Resources for Covid-19 from the Windsor Chamber of Commerce
This guide will be updated regularly as new information is made available.
July 28 Update
As you may know, Governor Lamont issued an Executive Order (Number 7-JJJ) on Friday, July 24th, expanding coverage in the Workers’ Compensation system to those contracting Covid-19.
The long and short of it is the Workers’ Compensation system now includes a rebuttable presumption that employees with COVID-19 contracted the virus while working. There are certain conditions that apply. The primary conditions are:
Many of you contacted the governor’s office expressing concern about taking such an action; unfortunately, we were not successful convincing the governor of the impact that the expansion will have on the business community. An analysis of the proposed changes by the independent National Council on Compensation Insurance showed employer costs could increase by as much as by 238% if left open-ended.
The Windsor Chamber will continue to monitor activities related to Covid-19 and will let you know of other proposed initiatives that will have an impact on the business community.
June 8 Updates
PPP Improvements: The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act was signed into law Friday. The Act makes several important changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The new law eases some of the program’s restrictions, giving small businesses more time to use their loans and letting borrowers spend more of their loans on non-payroll expenses.
Key changes to the PPP include:
While demand for PPP loans has slowed, funding remains available. More information can be found on the SBA website, including a tool to find lenders that are still issuing PPP loans.
Ways to Learn More: Connecticut's Small Business Development Center will present a webinar this Wednesday, June 10, at 11 a.m. on the PPP program, and what the changes in the Flexibility Act will mean for businesses who have not applied yet as well as those who already have. Click here to register.
You are also invited to the Chamber's Virtual Roundtable, held every Monday at noon via Zoom. This is an opportunity to share how you're grappling with the Covid-19 crisis, get ideas from your peers, and support each other.
In addition, Chamber Executive Director Adam Gutcheon and Jim Burke from the Town of Windsor will review the current state of the crisis, state and federal business relief measures (including the Flexibility Act), and what the Town and Chamber are doing in response. Click here to register for the Roundtable.
Are You Open? Let Us Know: As Connecticut gets into the swing of reopening, the Chamber is here to help you spread the word. Please let us know your reopening plans so we can share them with the public in our Windsor Open For Business guide, and with our state and regional partners. Our seven-question should take no more than five minutes to fill out. Click HERE to take the survey.
April 27 Updates
Covid-19 Business Survey: We want to know how Covid-19 has impacted your business, and what you need to adapt and recover! Please take our short survey, developed by the Chamber and the Town of Windsor Economic Development Department.
Our goals are to build a baseline of data from which to measure our recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, provide feedback to state and local policymakers regarding how Windsor businesses have been impacted, prioritize recovery initiatives, and connect participants with resources. Your participation in this short survey will be a great help to the Town and Chamber as we build a pathway to recovery. Click here to take the survey!
Virtual Roundtable Today With Special Guest: At today's Virtual Roundtable, held from 12-1 p.m., we will be joined by Denise Whitford of the CT Small Business Development Center. Denise will discuss SBDC's Business Resiliency Toolkit, mechanisms for stabilizing your business, and preparing for the new normal. Click here to RSVP for the Roundtable.
Lunch and Learn With Us on Wednesday: This Wednesday from 12-1, we will present a Virtual Lunch and Learn with Jennifer Doutre, LCSW, Service Director at Community Health Resources. Jennifer will speak to us about managing our mental health and staying resilient in the face of pandemic-related fear, stress, and isolation. Please have virtual lunch with us while Jennifer shares insights and tools for keeping healthy in this unprecedented time. Click here to register for Wednesday's Lunch and Learn.
Webinar on Reopening Connecticut’s Economy: Gov. Lamont's Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group is developing guidelines and recommendations for reactivating the state’s pandemic-stricken economy. State Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman will present an hour-long interactive webinar this Thursday, April 30, at 1 p.m. on the administration’s approach and priorities. You will also hear from four members of the advisory group’s business subcommittee as they outline the state’s initial steps toward reopening and the challenges that lie ahead. There will be extensive time given to questions. It’s critical that you take advantage and share your questions, concerns, and issues. Click here to register for the webinar.
Marketing--Staying Relevant in the time of Crisis: Join our neighbors at the Bloomfield Chamber tomorrow from 1-2 p.m. for a conversation on marketing strategies to keep driving your business forward. Our guest presenter is Alice Margie Turner, Executive Director of URISE. Click here for more details and meeting info.
Essential Businesses, Order Free Masks for Your Employees: CONNSTEP and CBIA have partnered with the state of Connecticut to assist in the distribution of recently donated surgical masks to eligible businesses. Eligible businesses include those listed as essential businesses as defined by the state with 50 employees or fewer. Eligible businesses can request no more than two masks per employee by filling out the form found on this web page.
