April COVID-19 Update

04.27.2020

Lenders Taking PPP Applications Again
As of 10:30 am on April 27, lenders can submit PPP applications to the SBA. If your application was in the queue at your bank or you are interested in applying, visit your lender. See the ACEDC COVID Resource page for updated information and resources on PPP. 

EIDL Re-funded by congress, But Application Portal Not Yet Open
Congress has appropriated an additional $60 million for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Grant program, but the portal is not yet accepting new applications. According to the SBA, "With the additional funding provided by the new COVID-19 relief package, SBA will resume processing EIDL Loan and Advance applications that were already in the queue on a first-come, first-served basis. We will provide further information on the availability of the EIDL portal to receive new applications (including those from agricultural enterprises) as soon as possible." Go to the SBA EIDL application portal often to check for reopening, or watch for our updates.  

New EIDL and PPP Resources:
As the US Treasury Department and SBA issue new guidance on the EIDL and PPP programs, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), in conjunction with the Regional Development Corporations of VT, update the comprehensive information available to small businesses. 

For the latest SBDC/RDC update on EIDL and PPP, click here.

Vermont SBA EIDL and PPP Webinar (Mon-Friday)  

PPP/EIDL Application Process Slidedeck (unofficial)

EIDL Example Application (unofficial)

Treasury "How to Calculate PPP Loan Amount"

PPP Frequently Asked Questions (Updated April 26)

PPP Example Application (unofficial)

PPP Application Worksheet (unofficial)

PPP Forgiveness Worksheet (unofficial)

 

Resources About Reopening and Bringing Back Employees
On Friday, Governor Phil Scott outlined some additional openings as part of the phased restart of Vermont's economy. The Governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect. The Governor's most recent order, signed Friday, directs any entity currently operating, or soon to be opened, to implement specified physical distancing, health, and sanitation measures, including requiring employees to wear face coverings for nose and mouth. It also requires all employers to provide – and all employees to complete - training on these health and safety requirements by May 4. The Vermont Occupational Safety & Health Administration (VOSHA) released the training materials on Monday, April 27. 

The law firm of Downs, Rachlin, Martin is offering a webinar on strategies for a successful return to work. It will be held on Thursday, April 30, 10–11 am and will cover:

  • Overall Framework (Guidelines and Vermont Executive Order)
  • Safe Workplaces (OSHA/CDC)
  • Health Screenings at Work (ADA, EEOC)
  • Dealing with Refusals / Leaves of Absence / Unemployment Considerations
  • Upping Your Game: Reviewing and Using Lessons Learned from Remote Work Arrangements

Middlebury Businesses Join in Gift Card Bundle; Announce Contest
Downtown Middlebury businesses have come together to create a "Saving Main" gift card bundle. Here's the deal: you get seven $20 gift cards for $100 ($140 value). Buy them online at any of the participating businesses and use the gift cards yourself or share with your favorite essential worker, birthday person, or best friend. The business you purchase from will mail you your Saving Main bundle. 

To kick things off, they are offering a Saving Main Bundle of seven $20 gift cards AND the following:

- The FIRST appointment COVID haircut *FREE* from Parlour

- A tote bag filled with goodies and a popular new release from Vermont Book Shop

- Bloody Mary Infusion Kit and set of four cocktail glasses from The Stone Mill

- Pair of Darn Tough Socks and a Yeti coffee mug from Green Mountain Adventures

- Merch pack from Two Brothers Tavern

- Skida hat and headband from Forth ‘N Goal

- A pound of pasta (YUM!) from The Arcadian.

Here is all you need to do to enter:

1. Follow all seven businesses on Instagram @thearcadianvt @parlourvt @2brostav @vtbookshop @greenmountainadventures @middlebury_shop @thestonemillvt.

2. Create a story with any picture or image you want (make us laugh or cry, but catch our attention) and tag the seven businesses in it. That is it. They'll pick the winner and notify the lucky individual.

