May 13, 2021
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, May 13, 2021, advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places. The CDC hopes the guidance will prod more Americans to get vaccinated, also said fully immunized people will not need to physically distance in most places. The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues – even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
May 4, 2021
Effective Monday, May 31, 2021 at 12:01 AM, Pennsylvania is lifting COVID mitigation orders. The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now without wearing a mask, as low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others.
April 23, 2021
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application process opened on April 23, 2021. The grant provides emergency assistance for eligible venues affected by COVID-19. Program details, eligibility, documentation, grant amounts, uses and more can be found on the SBA website. Those who have suffered the greatest economic loss will be the first applications processed under the following schedule:
|First priority: First 14 days of grant awards||Entities that suffered a 90% or greater gross revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|Second priority: Next 14 days of grant awards||Entities that suffered a 70% or greater gross revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|Third priority: Beginning 28 days after first and second priority awards are made||Entities that suffered a 25% or greater earned revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.|
|Supplemental funding: Available after all Priority Periods have passed||Recipients of first, second, and third priority round awards who suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter (as of April 1, 2021, or later).|
April 12, 2021
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (Fund Info was updated May 5)
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is part of the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act. It will provide $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants and bars in need. The application process is now open. SBA website provides details about the fund, eligibility, how to apply, documentation needed, how funds can be used, a sample application, a program guide and more. You can also access the National Restaurant Association’s list of frequently asked questions about the grant. National Restaurant Association – Restaurant Revitalization Grants Frequently Asked Questions
March 15, 2021
Pennsylvania Eases Restrictions on Restaurants and Other Businesses, and Increases Gathering Limits
Govenor Wolf announced more options for restaurants and other businesses, and increased mass gathering maximums. The changes become effective April 4, 2021, and include the following:
- Restaurants may resume bar service
- Alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food
- The curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted
- Indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent for restaurants that are currently self-certified and those that undergo the self-certification process
- Restaurants that do not self-certify may raise capacity to 50 percent. Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up and takeout are still encouraged.
Requirements such as mask-wearing, and social distancing, including 6 feet between diners, also still apply.
- Capacity for other businesses also will be increased effective April 4, including moving personal services facilities, gyms and entertainment facilities (casinos, theatres, malls) to 75 percent occupancy.
- Maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size, and maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 50% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
COVID-19 HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY RECOVERY PROGRAM (CHIRP)
Pennsylvania has allocated $4.7 million in funding to Berks County to provide financial relief to businesses with a primary activity in 721 and 722 NAICS Codes.
The application window for CHIRP funding opens to eligible businesses on Monday, March 15, 2021 at noon. It will remain open until Monday, April 5, 2021 at 5 pm.
Additional information about CHIRP can be found at www.rebuildberks.com/funding
March 1, 2021
Today, March 1, 2021, Govenor Wolf revised mitigation orders on gatherings and lifted out-of-state travel restrictions. The changes became effective immediately.
The revised mitigations restrictions announced today include:
- Revised maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 15% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Core public health measures such as face covering (mask-wearing), social distancing, and hand hygiene still must be enforced. The 15% of maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
- Revised maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 20% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Core public health measures such as face covering (mask-wearing), social distancing, and hand hygiene still must be enforced. The 20% of maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
- Eliminate out-of-state travel restrictions. In November, the Department of Health provided an updated travel order requiring anyone over the age of 11 who visits from another state to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in a travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering Pennsylvania. Today, this order was rescinded. The current downward trend of cases nationwide and implementation of testing requirements and universal face covering on public transportation and transportation hubs are reducing the risk that interstate travel is a vector of disease transmission.
February 23, 2021
The U.S. Small Business Administration will offer PPP loans to independent restaurants, businesses and nonprofits with 20 or less employees, and sole proprietors only from Wednesday, February 24 through Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The White House also announced 4 additional program changes to open the PPP to underserved small businesses. While these changes are being implemented, SBA will work with community partners to improve the emergency relief “digital front door” and conduct extensive stakeholder outreach. SBA will strengthen its relationships with lender partners to advance equity goals, deliver funding efficiently, and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.
Changes to the program are as follows:
- Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants;
- Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal;
- Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make student loan payments by eliminating student loan debt delinquency as a disqualifier to participating in the PPP; and
- Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
The PPP program expires on March 31, 2021.
February 11, 2021
COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program or CHIRP
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has allocated $145 million to be divided among its 67 counties based on population.. The program’s goal is to provide financial relief to businesses with a primary activity in 721 and 722 NAICS Codes known as Act 1 of 2021. Under the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (‘CHIRP’), Berks County is receiving approximately $4.7 million in funding to provide grants to eligible businesses. The application window for this program will open to eligible businesses at noon on Monday, March 15, 2021. It will remain open until all available grant funds have been awarded. Application updates will be provided as they becme available.
January 20, 2021
New Round of PPP Open to All Lenders
Search the Small Business Administration’s newly released database for businesses to find eligible Paycheck Protection Program lenders.