Small businesses with employees that have little contact with the public are strongly urged to create their own face masks or face coverings following CDC guidelines to ensure the limited supply of surgical masks go to businesses that need them the most.
Supporting Local Business: The Chamber has created two ways you can support local retail and restaurants through this pandemic. First, keep our Covid-19 Retail and Restaurant Guide handy for the latest hours, details, and specials from Chamber members. Second, enter our Takeout and Win promotion to get a chance at winning prizes while supporting Windsor restaurants!
April 24 Updates
Don't Forget About the Census: The 2020 Census continues, and with door-to-door canvassing out of the question, it's even more important that we encourage our employees and coworkers to participate. Connecticut receives $11 billion in funding from the federal government--and, more importantly, our town and state receive political representation--that is directly tied to our count. Anyone who has not filled out their census form can do so at https://my2020census.gov/.
April 20 Updates
Cautious Discussions About Reopening For Business: As we muddle our way through the Covid-19 crisis together, voices in business and government have begun discussing what recovery will look like, and how long it will take, and what steps we should plan to take to get there. Governor Lamont has created a Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, and is coordinating with the governors of six other northeastern states to develop a fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states’ stay at home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus.
Although no decisions have been made on how we will reopen our state, here are some expectations based on what has already been said by state officials and public health experts:
Workplace Masks/Face Coverings Now Mandatory: Beginning 8 pm Monday, April 20, all employees must wear a face mask or face cloth covering at all times in the workplace.
Employers are required to issue masks or cloth face coverings to employees.
If that is not possible because of shortages or supply chain difficulties, employers must provide materials—or compensate employees for the cost—to make their own and share the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for making cloth face coverings.
Masks or face coverings are not required if wearing one compromises the health or safety of an employee because of a medical condition. An employee is not required to produce medical documentation in such a case.
Customers must also wear cloth face coverings while on premises. Businesses may provide face coverings to customers and visitors. The medical exemption applies for customers, with additional guidance for children.
The state also revised its rules for Connecticut retail stores, and now requires masks or face coverings for employees and customers.
CBIA has put together an excellent list of resources for workplace safety standards, including this new requirement. Click here to check it out.
April 2 Updates
Chamber Providing Remote Notary Services: The Governor has authorized Notaries Public to notarize documents via video conference, so long as the video is recorded and retained, and other requirements are met. The Chamber is able to meet these requirements. If you need any notary services, the Chamber can provide them free to members. Call or email to set up an appointment.
More Details Released on Paycheck Protection Program: Many questions have come in this week about the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal stimulus program that provides loans which convert to grants if payroll is maintained. The government has gradually released answers to these questions this week.
Get Your Questions Answered At Monday's Virtual Roundtable: Our third Virtual Roundtable will be held this Monday, April 6, at from 12-1 p.m. This is an opportunity to share how you're grappling with the Covid-19 crisis, get ideas from your peers, and support each other. Executive Director Adam Gutcheon and Jim Burke from the Town of Windsor will review the current state of the crisis, state and federal business relief measures, and what the Town and Chamber are doing in response. The Hartford Courant wrote up our first Virtual Roundtable; click here to read the article. We will follow up on several items raised at last Monday's session. Click here for more information, including how to join.
Sales Tax Payments Are Deferred for Small Business: Taxpayers that have $150,000 or less in annual sales tax liability qualify for an automatic extension of time to file and pay. Similarly, those that have $150,000 or less in annual room occupancy tax also qualify for this relief. For monthly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due March 31, 2020, and April 30, 2020, are extended to May 31, 2020. For quarterly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due April 30, 2020, are extended to May, 31, 2020.
Insurance and Mortgage Payment Flexibility: Beginning on April 1, 2020 for a period of 60 days, no insurer in Connecticut – including life, health, auto property, casualty, and other types – may lapse or terminate a covered insurance policy because a policyholder does not pay a premium or interest during this time. This grace period is not automatic. To be eligible, affected policyholders must provide additional information acceptable to their insurance carriers. Contact your insurance agent for more information.
The Governor has reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to the state’s residents and businesses who continue to face hardship caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement, the following relief policies are being offered by participating financial institutions:
More Rules For Retail: By order of the Governor, every retail establishment in the state will be required to take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between and among customers, employees, and other persons such as delivery drivers and maintenance people, effective tomorrow, April 3.
March 30 Updates
The federal CARES Act was signed into law Friday. The Act invests over $2 trillion in funding for Covid-19 relief, including $4.9 billion in aid to Connecticut small businesses. This is a long update, as the Act contains many programs; please read the whole thing through, as there will undoubtedly be something in the list that can help you and your business. If you have any questions or need assistance applying for any of these programs, please reply to this email or call the Chamber at 860-688-5165. We're here to help!
Click here for an exhaustive guide to the small business provisions of the CARES Act.