Deadline to enter is Friday, May 1 at noon

 

04.24.2020

Congress Passes Additional Relief Bill
On April 23, Congress passed a fourth relief bill in response to COVID-19, which includes another $484 billion in relief funding. The bill includes another $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Grant (EIDL) program, $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to address coronavirus expenses and lost revenue and an additional $25 billion to facilitate and expand Covid-19 testing. Of the $310 billion authorized for the PPP, $60 billion will be set aside for smaller lending facilities, including "community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions and credit unions with assets less than $10 billion. The bill also opens eligibility for agricultural operations to apply to the EIDL loan/grant program. Click here for the ACEDC COVID-19 Resource page to access information on the EIDL and PPP. 

EIDL Assistance Now Available for Agricultural Operations
Congress responded to input from several stakeholders, including ACEDC, regarding the lack of relief for rural borrowers and agricultural operations. The latest bill passed by Congress opens up the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Grant (EIDL) program to farmers and other agricultural entities. Click here for the ACEDC COVID-19 Resource page to access information on the EIDL program.

SBA Offering Daily PPP and EIDL Webinars
The SBA' Vermont District Office is receiving a very high level of phone and email volume due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In response to this situation, a free daily webinar from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday will be held to discuss SBA's Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance. To join the webinar, visit https://meet.lync.com/sba123/sbmazza/6F6N4YK6. To participate by phone, call (202) 765-1264 and, when prompted, enter the code 470177937#. Upon joining the call, mute the phone to cut down on the background noise, and please do not place the call on hold as the hold music will be heard over the presenter. For more information, email susan.mazza@sba.gov.    

Governor Scott Announces Next "Turn of the Spigot" to Open Economy
Governor Phil Scott today outlined some additional openings as part of the phased restart of Vermont's economy, introduced last week. The Governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect. The modeling continues to indicate Vermonters are significantly slowing the spread of the virus; the Administration is taking a cautious, incremental, and evidence-based approach to putting Vermonters back to work. The Governor's most recent order, signed today, directs any entity currently operating, or soon to be opened, to implement specified physical distancing, health, and sanitation measures, including requiring employees to wear face coverings for nose and mouth. It also requires all employers to provide – and all employees to complete - training on these health and safety requirements by May 4. VOSHA training is under development and will be released Monday, April 27. 

If able to comply with the outlined safety measures, the Governor's order allows the following operations to reopen:

  • Expanding on Addendum 10, outdoor businesses, construction operations, and recreation maintenance work may operate with a maximum of five total workers per location. (Effective April 27).
  • Manufacturing and distribution operations, and interior construction of uninhabited structures, may resume operations with a maximum of five employees in one location if they are low-density and ensure employees are always six feet apart. (Effective April 27).
  • Corresponding guidance from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development makes clear that consistent with Addendum 7, workers from out of state must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival; lodging properties remain closed to guests, including to non-essential out-of-state workers, except those previously exempted such as essential workers.
  • Outdoor retail space, previously restricted to curbside or delivery service, can allow in-person shopping with a maximum of 10 total people. (Effective April 27).
  • Farmers Markets may open May 1 with strict alterations that focus on food distribution and prevent congregating. They must meet the same health and safety requirements of all other operations and are directed to use a pre-order/pick-up model whenever possible. Local municipalities must approve reopening. The Agency of Agriculture will provide additional guidance.

For a full list of health and safety requirements for all businesses and specifications for each newly opened operation, click here to view Addendum 11.

To view ACCD's memo to business for specific safety guidelines and protocols, as well as additional resources, visit accd.vermont.gov.

