Monday March 8, 2021
CHAMBER HIGHLIGHTS WELCOME ELEMENTS OF LATEST COVID-19 RELIEF BILL
$28.6 BILLION FOR RESTAURANTS & BARS; SVOG PROGRAM TO NOW OPEN TO PPP RECIPIENTS

The North Country Chamber of Commerce is highlighting several elements of the latest COVID-19 relief bill enacted by the U.S. Senate on Saturday.

"It is a massive and complex bill with things to welcome and others to question," noted Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "Consistent with our recent issue survey, we welcome the inclusion of substantial aid to state and local governments. Assistance for our counties is especially important as they are very much on the front line of the pandemic impacts and the response. Clinton County should see $15.61 million, Franklin $9.7 million and Essex $7.15 million, and a further $2.1 million for Plattsburgh International Airport to sustain it until the return of active travel. And we will see additional aid to help get our colleges and our rural hospitals stabilized for the future."

"On the business front, there is a new $28.6 billion grant program to help independent restaurants and bars. These grants will be open to bars and restaurants, including those that have used the PPP program, assisting with further uncovered losses. And Senator Schumer obtained language amending the Shuttered Venues Grant Program created in December, opening it similarly to performance venues, independent cinemas and museums who have used PPP but still have uncovered operating losses. We and others told the Senator how few of the venues could apply as they had used PPP and therefore were ineligible, even though it wasn't adequate to stabilize them. And he quickly responded with inclusion of this change. Once the bill receives final House passage and is signed into law, we will obtain and disseminate information as soon as it becomes available on both of these programs, including organizing an informational webinar."

The Chamber also notes that substantial new support has been provided to the nation's transit agencies including the MTA in New York City. "We have been highlighting this for its importance to our region's transportation equipment producers including Alstom and Nova Bus. The hope is that this will firm up existing contracts as well as encourage the possible release of those that some agencies have put on hold."

The bill now returns to the U.S. House for what may be final action this week. 

The North Country Chamber will continue to issue updates as action and information becomes available.
RESTAURANTS CAN MOVE TO 75 PERCENT INDOOR CAPACITY STARTING MARCH 19
restaurants outside of New York City, which have been operating at 50 percent capacity, can now move to 75 percent capacity starting March 19. The data has shown that restaurants can operate safely and in accordance with strict health protocols at 75 percent capacity. New York City restaurant capacity will remain at 35 percent capacity.
 
"Our fight in the war against COVID-19 continues, but we are encouraged by the decrease in infection and hospitalization rates and the rise in vaccinations," Governor Cuomo said. "As we expand our vaccine distribution and celebrate the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we have never been closer to defeating this beast once and for all. It is critical that New Yorkers not succumb to COVID fatigue and remain vigilant. Until the day the war is won, we all need to continue the practices we know work - washing hands, social distancing and masking up. The numbers are a reflection of our actions and when we work together, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel."
$29 MILLION AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT ESSENTIAL WORKERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS THROUGH THE EMPIRE PANDEMIC GRANT PROGRAM
$29 million is available to support essential workers and first responders through the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund program coordinated by the Office of Children and Family Services. The program is designed to reimburse out-of-pocket childcare, transportation, lodging and other qualifying expenses that enabled workers to perform their duties. The funding comes from private donations from individuals, charitable trusts and businesses made during the COVID crisis.
 
Qualifying applicants include first responders, health care, and many multi-industry workers. Up to $1,000 is available per household. Workers should be referred by employers, unions or social service providers who can verify employment during the COVID emergency. Families who earn up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level - or $125,470 for a family of four - are eligible to apply for the funds to cover expenses.

About the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund
The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund is a non-competitive application. Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria set forth below and who submit the required supporting documentation for eligible expenses will be awarded funds to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses they incurred to respond to COVID-19 that have not been reimbursed by another source. Awards will be made to eligible applicants for eligible expenditures on a first come, first served basis until funding is exhausted as stated below. The maximum reimbursement amount is $1,000 per household.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Today's Dose is Generously Supported By:
QUICK LINKS:
  • NYS Vaccination Updates: Official Site for making an appointment to get the COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.
  • NYS Travel Advisory: Stay up to date on the latest NYS Travel Advisory Updates.
  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.
  • SCORE: Small business owners are resilient and can power through this challenging time, with SCORE by their side.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce
518.563.1000