Weekly Legislative COVID-19 Updates

April 30 – Weekly Update 

This week felt like a roller-coaster ride. Beaches across the county were reopened on Monday, just in time for surfers to view the bio-luminescent “red tide”.  Last night it was reported that Governor Newson would order all beaches and state parks throughout California close by Friday. Then this afternoon, during his daily press conference, the Governor applauded the great work of our local San Diego leaders and announced that only beaches in Orange County would close. Additionally, SANDAG published a startling report that, as of April 23, one in four San Diegans are unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At 24.7%, the county’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average due to the region’s vast tourism industry, now at a standstill.

 

Federal:  

The Pandemic Response Accountability Commission has announced a new leader, Robert Westbrooks, and continues to grow its staff. More here.

Congress is considering a Phase 4 package that could total $1 trillion. While not much is known about the details of the bill, top priorities include extending unemployment insurance, more small business assistance, and another round of direct checks to taxpayers.

International:

The Chamber continues to work with a coalition of business organizations in Baja tasked with identifying essential businesses that should be granted authorization to resume operations.  In a webinar co-hosted by the Chamber yesterday, the Secretary of Sustainable Economy and Tourism Mario Escobedo stated that over 80 essential businesses in Baja have received authorization to reopen and that they continue to review cases with Governor Bonilla on a daily basis. If you are an essential business and are seeking authorization to reopen, please contact Paola Avila (pavila@sdchamber.org) or Kenia Zamarripa (kzamarripa@sdchamber.org).

The U.S. government issued Version 3 on guidance to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers.  This most recent update clarifies the description of a small number of essential services and functions on the list. Here you can find Version 3 in Spanish. If you have feedback or additional questions, please reach out to CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov.

As we continue to advocate for uniformity and alignment of essential operations across Mexico and the U.S., a group of U.S. Senators including Dianne Feinstein (CA), sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to request the Mexican government clarify their definition of essential businesses to resolve uncertainty in the U.S.-Mexico supply chain and our San Diego Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Mexican Ambassador to the U.S.

The Mexican government declared rail operations are essential and the Baja California Railroad, BJRR, continues to operate without interruption having implemented strict sanitizing procedures.

U.S., Mexican, and Canadian federal governments are working closely to establish protocols and guidelines to successfully transition toward the reopening of manufacturing activities in North America’s automotive industry. The trilateral approach will be announced within the next week.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced updates to operational hours for SENTRI / Global Entry lanes at the Otay Mesa port of entry as a result of decreased traffic volume. New operating hours for SENTRI/Global Entry vehicle lanes will be 4:00am to 10:00pm. Please note that Otay Mesa passenger border crossing remains open 24 hours per day and SENTRI/Global Entry members will be able to use the Ready Lanes, designated for travelers with RFID-enabled documents, when crossing at other hours. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for updates on port operations.

Earlier this month, FEMA published a Temporary Final Rule and Notification of Exemptions for the Presidential Memorandum on allocating certain scarce health and medical resources to domestic use.  The temporarily final rule directed CBP to detain temporarily any shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) products pending FEMA’s determination of whether to return shipments for domestic use, issue a rated order for the products, or authorize the export of part or all of the shipment. Exemptions include shipments from U.S. manufacturers with ongoing export agreements when meeting a list of requirements.  CBP and FEMA worked closely to issue additional guidance on the implementation of restrictions through a revised list of Frequently Asked Questions about PPE Exports, which includes important information on Letters of Attestation and instructions to upload them into CBP’s Document Imaging System (DIS).

State:

Governor Newsom struck a bright note when he outlined a possible phased approach for reopening of businesses. The plan is comprised of four stages and each step contains basic benchmarks for corresponding industries. It has galvanized many local jurisdictions to develop guidance for industries to reopen incrementally and safely. The state is currently in Stage 1, which includes expanding testing, increasing hospital capacity, and making essential businesses as safe as possible. In the coming weeks, the state is hoping to transition to Stage 2, in which lower risk workplaces will begin to reopen (i.e. retail, manufacturing, offices, and more public spaces). Governor Newsom also announced that schools may reopen in late July or early August to make up for lost learning time and accommodate parents returning to work.

The California Labor Commissioner made public the CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for Food Sector Workers, which is a poster that can be displayed in food sector businesses to help educate employees.

While the Assembly is expected to return on May 4, the Senate will likely not reconvene until May 11, according to Senate Pro Tem Atkins. The Assembly Committee hearings tentatively scheduled already are: May 4- Transportation Committee, and Budget Sub 1; May 5- Communications & Conveyance Committee, Privacy & Consumer Protections Committee, and Public Employment & Retirement Committee; May 6- Veterans Affairs Committee, and Education Committee; May 7- Insurance Committee, and Human Services Committee.

In response to calls for increased accountability and transparency during committee hearings recently, the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) published this website to track things like cases, equipment distribution, and county profiles. It is likely more information will be added.

The upcoming November election is drawing increased attention as speculation continues around the prospect of being conducted exclusively via mail. Governor Newsom directed that all special elections scheduled in a few weeks be conducted via mail which brought out differing viewpoints, and now we turn to the possibility of November’s election. Read more about what that could look like here.

Local:

The Chamber continues to participate in the RECOVER Task Force, convened by Mayor Faulconer and Chair of the Board of Supervisors Greg Cox. The group has collectively focused on a few specific items that can contribute to a gradual reopening of businesses including employee/employer safety.