Reminder Regarding Face Mask and other Safety Requirements 
As we work together to reopen the economy responsibly, please remember the following requirements are still in place for any workplace, even those that are reopening:

  • Employees shall not report to or be allowed to remain at, work or job site if sick or symptomatic (with fever, cough, or shortness of breath).
  •  All employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job.
  • Employees must wear non-medical cloth face coverings (bandanna, scarf, or non-medical mask, etc.) over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or "sneeze guard" is acceptable in lieu of a mask.
  • Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during the duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization should be required before entering and leaving, job sites. 
  • All common spaces and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning, middle, and end of each shift and prior to transfer from one person to another.
  • No more than two people shall occupy one vehicle when conducting work.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program Opens
Late on Wednesday, April 22, the Vermont Department of Labor (VtDoL) opened the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides unemployment benefits to the self-employed, sole proprietors, independent contractors and others who are not eligible for the regular unemployment program. To access the VtDoL PUA system, click here. Any questions about the portal or benefits should be directed to the VT Department of Labor's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance line at 877-660-7782.

Porter Medical Center Seeks New Graduate Nurses
The Porter medical center announced that they are seeking new graduate nurses to join their team this summer. Porter will discuss opportunities and provide an orientation via virtual information sessions next week. For details, click here.  

Information on Food System for Producers and Consumers
For information on supporting our local food system during COVID-19, see ACORN's interactive map of producers and online farmer's market and check out the NOFA Resilience site.  

Vt Department of Financial regulation Approves Insurance Company Plans to Reduce or Return Premiums
Governor Phil Scott and Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak today announced that more than forty additional auto insurance companies have filed plans to return premiums or reduce their rates for Vermont policyholders. DFR has moved quickly to approve these plans, which amount to over $14.6 million in savings for Vermonters to date. Click here for more detail. 

Student Loan Relief Secured for Borrowers Not Covered by Federal CARES Act
Governor Phil Scott and Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak today announced a multi-state initiative to secure student loan relief options for thousands of Vermonters with privately held student loans. The relief, confirmed with several of the most significant national private student loan servicers, will expand on the protections already provided by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and the federal student loan borrowers under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. For more detail, click here.  

Vermont Arts Council Creates COVID-19 Resource page for Creatives/Artists
The Vermont Arts Council has gathered resources focused on the needs of artists and creatives on this website.

 

04.21.2020

SBA issues Compliance Requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program
Today the SBA issued guidance for companies to follow to ensure compliance with the Payroll Protection Program and maximize the amount of loan forgiveness. Click here to view the guidance. 

If you have been approved by your lender for a PPP or plan to apply when the program reopens, it is very important that you review this guidance. 

Vermont Department of Labor Prepares to Accept Unemployment Claims from Self-Employed and Others
The Vermont Department of Labor announced that the system to accept unemployment claims from those not eligible for the regular Unemployment Insurance program (Self-employed, sole proprietors, independent contractors) will be ready this week. Individuals in these categories are eligible for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program of the CARES Act. The Department hopes to have the system ready for those eligible for PUA in Vermont to apply by Wednesday (4/22), with claimants beginning to file weekly claims as early as Friday (4/24). There will be another webinar for PUA-eligible folks on Thursday, April 23 at 2:00 pm.  

For PUA updates, click here.

A full schedule of VTDoL unemployment webinars can be found at labor.vermont.gov/calendar, and previous events are uploaded to the Department's YouTube Channel, which may be viewed here: https://bit.ly/VTLabor-Youtube

ACORN Launches Virtual Farmer's Market and Online Guide to Directly Connect Customers with Farmers
ACORN has created an interactive online map that lists nearly 250 farmers and food producers in Vermont's Champlain Valley who sell food locally. The map will help match folks looking to buy local food with growers who have an abundance to sell. ACORN is also organizing a virtual farmers' market to encourage people to shop online using individual producer's websites. All payments are made online, and orders will be ready for curbside pick-up at one of two distribution sites beginning Wednesday, April 29:

  • Tandem, 26 Main St, Bristol on Wednesdays 4 pm-6 pm
  • Hannaford Career Center, 51 Charles Ave, Middlebury on Thursdays 10 am -12 pm

The map can be found at http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemap, and the online market can be found at http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemarket.

Farmers who don't have an e-commerce site and who would like to be part of ACORN's new virtual farmers' market platform should contact ACORN's Lindsey Berk at Lindsey@acornvt.org.

