Over the weekend, on Sunday, March 15, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order closing restaurants and bars in Ohio. Further, similar measures are expected throughout the United States as all levels of government determine appropriate responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses will be directly and negatively affected by such measures, causing serious financial difficulties for the businesses themselves and their employees. Several potential avenues for relief are available to businesses to help ease the burden caused by governmental restrictions and the simultaneous market downturn.
Small Business Administration Loans
On March 12, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the availability of “low-interest disaster recovery loans” of up to $2 million for small businesses that have been severely affected by COVID-19 and related issues. Loans with a 3.75% interest rate are available for small businesses, and loans with a 2.75% interest rate are available for non-profit organizations. These loans can have a maximum term of up to 30 years, as determined on a case-by-case basis. For additional information regarding eligibility, the SBA disaster assistance customer service center may be reached at email@example.com or at 1-800-659-2955.
Applications for loans are submitted through the governor of each state. To begin Ohio’s application process, businesses must email their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.gov.
Unemployment Benefits, Charges, and Reporting
Employees not offered paid leave through their job and who are quarantined by a medical professional, who are quarantined by their employer, or whose employer has temporarily closed will be able to seek unemployment compensation through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services without the normal requirement to be actively seeking work and without the normal 1-week waiting period usually associated with unemployment applications. However, asymptomatic individuals who self-quarantine will likely not be able to seek unemployment compensation, as they are choosing not to work. Working from home or teleworking will not make an individual eligible for unemployment compensation unless they meet monetary and weekly eligibility criteria. Employees can be directed to http://unemployment.ohio.gov or to call 1-877-644-6562 to apply for benefits.
Additional information on pending actions regarding employees and businesses, including the Emergency Family & Medical Leave Act, Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and Tax Credits for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Paid FMLA can be found here.
For businesses in Ohio affected by the recent executive order closing bars and restaurants, especially in light of the common buildup of liquor inventories in preparation of St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the Ohio Department of Commerce has instituted a high-proof liquor buyback program for bars, restaurants, and those who have obtained an F2 temporary permit for events scheduled between March 12, 2020 and April 6, 2020 whose event has been cancelled. To take advantage of the buyback, high-proof liquor may be returned to the Contract Liquor Agency where the product was purchased. The Agency will then seek Liquor Enterprise Service Center approval. For additional information, the Ohio Department of Commerce may be reached at OhioLiquorInfo@com.ohio.gov or at 1-877-812-0013.