April 29, 2020
Governor John Bel Edwards Extends Current Stay at Home Order to May 15
Yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that he would be extending his current “Stay at Home” order through Friday, May 15, leaving most COVID-19 restrictions in place for almost another three weeks.
Businesses deemed as “essential infrastructure” by CISA guidelines are to continue operations in line with safety and social distancing guidelines. To access CISA's latest guidance, click HERE. Specific businesses closed under the Governor's original order, which can be found HERE, should remain closed. Companies who do not fall within either directive are allowed to operate, but must follow all social distancing and safety guidelines with fewer than 10 people inside.
Governor Edwards' new directive will be officially issued on Friday, May 1. There are three changes to the Stay at Home Order:
- Malls will remain closed to the public, but its stores are allowed to be open for curbside pickup.
- Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
- ALL employees of a business who have contact with the public MUST wear a mask.
Governor Edwards is expected to give more guidance on reopening by May 11.
LABI President Joins Fox 8 to Discuss Reopening Louisiana's Economy
Today, LABI President Stephen Waguespack joined Fox 8 in New Orleans to discuss reopening Louisiana's economy and steps that the organization wants to see the Edwards administration take. Stephen spoke with reporter Sabrina Wilson about a free-enterprise approach to reopening and the untenable position that many companies find themselves in at the moment. To see more, click HERE.
Louisiana Department of Education Extends Child Care Assistance Program
In response to the Governor's extension of the “Stay at Home” order, the Louisiana Department of Education will continue to offer financial assistance through the month of May for the children of essential workers who are still on the job.
DOE's Child Care Assistance Program provides significant financial assistance for child care at approved early learning centers and certified family home and in-home providers. If eligible, the DOE will pay the CCAP certified provider the maximum rate per day. To apply for the program, click HERE.
For more information, including guidance to distribute to employees, click HERE.
National Association of Manufacturers Releases
American Renewal Action Plan
LABI's partners at the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC have released the “American Renewal Action Plan,” their blueprint for getting industry working after the COVID-19 crisis. NAM's plan touches on issues such as liability concerns, workforce solutions, and tax relief and restructuring. To read the entire action plan, click HERE.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Guidance on EEO Laws During COVID-19
In response to the concerns of employers during COVID-19, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new information on steps employers can take to remain compliant with EEO laws. The guidance provides answers to questions that many companies have as they work remotely or adjust operations to remain compliant with safety regulations. To read the complete guidance, click HERE.
BRAC Hosting COVID-19 Webinars for Business
In order to provide more information to companies and their employees during the COVID-19 crisis, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber is hosting webinars to discuss topics such as the federal virus response, HR management, and reopening the American economy.
Wednesday, April 29 at 11:00 am, BRAC will be hosting a webinar with Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He will speak about the Chamber's new initiative, Path Forward, which is designed to help business and community leaders find the answers they need to develop a responsible reopening strategy. To register for the webinar, click HERE.
To view BRAC's previous webinars and other resources for businesses, click HERE to visit their COVID-19 webpage.
Ochsner Health Hosting A COVID-19 Webinar for
Wednesday, April 29 at 11:15 am, Ochsner Health, a LABI member company, will be hosting a webinar to discuss the best health practices for companies so their employees are able to safely return to work. Moderated by Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas, the session will feature presentations and updates from company executives and medical experts. Participants will also be able to submit questions through Zoom's chat feature.
To join the webinar online, click HERE and enter password: meeting
To dial into the webinar via phone, call 1-646-558-8656 and enter Webinar ID: 962 2857 9304 and password: 551050
New Orleans Chamber Hosting a Webinar Update from the Governor's Resilient Louisiana Commission Wednesday
Wednesday, April 29 at 12:00 pm, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a webinar with Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson and former Rep. Walt Leger, both members of the Resilient Louisiana Commission formed by Governor John Bel Edwards. The discussion will focus on the commission's work and reopening plans in light of the Governor's new directives. To register for the webinar, click HERE.
Louisiana Legislature's Economic Recovery Task Force
Will Hold Their Second Meeting Thursday Morning
The Louisiana Legislative Advisory Task Force on Economic Recovery, the group formed by Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder to advise lawmakers on reopening the state's economy, will hold their second meeting Thursday, April 30, at 8:30 am.
To register to watch the meeting via Zoom, click HERE.