For more information, visit the ACORN website here

Essential Services Guidance for Municipalities
The Vermont League of Cities & Towns will host a webinar for municipalities on Wednesday, April 22, at 2 pm with Ted Brady, Deputy Secretary for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Deputy Secretary Brady will review Stay Home, Stay Safe sector guidance, and frequently asked questions about the guidance for municipalities. The webinar is free, and no pre-registration is required. ACCD continues to update sector guidance in accordance with Addendum 10 to the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order.

Tax Deadline Relief
The Department of Taxes is providing temporary relief to Vermont businesses who owe Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax. Businesses that are unable to meet the April 25th filing deadline will not be charged any penalty or interest for late payment. It is important to note this is not an abatement of the Tax, but instead a waiving of any interest or penalty for late payments.

Business Income Insurance Q & A
The Department of Financial Regulation has developed a guidance overview of whether business insurance will cover loss of income and other issues caused by COVID-19. The NAIC has also posted an Insurance Brief (COVID-19 and Insurance) that provides a good overview of how different types of policies respond to losses related to COVID-19, including Travel, Health, Life, Annuities, Business Interruption, Workers' Compensation, and other insurance. Contact your insurance agent or insurance carrier to verify the coverage on your policy.

 

04.20.2020

ACEDC Resource Page Updated
ACEDC has updated our COVID-19 Resource Page. The page is a central resource for businesses, and our community to navigate the different support they can receive in this trying time.

Congress Close to Passing Additional COVID-19 Small Business Resources
The Trump administration and Congress expect to reach an agreement today on an aid package of up to $450 billion to boost small business loan programs and add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing. The bill, which could be voted on later this week, could provide an additional $300 billion for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and $50 billion more for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. 

Businesses interested in the PPP should contact their lender, look at their PPP application, and check the list of certifications a business is required to make. Then gather the required documentation for an application and file an application with their lender in anticipation of additional funding getting released. Further guidance has been issued by the U.S. Treasury/SBA on the PPP, specifically for loans to self-employed, partnerships, and sole proprietors. See updated PPP Guidance here

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Offers Grants to Small Businesses
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has launched the Save Small Business Fund. The fund offers grants of $5,000 to businesses that employ between 3 and 20 people, are located in economically vulnerable communities, and have been harmed by the COVID -19 pandemic. The distributions of funds will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. The application went live at noon today. The following zip codes in Addison County are considered "distressed communities" by the Economic Innovation Group and are therefore eligible: 05469 (Monkton), 05472 (New Haven), 05491 (Vergennes), 05740 (East Middlebury), 05747 (Granville), 05748 (Hancock), 05753 (Middlebury), 05769 (Salisbury), 05778 (Whiting). 

Vermont Department of Labor Makes Progress on Claims 
More than 78,000 Vermonters have filed for unemployment since March 15, compared to about 5,000 during the same period a year ago. The four-week surge is higher than the entire year of 2009, at the height of the Great Recession. As of Thursday, the State had identified over 34,000 unemployment insurance claims, which combined, had over 50,000 stop-payment issues associated with them. The Department of Labor and the Agency of Digital Services was able to identify multiple approaches to clearing as many problems as possible so that payments could be processed. By Saturday afternoon, these efforts had resulted in an additional 20,000 claimants having their claims processed. As of Sunday, nearly 32,000 claim issues have cleared, allowing claimants to proceed with filing a weekly claim and start collecting benefits. For the remaining eligible claimants (8,384 people) that did not have issues cleared, Governor Scott asked the Treasury to issue payments of $1,200. These checks were processed over the weekend and mailed out to claimants on Monday, April 20. Checks provided to claimants include two-weeks of federal benefits ($600 per week), which a claimant would have received starting the week of March 29. Claimants should be aware that checks likely do not provide the full amount owed but serve as an initial installment. Claimants will receive the full benefit over the coming weeks as part of the regular processing of claims by the Department.

