Monday August 17, 2020
Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time. - Onward and Be Well!
Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until September 21
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Friday that the Canadian and U.S governments will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until September 21.

The closure to non-essential travel has been in place for months, but with caseloads still high in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world's longest international border.

The closure has resulted in a dramatic drop in traffic between the two countries although essential workers — like truck drivers and health-care professionals — are still able to cross by land despite the restrictions.

The Canadian government has also moved to curb the movement of Americans through Canada who are ostensibly on their way to Alaska. U.S. travelers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada and they must commit to taking a direct route.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce is extremely disappointed that this latest extension again comes without any plan for eventual reopening. We will continue to advocate actively for a reopening framework and for consideration of interim steps to add categories of allowed essential travel.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a conference call on Friday that bowling alleys can open starting on Monday (today), with limits to capacity and other restrictions.

In the call, Cuomo said bowling alleys would be restricted to 50% capacity. Masks must be worn, and every other lane would need to be closed. Bowlers must stay at the lane of their group.

In addition, alleys will be allowed to serve food and alcohol, but staff must deliver orders to bowlers at their lanes.

The Department of Health’s (DOH) Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has been updated to provide the below guidance for bowling centers and alleys.
  • DATE: Tuesday August 18th
  • TIME: 1-2pm
Vacationing in the Adirondacks Virtual Town Hall
Many have drawn inspiration from the forest canopy of the Adirondacks, writing of its enchanted mountain peaks and igniting passions to explore the depths of nature.

Larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon combined, the Adirondacks are a natural splendor that promises adventure. Join four experts to hear about how the Adirondacks can support the travel industry by vacationing close to home this year, with a focus on ensuring the safety of all travelers and businesses.
  • Michael Bittel - President & CEO, Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Joanne Conley - Tourism Director, Warren County
  • Mike Farmer - Publicity Director, Old Forge
  • Michelle Clement - Director of Marketing, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism
COVID-19 and Active Community Design
Active Community Design is an approach to the development of streets, neighborhoods, and communities that makes daily physical activity more inclusive, accessible and inviting. Active Community Design can include parks/trails/open space, active transportation & complete streets, and community play. Integrating Active Community Design with natural systems in built environments can support public health, climate adaptation, and community resilience.

Public health data compiled over many years documents the positive outcomes of Active Community Design. Chronic illnesses related to physical inactivity impact not only on our health but also our economy. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, in 2018 the total direct and indirect health care costs attributable to obesity in the United States were estimated to be over $190 billion. New data emerging during the COVID-19 pandemic is pointing to additional layers of benefits from Active Community Design.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Producer Webinar: Additional Eligible Commodities Added
Join the USDA Farm Service Agency as we discuss another set of additional commodities that are now eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Additionally, USDA is extending the deadline to apply for the program to September 11, 2020, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment. 

  • Date: Wed, Aug 19, 2020
  • Time: 3:00 PM
Businesses Need Clarity on Payroll Tax Deferral
The Trump administration’s good-intentioned move to defer payroll taxes needs more clarity, stated the U.S. Chamber in a letter sent to the Treasury Department yesterday.
What’s happened? Last weekend, President Trump signed an Executive Order temporarily delaying Social Security taxes paid by workers starting September 1 and running to the end of the year.

What are some of the concerns? One is that as reports indicate, if the deferral is optional who decides to defer, the employer or the employee? Also, “there is uncertainty as to who is ultimately liable for the repayment of the deferred taxes, and when the repayment will be due and what mechanism will be used to collect that repayment.”
Anything else? Questions arise about how to apply this in other situations, such as
  • Employees who have fluctuating salaries or receive bonuses
  • Short-term employees like seasonal workers
  • Employees who leave their job before the end of the deferral period

Why it matters: Until these questions are answered, businesses and employees face considerable uncertainty. It “exacerbates the challenges faced by payroll processors and compliance departments who are already struggling to implement this EO in an extremely short period of time,” the letter states. 
In addition, because it’s a deferral “without Congressional action to forgive the payroll tax, it threatens to impose serious hardships on employees who will face a large tax bill at the end of the deferral period.”

US Chamber's take: “There remains widespread uncertainty on how businesses will implement and apply the Executive Order, and as American employers, workers and families work to navigate the COVID-19 crisis they need clarity not more confusion,” said U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley in a statement. “We urge the Treasury Department to issue clear guidance for implementing this payroll tax Executive Order."

  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • 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.

  • Now Hiring: Whether you are hiring or looking for work, we have a page dedicated to helping pair potential employees with employers.

  • Webinars: Did you miss one of our webinars, you can find them all here.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
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.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce