August COVID-19 Updates

08.19.2020

State of Emergency Extended
On August 14, Governor Phil Scott announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency has been extended to September 15, 2020, as well as additional local discretion for gathering size limits and liquor sales. The latest order enables cities and towns to enact stricter local limits for gathering sizes than those established by the State. Municipalities may also mandate shorter hours for the sale of alcohol by bars and clubs than those set forth by the Department of Liquor and Lottery.  

Vermont Economic Recovery Grant Program Maximum Increased for Certain Sectors
Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Department of Taxes announced on August 18 that the maximum grant award for Economic Recovery Grants for certain Vermont businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been increased.  The increase in the maximum grant award is available to businesses in the lodging, retail, hospitality, arts, travel, and event affiliated sectors that have continued capacity constraints. Previously, businesses could receive up to $50,000 in grant funds. Now, businesses in eligible industries can receive up to an additional $100,000 in grant funding, for a total of $150,000 from the program. The increased maximum award is available both to new applicants to the program and to those businesses that have already received a $50,000 grant. Since they are all within the eligible sectors, all businesses that received a $50,000 grant award from the Department of Taxes are eligible to request an increase to the new maximum award amount and can do so through myVTax starting August 18. ACCD will be contacting any eligible businesses that already received a $50,000 grant through ACCD, notifying them this supplemental grant funding may be available to them starting Monday, August 24, 2020.  Businesses that have not yet applied for an Economic Recovery Grant are encouraged to apply if they have experienced losses of at least 50 percent in the months of March to July, 2020 (compared to any one-month period from March to July in 2019). Businesses that may not have been eligible based on earlier months are encouraged to evaluate their losses for the month of July as they may now be eligible.  More information can be found at Economic Recovery Grant Program website.

First Report on Vermont Economic Recovery Grants Filed With Legislature 
The Agency of Commerce and the Department of Taxes reports that more than $103 million in VT Economic Recovery Grants have been awarded to more than 3,500 businesses in 22 different sectors and all 14 counties in Vermont, and there are still funds available.  According to the report, 174 Addison County businesses have received $4.9 million in grants.  The report and the lists of businesses awarded can be viewed here.  Businesses that have not yet applied for an Economic Recovery Grant are encouraged to apply if they have experienced losses of at least 50 percent in the months of March to July, 2020 (compared to any one-month period from March to July in 2019). Businesses that may not have been eligible based on earlier months are encouraged to evaluate their losses for the month of July as they may now be eligible.  More information can be found at Economic Recovery Grant Program website.

Updated ACEDC Business COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Matrix Available
ACEDC has updated our COVID-19 business recovery assistance matrix that includes information and links for all programs for businesses. Check it out here.  

Utility Arrearage Assistance Available
Vermonters suffering economic hardship from COVID-19 can get help now to pay their arrearages for residential and non-residential utility accounts. The program provides financial support to customers of regulated utilities who may face disconnection of service because of past-due balances. The program provides eligible Vermont households with a grant to assist with past-due balances for electricity, natural gas, regulated private water and wired/landline telephone bills. Residential households and non-residential account holders who have suffered an economic hardship due to COVID-19 may apply for assistance. Residential applicants may only apply for a grant for their primary residence. Applicants must attest to economic hardship caused by the pandemic among other attestations that are designed to ensure the integrity of the application. For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions. To apply, go here.  
 

School and Childcare Information
There is a lot of anxiety regarding the start of the school year. Here is some information to help:

Employers: Share your Concerns and Issues with the Vt Division of Families & Children

The Child Development Division of the Department for Children and Families would like to meet with Vermont’s employers to learn more about any childcare concerns that employers may anticipate going into the fall. This sort of listening session will be helpful to the Child Development Division as they continue to develop policies to support the needs of families. They would also like to take the opportunity to open lines of communication with employers about how families can make use of the state’s existing services to match with available child care, how to learn more about child care subsidies, and other ways that the state is working to support families during this challenging time. The RDCs of Vermont are helping to facilitate the invitation of businesses to this meeting. The meeting for Addison County businesses is Thursday, August 20 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Click here: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting or call-in at +1 802-828-7667 (Montpelier-Toll call). Use Conference ID: 118 077 524#.  

Funding Available for Child Care Programs 

On August 7, Governor Scott and the Department for Children and Families announced the launch of the Operational Relief Grant Program, funded with $12 million from the federal CARES Act, to help child care programs offset pandemic-related expenses and losses. The application is open through August 26th and award notices are anticipated by September 11th. Eligible applicants include child care and after school programs, summer day camps, parent child centers and agencies that serve as fiscal agents for local Children’s Integrated Services.   

Regional School Opening Plans

Addison Central School District

Addison Northwest School District

Mount Abraham Unified School District

Rutland North East Supervisory Union

Slate Valley Unified School District

Regional Child Care Surveys to Help Gauge Needs

The Early Care and Learning Partnership, Inc., a small non-profit started to advocate for the expansion of child care services in Addison County, reduction in the cost to parents of care, and increases in the salaries and benefits paid to caregivers, is conducting two surveys to get a handle on the short term needs based on the proposed fall schedules for the public schools.  Information from the surveys is confidential. The aggregate information will be used by the ECLP Board to advocate for changes in our local support for families with young children. The two surveys will be open until the end of September, but they are using the information on a weekly basis to target areas that must be addressed immediately.