In addition to these efforts related to the regular U.I. Program, the Department expects to launch the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program by the end of the week. This program will allow self-employed individuals, and others not eligible for general UI, to receive benefits. Updates on the PUA program are being posted online, as well as through the PUA Hotline (877-660-7782).

Vermont Legislature Proposes New Incentive Pay Program for Essential Workers
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on Friday to consider a new grant program that would provide incentive pay to essential workers identified in Executive Orders issued by Gov. Phil Scott. Committee Chair Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, said that a special work committee established by Senate President Tim Ashe, D/P-Burlington, is attempting to address the issue of essential workers. The committee aims to address the need of essential workers who continued to work but are in a worse financial position than individuals who held similar jobs and choose not to work and receive unemployment benefits. The voluntary program would be employer-based and would require employees to meet specific criteria. Employers would have to verify employee information. At the end of each month, eligible workers would receive a grant. Eligible employees would include frontline workers earning $20 an hour or less as a base wage. Examples include employees of nursing homes, residential care homes, assisted living residences, home health agencies, health care facilities, community health centers, therapeutic community residences, dental and physician offices, child care facilities, ambulance services, grocery stores, pharmacies, mortuaries, and certain retail entities. Kitchel told the committee that the program would pay for with federal COVID-19 relief funds. Given the urgent nature of the problem, the committee would like the program set up quickly to begin making the payments and backfill the funds when federal funds arrive. The committee will meet again this week to consider whether $20 an hour is an appropriate base wage or if it should be higher, and whether an employee would be excluded from the grant if their employer has already provided a financial incentive.

 

04.17.2020

Governor Scott Announces Phased, Limited, Safe Reopening of Commerce
Governor Phil Scott today outlined an approach for the phased restart of Vermont's economy, emphasizing the State's modeling indicates initial steps can be taken while the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect. 
 
To begin to execute this strategy, Governor Scott today signed an addendum to Executive Order 01-20, which – to start getting more Vermonters back to work – institutes new health and safety requirements and encourages the public to wear cloth face coverings.
 
It also directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to issue guidance authorizing outdoor businesses and construction operations with crews of two or less and some single-person low contact professional services, such as appraisers, attorneys, realtors, and others, to operate if specified safety requirements can be met. These openings are effective April 20.
  • View Governor's April 17 Press conference here.
  • View Governor's Press release here.
  • View the Executive Order Addendum here.  
Commissioner of Labor Apologizes, Promises Improved Services, Announces Opening of Claims for PUA Program
At the Governor's April 17 press conference, Governor Scott announced that he requires the Department of Labor to clear all issues with unemployment benefits with an approved initial claim by Saturday night (April 18). For claims with uncleared issues remaining after that deadline, claimants will receive an immediate prepayment of $1,200 toward their unemployment benefits. The Interim Commissioner of Labor, Mike Harrington, offered an apology to Vermonters and a promise to get UI issues cleared quickly. He also announced that the system VTDoL is putting in place to accept claims to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program should be ready to accept initial claims on Tuesday, April 21. The PUA was authorized by Congress in the CARES Act and provides unemployment benefits, including the $600 federal weekly benefit, for those who are not eligible for regular UI benefits, such as self-employed, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.
  • For more information on applying for the PUA, click here.
  • A full schedule of VTDoL events can be found at labor.vermont.gov/calendar, and previous events are uploaded to the Department's YouTube Channel, which may be viewed here: https://bit.ly/VTLabor-Youtube. (Note: The calendar may not be updated for the week of April 20 until over the weekend)
Governor Announces Opening of Farmers' Markets Starting May 1
At his April 17 press conference, Governor Scott announced that Vermont farmers markets would be allowed to resume market activities starting May 1. Markets will be able to operate beginning May 1 with adherence to specific guidelines. This updated guidance will be shared with the farmer's market community and stakeholders and will be made available on the AAFM and ACCD website as soon as possible. Guidance released on April 10 regarding farmer's markets remains in effect at this time.
  • For more information, click here.
Vermont Agency of Commerce Seeks Business Input on COVID-19 Impacts
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) wants to hear from all Vermont businesses impacted by the response to the COVID-19 virus. Please share these impacts via the ACCD Business Impact Form, which will help the State assess the full impact as we all work toward solutions.  