Direct Payments Begin Within 3 Weeks: The Act provides for direct cash payments to individuals of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under 17. The rebates will be paid out as advance refunds (in the form of checks or direct deposit) based on your 2019 tax returns (or 2018, if a 2019 return has not yet been filed). The IRS hopes to begin issuing the rebates within three weeks.
Individuals with adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 for joint filers) who are not dependents of another taxpayer are eligible for the full rebate. Payments for incomes between $75,001 and $99,999 are phased out at a 5% rate, and an individual earning $99,000 per year and above would not receive a payment.
Self-Employed Now Eligible for Unemployment: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of emergency unemployment assistance to self-employed workers, including independent contractors and freelancers. The benefit for the self-employed is $600 plus half the average Connecticut unemployment benefit amount. If you are still working, but less than before the outbreak, you are eligible to apply for partial unemployment on a pro rata basis. You can apply for unemployment here.
Paycheck Protection Program: Small businesses are now eligible for SBA-backed loans of up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable. Businesses with 500 or fewer employees, including sole proprietors, contractors, and freelancers, may apply.
The eligible forgivable amount equals the amount of money spent during the eight weeks from the origination of the loan on: payroll costs (excluding costs for any compensation above $100,000 annually), mortgage interest, rent payments and utility payments combined.
The application information has not yet been released. We understand this will be done through a network of lenders, but the details are still being negotiated.
Click here for a full guide to the Paycheck Protection Program.
SBA Debt Relief: If you have a preexisting SBA loan under the 7(a) program, a 504 loan, or a microloan, the SBA will cover all loan payments for existing SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loans has been streamlined. These low-interest (up to 3.75%) loans are available directly from the SBA to any small business that has been injured by the Covid-19 outbreak. Click here to apply.
Even better, anyone applying for an EIDL may request an advance of up to $10,000, which will be paid within three days of applying. 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.
Tax Provisions Benefitting Small Businesses Not Eligible For the Paycheck Protection Program: For small businesses that are not eligible or choose not to apply for PPP funds, two additional tax-related benefits are available.
Bewildered? There's Help: The Chamber is here to help guide you through all these programs. The Connecticut Small Business Development Center is also standing ready to provide assistance, both with these new programs and with advice and guidance on adapting to this great challenge. Finally, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has created a COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit dedicated to assisting businesses navigate resources and develop new resources. A dedicated phone line is available at 860-500-2333.
March 27 Updates
Join Our Virtual Roundtable Monday: The Hartford Courant wrote up our first Virtual Roundtable, which was held this past Monday. Click here to read the article. Our next call is this Monday from 12-1 p.m. This is an opportunity to share how you're grappling with the Covid-19 crisis, get ideas from your peers, and support each other. Executive Director Adam Gutcheon and Jim Burke from the Town of Windsor will review the current state of the crisis, state and federal business relief measures, and what the Town and Chamber are doing in response. We will follow up on several items raised at last Monday's session. Click here for more information, including how to join.
More Rules for Restaurants: Gov. Lamont issued an Executive Order last night for restaurants and any other business selling food for off-premises consumption. These businesses now must use best efforts to:
More Rules for Retail: In the same order, the Governor required retailers that are still open to use best efforts to:
Federal Stimulus Before the House: The Senate passed over $2 trillion in stimulus funds earlier this week. The bill is now before the House of Representatives. In addition to the well-publicized cash payments to households of $1200 per person, the bill includes new funding and programs to help get small business through the crisis.
Online Community Benefit Auction Begins in One Week: A pandemic can't stop the Windsor community from coming together to support each other! The Chamber Cares 2020 Auction will be held online for the first time from Friday, April 3, to Friday, April 10. In addition to its previously announced beneficiaries, the auction will benefit local charities providing relief to households experiencing loss of income due to the Covid-19 crisis: the Windsor Food & Fuel Bank and the Neighbors in Need Fund of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. Additional Covid-19 relief charities may be announced before the auction begins. Register to participate now at windsor2020.givesmart.com.
The Windsor Food & Fuel Bank works to ensure that no Windsor resident goes hungry, is cold, or is without basic necessities. The Neighbors in Need Fund assists individuals and families in central and northeastern Connecticut in economic distress due to the Covid-19 crisis with food, emergency assistance, and childcare. Previously announced beneficiaries include the Windsor Education Foundation, Music School at Sound Crossing, and the Chamber.
In addition to dozens of unique items and experiences for sale, the Chamber Cares auction will feature $25 surprise boxes, containing at least $25 in gift cards to local businesses.
Register to participate now at windsor2020.givesmart.com. If you'd like to donate an item or gift certificate, please reply to this email.
March 26 Update
Apply Right Now for Zero-Interest Loans: The State of Connecticut is offering short-term, no-interest bridge loans of up to $75,000 to small businesses with less than 100 employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Repayment would be over 12-18 months. Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program funding is available immediately through the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Funds from the $25 million short-term emergency loan program will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, the Chamber strongly urges you to apply immediately, before the funds are exhausted. Click here to learn more about the program, including eligibility requirements and terms and conditions.
