A Message from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO:

Today, the City of Richmond, Accomack County, and several localities in Northern Virginia join the rest of the Commonwealth in Phase One of Governor Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan. The Governor has stated that Virginia will not enter Phase Two of this plan for at least another week. While available information on the guidelines of Phase Two is limited, we expect some of the current restrictions on businesses to be eased and social gatherings of up to 50 people to be permitted. The Virginia Chamber will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Executive Order 63, which mandates the use of a face-covering while inside buildings, goes into effect today. Under this executive order, those who are ten or older must cover their nose and mouth areas while inside buildings. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been granted the authority to enforce this directive and violation of this order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Governor Northam expressed he will discuss a potential civil penalty with the General Assembly for consideration during their expected special session this summer. Information stated during this announcement also informed the public that VDH will have the authority to revoke a business’s license for non-compliance.

Following the announcement of Executive Order 63, I released the below statement:

“As businesses continue to adapt to the current environment and restrictions associated with Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan, it is unreasonable to hold them accountable for the enforcement of this new mandate, which could create unsafe situations for workers tasked with confronting non-compliant customers. 

“The Virginia Chamber continues to strongly encourage the use of face coverings to prioritize the safety of our citizens but is deeply concerned by the burden of the enforcement of this mandate will place on the thousands of businesses throughout the Commonwealth.”

Virginia’s racetracks and public beaches will be able to re-open beginning today, with certain restrictions. Vehicle racing events will be permitted to host single-day events that are closed to the public and without spectators. Virginia beaches are now able to re-open for fitness and recreational purposes, but group sports are still prohibited.  

On the federal level, the House of Representatives, almost unanimously, passed legislation to ease the requirements on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Under this bill, the percentage of funds that must be used for payroll has been reduced from 75% to 60%. Businesses will also now have up to 24 weeks to utilize the funds, which is 16 additional weeks from the original guidelines passed in March. The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to pass without much objection.  

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 Comcast for their proactive measures to support our communities during these difficult times. Comcast, along with several of the Chamber’s other telecommunications members, has committed to extending the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected pledge through the end of June. As part of this pledge, they have committed to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers, waive any late fees, and open Wi-Fi hotspots in businesses and outdoor locations for anyone who needs them.  

Additionally, Comcast has announced that $500 million has been committed to supporting their employees through continued pay and benefits, where operations have been paused or impacted, and members of their leadership team, including Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, have donated 100% of their salaries to charities that support COVID-19 efforts for the foreseeable future. Comcast has also developed many community resources including a center to provide thousands of hours of educational programming for k-12 students and a business webinar series. More information on this week’s “Member Spotlight” can be found below.  


Member Spotlight: Comcast
This new section 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 Comcast for their continued efforts to support Virginians during COVID-19.

Below you will find an overview of some of their COVID-19 initiatives.

  • Comcast Business has extended their commitment to waive late fees for customers, not disconnect Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Mobile, or Xfinity Voice services for customers who are unable to pay due to COVID-19, and pause data limits.
  • Provide free Xfinity Wifi by setting up Xfinity Wifi hotspots in business and outdoor locations across the country, even non-Xfinity internet subscribers. Map of Xfinity hotspots. 
  • Partnered with NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises to provide a $50,000 grant to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) — America’s largest Hispanic business organization, to support Hispanic-owned businesses impacted by COVID-19.
  • Developed a business webinar series aimed at helping businesses, of all sizes and across all industries, navigate the current environment, including strategies on how to rethink their short- and long-term goals and leverage technology to remain productive and nimble with their operations.
  • Providing free educational resources, in partnership with Common Sense Media, to support remote learning for k-12 students.

More information can be found on their COVID-19 Response Center


Guidelines for Face-Covering Requirements Outlined in Executive Order 63
Executive Order 63, which mandates the use of face-covering while inside buildings, goes into effect today. Under this executive order, those who are ten or older must cover their nose and mouth areas while inside buildings.

Guidelines for where face-covering is required:

  • Personal care and grooming businesses
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail including grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food and beverage establishments
  • Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open
  • Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas
  • State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes

Exceptions:

  • While eating or drinking at food and beverage establishments.
  • During exercise.
  • Children under the age of two (children between the ages of two and nine are encouraged to wear face-coverings, but are not required.)
  • Those who have trouble breathing, have a health condition that would prohibit wearing a face-covering, or are unable to remove the face-covering without assistance.
  • Those who need to communicate with a hearing-impaired person. 

More information can be found here

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been granted the authority to enforce this directive and violation of this order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Governor Northam expressed he will discuss a potential civil penalty with the General Assembly for consideration during their expected special session this summer. Information stated during this announcement also informed the public that VDH will have the authority to revoke a business’s license for non-compliance.


Virginia Business Magazine Calls for Nominations for “Virginia’s Best Places to Work”

Virginia Business magazine is looking for the best workplaces in Virginia. Register today for the chance to be named one of the 2021 Best Places to Work in Virginia!  Participation is free, and the deadline is Friday, Aug. 28. If your company is selected, you’ll be invited to a luncheon banquet celebrating the winners. Winners will also be featured in the January 2021 issue of Virginia Business magazine.  To register or get more information, visit BestPlacestoWorkVA.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.


The U.S. Department of Treasury Updates
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.

Small Business Administration Updates
Quick Links
Below you will find quick lines to some of the most up-to-date resources:

Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing funds dedicated to job retention and certain other expenses.Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
Click here to learn more.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

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 small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
Find more information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans at: SBA.gov/Disaster.


Virginia’s Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Award Application Opens Monday, June 1

Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Breastfeeding Commission released additional information and resources on best practices for becoming a breastfeeding friendly workplace.

The Virginia Workplace Breastfeeding-Friendly program is designed to recognize businesses who are providing specific support in the workplace to their employees. Businesses will be evaluated based on a set of criteria for three levels of breastfeeding support: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Businesses that meet the criteria outlined in the application below will be recognized with a certificate, website directory listing, and a luncheon ceremony. The application process  begins on Monday, June 1 and concludes July 15.

The coalition’s website can direct you to breastfeeding laws, toolkits, instructional videos, resources and support for professionals, educators, mothers and human resources departments.