 

04.16.2020

SBA Announces Funds for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program Exhausted
The SBA announced on Thursday morning that funding for EIDL and PPP loans has run out. Without further appropriations from Congress, no additional applications can be approved. The SBA portal for the EIDL is closed, and no more applications are being accepted at this time. Applicants who have already submitted their EIDL applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Banks will continue to submit PPP applications they have on hand to the SBA for approval until they are denied. 
 
Except for the application confirmation number at the end of the application process (which you should keep), EIDL applicants should not expect any communication from the SBA for several weeks regarding the SBA loan. The "advance" portion of the EIDL should be directly deposited into your account with the label "SBATREAS." EIDL applicants can call customer service at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. They are open 8 am-8 pm every day. They wait times are expected to go down now that they are not taking new applications. But contacting SBA by phone or email will not give you answers on your application status. 
 
Businesses interested in the PPP should contact their lender, look at the application, and gather the required documentation for an application in anticipation of additional funding or currently committed funds getting released. Additional guidance has been issued by the U.S. Treasury/SBA on the PPP, specifically for loans to self-employed, partnerships, and sole proprietors. See updated PPP Guidance here
 
There is an ongoing debate in Washington regarding further relief, including additional funds for the EIDL and PPP programs. ACEDC has advocated for additional funding with Vermont's Congressional delegation. 
 
Governor Scott and Agency of Commerce Establish Economic Mitigation & Recover Task Force
On Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) announced the establishment of the State of Vermont Economic Mitigation & Recovery Task Force. The task force is charged with providing technical assistance and expertise to mitigate the devastating short-term economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and develop strategies designed to speed long-term business and community recovery. The task force consists of job creators, community leaders, and business representatives from each region of the state. The task force is made up of three action teams: an Employer Financial and Technical Support team, a Local Support and Community Action Team, and A RestartVT Team. The Employer Financial and Technical Support team will focus on increasing financial and technical support capacity for small and large businesses. The Local Support and Community Action team will work with local groups to learn what actions are being taken on the ground in communities and what can be replicated and shared statewide. A RestartVT Team will help develop plans for the smooth, safe, and orderly reopening of the economy in concert with the State Emergency Operations Center and the Department of Health.

 

04.13.2020

Regional Development Corporations of Vermont Identify Issues for Congressional Delegation
In anticipation of additional congressional action to respond to COVID-19, Vermont's twelve regional development corporations, including Addison County Economic Development Corporation, sent a letter to the Congressional delegation thanking them for their work to date and identifying several issues, concerns, gaps, and unmet needs and offering suggestions to consider for additional relief legislation. The letter can be found here
 
Vermont Homestead Declaration Filings
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Vermont Tax Department has extended the deadline for filing personal income taxes until July 15, 2020. The State is, however, recommending property owners file their Homestead Declaration Filing by the April 15, 2020 deadline to be sure they get their tax benefit on their 2020 property tax bill. A delay in filing your Homestead Declaration will delay your tax benefits if you are eligible for one, and it will result in your property tax bills needing to be adjusted at a later date. To file your Homestead Declaration, go to:
 https://tax.vermont.gov/sites/tax/files/documents/HS-122.pdf. You will find the information required to complete the form on your 2019 property tax bill.

Vermont Department of Labor Virtual Town Halls Week of April 13

TUESDAY, APRIL 14

  • Unemployment Insurance – Claimant 101
    • Time: 8:30am – 9:15am
    • Overview: Department of Labor staff will provide an overview of top questions the Unemployment Insurance Division has received, as well as a general instruction, tips, and updates to attendees.
    • Online Linkhttps://bit.ly/3VTLaborTownHall_Claimants
  • Unemployment Insurance Update - Employers
    • Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
    • Overview: Updates and information for employers about unemployment insurance, with attendees able to ask questions of Department staff
    • Speakers: Cameron Wood (Director, Unemployment Insurance)
    • Online Linkhttps://bit.ly/VTLaborTownHall_April14

