A Message from Virginia Chamber President & CEO, Barry DuVal

Today marks one week since many regions of the Commonwealth entered Phase One of Governor Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan. We have seen businesses swiftly adapt to the guidelines in place and develop innovative solutions to gradually re-open operations. The City of Richmond, Accomack County, and several localities in Northern Virginia are still delayed under Executive Order 62 and will begin Phase One no sooner than midnight on Thursday, May 28.

Governor Northam announced that he will allow Virginia Beach to re-open its beaches today, May 22, with certain restrictions. Secretary Matt Stricker, in collaboration with local Virginia Beach officials, have developed certain guidelines to re-open beaches, in time for Memorial Day Weekend. More information can be found below.

Last week, the Virginia Chamber’s “Blueprint for Getting Virginians Back to Work” surveying efforts concluded and we would like to thank the thousands of businesses throughout the Commonwealth who participated in this process. The final plan, along with a host of other important resources for businesses, will be available on our Virginia Chamber COVID-19 Resource Center soon.

On Wednesday, Governor Northam announced his decision to veto Senate Bill 861, which would have provided small businesses with a vital resource to lower health care costs. I am both shocked and deeply disappointed by the Governor’s decision to veto this legislation. Affordable health care is urgently needed for our small businesses and their workers throughout the Commonwealth, now more than ever. On Thursday morning, I joined NewsRadio WINA to discuss why the Virginia Chamber strongly supported this legislation for small business. You can listen to the full interview here.

The Virginia Chamber would like to commend the General Assembly for their leadership on this issue and thank our collaborative partners, including local and regional chambers throughout the Commonwealth, for their tireless efforts to support this small business relief. With over 95% of business in Virginia being small business, we had hoped to deliver news that the financial relief, offered by Senate Bill 861, was on the horizon for implementation and, unfortunately, that is not the case. While we are disappointed by this veto, the Virginia Chamber remains committed to defending small businesses throughout the Commonwealth.

Virginia businesses have stepped up to support our communities during these challenging times. Each week, we will highlight one member of the Virginia Chamber for their efforts to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic in the “Member Spotlight” section included below.

This week, the Virginia Chamber is pleased to recognize Altria for its significant contributions to support COVID-19 relief efforts, helping communities across the Commonwealth. In late March, Altria announced that they have committed $1 million to support immediate relief efforts related to the COVID-19 crisis. Since this announcement, Altria has contributed $500,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond’s COVID-19 Response Fund. This fund will support the foundation’s efforts to address the physical and emotional needs of some of the most vulnerable residents within Central Virginia. The additional funds have been dedicated to helping to support priority community needs and investments in the American Red Cross. More information on this week’s “Member Spotlight” can be found below.

Member Spotlight: Altria

This new section in the Virginia Chamber’s Weekly COVID-19 update will highlight Chamber members who have stepped up to support our communities during these challenging times. This week on our Member Spotlight, we are highlighting Altria for their continued efforts to support Virginians during COVID-19.

Altria Group, Inc. (“Altria”) (NYSE:MO) announced that it has committed $1 million to support immediate local coronavirus relief efforts in its headquarters community of Richmond, VA, and its other manufacturing and grower communities. 

“This is an unprecedented time, and it’s critical that businesses step up to meet the challenges in the communities where we live and work,” said Billy Gifford, Vice Chairman and CFO, Altria.

As part of this initial investment, Altria provided $500,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which will support organizations addressing the physical and emotional needs of the Central Virginia community’s most vulnerable residents. The company will work with leaders in its manufacturing communities, including Nashville, TN and others, to respond to priority community needs and investments as they emerge. The response will also include a distribution to the American Red Cross.

“Caring for each other and doing what’s right is core to our company,” said Jennifer Hunter, Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Altria Client Services. “Circumstances are changing quickly, and we will respond to our communities’ needs accordingly.”

More information can be found here.

