days from the original due date.
The US Chamber of Commerce applauded the decision. Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant said:
“Providing some temporary tariff relief will help American businesses make payroll and retain employees in the coming weeks. With the current economic downturn, liquidity has become one of the top challenges for businesses of all sizes. Allowing US companies to defer some tariff payments — like the tax relief provided in the CARES Act — will alleviate some of that strain.”
The order does not apply to all tariffs. It excludes changes to antidumping and countervailing duties and tariffs under sections 201, 232 and 301 of the trade code, The goal of this deferral is to help companies relying heavily on imports get through the next several months until the economy is on its way to getting back up and running.
OSHA Issues Safety Tips for Manufacturing Employers: Last week, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new alert with recommendations about how to keep manufacturers safe.
The safety tips for employers to help protect manufacturing workers from exposure to COVID-19 include the following:
The alert is available for download here.
These and other resources for businesses are available on SC Chamber’s COVID-19 website.
From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday:
Earlier this afternoon, the administration and Congress reached a deal to increase the funding of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs under the CARES Act to provide emergency financial relief for small business owners navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Just moments ago, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the legislation.
In response to the deal, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement:
"We applaud congressional leaders and the administration for reaching a deal to increase desperately needed funding to support America’s small businesses during this difficult time. These additional funds could make the difference between keeping a business up and running over the coming weeks or being forced to reduce salaries, lay off employees, or shutter businesses entirely. Congress should enact this legislation immediately to help small businesses that need the funding right now.”
The U.S. Chamber has been a strong advocate for the small business community and the swift enactment of this legislation, and recently launched the Save Small Business Initiative—a nationwide program to provide supplemental funding, resources and webinars, research, and advocacy for American small businesses.
This legislation is expected to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday, April 23, 2020.
Click here to encourage House Members to vote to restore funding now. You can also share this tool with your members and ask them to join us in urging Congress to take swift action.
U.S. Chamber Top Line Summary of New CARES Act Funding
To better understand the new CARES Act funding and how it impacts you and your members, we encourage you to review the U.S. Chamber's top line summary of the final bill.
Thank you for your continued support as we work towards securing this vital funding for the small business community—the backbone of the American economy.
Looks Like New Funding For SBA Small Business Aid Is About To Go Through
We understand that the U.S. House and Senate have reached an agreement on an emergency economic rescue package that will replenish the small business aid program and provide money for coronavirus testing and funding for hospitals.
The new package would replenish the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, which was part of the $2 trillion stimulus approved late last month and ran out of money last week. The agreement seems to include $75 billion for hospitals and funding to expand testing for the COVID-19 virus. It is believed that $125 billion of the small business funds will go exclusively to unbanked and very small stores. The Senate is scheduled to meet today at 4 p.m. for a pro forma session which provides the platform for passage.
The bill will likely allocate more than $400 billion total including funding for:
The Chamber will share more details when available later today.
NEWS FROM THE SC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Governor McMaster Announces, “Accelerate SC” Task Force
Accelerate SC Task Force: In a press conference yesterday, Governor McMaster announced the formation and membership of the economic revitalization task force called “Accelerate SC.” Revised estimates now predict that the peak of new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina was on April 15 and the peak in deaths was April 9. The Accelerate SC task force will develop a plan to move South Carolina toward a phased-in revitalization path as healthcare data indicates it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Accelerate SC includes representatives from various business and industry sectors, including SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts. For a full list of members, click here. The plan will consist of five categories: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information. The group’s first meeting will be on Thursday of this week.
New Executive Order: Governor McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-28, which reopens public beaches and waterways effective tomorrow, April 21st at 12:00 pm, allowing local governments to decide whether to close beaches within their jurisdictions. The order also reopens certain retail stores, effective today at 5 pm, including:
*All stores are required to (1) limit occupancy to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20 percent occupancy, whichever is less; (2) ensure customers are not congregating within six feet of one another, and (3) implement all reasonable steps to comply with CDC and DHEC sanitation guidelines.
Original CARES Act Loan Recap Data
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released updated Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. loan approval numbers through 12:00 pm on April 16th.
In South Carolina:
The SC Chamber Team will continue to monitor developments at the federal level and to work with the SBA’s South Carolina District Office and the SC Bankers Association in order to assist members and provide up-to-date information about the evolution of the PPP.
Monday's Call with US Senator Lindsey Graham (Recap)
Monday there were nearly 400 people tuned in to the SC Chamber Zoom call with US Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator Graham was integral in the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the most significant relief package in American history, designed to help businesses and the economy during this time of crisis.
Key points from the call include: