Pa. Chamber Creates 'Bringing PA Back' Initiative to Help Businesses Safely Reopen
'Bringing PA Back" initiative to help businesses safely reopen.

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry announced this week the "Bringing PA Back" initiative, a program to help businesses across the Commonwealth safely reopen their doors and jump-start Pennsylvania's economy following weeks of closures and shutdowns as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Chamber's initiative comes as the Commonwealth, and other states throughout the country, are developing plans to reopen and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf discussed his administration's plan to reopen the state's economy and recover from the health and economic crisis caused by the virus. Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump offered federal guidance to governors on how to begin the economic recovery.

Gene Barr, the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber, said that as the Commonwealth works to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chamber is committed to focusing on the next phase -- reopening businesses and determining what the economic recovery will look like. He said the Chamber "stands ready to work with elected officials, public health experts and employers on implementing a workable process to get back to business in a responsible way." The Chamber has been a resource for Pennsylvania's business community since the impact of the shutdown began.

According to Barr, the core focus of the "Bringing PA Back" program will be to provide employers critical information as they prepare to reopen. This includes guidance on various workplace readiness requirements and best practices related to reopening, as well as policy recommendations to help revive Pennsylvania’s economy. This information will all be housed on an interactive, user-friendly website.
To kickoff the “Bringing PA Back” initiative, the Chamber will host a webinar on Wednesday, April 22 at 11 a.m. to solicit feedback from business leaders across the state regarding specific economic, policy and resources needed in their communities. The webinar is free; more details can be found here.

During his remarks on Friday, Gov. Wolf said the state's aggressive mitigation efforts have been successful in flattening the curve in Pennsylvania. This success has allowed the administration to establish the reopening plan that will stabilize the economy while protecting all Pennsylvanians. Wolf said the plan to reopen will be data-driven, and the administration will work with economic and public health experts to utilize local, regional and federal resources. The governor's plan was met with mixed reactions from legislative and business leaders across the state.

Gov. Wolf announces $16 million in funding for food banks.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Saturday nearly $16 million in funding for food banks throughout the Commonwealth. Wolf said food banks are providing critical assistance to Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has received $14.9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Pennsylvania to provide critical support and food to feed hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. In addition, $1 million will be provided by the state to fund emergency food programs coordinated by Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.

The administration has provided guidance to food assistance agencies to continue distributing food to those in need and protect both volunteers and clients from COVID-19.

Self-employed, contractors can start applying for UC benefits.

The state's Department of Labor said today that Pennsylvania’s self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not usually eligible for regular unemployment compensation can start filing their claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

For those unsure if they qualify for PUA benefits, check out the department's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ page.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The state Department of Health reported more than 1,600 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 31,069. In addition, 836 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 123,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . The state Department of Health has provided guidance on how individuals can create homemade masks for their use in order to preserve high quality personal protection equipment for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control also announced recommendations for people to wear face masks in public .

A new executive order issued on Wednesday, April 15 requires customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) . You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

Senate is in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

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House is in recess until the 12-hour call of the Chair.

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