New Campaign to Promote Mask-Wearing at Businesses Statewide

Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce staff has participated in weekly calls with the PA Chamber and other Chambers across PA since COVID-19 has changed our lives and the way we do business. We have also had individual phone conversations with PA Chamber staff about the seriousness of the Governor expecting businesses to enforce the mask order. We realize the burden this places on our employers and their employees. In response to our plea to the Governor, he held a press conference earlier this week. That press conference is detailed in the next article. We believe that while that was a good first step, much more needs to be done. We have partnered with the PA Chamber on a new initiative that we hope will make the lives of our businesses owners and their employees easier, so that they can get back to business and worry less about confronting customers that refuse to wear a mask.

As part of the PA Chamber's “Bringing PA Back” initiative, they have partnered with the PA Medical Society and the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of PA to promote mask wearing as a critical step toward Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. “Why I Wear It” is a social media-based campaign aimed at promoting the concept that mask wearing is not a political issue. Regardless of personal feelings on the state-issued mandate, mask wearing has proven necessary in ensuring that businesses remain open through the COVID-19 pandemic. To get involved in the “Why I Wear It” campaign, click here to download the sign, print it out and fill in the reason why your business promotes mask wearing. (Use one of the reasons listed below or write in a reason that is personal to you.) Then, email a photo of you and/or your employees wearing masks and holding the sign to landrews@pachamber.org, and/or post it social media using the hashtag #WhyIWearIt. Submitted photos will be shared on the PA Chamber’s social media channels in coordination with our campaign partners in an effort to get #WhyIWearIt trending. Click here to download the full campaign instructions. Thank you in advance for your participation and engagement and we work together toward “Bringing PA Back!"
 
Sample Messaging
I wear my mask because ….
o  I can’t afford to be sued.
o  I can’t risk being fined.
o  I can’t risk losing my insurance.
o  I want to keep my employees healthy.
o  I want my employees to know I’m doing the best for them.
o  I need my customers to feel safe.
o  My livelihood depends on it.
o  I need to keep my doors open.
o  I want my community to be stronger.
o  Our economy depends on it.
o  My employees are counting on me.
o  My customers are depending on me.
o  I need to protect my business.
 
Wolf Administration, Local Law Enforcement Stress Important Roles Education and Understanding Play in Enforcement of COVID-19 Orders

Governor Tom Wolf visited the Susquehanna Township Police headquarters today to discuss the important roles education and understanding play in the enforcement of the various COVID-19 mitigation orders in place across the state.

“We have to do everything we can to keep our communities safe and healthy, including wearing a mask and following mitigation orders so our business operate safely,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have the ability to enforce these rules, and we are going to continue to work closely with commonwealth agencies and local officials to enforce public safety orders.”
The governor was joined by representatives of commonwealth agencies and local law enforcement involved in mitigation order enforcement, including Secretary of Heath Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. Scott Price, and Susquehanna Township Chief of Police Rob Martin.

Each representative focused on the role their agency plays in education and enforcement of the various orders in place to keep Pennsylvanians safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Wearing a mask is so important to protecting each other. I implore all Pennsylvanians to do right thing,” Dr. Levine said. “When you wear a mask you are not only telling that person you pass on the street that you care about their safety, you are telling police and other first responders that you care about their safety, too.”

“Pennsylvania’s restaurant owners and staff and have delivered for us, putting safe, healthy food on our tables,” Redding said. “We can all deliver for them by wearing a mask and following the COVID-19 measures to keep them safe and healthy.”

“As some of the most visible public servants in the commonwealth, the state police will continue working collaboratively with the Department of Health and local police departments to remain at the forefront of law enforcement pandemic response efforts,” said Lieutenant Colonel Price. “We are grateful to the majority of Pennsylvanians who have stepped up to follow mitigation requirements and for all the support our troopers and liquor control enforcement officers have received during the past several months.”
Local law enforcement’s role is a collaborative one with state agencies and local officials, and Chief Martin stressed his department’s work to educate businesses and residents, and to refer any suspected violations of the governor and Dr. Levine’s orders to the proper state agency if necessary.