The City’s Budget Review Committee will meet on Monday, May 4. Agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

You may recall that the City of San Diego enacted an emergency moratorium on evictions at the end of March. This emergency law is still in effect and is scheduled to expire on May 31. It remains unknown whether the city will extend the regulation or allow it to expire.

Last Friday, the County announced new changes to the Public Health Order. Effective tomorrow, May 1, residents in San Diego County will be required to wear facial coverings when out in public and within six feet of anyone who is not a household member.

The County is also circulating this guidance for reopening of parks and golf courses. Such checklists or documents are a helpful template for businesses or industries planning their reopen strategy.

On Monday, the County opened two new appointment-only testing sites. One site is in Escondido and the other in Chula Vista. Referrals are required to schedule an appointment, but more information can be found here.

Yesterday, the County announced it has met four of the five federal criteria for reopening. The County is reviewing state and federal criteria to determine when to reopen and ease the Public Health Order restrictions. The County also announced an additional testing site in Southeastern San Diego (referrals/appointments are required and can be made through 2-1-1).

With regard to its larger testing and tracing strategy, the County rolled out its T3 program to address tracing, tracking and testing. It has set a goal of being able to administer 5,200 tests per day.

 


April 23 – Weekly Update 

As you’ve likely heard, the Chamber is pleased to represent you in a working group convened by Mayor Faulconer and Supervisor Cox to address immediate needs in the business community. Additionally, we are working on a parallel effort with our partners at EDC and the Tourism Authority to think about a long-term framework for economic success, which we’ve titled “Back in Business.” To make sure our work is reflective of the needs of your business and your industry, please fill out this survey and let us know how best to guide these policy discussions.

 

Federal:

Earlier this week, the Senate passed a $484 billion federal relief package dedicated to reviving loan programs to small businesses and providing funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing. The House is expected to vote and pass the legislation today. The legislation includes $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and $60 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. While these funds are much needed after both loan programs were depleted at the end of last week, it is anticipated that these funds will be spent within days, making it critical that businesses who are in need apply immediately.

Additionally, following coverage around larger businesses receiving significant loans via the PPP funding, the Small Business Administration has issued guidance warning companies about their eligibility. More here.

President Trump issued an executive order limiting immigration. For a 4/29 webinar on employer compliance with this order, you can visit here.

International:

With transmission of the virus intensifying in Mexico, the Federal Government declared the start of phase 3 of COVID-19 earlier this week. As a result, stay at home orders and the suspension of non-essential activities will remain in place until May 30th. The restrictions have led to the closure of several cross border businesses located in the State of Baja but that are considered essential and currently operating in California resulting in disruptions in our supply chains. The Chamber is working with a coalition of business organizations in Baja tasked with assisting the State Government in identifying which are essential and should be granted authorization to resume operations. The group meets routinely with Baja State government and created an official process for businesses to submit their requests. For more information, please contact us. As safety of our workforce is paramount, employers have implemented health and safety measures to ensure their employees stay healthy both. Best practices and examples of health and safety protocols are been shared among businesses. We have also advocated for uniformity and alignment of essential operations across Mexico and the U.S. and our San Diego Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Mexican Ambassador to the U.S.

The U.S. government has issued the Version 3 on guidance to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers.  This most recent update clarifies the description of a small number of essential services and functions in the list. There is also a Version 3 in Spanish. If you have feedback or additional questions, please reach out to: CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov.

USMCA Implementation: The United States, Mexico, and Canada have all successfully passed the USMCA through their national legislatures. The USMCA requires each country subsequently certify their preparedness to implement the Agreement.  On April 2, 2020, Canada and Mexico both performed this certification but the United States’ certification is pending. The U.S. Trade Representative performs this role for the United States. The USMCA will enter into force on the first day of the third month subsequent to the last country certifying their preparation.  As of now, an entry-into-force date has not been determined. NAFTA rules apply until the USMCA enters into force. Register here for Dickinson Wright’s new webinar series on USMCA implementation.

The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel across shared land ports of entry between Canada, the  U.S. and Mexico have been extended for an additional 30 days to May 21st. Essential travel and trade will continue unimpeded. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for updates on port operations.

State:

The Governor announced a robust group of individuals, business leaders, and former elected officials charged with economic recovery planning. Notably, he has named Tom Steyer as the Chief Advisor to the Governor on Business and Jobs Recovery.

The role of business interruption insurance remains uncertain. Insurance Commissioner Lara has requested data from insurers, while businesses and their advocates (including the Chamber) are requesting guidance to allow for claims to be granted. Litigation has begun in a number of states including California. Of the states who have proposed legislation to clarify, California is not yet one.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office published a preliminary look at the economic impact of coronavirus here. It has also made available a list of state funding actions here.

The Assembly is currently targeting May 4 as its resume-work date for policy committees, although it’s unclear if that will remain the case. Tentatively, plans indicate that bills will not be double-referred and adjusted processes will be adopted for in-person attendance. Each committee has set forth criteria to legislators about how they will determine legislation is “essential” and coronavirus related, which will narrow which bills are heard and will progress. It’s expected that we’ll learn what the final bills will be in the next week or two.

The Senate and the Assembly held special committee meetings to review spending thus far on the virus and to better understand next steps. While some questions regarding the full impact, the long-term planning, and the future of unemployment assistance are still outstanding, it was clear that some questions remain regarding the Governor’s use of executive orders without consulting legislators.