For employers (less than 3 minutes to complete): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2PTWCJC

For employees (less than 4 minutes to complete):https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DWCP2H3

 

08.13.2020

Updated ACEDC Business COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Matrix Available
ACEDC has updated our COVID-19 business recovery assistance matrix that includes information and links for all programs for businesses. Check it out here.

Business Economic Recovery Grants Still Available
The Economic Recovery Grants for businesses, administered by ACCD and the Department of Taxes are available to Vermont businesses who have experienced a 50% or greater drop in total revenue in any one-month period from March 1, 2020, through July 31, 2020, when compared with the same month in 2019. Businesses with at least one W-2 employee, including those who are an owner, are encouraged to apply. Go here.

COVID-19 Testing Guidance for Employers
The Department of Health has updated information regarding COVID-19 testing in the workplace. The Department of Health does not recommend requiring asymptomatic employees to test for COVID-19 or provide proof of a negative test prior to returning to work unless that person is looking to end their quarantine period early. Visit the Department of Health’s website to learn more about when testing is and is not recommended for your employees. Go here.

Childcare Services Grants Available
On August 7, Governor Scott and the Department for Children and Families announced the launch of the Operational Relief Grant Program, funded with $12 million from the federal CARES Act, to help child care programs offset pandemic-related expenses and losses. The application is open through August 26th and award notices are anticipated by September 11th. Eligible applicants include childcare and after school programs, summer day camps, parent-child centers, and agencies that serve as fiscal agents for local Children’s Integrated Services. Go here.

Department for Children and Families wants to hear from employers about childcare
The Child Development Division of the Department for Children and Families would like to meet with Vermont’s employers to learn more about any childcare concerns that employers may anticipate going into the fall. This sort of listening session will be helpful to the Child Development Division as they continue to develop policies to support the needs of families. They would also like to take the opportunity to open lines of communication with employers about how families can make use of the state’s existing services to match with available child care, how to learn more about child care subsidies, and other ways that the state is working to support families during this challenging time. The RDCs of Vermont are helping to facilitate the invitation of businesses to this meeting.

Meeting for Addison County businesses is Thursday, August 20 from 2;00 to 3:00 pm.

Click here: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting or call-in at +1 802-828-7667 (Montpelier-Toll call). Use Conference ID: 118 077 524#. 

Line Extension Customer Assistance Program
Are you struggling to get the Internet at home? Do you have K-12 students or need to work from home due to COVID-19? The Department of Public Service is issuing grants to eligible and qualifying residents to help extend telecommunications lines to their homes. Limited funds are available. Eligibility information, program guidelines, and FAQs are available on the Department of Public Service website. Go here.

Grant Funding for Municipalities
The Department of Taxes is offering municipalities two grant programs, one for the digitization of records (deadline September 1st) and another for reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses (deadline September 4th). Visit the Department of Taxes website for full details. Go here.

Grant Funding for Agricultural Fairs
Agricultural fair organizations that were registered with the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and operating as of March 1, 2020, are eligible to apply for assistance due to lost revenues or expenses accrued due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The application deadline is Thursday, August 20th. Go here.

Updated School Opening and Sports Guidance
On August 11, Governor Scott and the Agency of Education released updated guidance around the safe and healthy reopening of schools and a path forward for fall sports at schools in the state.

 

 

08.04.2020

Vermont Business Recovery Grant Eligibility Expanded
On August 3, Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Department of Taxes announced expanded eligibility for Economic Recovery Grants for Vermont businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the original eligibility criteria, a business was required to have at least one W-2 employee who was not an owner of that business. Starting  August 3, businesses with at least one W-2 employee - now including those who are owner-employees issued W-2s - are also eligible and encouraged to apply. Click here for more information and click here to apply.

Hazard Pay Program Starts
On August 3, Governor Phil Scott announced that beginning Tuesday, August 4, public safety, public health, health care and human services employers whose employees worked to help mitigate or respond to COVID-19 may apply for hazard pay grant funds for their employees.  The Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program was established in Act 136 of 2020 using Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to pay eligible employees who worked during the COVID-19 public health emergency from March 13 through May 15, 2020.  The Hazard Pay Program allows covered employers to request funding to provide $1,200 or $2,000 in hazard pay to each employee who meets eligibility criteria. Eligibility is determined by conditions outlined by the Legislature in Act 136, including the risk of exposure to COVID-19, number of hours worked and employee’s hourly wage.  Click here for the announcement. Click here for the program information and application. 

Retail capacity increased
On July 31, 2020 Governor Phil Scott announced that non-essential retail businesses can operate at 50% of approved fire safety occupancy; or 1 customer per 200 square feet; or 10 total customers and staff combined, whichever is greater, effective August 1, 2020. For further details and requirements, please refer to the Phased Restart Worksafe Guidance.  

Click here to see July Updates