“Our citizens in Susquehanna Township have been inspiring. On many occasions they have contacted our police department and our government center for advice, guidance, and our assistance. We wish to meet our citizens where they are and be an educational voice of gentle persuasion,” Martin said. “Of the times that we have had to make referrals to our commonwealth partners, we have been met with cooperation and understanding. I want to thank the commonwealth for being a valued partner, and thank Governor Wolf for his always civil mannered discourse, as what our country needs right now is civility.”
The governor also asked local elected officials and business owners to work with local law enforcement to protect their communities and constituents.

“I’m calling upon every Pennsylvanian to do their part to help us get as close as we can to 100 percent compliance on masking,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need the help of our business owners to get workers masking. We need the help of our local elected officials to emphasize the importance of masking on keeping the community safe.”

According to a recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College, two-thirds of registered voters in Pennsylvania believe it is “extremely important” to wear a mask whenever they leave home.

“We need to come together, unified, against COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m calling upon every Pennsylvanian to do their part to help us get as close as we can to 100 percent compliance on masking.”
Senator Toomey Co-sponsors Liability Protection Legislation

Protecting employers from frivolous lawsuits has been one of the Huntingdon County Chamber's priorities over the last several months and we have contacted state and federal legislators asking for their assistance with protecting our employers. We applaud Senator Toomey for listening to our plea and taking action.

Senator Toomey joined 13 of his Republican colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would provide temporary liability protection from certain lawsuits arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As they move forward with their plans to reopen safely, businesses, non-profits, colleges, universities, healthcare providers, and others in Pennsylvania have asked for limited protection from lawsuits brought by customers, employees, and other individuals related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, Senator Toomey has co-sponsored the SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317). Introduced by Senator Cornyn (R-TX), this legislation would provide reasonable, temporary, and limited liability protection to businesses, schools, and other entities that make reasonable efforts to follow public health guidelines. This protection would allow those who are already taking precautions to ensure everyone’s safety to focus their resources on their recovery rather than on the extensive litigation costs that can accompany frivolous lawsuits. Importantly, the SAFE TO WORK Act does not protect bad actors who engage in gross negligence or willful misconduct.   
New Guide Available for PUA Claimants

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides weekly benefits to contractors, gig workers, self-employed individuals and other Pennsylvanians who do not normally qualify for the state’s Unemployment Compensation system. To help claimants better navigate the system, the Department of Labor and Industry recently created a new guide listing all PUA error codes and what they mean.

Information was also added to the PUA website about when claimants can expect payments based on when they file their claim. Benefit weeks start on Sundays, so that is the first opportunity to file weekly claims. In general, payments are made 2-4 days after filing unless there is an eligibility issue.
Info Available on Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently created a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website to provide information to small business owners who have received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The FAQ helps borrowers understand what they need to do to ensure the loans are forgiven.
Loans can be forgiven for borrowers who meet certain criteria, including if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. At least 60 percent of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll.

The program reopened on July 6 and will continue accepting applications until August 8.
Grant Application Window Opens Monday

The PA CDFI Network has announced that the second grant application window for the COVID-19 Relief PA Statewide Small Business Assistance program will open at 9:00 am on August 10th and will remain open for 15 business days, closing at 11:59 pm on August 28th.
 
Please note that in order to get funds to businesses in need as quickly as possible, the second application window will be the final opportunity to apply for the program.
 
If you applied during the first application window, you should receive notification of your application status by August 10th. You do NOT need to reapply in the second round. Qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration. 
 
Learn more about this opportunity at pabusinessgrants.com.
E. B. Endres Inc. COVID-19 Products

Contact them to provide Clear Acrylic Safety barriers for your business.
Office safety
Checkout barriers

814-643-1860 
E. B. Endres Inc.
Green Phase Information
(governor.pa.gov)

Reaching the green phase is a real victory. When put to the test, we are proving our resilience. But we aren’t going back to the way things were before. Now is the time to stay alert so we can keep COVID-19 contained.

  • General safety rules are still in place. Keep wearing your mask to enter a business, stay six feet apart, and follow all the general health and safety rules as before. This is our new normal.
  • We can gather in large groups if we’re outdoors (up to 250 people). But we can only gather in groups of up to 25 people if we’re indoors. Schools and most childcare centers must still follow the Department of Education rules for operating. Nursing homes and group care facilities still have visitor restrictions. Prisons and hospitals can decide their own visitor policies for each facility.
  • All businesses can reopen. Please keep teleworking if you can. All businesses, except for restaurants and bars, that were operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy. To reopen in-person operations you must follow all the worker and building safety requirements for employers. Remember to check the COVID-19 Guidance and Resources page for more details.