In the CARES Act, $150B was set aside for states and local governments. Not surprisingly, there has been confusion about how that money can be spent. This week, the Department of the Treasury issued this clarifying document.

 

Local:

This week, SANDAG published its employment analysis for the region. It can be reviewed here. Of note, it cites over 300,000 of our region’s residents are now unemployed.

San Diego estimates that the city could receive nearly $250 million of the $150 billion earmarked for state and local governments in the CARES Act. The federal government requires that these funds be used to pay for coronavirus-related costs and expenses and funds may not be used to make up for lost revenue from the pandemic to cover previously budgeted expenses.

On Tuesday, the City of San Diego reopened over 300 neighborhood parks, fields, and trails for passive use (walking, jogging, or biking). Beaches, boardwalks, golf courses, and the majority of Balboa Park remain closed. View the full list of reopened parks here.

Facial coverings are now required in public in the City of Chula Vista and National City. While it is not yet mandated in the City of San Diego, officials are recommending covering your face when in parks and other public settings.

A motion to reopen nonessential businesses in the County failed by a 3-2 vote. The County has stated it is tracking five different metrics as established by the federal government in regard to reopening considerations. Those include a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromes and a downward trajectory of positive tests of the total tests within a 14 day period, according to County officials.

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $5 million loan program for small businesses in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Applicants can request up to $50,000 with an interest rate no higher than 2% for a two-year term. The County will be working with The San Diego Foundation, who will be the distributor of the funds. Applications are not yet available but are expected to be open by next month.

The County of San Diego will be postponing the adoption of its budget until August.


April 16 – Weekly Update 

This week marks California’s sixth week in a State of Emergency and our fourth week sheltering in place. While we all are starting to adjust to this new normal, the Chamber continues to recognize the unprecedented nature of these times. We are beginning to look forward and understand how we can best ensure the San Diego region’s resiliency and recovery over the coming weeks, months, and years. That understanding is being driven by discussions in our committees that revolve around how best to safely, swiftly and sustainably move forward.

Federal:  

The $350 billion dedicated to small business support in the CARES Act has been depleted.  Read the official statement by Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza here. While it is positive that so many businesses were able to access emergency funds, we are concerned about how best to secure the next wave of funding for business preservation.

ACTION OPPORTUNITY: We have composed a draft letter to Congressional leadership and our San Diego Congressional delegation urging them to appropriate more funds to the EIDL program, PPP, and other initiatives to support small businesses. We have heard from many members that they have had difficulties applying for one or both the EIDL and the PPP, especially among sole-proprietors and self-employed individuals. It is critical that legislators hear from you–please feel free to send the letter, email language, or use social media, to make your voice heard.

Sample Twitter language:

With funds exhausted for the Paycheck Protection Program & EIDLs, we urge our Congressional leaders to quickly find a resolution to bring additional funding to support our small businesses.

@RepScottPeters @RepSusanDavis @RepJuanVargas @RepMikeLevin @SenKamalaHarris @SenFeinstein

It’s expected that the President will unveil reopening guidelines today for Governors.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced that it is not expected that Senators convene in DC until May 4 at least, signaling a possibly slower timeline for a Phase 4 stimulus effort. The House has similar timelines, however, there is a caveat, should the timeline change, legislators will receive 24-hour notice of their need to travel.

International:

The State of Baja announced the launch of an economic support program for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Assistance includes funding and low-interest financing opportunities to help employers cover payroll, rent, essential services, working capital, and supplies, as well as suspending fiscal audits and providing specialized training through various digital platforms. Information on the program and how to submit an application is available here (in Spanish only).

State: 

Today, the Senate will hold its first subcommittee meeting on the response to COVID-19 beginning at 2 p.m. The agenda can be found here. Full backup materials are here.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced a new coalition between California, Oregon, and Washington, which will coordinate when the states reopen their economies. While each state in the pact is building a state-specific plan, the states have agreed to three main principles: (1) residents’ health comes first; (2) health outcomes and science (not politics) will guide these decisions; and (3) western states will only be effective by working together.

Following the western states’ pact announcement, Governor Newsom also outlined a list of indicators the state will evaluate before modifying the stay-at-home order and reopening the economy. More information about these indicators here. The Governor also stressed that when the stay-at-home order is lifted, daily life will not immediately resume to normal. Restaurants will likely reopen at half capacity; masks and face coverings will continue to be worn in public settings; and temperatures may be taken before entering a store, restaurant, office building, or other public gatherings.

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, as established by the federal CARES Act, is expected to be online soon. The eligibility requirements are different from traditional unemployment insurance, but you can read more here. There has also been recent direction that the $600 in Pandemic Unemployment Benefits that supplement state benefits, will be retroactive to those who qualify.

The Department of Finance issued an interim fiscal update via letter to the budget committee chairs, giving some dire but not surprising news. The state is in a significant moment for decision making, with DOF believing an additional $6B will be needed for healthcare spending to address COVID-19 and high demand for state benefits such as unemployment insurance. However, a positive point: compared to the great recession, the state is in a far better financial position to address budgetary challenges today.

In a Monday bulletin, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered companies to refund consumers and businesses premiums for at least March and April if they have been impacted by COVID-19. While likely a welcome relief for many, we still await direction on the larger question of business interruption coverage and any direction he may be willing to provide. On Tuesday the Chamber submitted a letter to Commissioner Lara’s office with a renewed ask for clarification. This Friday the Commissioner is hosting a Virtual Town Hall for businesses. This link will guide you to an email address and there you can add any questions, as well as RSVP for the Town Hall. Please feel free to share the event.