January 15, 2021
COVID-19 Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a new federal program which will provide aid to struggling live venue operators, cultural institutions, and related industries. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program will provide $15 billion in funding assistance. Qualifying venues have the opportunity to receive up to $10 million in grants. These grants can be used for payroll, utilities, rent, PPE, barriers and other COVID protection measures, debt payments on debts prior to Feb. 15, 2020, contractors, maintenance, state and local taxes, licensing costs, necessary insurance payments, and capital expenditures for shows.
January 11, 2021
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officially launched its revised Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) today, January 11, 2021 with Community Development Financial Institutions. All other lenders will be eligible to participate starting Wednesday, January 13, 2021. The loan program is available for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. Learn more.
- Borrowers can set their PPP loan to cover a period between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs.
- PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures.
- PPP has expanded its eligibility to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
- The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
- Some existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount
- Some existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrowers:
1. Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
2. Has no more than 300 employees
3. Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
December 31, 2020
Govenor Wolf announced that the limited-mitigation order will expire on January 4, 2021. Indoor dining at restaurants may resume at 8 a.m. on Jan. 4 but all mitigation in play prior to Dec. 12 is still active.
- Indoor dining occupancy of 50% with self-certification or 25% without
- Meal requirement for onsite alcohol consumption
- 11 p.m. last call for alcohol
- Private event capacity determined by the maximum occupancy calculator
- Social distancing
December 15, 2020
Community Resources for Displaced and Underemployed Worker
211 – 211 is an information and referral service that helps direct those in need to appropriate services, including assistance for food, housing/rent, utilities, health programs and more. 211 provides free, confidential information 24/7 and is staffed by bilingual call specialists. Connect to 211 by dialing 211, texting 898211 or visiting pa211east.org/Berks
Berks County Coalition to End Homelessness – BCEH consists of over 60 agencies, businesses, and individuals, all working toward preventing, reducing, and ending homelessness in Berks County. The Coalition walks individuals through where and how to get help. They have resources for people impacted by the Coronavirus. Call 610-372-7222 for help with rent and other types of assistance.
Helping Harvest Fresh Food Bank – With more than 320 charitable food program partners throughout Berks and Schuylkill Counties, Helping Harvest will help you find the help you need close to home.Call 610-926-5802 x227 to be guided to food assistance in Berks County.
December 11, 2020
Govenor Wolf announced new temporary mitigation efforts beginning 12:01 a.m., December 12, 2020. The new measures ban indoor dining, reduce indoor events/gatherings to no more than 10 people, and limit outdoor events to 50 people or less, and more. Click through the link provided to view a complete list of the businesses and activities impacted by the temporary order.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) issued action alerts on the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020.
Voice your support for restaurants: https://p2a.co/geabs1a
Voice your support for hotels at https://ahla.quorum.us/campaign/29694/
Updated Quarantine Recommendations
On December 4, 2020 the Pennsylvania’s Department of Health updated their quarantine guidelines for people exposed to COVID-19. The new guidelines are based on new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and include options to reduce the quarantine period for individuals exposed to the virus. Download the updated information below. Take time to review the guidelines, and the make the information available to your employees. Updated Quarantine Recommendations for Persons Exposed to COVID-19
November 23, 2020
Governor Wolf issued a curfew for November 25 on alcohol sales from 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25 until 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 26 for all retail food facilities, including restaurants, bars, and private catered events. This order applies to BYOB establishments, but does not apply to take-out beer or cocktails to-go.
November 17, 2020
PA Sec. of Health issued an update to strengthen the masking order, as well as a new order on traveler testing.
- Masks must be indoors and outdoors when away from your home. Outdoor masking is required if you cannot maintain at least 6 feet distance between someone not from your household. Indoor masking is required at all facilities.
- With the mandatory COVID testing 72 hours before entering PA, PRLA has requested clarification to determine whether this places any further burdens or requirements on hotels.
- PRESS RELEASE | MASK ORDER FAQS | TRAVEL ORDER FAQSHotels, restaurants, attractions, etc. are not responsible to police out-of-state visitors. You do not have to ask if out of state nor require a certification from a doctor of a test.
To clarify this order –
- Hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc, are not responsible to to police out-of-state visitors, nor do businesses have to ask if guests are from out-of-state, nor require a negative test certification from a doctor.
- Restaurants – Patrons must wear a mask to table and while sitting. The mask can be removed from nose and mouth when eating or drinking. If there is not food or drink being consumed, a patron must wear a mask.
Starting Monday, September 21, 2020, all restaurants in Pennsylvania (except those in Philadelphia) can go to 50% occupancy as long as they self-certify by October 5th. Also taking effect is the 11 p.m. last call for alcohol, with it cleared by midnight. Food sales may continue after 11 p.m.
Berks County Resources
- Community First Fund Small Business Loans
- Berks County Small Business New Start Grant Program
- Berks County Small Business Restart Loan Program – Open until all progam funds are expended
- COVID Guidance For Businesses
- Berk County Commitment