Any ideas, questions or comments about the task force and its meetings can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missed One Acadiana's Webinar on Rethinking Business After COVID-19? Watch it Here.
Tuesday, One Acadiana hosted a webinar with business and marketing experts to discuss how companies can embrace innovation and creativity to sustain their operations and support economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. To watch the full webinar on demand, click HERE.
Southeastern, Louisiana SBDC to Partner on Regional Business Recovery Radio Show
Tuesday, Southeastern Louisiana University announced that they were partnering with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center based on their Hammond campus, to host a radio show to discuss impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses in the Florida Parishes. “Let’s Talk Recovery” will air live on WTGG Tangi 96.5 in Hammond and The Highway 104.7 in Covington, Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next four weeks at 11:00 am. Listeners can call in with comments or questions to 985-419-0965 or email email@example.com.
COVID-19 News Update
- Baton Rouge Business Report: Salon, gym owners decry what they see as hypocrisy in stay-at-home extension
- The Advocate: Louisiana Senate leader wants Monday return: Legislators 'as essential as grocery stores'
- The Wall Street Journal: Even for Companies With Business From Coronavirus, the Picture Is Mixed at Best
- The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Audits of Small-Business Loans Face Daunting Challenges
- The New York Times: Businesses Seek Sweeping Shield From Pandemic Liability Before They Reopen
Texas to End COVID-19 Checkpoints at State Line
Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Department of Public Safety would be ending the use of checkpoints at the state line that had been set up to screen travelers from Louisiana. Governor Abbott also took action today end the mandatory 14 day quarantine that had been imposed on all visitors from Louisiana who traveled into Texas. The Governor's announcement comes as Texas is set to begin their Phase I reopening Friday.
To read more about Abbott's directive from Shreveport's KTAL, click HERE.
US Chamber Releases New Backgrounder on COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance
In response to the increased Unemployment Insurance provisions passed as part of the CARES Act, the US Chamber of Commerce has released a new guide for companies and filers. The document covers UI eligibility, accessibility, and provides application information. To access the full backgrounder, click HERE.
US Treasury Department Releases New FAQs on Paycheck Protection Program
With Paycheck Protection Program loans set to resume Monday morning, the US Treasury Department has released a new set of answers for frequently asked questions about the program. The FAQs include clarification stating that while there is no requirement borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere, they must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. To read the entire guidance, click HERE.
IRS Updates Online “Get My Payment” Tool
Today, the Internal Revenue Service announced updates to the online “Get My Payment” tool that individuals can use to track the status of their stimulus payments. Several prominent features on the webpage were reworked in order to allow users to more easily enter their information and receive updates on their payments. To access the payment tool, click HERE.
#ShiftingGears Video Series Continues
LABI's Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute is continuing to tell the story of how businesses are adapting during this pandemic response, hearing from business owners and managers in their own words. Our latest video features Eric Dexter with Civil Solutions Consulting Group. How is your business #ShiftingGears? Contact us to tell your story.
Click HERE to view the video.
Employers Should File Separation Notices When Workers' Unemployment is NOT COVID-19 Related
As part of the federal government's response to the Coronavirus crisis, Congress has enacted legislation that will provide individuals unemployed because of COVID-19 an additional $600 a week above what they receive in benefits through their state unemployment programs. This enhanced benefit will be available through July.
With the additional federal assistance, workers unemployed in Louisiana due to COVID-19 will receive a weekly benefit of up to $847. Some employers are concerned this may induce employees to quit their jobs to collect a larger weekly check while this enhanced benefit is available. Read more about this issue HERE.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit is to be paid only to “persons whose unemployment is directly due to the impact of COVID-19 or due to their inability to get to their job or worksite because they are sick, isolated or quarantined, caring for a sick family member, or when an employees' child's school is closed as determined by the administrator of the state's unemployment compensation program (i.e., the executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission).” Therefore, if a worker quits in the absence of these COVID-19 criteria, employers should immediately inform the Louisiana Workforce Commission via its Form 77 – Separation Notice, which you can access by clicking HERE.
In these cases, employers will need to note the business is open, the employee's function is still required and that there are no COVID-19 circumstances necessitating the individual’s decision to leave. Please note that this Separation Notice must be filed within 3 days of the date the worker separates from the business.