The Chamber and coalition partners sent a letter requesting the Governor issue an Executive Order to temporarily halt rulemaking that is not “urgently needed to protect public health.”

Local:

This week, the Chamber submitted a letter to the County of San Diego requesting clarification on the Public Health Officer’s local stay at home order that would enable businesses to better take advantage of their Business Interruption insurance policies.

On Thursday, April 9, the County announced an amendment to the Public Health Order, requiring bank and public transportation employees to wear facial coverings while serving the public. The amendment also requires childcare providers to wear facial coverings while serving food. Compliance is required by April 14, 2020.

During a City Council meeting on Tuesday, the Council voted to defer fees for businesses that must renew their annual special police permits. This new regulation applies to bars, tobacco shops, pool halls, and other businesses regulated by the police department. It allows business owners to defer payments up to four months and automatically renew expired permits.

On Wednesday, Mayor Faulconer announced his budget. The proposal cuts the City budget by $250 million in response to a large gap in tax revenue. Under this proposal, the city’s general fund would shrink for the first time since 2008. You can read the UT’s coverage here and find the full revised budget proposal here.

City Council will meet on Tuesday, April 21. The agenda can be found here.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, April 21. Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, in-person attendance is prohibited. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here. The agenda and supporting documents are here.


April 9 – Weekly Update 

Federal:  

The CARES Package created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan allocating $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. The PPP initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. The PPP loan officially rolled out last Friday and the response has been overwhelming. It’s clear that the $350 billion will not be enough. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin requested Congress approve an additional $250 billion for the PPP. If Democrats and Republicans agree, a vote could happen late next week. Background here.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to delay enforcement of two new rules addressing interoperability and patient access to health data. HHS announced the finalized rules on March 9, 2020, however, due to the health care industry’s focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reports many stakeholders are expressing concern over the ability to comply.

International:

The Mexican federal government declared a national health emergency and suspended all non-essential activities effective immediately until April 30. You can find the list of essential activities here (Spanish), and here (English).

Federal Labor Law dictates that employees are entitled to 30 days of salary during a health contingency.

On April 2, the Canadian federal government issued guidance on essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian essential services include manufacturing, energy, information and communication technology, health, food and transportation. Additionally, a number of Canadian provinces have released their own essential critical infrastructure guidance.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced changes to hours of operation at select land ports of entry along the CA/Mexico border. Updated hours of operations come in response to decrease traffic volumes due to COVID-19 and restrictions against non-essential travel. There is no impact on cross-border activities that support trade, security, commerce, supply chain, and other essential operations. Changes include:

  • San Ysidro Port of Entry: all pedestrian processing will now take place at PedEast.
  • Tecate Port of Entry: new hours of operation for vehicle and pedestrian traffic from 5:00 am to 2:00 p.m.
  • Calexico Port of Entry: new hours of operation for the Calexico East crossing for both pedestrians and vehicles from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Andrade Port of Entry: new hours of operation implemented for both pedestrians and vehicles from 6:00a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

State

The Assembly Committee on the Budget issued this memo which previews adjusted expectations for state revenues, the budget process, and timelines. You’ll recall the state anticipated adopting a “workload” budget which will be a streamlined financial plan and is expected to reconvene for an “August Revise” to reevaluate longer-term strategies around budgetary planning. The memo does reference possible cuts and the dramatic change in financial situation from the January proposal to today’s reality.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order pertaining to child care regulations and prioritization of children for essential workers.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has updated its COVID-19: Federal Health Related Response analysis, which reviews key federal actions, funding implications and expectations.

State Treasurer Betty Yee has produced this Personal Income Tax Daily Revenue tracker.

The California Judicial Council has also adopted Emergency Rules 1-5, which provides additional guidance for local judges on evictions processes from the Court perspective.

The state has been issuing unemployment payments, however, those payments are beginning to be delayed for some as the backlog due to record numbers of applications are received. If you cannot get through to the Employment Development Department (EDD), it is recommended you contact your Assembly or State Senate office for guidance. Additionally, until the federal Department of Labor issues specific guidance, it is unlikely expanded eligibility (for freelancers, for example) will result in applicants being approved and receiving benefits.

Local

On Thursday, April 2, San Diego County issued new amendments to the Public Health Order that can be viewed here and are outlined below:

  • Effective April 3 at 12:00 a.m., the Public Health Officer recommends public compliance with the state’s guidance on facial coverings in addition to complying with the Governor’s Executive Order.
  • Effective April 4 at 12:00 a.m., workers who interact regularly with the public at businesses such as, grocery stores, pharmacies/drug stores, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses that serve food, are required to wear face masks.
  • Effective April 7 at 12:00 a.m., all essential businesses that remain in operation are required to publicly post their protocols and procedures for social distancing and sanitation within their establishments. Employees must also receive a copy of the “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol”. The County has provided this fillable form that can be used to fulfill this requirement.
  • Effective April 3 at 12:00 a.m., the County now requires the closure of parking lots at public parks, beaches, and recreational facilities. Walking, hiking, or equestrian activities are allowed, however group activities like volleyball or basketball, etc. are prohibited. We encourage you to monitor and comply with your specific city’s regulations.