THURSDAY, APRIL 16

  • Unemployment Insurance – Claimant 101
    • Time: 8:30am – 9:15am
    • Overview: Department of Labor staff will provide an overview of top questions the Unemployment Insurance Division has received, as well as general instruction, tips, and updates to attendees.
    • Online Linkhttps://bit.ly/4VTLaborTownHall_Claimants
  • Employee Safety and Workers' Compensation Amid COVID-19
    • Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm
    • Overview: Discussion surrounding workers' compensation issues facing employers including coverage of workers, filing claims and reporting of injuries, as well as updates on worker safety during COVID-19
    • Speakers: Stephen Monahan (Director, Workers' Compensation Division), Dan Whipple (Manager, Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and Kevin Gaffney (Deputy Commissioner, Department of Financial Regulation)
    • Online Linkhttps://bit.ly/VTLaborTownHall_April16

 A full schedule of Department events can be found at labor.vermont.gov/calendar, and previous events are uploaded to the Department's YouTube Channel, which may be viewed here: https://bit.ly/VTLabor-Youtube.

The Department of Labor will continue to hold these events as needed and will provide topics that are timely and of current community benefit. For further information and updates on the Vermont Department of Labor, please visit labor.vermont.gov.

 

04.10.2020

Governor extends the State of Emergency and Stay Home Stay Safe Order to May 15, 2020
On April 10 Governor Phil Scott extended Vermont’s State of Emergency through May 15, which also extends the expiration date of all corresponding orders and directives issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original State of Emergency, issued on March 13, was set to expire on April 15, as were the subsequent mitigation measures. As a result of this extension, all measures, including the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, are now in effect until midnight on May 15 (note, schools remain dismissed for in-person instruction through the end of the school year).
 
Included in the order, the Governor:
  • Directs to the Department of Motor Vehicles to extend motor vehicle inspections due in April for up to 60 days.
  • Effective immediately, authorizes lodging operators to accept reservations for stays and events occurring on June 15 or later.
  • Clarifies that state agencies may provide non-congregate housing for isolation purposes due to COVID-19 exposure or infection to first responders, including the Department of Corrections personnel, health care workers and others working to support the COVID-19 response.
  • Directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to update guidance for real estate sales to ensure it applies to “for sale by owner” properties.
  • Directs ACCD to clarify that essential services provided by financial, legal and professional services, as well as by municipalities, are allowed when helping Vermonters navigate and access the state and federal financial supports available in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Clarifies that protections for health care facilities, providers and volunteers afforded under 20 V.S.A. § 20 apply for the purposes of COVID-19 related emergency management services or activities. 
Governor Authorizes Lodging Operators to accept on-line Reservations for June 15 or later
In his April 10 order, Governor Scott also authorized lodging operators to immediately accept reservations for stays and events occurring on or after June 15, 2020. However, the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of VDH and the Commissioner of DPS/VEM, will assess the emergency and determine whether to amend or extend this date.
 
Vermont Department of Labor Updates
At the Governor's Friday, April 10 press conference, Commissioner Mike Harrington gave the following updates:
 
  • The additional $600 per week unemployment benefit provided by the CARES Act should be added to benefit checks starting the week of April 13. While standard unemployment benefits are retroactive to the date an initial claim is filed, the additional benefit will not be retroactive. For more information, click here.

  • The Department expects to start implementing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) during the week of April 13. This program will allow for unemployment insurance benefits to individuals not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance, such as the self-employed. For more details, click here.

  • The Vermont Department of Labor has implemented an alphabetized structure for the intake of weekly claims and inquiries, designating specific days of the week for individuals to contact the Department, based on the first letter of the claimant's last name. The structure will take effect on Sunday, April 12, 2020.  For more details, click here.

