Today's Three Things to Know: March 31, 2020


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March 31, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your SC Chamber Team includes: Non-Essential EOFFCRA, and CARES Act

#1:  Governor McMaster Orders “Non-Essential” Businesses to Close for 15 Days

In his press conference this afternoon, Governor McMaster announced that he had issued Executive Order 2020-17 that requires “non-essential” businesses in South Carolina to close for 15 days beginning tomorrow, Wednesday at 5:00 pm to help limit the spread of COVID-19. This is NOT a statewide stay-at-home order. The list of businesses deemed “non-essential” that must close is divided into three categories, as follows:

 Entertainment venues and facilities:

  • Night clubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
  • Tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums, and planetariums)
  • Racetracks
  • Indoor children’s play areas (excluding daycare facilities)
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Bingo halls
  • Venues operated by social clubs

Recreational and athletic facilities and activities:

  • Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms
  • Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
  • Group exercise facilities, to include yoga, barre, and spin studios or facilities
  • Spectator sports
  • Sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than six (6) feet of another person
  • Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
  • Activities on commercial or public playground equipment 

Close-contact service providers:

  • Barbershops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Body-art facilities and tattoo services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

*Clarification Provided by the SC Department of Commerce On Request: Businesses can complete the “Essential Business Clarification” form via the Department of Commerce’s website, email, or call 803-734-2873 if they have a question about whether they fit into one of these categories. The department will review the request, and the business will receive a determination within 24 hours. 

The Governor’s Office clarified: “If a business is not explicitly addressed in the governor’s executive order, the business should continue normal operations until a determination is made.”

**This Executive Order Pre-empts Conflicting Local Ordinances: The Governor’s executive order will pre-empt and supersede any local ordinance that conflicts with the order. Currently, Columbia and Charleston have adopted stay-at-home ordinances, and the City of Greenville is considering such an ordinance. Any part of those ordinances which conflict with the executive order is deemed null and void.

The Governor continued to reiterate that he does not have plans to issue a stay-at-home order in South Carolina at this time.

#2: New Federal Paid Leave Rules Effective Tomorrow

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) goes into effect on April 1st. The US Department of Labor (USDOL) continues to update its guidance and add FAQs to help employers and employees understand their requirements and rights. Here is key information for employers to be ready to implement FFCRA:

  • Notice requirements: You must post notice of FFCRA requirements in your place of business. The SC Chamber sent copies of FFCRA posters to members this week. Please let us know if you would like additional copies, or if you did not receive a copy and would like one. Check out the USDOL’s proper notice and posting FAQ’s here
  • Breakdown of FFCRA: See slides from our presentation with Fisher Phillips 
  • Stay up to date on USDOL regular FAQ updates for new information.
  • USDOL’s latest guidance explains that small businesses (less than 50 employees) can be exempt from FFCRA leave payments if:
    • Paying expanded leave causes the business’s expenses to exceed its revenues and causes the company to stop operating at minimal capacity;
    • Absence of employees requesting expanded paid leave would result in a substantial risk to the financial health of the company because of the employees’ specialized skills; or
    • There are not enough workers who are able, willing, and qualified to perform the work who are requesting expanded paid leave, and the work is needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.  (See FAQ #58, 59 for detailed answers)

#3: Get Ready for the CARES Act

Webinar TOMORROW: On March 27th, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The SC Chamber is hosting another webinar, presented by Ogletree Deakins, and featuring a discussion of the expansion of unemployment benefits in five key ways. They will also discuss incentives for employers to keep workers employed through additional SBA loans and tax credits.

The Impact of the CARES Act on Unemployment and Incentives for Employers to Keep Employees Working

  • Date: Wednesday, April 1st, 12:00 pm ET
  • Presenter: Ashley Cuttino, Ogletree Deakins

Small Business Guide and Checklist: The SC Chamber published a “Small Business Guide and Checklist” prepared by the US Chamber of Commerce. The CARES Act allocated $350 billion for small business loans to help organizations keep their people employed throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Under certain circumstances, loans may be forgiven. The Chamber’s guide and checklist provide a clear explanation of the program and step-by-step instructions on how small businesses can see if they are eligible for loans under the “Paycheck Protection Program”. 

Also, see the US Department of Treasury one-pager on the Paycheck Protection Program