On Wednesday, April 8, the County announced another amendment to the Public Health Order, prohibiting gatherings of any kind. Gatherings of 10 people or fewer are prohibited unless people live in the same household. Details are outlined in Section 17b of the Public Health Order.

Today, April 9, the County announced an amendment to the Public Health Order, requiring bank and public transportation employees to wear facial coverings while serving the public. The amendment also requires childcare providers to wear facial coverings while serving food. Compliance is required by April 14, 2020.

This week, MTS announced a 25% reduction in service beginning Monday, April 13. While MTS has pledged to keep some level of service on all routes, we encourage riders to check the schedule before trips.

Similar to local cities, the County is reviewing budgetary impacts of the coronavirus. Of note, the County’s budget process will not begin until July, which is a delay from its traditional schedule.

San Diego City Council will be meeting next on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Agenda and guidance for providing comments can be found here.

The City of Poway will be exploring a small business loan program and has adopted a moratorium on commercial evictions.

Today, April 9, the County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting at 4:00 p.m. Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, in-person attendance is prohibited. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here.  The agenda and supporting documents are here.

 


April 3 

Update from the County of San Diego Public Health Officer regarding the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for the San Diego region. Attached is Addendum 1 to the Order of the Health Officer, effective April 3, 2020 as of 12:00 a.m. Addendum 1 adds the following requirements to the existing Order of the Health Officer:

Effective 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020:

  • All employees who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant or other business establishment that serves food shall wear a cloth face covering as described in the California Department of Public Health Face Covering Guidance.
  • A cloth face covering:
    is a material that covers the nose and mouth
    can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face
    can be improvised from household items, such as bandanas, cloth napkins, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels
    DIY Face Coverings

No later than 12:00 a.m. on April 7, 2020:

  • All businesses that remain in operation in accordance with the Order and that allow members of the public to enter a facility must prepare and post a “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol” on the form attached to the Order for each of their facilities open to the public in the county.
  • The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must be posted at or near the entrance of the relevant facility, and shall be easily viewable by the public and employees.
  • A copy of the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must also be provided to each employee performing work at the facility.
  • All businesses shall implement the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol and provide evidence of its implementation to any authority enforcing this Order upon demand.
  • The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must ensure all required measures are implemented and must identify and require measures necessary to implement social distancing and sanitation at that facility.
  • If the measures identified and implemented are not effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation, additional measures shall be identified and implemented or the facility shall be closed.
  • A fillable Social Distancing Protocol template can be found here and utilized to fulfill this requirement.

 

Cloth face coverings are strongly recommended for the general public, but there is no legal mandate for the general public at this time. Cloth face coverings are distinct and different from medical masks; they are not medical grade.

 


April 2 – Weekly Update

Federal

This week’s discussions have been focused on implementation of the CARES Package (including recently released direction from the Department of the Treasury on the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses and for lending institutions), as well as the possibility of fourth and fifth phases of economic aid.

International

The Mexican federal government ordered the suspension of non-essential activities for a 30 day period beginning March 30th. Essential industries and activities are similar to those identified as essential by the U.S. government and include medical services, public safety, public transportation, telecommunications and logistics, gas stations, energy and water, the food industry, financial services and tax collection, and agriculture. All qualifying businesses are still required to comply with health precautions, recommendations, and guidelines, such as observing social distancing and suspending meetings over 50 people.

In addition, all Mexican residents and visitors are to comply with “shelter at home” recommendations until April 30th, with the exception of essential labor activities. At-risk individuals–such as those over 60 years old, pregnant women, and those suffering from obesity, hypertension, and other diseases–are strongly encouraged to avoid leaving home at all.

Health screenings at major international airports have been strengthened.

The State of Baja is preparing for phase 3 implementation and designating the Ensenada, Mexicali, and Tijuana General Hospitals as centers for COVID-19 patients. Parks, beaches, and all commercial centers are closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Restaurant operations are limited to take-out or delivery. State fines for businesses partaking in price gouging have been increased to Mex$3 million.

Local authorities have implemented checkpoints around Tijuana and Mexicali to ensure adherence to the stay at home orders.

State 

Over the last week, Governor Newsom signed a series of executive orders. One prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and bans law enforcement and courts from enforcing evictions through May 31st, similar to the policies enacted by the city and county. This state-wide order requires tenants to notify their landlord in writing no more than seven days after the rent comes due. The full text of this executive order can be found here. Note that many local cities and counties have implemented separate regulations prohibiting evictions. Individuals interested in pursuing rent relief are encouraged to check local regulations, in addition to those recently put in place by the Governor.

Another executive order bolstered health care staffing, and another directed at small business relief.  Businesses filing a tax return of less than $1 million will now have until July 31st to file their returns with CDTFA at the state. There are also departmentally-specific provisions, like those that waive continuing education requirements for some professions. More can be found here.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has published weekly unemployment numbers and corresponding analysis that members may find useful in thinking about the economic impact.

Last Friday, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a directive to insurers to provide data on business interruption coverage. At the start of the coronavirus, the Chamber requested the Commissioner’s involvement in determining a supportive path forward for private businesses that will be unable to access their insurance policies. We are hopeful this is a positive start to his engagement on this topic.

Today, Governor Newsom highlighted a resource for individuals seeking employment called OnwardCA. OnwardCA is a program that was rapidly deployed by a broad coalition of companies, foundations, and individuals that want to assist those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This service is designed to help individuals access resources in their community (ie. groceries, child care, financial assistance, etc.) and help job seekers upskill, reskill, or refresh and find a new job.