  • The Depart of Labor will hold regular virtual Town Halls over the coming weeks. The Tuesday and Thursday events are for employers and the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday events are for claimants. For the schedule and links, click here.  All virtual events will be recorded and accessible on the Department website, as well as on  the Department’s YouTube Channel, which may be viewed here: https://bit.ly/VTLabor-Youtube.

 

04.08.2020

Vermont Leaders to Connect with Vermonters
Vermont's political leaders, including Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, Congressman Welch, and Governor Scott will hold a phone-in Town Hall to address concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and update Vermonters about actions taken at the federal and state levels. The town hall will take place Thursday, April 7at 5 p.m. You can call 1-888-480-3635 to join the meeting.
 
Vermont Department of Labor Virtual Town Halls
The Vermont Department of Labor has scheduled a series of virtual town hall events on various unemployment issues. Click here for the schedule. You can view previous town hall events on YouTube by searching for "Vermont Department of Labor."
 
VMEC Establishes Vermont Manufacturing Exchange
 (MXVT.org) The Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) has started the Manufacturing Exchange-Vermont (MXVT.org), with a primary mission of “connecting people and supply chains to deliver solutions.” It also allows manufacturers and suppliers to post their needs and find business opportunities. MXVT uses familiar social media tools in a virtual collaboration space that empowers innovative thinking, helps solve problems, and can create new supply chains. Powered by VMEC, MXVT.org has launched during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis with an initial focus on enabling and accelerating connections between urgent health-related equipment needs & personal protective equipment (PPE), potential Vermont manufacturers first, and product and solution providers. MXVT site content will continuously become richer as more users connect and all move forward together.  VMEC is working in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD), the Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center (VT PTAC), Associated Industries of Vermont (AIV), Vermont’s Regional Development Corporations (RDCs), and additional partners.

 

04.06.2020

Montpelier – The Vermont Department of Labor has announced it will continue its Virtual Town Hall events for the week of April 6, 2020. The Department announced the events in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Dates and employer-focused conversation topics for the week of April 6, 2020 include:

TUESDAY, APRIL 7

  • Resources for the Self-Employed
  • Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
  • Overview: Resources available for self-employed or independent contractors and the process they should take to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Speakers: Michael Harrington (Interim Commissioner), Joan Goldstein (Commissioner, Department of Economic Development) and Cameron Wood (Director, Unemployment Insurance)
  • Online Linkbit.ly/VTlaborTownHall_April7

THURSDAY, APRIL 9

  • Employer Services and Rapid Response
    • Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm
    • Overview: Description of step-by-step process for employers that feel they may need to lay off employees, such as steps to take, who to notify and work with, as well as what to do when and if they are looking to hire. 
    • Speakers: Cameron Wood (Director, Unemployment Insurance), Cindy Robillard (Business Services Manager), and Dirk Anderson (General Counsel)
    • Online Linkbit.ly/VTlaborTownHall_April9 

Previous events are uploaded to the Department’s YouTube Channel and may be viewed here: https://bit.ly/VTLabor-Youtube.

The Department of Labor will continue to hold these events as needed and will provide topics that are timely and of current community benefit. For further information and updates on the Vermont Department of Labor, please visit labor.vermont.gov.

 

04.04.2020

ACEDC launches COVID-19 Resource Webpage
ACEDC has added a COVID-19 Resource Webpage that puts COVID-19 information and links all together in one place. It includes information for businesses, including details on the EIDL and PPP programs, plus information for the community that is specific to Addison County, legislation that has been enacted, and many useful links. 
 
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has also launched a COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center that provides centralized information for Businesses, Communities, and individuals.
 
 
Lenders Accepting Business Applications to the Payroll Protection Program
On April 3, SBA-Approved lenders started accepting applications from businesses for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover eligible costs: payroll costs, most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight weeks after the loan is made; and employee and compensation levels are maintained. For more details, see the ACEDC Resource Webpage
 
 
IRS Issues Scam Alert
The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, especially related to the individual payments due to be issued to taxpayers. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. "We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information." Taxpayers should not only be cautious of fraudulent emails, but text messages, websites, and social media attempt that request money or personal information. For more information, click here.