March 23 Updates:
Good News From the IRS: The IRS has announced it will provide immediate reimbursement for Covid-19 related employee medical leave, up to the limits set by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, for employers of up to 500 employees. The cost of not just the leave but also of health insurance during the leave will be covered. You'll be able to deduct the costs of on-leave employees' pay and insurance from your payroll tax payments; if your costs are higher than your payroll tax due, you can apply for accelerated payment from the IRS. Please consult your payroll or tax professional for details.
New Paid Leave Requirements:
Refundable Tax Credits for Paid Leave:
Final guidance on this program has yet to be released by the IRS; visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief site for more information as it becomes available.
March 20 Updates:
Join Our Virtual Roundtable Monday: The Chamber is holding a weekly virtual Business Roundtable on Mondays from 12-1 p.m., starting this Monday, March 23. This is an opportunity to share how you're grappling with the Covid-19 crisis, get ideas from your peers, and support each other. Executive Director Adam Gutcheon and Jim Burke from the Town of Windsor will review the current state of the crisis, state and federal business relief measures, and what the Town and Chamber are doing in response. Click here for more information, including how to join.
Stay Safe, Stay Home: Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered all workers at "non-essential" businesses to stay home. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other necessary businesses are allowed to remain open. Restaurants are still able to provide takeout services. Construction and manufacturing can continue as well.
Retail and Restaurant Guide: The Chamber has compiled a listing of member retailers and restaurants, with their hours and how they've adjusted service. Please support your local businesses as much as you can! We're all stronger when we have a community behind us. Restaurants are still able to provide takeout service and some retailers can take your order over the phone or online.
Tax Day is July 15: The IRS has pushed Tax Day back by three months. Both the filing and payment deadlines will be July 15.
March 18 Updates:
Business Emergency Response Unit: The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is launching the COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, which will be dedicated to helping businesses in Connecticut navigate the resources available to them during this crisis. Small businesses seeking guidance can reach this unit by calling 860-500-2333.
Important Survey: In addition, DECD and Advance CT, a nonprofit organization that works to advance economic competitiveness in Connecticut, today began distributing a comprehensive survey to businesses to get information on what types of resources they need throughout the duration of this pandemic. This will help the state gather important information on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The data collected will guide the governor as he puts together economic relief efforts; please click here and take a moment to fill out the survey.
Alternatives to Layoffs: If you are in the unfortunate situation of needing to temporarily reduce your workforce, Connecticut's Shared Work program can help! Shared Work, designed to save jobs and retain skilled workers, offers an alternative to layoffs by allowing employers to temporarily reduce employee hours and supplement lost wages with the help of partial unemployment benefits. Under the program, all employers with two or more employees can participate. When business upturns, employees resume regular hours and employers are able to ramp up quickly with an experienced team in place. This is a win-win for employer and employee alike. Learn more and apply for the program here.
While we can’t provide you with a cure or vaccine, we can offer you some information that might be of assistance. Most importantly: only trust sources that you know to be believable, credible sources.
Chamber Activities: The Chamber office is open by appointment only until further notice. All Chamber committee meetings will take place via conference call. Committee members will be notified of the protocol for participating on the call. General membership meetings/events, such as the Windsor Business Connection and Business After Hours, are postponed until this crisis subsides.
Furthermore, the Chamber Cares Auction will be held online. This will allow us to stay safe while offering the opportunity to participate in Windsor’s First-Ever Online Community Benefit Auction to the whole community. Your help promoting this online event to your employees, co-workers, and friends, through your social media and word of mouth, will be crucial.
Workplace Safety: The following recommendations are taken from the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Click here to read the full version.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a website dedicated to the Coronavirus. You can access it here.
Employee Leave: The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has information related to requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. You can find that information here.
Emergency Financing: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up an emergency loan fund to assist small businesses affected by the Coronavirus. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Information about accessing the loans can be found by clicking here.
These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
Telework and Software Resources: The Chamber has put together a list of software that can be used for telework and remote collaboration. You can access the list here. There's also a list of software that has been made available for free or reduced prices here.
Filing extensions: The Department of Revenue Services has extended deadlines for filing and payments associated with certain state business tax returns. Click here for details.
Unemployment assistance: Workers directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic no longer must be actively searching for work to qualify for unemployment assistance. And employers who are furloughing workers can use the Department of Labor’s shared work program, which allows businesses to reduce working hours and have those wages supplemented with unemployment insurance. DOL has more information about these and other changes.
We hope that you find this information helpful. A little common sense and good, healthy practices will go a long way to help protect you and your employees.
|Windsor Covid-19 Response Fund|
|Windsor Retail and Restaurant Covid-19 Guide|