Local

Late last week, the City gave a briefing on their financial standing. In short, the economic hit to the City’s finances is going to be significant, however it remains to be seen what the extent will be and what response City leadership will take.

The City has announced that they are extending the deadline to propose ballot measures from April 8th to May 1st due to the impacts of coronavirus. This is likely one of many steps that government officials will take with regard to the general election scheduled for November, as the federal government set aside significant amounts of money to assist localities in election adjustments assuming that the coronavirus will impact timing, outreach and possibly method of voting.

There is no City Council meeting on April 6th or 7th.

On Saturday, the County extended the existing Public Health Order. Originally set to expire on March 31, 2020, the Public Health Order is now extended indefinitely.

The County’s Public Health Officer announced two new orders addressing how cruise ships disembark. The first order, effective immediately, requires the Health Officer’s approval before any passenger or employee can disembark the cruise ship if anyone onboard has tested positive for COVID-19. This order also requires docked cruise ships to report any medical treatment for passengers or employees to the Health Officer and follow all directives set by the Health Officer. The second order, which went into effect on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, barred cruise ships from disembarking passengers or employees in the San Diego harbor. Cruise ships are allowed to dock to receive fuel and provisions, with approval from the Health officer, however, passengers and employees are not allowed to disembark.

Today, April 2nd, San Diego County issued new amendments to the Public Health Order that can be viewed here. Effective April 3rd at 12:00AM, the Public Health Officer recommends public compliance with the state’s guidance on facial coverings in addition to complying with the Governor’s Executive Order. Effective April 4th at 12:00AM workers who interact regularly with the public at businesses such as, grocery stores, pharmacies/drug stores, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses that serve food, will be required to wear face masks. Effective April 7th at 12:00AM, all essential businesses that remain in operation will be required to publicly post their protocols and procedures for social distancing and sanitation within their establishments. Employees must also receive a copy of the “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol”. The County has provided this fillable form that can be used to fulfill this requirement.

San Diego County will also require the closure of parking lots at recreational facilities and only allow passive recreation (no group activities like volleyball or basketball, etc.). This goes into effect April 3rd at 12:00AM.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, April 7th. Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, in-person attendance is prohibited. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here.  The agenda and supporting documents are here.

Capital Opportunities & Resources for Small Businesses

  • NEW CARE Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan – The Federal Stimulus AKA Cares Act, which was approved by Congress last week, allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. A helpful summary of the program from the US Chamber of Commerce can be found here. Employers can begin applying for PPP Loans on Friday, April 3. More information on how to apply can be found here.
  • Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). EIDLs offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. 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. Businesses can apply here. Contact Mike Sovacool, Deputy District Director, with questions about EIDLs or other SBA programs via phone (619-557-7250) or email (sovacool@sba.gov). More small business resources and loan guidance related to COVID-19 can be found on the SBS website here.
  • NEW Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund: Verizon created a $2.5 million fund to grant small businesses and nonprofits fill urgent finance gaps during this unprecedented health and financial crisis.  Approved applicants are eligible for grants of up to $10,000 that can be used for paying rent and utilities, meeting payroll, and other immediate operational costs. This program is being administered by LISC. More information on how to apply can be found here.
  • South County EDC Emergency Business Loan Program: The South County Economic Development Council (South County EDC) is offering a no-interest loan to eating establishments in South County in order to provide some economic relief during these difficult times. This small infusion of funds is intended to assist South County small restaurants to remain open and continue to provide meals during this national emergency. South County EDC will provide a one-time $5,000 no-interest loan with repayment due on April 1, 2021. At that time the entire loan amount will be due. Learn more about the grant here.
  • Businesses can also reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide to help business owners navigate through the chaos COVID-19 is having on our communities. SBDC can help with applying for relief, guiding you through available resources and assisting with cash flow concerns, supply-chain interruptions, workforce capacity, insurance coverage and more–all at no cost.
  • The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.

 


March 26 – Weekly Update

Federal Update

The House is expected to vote soon on phase III of the stimulus package, H.R. 748 following a 96-0 vote in favor from the Senate. The bill is extensive and represents the largest economic stimulus in recent history, including the actions taken in 2008 and 2009 to address the Great Recession. Coverage of the bill may be found here, and a Chamber analysis that hits on major points can be found here. Small Businesses may find this breakdown helpful.

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Authority published a press release announcing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be offering multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance if they agree to suspend all evictions for tenants unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus.

President Trump announced this week that he would delay the implementation of the REAL ID Act, which was scheduled to be in effect on October 1, 2020. The new in-effect date was announced this morning and is October 2021.

The Chamber has created a document summarizing HR 6201: The Families First Coronavirus Relief Package (FFCRA), signed by President Trump on March 18th. This document outlines the specific requirements targeted at employers. This document can be used as a guideline, but should not constitute legal or formal HR advice. You can view the document here and more information on the requirements of FFCRA can be found here

The Department of Labor has created this guide for employers and another for employees with regard to FFCRA. Feedback is also being accepted online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com through March 29th. 

International Update

On March 20, the Mexican and U.S. federal governments announced the suspension of all non-essential travel across our southern border to help control the spread of coronavirus. Examples of non-essential travel include tourism and recreation. Commercial trade and cargo will NOT be impacted. Our cross-border workforce performing essential operations will continue to have access to the ports of entry. These restrictions went into effect at 12:01 AM on Saturday, March 21.

