Stay Home, Stay Safe Guidance
If you have questions about whether your business meet the definition of “critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security” as per Governor Scott's Executive Order, please review our Stay Home, Stay Safe FAQs and Sector Specific Guidance.
As businesses are considering this guidance, we ask that when in doubt, the business err on the side of caution in the name of public health. Businesses with in-person operations that are essential to public health and safety, economic or national security under the Executive Order must still comply with all current CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidelines.
In late-April, the Governor announced his intention to gradually allow businesses to reopen through a phased Work Safe approach. As additional guidance is released, this page will be updated and new information will be added in red.
Compliance with the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive order is not voluntary, as clarified by the Enforcement Directive issued by the Office of the Attorney General. If members of the public have concerns about violations of the Executive Order, the Department of Public Safety has created a reporting mechanism to gather information about those complaints.
On March 27, 2020 the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law to assist business owners with immediate financial needs including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These funding sources are made available through lenders on a first-come, first-served basis and are quickly allocated.
Contact your lender and regional business assistance providers for alternative loan products and funding sources as well as access to free technical assistance for help navigating options currently available including:
- The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help assist to keep up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan.
- The SBA Express Bridge Loans may enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
- Businesses that have been severely impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) may qualify for two New Employer Tax Credits – the Credit for Sick and Family Leave and the Employee Retention Credit.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development held a Virtual Town Hall on April 24, focusing on the work of the Employer Financial and Technical Support Team, an action team of the Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force, including detailed explanations by business advisors about the financial assistance programs available from the U.S. Small Business Administration, including the PPP and EIDL programs. The following archived webinar materials are available:
- Webinar Video (archived) If prompted, the password to download the video is: FmTtKDi3
- Webinar Slides
Please note that information was current as of the time of the event (April 24, 2020, 2:00pm).
Sole Proprietor Grants Application Now Open
An economic relief grant program has been announced which will provide grants of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 to qualifying sole proprietors through a lottery draw. The program is funded through $1.5 million from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s CDBG Program, and passed through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The application window will open Monday, July 20, 2020 and grants will be awarded through a lottery system on August 14, 2020.
Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) and Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) will be administering funds. Details including the program breakdown, full eligibility requirements, application materials and timelines, as well as technical assistance and FAQs, can be found on the program portal.
- What if I am forced to shut down my business due to COVID-19 impact? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
- What if I need to temporarily reduce my employees’ hours due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
- What if I need to temporarily shut down my operations as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
- What if I permanently close my business because of COVID-19 coronavirus?
- My business has to reduce staff or close due to the global impact that COVID-19 has caused. Is there anything that can help my affected workers?
- Where can I find updates about unemployment assistance for those typically not eligible for unemployment insurance?
What if I am forced to shut down my business due to COVID-19 impact? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you are forced to temporarily shut down business operations, your employees will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits, assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria, and have a return to work date that occurs before the 10-week maximum. Under this circumstance, unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.
What if I need to temporarily reduce my employees’ hours due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you experience a slow-down in business, causing a reduction in available work hours for employees, your employees may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits. unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.
What if I need to temporarily shut down my operations as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you need to shut down operations temporarily because an employee becomes sick and other employees need to be isolated or quarantined, your employees may be able to receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.
The Vermont Department of Labor, Workforce Development Division, provides Rapid Response services to businesses in transition, downsizing, laying off workers and/or closing a facility. This includes coordination with key state and regional partners to explore alternative layoff aversion strategies if possible.
My business has to reduce staff or close due to the global impact that COVID-19 has caused. Is there anything that can help my affected workers?
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program is a federal entitlement program that assists U.S. workers who have lost or may lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade. This program seeks to provide adversely affected workers with access to funding opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary to become reemployed.
Where can I find updates about unemployment assistance for those typically not eligible for unemployment insurance?
Please access the pre-recorded message from the Department of Labor providing updates for those seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance who are self-employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors and others not typically eligible for unemployment insurance. Call the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Line for the latest updates: (877) 660-7782.
CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
For the full list of employer and business guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html
We are still interested in hearing from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please continue to share these impacts via the Agency Business Impact Form, which will help us assess the full impact as we work toward solutions.
If you have other inquiries, please contact us through our dedicated email address: email@example.com.
The Agency has also established a hotline so that businesses may call to report impacts and be directed to resources: (802) 461-5143. The hotline will be staffed Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.