COVID-19: Resources for Business

 

In an effort to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and increase the safety of the community, Governor Hogan announced all non-essential businesses would be closing as of 5pm on March 23rd.  For more guidance on which businesses are considered essential, please see the Office of Legal Counsel's memo on interpretive guidance:

March 23rd Interpretive Guidance on Governor's Order

County Executive Marc Elrich also recognizes that the current public health crisis is having a devasting impact on the county’s businesses and non-profits. Executive Elrich worked with the Montgomery County Council to create a $20M Public Health Emergency Grant program that will provide relief to local small businesses and nonprofits. The bill was introduced on March 25, 2020 and is available for review on the Legislative Information Management System.  Businesses may submit questions about the County's response to:  BizinfoCovid19@montgomerycountymd.gov

Governor Hogan also announced a series of Business Relief Fund Programs. Details on these programs which include loan and grant opportunities, can be found on the Maryland Department of Commerce and Maryland Department of Labor web site.


The Governor emphasized that workers can file for unemployment insurance online or by phone. There is no waiting period to file a claim. The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor has ordered, effective March 20, 2020, a temporary exemption from the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits. 

Information related to these decisions can be found at the web portal for the Department of Commerce, which is updated hourly:  https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus. Questions can be directed to:  Secretary.Commerce@maryland.gov.

Due to the Governor’s shutdown order, these businesses are now eligible for the  SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses (including child day cares) and non-profits that have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue that they are experiencing. 

We encourage our business community to evaluate all the options available to find areas of relief. The County Executive and County Council continue to explore more ways to assist the business community during this difficult time.

Please check back often as information is changing quickly and updates will be posted regularly. 

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
State and County Resources:
Montgomery County and the State of Maryland are receiving many requests from businesses interesting in selling emergency-related products and services to the government. Please use the following contacts to submit these requests:

Montgomery County: procure@montgomerycountymd.gov

State of Maryland: 
resource.mema@maryland.gov

Contacts
Maryland Secretary of Commerce
Montgomery County Government
For Grocery stores to provide hours of service for the elderly and at-risk


General COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses:

stop the spread of germsMontgomery County has developed a  Business Fact sheet with guidance and information for businesses to help them address the COVID-19 response.
Businesses should take precautions and follow public health guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Actions that you can take to prevent the spread of the virus include:

  • Make hand sanitizer and tissues clearly available to employees and customers.
  • Clean and disinfect your workplace on as enhanced schedule and post a notice detailing your sanitation and hand hygiene procedures.
  • Discuss the importance of good respiratory hygiene practices with your staff, including coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve, not a hand; minimizing face touching; and frequent hand washing and surface cleaning.

Businesses should also have a plan to ensure your operations continue if the spread of the disease increases.  This may include:

  • Develop a plan now to communicate with vendors, employees, insurance, and accounting services if regular business operations are interupted. Keep updated contact information in more than one location.
  • Do a complete inventory and talk with suppliers now about shortages they anticipate, and plan or order accordingly.
  • Contact your insurance company now to discuss which expenses may be covered, including liability and business interruption.
  • Develop an Infectious Disease Response Plan using the Partners in Preparedness Guidance.

Remember that although it's important to be aware of risk factors, COVID-19 doesn't discriminate based on race or national origin, and neither should we. Transmission impacts people from all walks of life in our community, and it is illegal to turn someone away from your business or refuse someone service based on race or ethnicity. If you suspect someone is being discriminated against, contact the County's Office of Human Rights for assistance at 240-777-8450.


Guidance for Restaurants & Food Service Facilities

Consider introducing delivery or curbside pick-up services if you don't already offer them. Maintaining business during this period of interuption is essential. Design a delivery menu, even if it's limited, then set up your website now to accommodate delivery and online ordering. If you already offer delivery, consider expanding your delivery zone and training staff to shift to food service delivery to minimize layoffs and ease the transition to a different model. We also encourage our business community to evaluate all the options available to find areas of relief. There are resources above that may help.  The County Executive and County Council continue to explore more ways to assist the business community during this difficult time. Here are some additional resources:

Visit Montgomery has also developed a new online restaurant directory – called MoCo Eats – for restaurants looking to promote their pick-up, delivery and beer and wine offerings to Montgomery County residents. The interactive website allows a consumer to search for a listing, filter by category and city, and view any special promotions the restaurant is offering. Restaurant owners can add their listing via a submission form directly from the site. Visit www.mocoeats.com to view listings.


Guidance for Personal Service Businesses (Hair Stylists, Nail Salons, etc.)

hairEncourage your customers to wash their hands or use sanitizers at the entrance and as they exit. Consider revamping your cancellation policies to support customers who may cancel because they are sick. Reassure clients by preparing a statement about new cleaning and hygiene procedures and policies. Email it to your clients now and post it on your website. Prepare a plan for an alternate business model if clients become fearful of public spaces. Consider offering in-home services, instead, and check with your insurer and licensing agency to ensure you comply with their requirements. Clarify policies about procedures and expectations around home visits with all employees.
Here are some additional resources:


Guidance for Nonprofit Organizations

In addition to the general guidelines provided in the business section of the webpage, the County Executive and County Council continue to explore ways of providing guidance and relief to non-profits.  Be sure to develop a plan to protect staff and volunteers. Consider alternative ways to serve vulnerable clients that allow for social distancing.  Increase the use of email, conference calls, video conferencing, and web-based seminars. If your organization has COVID-19 related opportunities for volunteers, be sure to connect them with the Volunteer Center. Here are some additional resources:


Guidance for Houses of Worship

worshipPlan ways to limit face-to-face contact between people at your house of worship. Provide web- and mobile-based communications and services, if possible. Increase the use of email, conference calls, video conferencing, and web-based seminars. Help counter stigma and discrimination in your community by engaging with stigmatized groups and speak out against negative behaviors. Here are some additional resources:


Guidance for Schools and Child Care Facilities

daycarePrivate schools and child care facilities should be engaged in contingency planning to prepare for the potential spread of COVID-19. Ground yourself and your staff in the facts and stay up to date on the current status of  COVID-19 in Montgomery County.

Continue to engage in best practices for hygiene and disinfection procedures. It is important to emphasize—and teach, when necessary—good personal hygiene practices to prevent the spread of viruses. This includes appropriate hand washing, covering coughs, and staying home when sick.

Routinely communicate with your school community, including your contracted educational providers such as non-public agencies, about this evolving situation. Staff, students, and families should know where to go to find accurate, factual sources of information, and should know that you are monitoring the situation and are in ongoing communication with your local public health officials. A simple step such as posting a brief message to your homepage with links to the  Montgomery County COVID-19 webpage will help reduce anxiety in your community.

Intentionally and persistently combat stigma. As new information emerges, please remind your community that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected to race, ethnicity, or nationality. Stigma will not help to fight the illness. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.

In addition, school officials should be mindful that bullying, intimidation, or harassment of students based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, or disability may result in race- or disability-based harassment that violates state and federal civil rights laws. School districts must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred when responding to reports of bullying or harassment of students


Trusted Information Sources on COVID-19

Always be sure to provide current and vetted information when discussing COVID-19 with employees and others. Refrain from spreading false rumors.  Trusted information sources include:


Frequently Asked Questions