There are still restrictions for reopening businesses that work with the public. You must limit occupancy if your business is in one of the following categories:

  • Restaurants and bars can open indoor dining, up to 25% occupancy 
  • Indoor recreation can have up to 50% occupancy, but appointments recommended and fitness facilities are directed to prioritize outdoor fitness activities (including gyms, indoor malls, bowling, arcades, indoor sports, go-kart, pool halls, and similar facilities)
  • Health and wellness can have up to 50% occupancy, but customers can enter by appointment only (this applies to spas, barbershops, hair and nail salons, saunas, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and other personal care service businesses)
  • Entertainment may have up to 50% occupancy (like casinos, theaters, zoos, museums, concerts, historical sites, amusement parks, and other group venues)

Change in Office Hours

Following the Governor's guidance, staff is once again working remotely and only going to the office as necessary. If you need to reach us, please call 814-643-1110 and leave a message for Yvonne or email ymartin@huntingdinchamber.com
State-by-State Analysis of COVID-19 Trials Shown in U.S. Chamber GIPC's New Interactive Map

The U.S. Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) unveiled its new interactive map—Innovation Enlisted in the Coronavirus Fight: A State-by-State Analysis—which breaks down COVID-19 clinical trials to date by state and congressional district. With COVID-19 clinical trials being conducted in all 50 states and 85% of congressional districts, this new resource provides an in-depth analysis of the methods scientists, universities and innovative companies are using to identify COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, diagnostics, and cures. Click here to view the interactive map.


Free Re-opening Signage

As Pennsylvania businesses begin to reopen, each business owner will need to examine their operations and make changes to meet public safety guidelines. PASBDC has created signage to address common health concerns. All images are completely free to use, so please share, download, print and distribute as you wish!
Reminder About Wolf's Targeted Mitigation Efforts

The mitigation efforts included in the new orders from Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine include:

Bars and Restaurants

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:

  • Prohibition from conducting operations unless the facility offers sit-down, dine-in meals or is serving take-out sales of alcoholic beverages. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.
  • Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.
  • Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.
  • Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e. tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
  • Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.
  • Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

Other restrictions include:

  • Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
  • Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
  • Teleworking is required where possible.
  • Where teleworking is not possible, masks are mandatory.

Enforcement

Businesses and individuals in violation of these orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, including the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Law, could be subject to fines, business closure or other applicable enforcement measures.

Click here to read more.
Quick Connect Coaching Sessions
Weekly, Tuesdays at 8:30 am

Looking for a quick answer to a question related to disaster recovery, reopening, stabilizing, or projecting for growth? Then attend a "Quick Connect" session to get your questions answered. Each week a consultant will address answers related to a specific topic.


The Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund is a non-profit recently launched to provide forgivable loans of $3,000 to Pennsylvania small businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility criteria is simple:
 
  • Employs between 3 and 30 people
  • Based in Pennsylvania and operating for at least a year
  • Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident
  • Operate as a for profit business.
 
Eligible employers must complete a short application and submit a video detailing how they could benefit from the funding. The funds do not need to be repaid. However, business owners who are able may choose to "pay it forward" by paying the proceeds back to the Fund to be used by other small businesses.
 
Additional questions about the PA 30 Day Fund can be directed by Maia Comeau at maia@comeaucompany.com.

The Chamber has been informed that the application process is simple and that preference is being given to those that are involved in their community.
Flowchart Helps Employers Understand New Tax Credits

The IRS recently issued Publication 5419, New Employer Tax Credits (PDF) to help employers understand the tax credits available to them due to the coronavirus pandemic. The one-page document breaks down the details of the Employer Retention Credit and the credits for paid sick and family leave in easy-to-follow charts. Using the document, employers can quickly determine whether they are eligible for the credits, the amount of the credits and which wages apply to the credits.

Click here for access to timely resources.

Download this questionnaire for sample screening questions to ask employees upon return to work and on a regular basis moving forward. This template is based on questions required or recommended by various states as well as input from U.S. Chamber member companies of all sizes and sectors.
Huntingdon County Strong:
Business and Community Resources

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Yvonne Martin
President/ CEO


MacKenzie Huntsman
Program Director



Phone: 814-643-1110
Fax: 814-643-1115
    
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