Guidance on these new restrictions will follow the Federal Register Notice issued for the northern border, available here. However, CBP reports elements of the notice will not be overly prescriptive in order to provide officers discretion and flexibility in applying the guidance. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for official updates on port operations.

We recommend employers performing essential operations provide a letter or documentation for their workforce to help identify essential personnel at the ports of entry and in adherence to the State of California’s stay-at-home executive order.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a 50-state waiver to the Hours of Service Rule for commercial vehicle drivers transporting goods related to the COVID-19 outbreak. It will last until the end of the day on April 12 or until the end of the emergency. The full emergency declaration can be found here

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will approve on a case by case basis additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and fees on imports due to the COVID-19 emergency. Requests should be directed to the Office of Trade, Trade Policy and Programs at OTentrysummary@cbp.dhs.gov

Actions Taken by Mexico’s Government: Mexico’s federal government issued nation-wide recommendations that include observing social distance, avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel, and suspending events for over 100 people. President Lopez Obrador announced there will be an economic support package for SME’s and individuals in economic distress. This will include facilitating credit and financing opportunities for both SME’s and individuals that qualify.

The State of Baja closed bars, movie theatres, museums, event venues, churches, casinos, gyms, and strongly recommended residents stay home, avoid crowds, and suspend meetings of 10 or more people. In addition, Baja Governor Jaime Bonilla reiterated the federal order to suspend all non-essential travel across the border and added this should be the general rule for any travel within Mexico. In order to ensure uninterrupted water service, Governor Bonilla also called for local utilities to suspend late water payment penalties.

The State Commission for Consumer Protection (PROFECO) is working with local authorities to enforce regulations and penalize markets and companies that have increased the price of basic grocery items.

State Update

Last Thursday, the Governor issued a “stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. The full Executive Order can be viewed here. More information on this policy can be viewed here.

The Department of Finance has issued a memo to the heads of all state agencies and departments advising them of the Department’s review of budget requests for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Simply put, departmental budgets will be reevaluated in the “context of a workload budget” reflecting the dramatically reduced economic activity in the state as a result of coronavirus. 

Californians now have until July 15 to file their income taxes. The State Franchise Tax Board has postponed the tax deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on the extension here. Members of the state delegation are requesting County action to waive penalties for late payment for property taxes, as it is made clear that the authority to do so is a local one. The Chamber also sent a letter requesting the state revisit its discussions around using its authority to extend the property tax deadline similar to actions taken with regard to income taxes.

While the state legislature has been adjourned until April 13, it is increasingly unclear whether the legislature will return on or before that date. Instead, most information indicates that the legislature will be asked to limit legislation to coronavirus-specific bills, and a limited budget will go into effect. This will undoubtedly impact other Chamber priorities for 2020, such as housing production and childcare, but we believe is necessary to sufficiently tackle the myriad impacts of the virus.

On Wednesday evening, Governor Newsom announced that four of the nation’s largest banks, in addition to 200 state-chartered banks, have agreed to a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments by Californians who are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis without any impact on credit. More information on the announcement and details on how to apply for relief can be found here

Finally, late last week the Chamber signed on to a letter with over 30 other advocacy organizations urging the Governor to provide additional support to California’s small businesses during this unprecedented time. Specifically, the letter requested the State allocate $17 million of supplemental disaster appropriation funding to expand no-cost advising, training, and support for small businesses and establish and convene a COVID-19 Resiliency Taskforce to plan a long-term strategy for small business recovery. Read the letter here

Local Update

Yesterday, the City voted to approve a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for renters through May 31. The policy requires that renters provide landlords with documentation of loss of employment, substantial reduction in employment, loss of income, or increase in expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of loss of income or increased expenses can be provided in the form of business records, bank statements, employer pay stubs, letter from employer, or copy of increased medical expenses. Tenants are required to notify their landlords on or before the day the rent is due and provide documentation within one week of notification. Please note that this is a rent deferral action, not rent forgiveness. Renters will have up to six months to pay landlords all unpaid rent. Included in this proposal is a request that City staff work with banks and lenders to halt foreclosures of properties whose owners are unable to make mortgage payments.

Additionally, the Council approved a motion to create a Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF) that will provide over $6 million worth of grants, forgivable loans, and low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses. Eligibility criteria include that the business employ 100 employees or fewer, be located within the City of San Diego and have a City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate, be operational for at least six months, and provide proof of economic hardship due to COVID-19. Once a complete application is submitted, the City estimates that qualified business owners will receive these funds within approximately 14 days. More information on the SBRF can be found here. The application portal will go live on Friday, March 27. 

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to defer fees from the Department of Environmental Health for restaurants and bars affected by orders related to coronavirus. This action allows for “annual food facility health permit fees, late fees, and plan check correction fees associated with plans submitted prior to March 1, 2020” to be deferred for up to six months.

The Board also voted to adopt a temporary moratorium on evictions (both residential and commercial) within the unincorporated areas of the County. 

Parks: This week, the state, county, and city temporarily closed parks to varying degrees. On Tuesday, the County amended its public health order allowing local jurisdictions and municipalities to shut down all public beaches if they could not enforce social distancing guidelines. Later that evening, Mayor Faulconer also announced the closure of all city beaches, parks, boardwalks, trails, bays, and lakes until further notice.