Virginia Chamber 2020 Event Updates

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and ever-evolving situation, the Virginia Chamber made the decision last week to postpone all of our scheduled events for the spring. We have secured new dates for each of these events later in the year.

Please find below an updated tentative event calendar for the fall months. Additional details on each event with be released in the coming weeks.

August 19 – Virginia Veterans & Military Affairs Conference

September 17 – Virginia Conference on Energy Diversity & Corporate Sustainability

October 7 – Virginia Health Care Conference

October 27 – Virginia Education & Workforce Conference

November 5 – Virginia Chamber Annual Dinner

December 4 – Virginia Economic Summit

Governor Announces Details for Phase One of Forward Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order 61 and announced Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to reopen the Commonwealth. The executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55. The Governor has noted that the timing of the three-phase plan will be based on certain health data.

While Phase One began on May 15, Governor Northam has signed Executive Order 62 granting the City of Richmond, Accomack County, and several localities in Northern Virginia with an exemption to the state-mandated easing of the Phase One restrictions, per the localities’ requests. Under Executive Order 62, these localities will begin Phase One no sooner than midnight on Thursday, May 28.

Below you will find an overview of the information outlined for Phase One.

Phase One:

  • The ban continues on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings.
  • All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitization of high contact surfaces, and provide enhanced workplace safety measures.
  • Retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy.
  • Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50 percent occupancy.
  • Personal grooming services may begin operating by appointment only, with only one appointment per service provider at a time.
  • Fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services.
  • Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.
  • Places of worship may continue holding drive-in services, and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity.

Additional guidance for businesses and religious services can be found below.

Beaches in Virginia Beach to Re-Open for Memorial Day Weekend

Governor Northam announced that he will allow Virginia Beach to reopen its beaches today, May 22, with certain restrictions. Secretary Matt Stricker, in collaboration with local Virginia Beach officials, have developed certain guidelines to the re-open beaches, for recreation use, in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Some of the Guidelines Include:

  • Increased cleaning of high-touch areas.
  • Compliance monitoring by beach ambassadors.
  • 50 percent reduction in parking in beach lots.

The new restrictions still prohibit beach sports and large gatherings by large groups. Beach visitors must adhere to social distancing.

More information can be found here.

Upcoming COVID-19 Webinars:

Visit the Virginia Chamber COVID-19 Resource Center for a weekly overview of the available webinars for the business community.

Virginia Chamber members are encouraged to share any additional webinar resources and opportunities that should be highlighted in this section by contacting our team at policy@vachamber.com

Connecting Jobseekers with Companies Actively Hiring in Northern Virginia 

Have you furloughed or laid off workers, or lost a job yourself, because of COVID-19? Check out companies hiring now on www.workinnorthernvirginia.com. The new website, launched by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, also includes the industries growing in Northern Virginia and resources to help upskill employees. Click here to go to the COVID-19 Job Resource page.

Frontline Foods: Fueling the Fight Against COVID-19

In April, Richmond community members came together to found a local chapter of Frontline Foods to help support local restaurants that have been impacted by shelter-in-place measures, while feeding healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Frontline Foods RVA is committed to raising funds to support Richmond’s vibrant local restaurants by purchasing catered meals to feed the heroes working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more information here.

SBA Resources: Sustaining Business and Nonprofits

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — use the Lender Match tool to find lender where can apply. Entities can obtain zero-fee loans up to $10 million running from February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels.

Emergency Economic Injury Grant — use the Economic Injury Disaster Loan application. It includes $10 billion to provide an advance of up to $10,000 for businesses and nonprofits that apply through SBA within 3 days.

Small Business Debt Relief Program — use the Economic Injury Disaster Loan application. Once an entity applies for EIDL, the SBA has three weeks to respond. EIDLs are loans up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. If an entity receives the loan January 31 to June 30, 2020, it can apply for a PPP loan or refinance for PPP.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information Sheet

The U.S. Department of Treasury shared information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. Please review the resources provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury below and visit their webpage for additional information.

  • A top-line overview of the program can be found here.
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.