For any questions or needs that are directly related to your council office, you can access a list of San Diego City Council office direct contacts here. Find your city council district here.


March 25

Federal Update

The proposed stimulus package, S. 3458 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is pending at the federal level. The Chamber has put together a summary of key provisions.  **This bill has not yet been enacted, and this is only a summary of the draft legislation. Changes may occur, and this document will be updated accordingly**

Be aware of an increase in fraud schemes. During this time, it’s important to remind employees to verify the legitimacy of emails. The FBI has seen an increase in COVID-19 related phishing scams and malicious email attempts. More information can be found here


March 20

Today, the Mexican and U.S. federal governments announced the suspension of all non-essential travel across our southern border to help control the spread of coronavirus. Examples of non-essential travel include tourism and recreation. Commercial trade & cargo will NOT be impacted. Our cross-border workforce performing essential operations will continue to have access to the ports of entry. These restrictions go into effect at 00:01 Saturday, March 21.

Guidance on these new restrictions will follow the Federal Register Notice issued for the northern border, available here. However, CBP reports elements of the notice will not be overly prescriptive in order to provide officers discretion and flexibility in applying the guidance. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for official updates on port operations.

We recommend employers performing essential operations provide a letter or documentation for their workforce to help identify essential personnel at the ports of entry and in adherence to the State of California’s stay-at-home executive order.

State Update

On Thursday, March 19 the Governor issued a “stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. Friday, March 20th the State’s Public Health Officer issued an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” guidance further clarifying the Executive Order.

 


March 19 – Weekly Update

Federal Update

Last week, an $8.3B package was signed by the President providing funds for research, public health programming, and small business loans, among other things.

Congress adopted HR 6201 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on Wednesday. This bill mandates free testing and directs employers to provide expanded family medical leave and paid sick leave with some exceptions (businesses with over 500 employees, and businesses with under 50 employees). Chamber guidance on HR 6201 can be viewed here.

Pending at the federal level are other proposed stimulus packages and legislation. Most relevant is the possible $1T stimulus package that proposes $250 billion in direct payments and specific funds for private sector resiliency. A vote is not expected in the Senate until next week. This package will likely be the large, sweeping stimulus package being discussed and we will continue to keep you updated on developments. However, as of this morning, it would appear there will be a different bill proposed by House Democrats that has some similarities, but more sweeping impacts and higher price tag than the one developing in the Senate.

State Update

On Monday, the state adopted two measures which appropriate $500 million for COVID-19 relief, which could be matched by the Legislature to expand the action and request up to $1B. This funding will also ensure that public schools continue to receive funding from the state, despite physical closure.

Per the Governor’s formal State of Emergency declaration, the state’s provision against price gouging is in effect. Attorney General Bacerra’s statement can be found here.

The legislature convened until April 13th. While they can reconvene at the direction of legislative leadership should the need arise, the legislative timeline for the remainder of this session is unclear.

On Tuesday, Chamber staff submitted a letter to Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara asking that he weigh-in to provide direction to establish other channels of relief as we learn more about the likelihood of insurance plans covering, or not, claims from the business community. While we are awaiting direction, particularly in regard to business interruption insurance, today we received this notice from the Commissioner regarding a grace period for insurance payments. We will share any further responses or developments with you all.

The state’s Legislative Analyst has produced this publication regarding consideration to the state’s budget.

On Thursday, the Governor issued a “Stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. The full Executive Order can be viewed here. More information on this policy can be viewed here.

Local Update 

On Tuesday, Council President Georgette Gomez and her colleagues adopted a list of suggestions for City residents and the business community. Among the suggestions were temporary moratoriums on evictions and utility shut-offs for small businesses under commercial leases and residents throughout the City (UT coverage here). The Chamber submitted feedback requesting that the Council consider a clear time limit on the proposal to ensure that a blanket policy is not enacted in perpetuity, creating significant adverse effects on the economy as a whole, that hardship be a requirement to qualify for relief, and that the City work to engage the state for additional funds for those property owners that would be required to absorb the income loss. Council’s vote reflected many of these points and thoughtful consideration of the shared economic burden of our current situation, which we are appreciative of. With an 8-1 vote in favor, Council voted to approve all emergency measures.

On Wednesday, Mayor Faulconer announced directives around small business relief. That announcement included: a $4 million in grants and loans to support small businesses, that will be a part of a larger Business Continuation Fund**; forgiveness periods for certain fees and penalties; and extended timeless for some projects. Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders joined the Mayor and Chris Cate for the announcement.

**Businesses can begin applying for the Business Continuation Fund as of Monday, March 23rd. Learn more here.

Resources for Small Businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. 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. Businesses can apply here. Contact Mike Sovacool, Deputy District Director, with questions about EIDLs or other SBA programs via phone (619-557-7250) or email (michael.sovacool@sba.gov). More small business resources and loan guidance related to COVID-19 can be found on the SBA website here.

The City of San Diego’s Small Business Relief Fund will begin accepting applications on Monday, March 23rd. Info can be found here.

Tip: Before applying for any disaster capital (from local, state, or federal funds), make sure your 2019 and prior year financial statements are in order. Then using that information and what we know today, do the best to forecast the impact the COVID-19 public health emergency will have on your sales.

Be sure to check your Business Interruption Insurance policy. This is a common part of your general commercial insurance. In particular, for the food and beverage industry, a government-mandated closure most likely will trigger the insurance.

Additionally, the State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.