COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

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The City of Mercer Island recognizes the severe business impacts of the coronavirus measures being implemented across the region. We understand that business owners and employees have many questions surrounding the virus and its effect on business operations and economic security.

To assist in answering those questions, we have compiled resources from national, state, county, and regional organizations for your reference.

Always remember to document your individual or business-related financial impacts. This may help you receive compensation either through your insurance or through potential relief efforts by state or federal agencies.

As the virus spreads, most establishments will be challenged by additional State mandates, special cleaning needs, and reduced staffing or fewer customers due to quarantine concerns. The City is working closely with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to provide information specific to local businesses.

The City of Mercer Island recognizes the severe business impacts of the coronavirus measures being implemented across the region. We understand that business owners and employees have many questions surrounding the virus and its effect on business operations and economic security.

To assist in answering those questions, we have compiled resources from national, state, county, and regional organizations for your reference.

Always remember to document your individual or business-related financial impacts. This may help you receive compensation either through your insurance or through potential relief efforts by state or federal agencies.

As the virus spreads, most establishments will be challenged by additional State mandates, special cleaning needs, and reduced staffing or fewer customers due to quarantine concerns. The City is working closely with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to provide information specific to local businesses.

  • Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate Resumes, Regardless of Vaccination Status

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    On August 23, the existing statewide mask mandate expanded to once again include vaccinated individuals in indoor settings. The expansion comes after Washington recently broke the previous record for COVID hospitalizations set in December. Every county in the state currently falls within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) substantial or high transmission, and each of the state's 35 local health officers also recommended all individuals wear masks indoors.

    The expanded indoor mask mandate applies to most public places across the state, including restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, regardless of vaccination status. Limited exceptions include office spaces that are not easily accessible to the public (where workers and visitors are vaccinated) and when working alone indoors or in a vehicle with no public-facing interaction. While not required, the Department of Health strongly recommends individuals also wear masks in crowded outdoor settings, such as outdoor concerts, fairs, and farmers markets.

    Governor Inslee announced this expansion on August 18. He also instituted a vaccination requirement for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education settings, which took effect immediately. The Governor has not halted Washington's reopening, which ramped up on June 30 with the lifting of most pandemic restrictions. However, he has said that he hopes expanding the mask mandate will help avoid a return to more drastic measures, such as mandatory business closures. Public Health-Seattle & King County also still advises that the best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated AND wear a mask.

    What does this mean for your business?

    Once again, businesses are asked to enforce the indoor mask mandate on your premises. Here are a few tips to help you keep your employees and patrons safe:

    Educate yourself and your employees on the current State and County guidance, which is consistently updated here:

    Update your COVID-19 signage with these free resources:

    Review the enforcement guidelines from the State: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/StayatHomeOrder-Guidelines%20for%20Enforcement.pdf

    Ask for kindness and patience from your patrons (and give the same to them); we will continue to get through this pandemic together!


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Economic Development Coordinator, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov to let us know how we can help.

  • Restaurant Revitalization Fund - May 3 Application Process Opens

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    SBA has announced emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19.

    How to Apply

    SBA will begin accepting applications via the application portal on Monday, May 3 at 9 a.m. PDT. The application portal will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

    In preparation, qualifying applicants should familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application. Follow the steps below.

    For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants.

    Webinar Recording

    If you were unable to attend one of the webinars held earlier this week which covered Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) program details and a demonstration of the application portal, you can watch the recording online.

  • Free Business Advising Available to Island Businesses

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    Mercer Island businesses in need of business advice can access free consulting services from our counterparts around the region. The Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), reSTARTUP425, and REACH King County are all providing confidential, one-on-one advising support to businesses in need. Keep reading to learn who to contact and what services they can provide.

    Mari Wruble, East King County Advisor | Washington Small Business Development Center

    E-mail Mari directly at mariw@oneredmond.org

    Mari is one of SBDC’s 30 expert business advisors stationed around the state. Operating out of the OneRedmond offices, Mari helps small business owners grow and succeed through advising, education, and research.


    Michael Reis, Business Response Team | reSTARTUP425

    Request assistance by filling out the online form found here

    Michael is based in the Business Impact Northwest offices, where he has access to their extensive network of advisors and their Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) lending team.


    CPA Assistance from REACH and Business Health Trust

    E-mail Leigh Jacobson at leighj@seattlechamber.com and she will connect you with a CPA from Clark Nuber

    CPAs are available to assist small businesses in making the best use of the Paycheck Protection program (PPP) second draws and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) for 2020 and 2021. Any business in the region with 100 employees or fewer is eligible to receive accounting assistance for these two government-funded programs thanks to a sponsorship by REACH King County and the Business Health Trust.


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Economic Development Coordinator, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov to let us know how we can help.

  • Financial Relief Programs

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    Programs are available to help businesses. Here are a few of the latest resources:

    The American Rescue Plan Act Restaurant Revitalization Fund has made $28.6b in federal grants for eating & drinking establishments is available. Applications open May 3 and the program will be administered by the SBA. Learn more from the National Restaurant Association’s FAQs factsheet: https://restaurant.org/downloads/pdfs/business/faq_revitalization_grants then click here to begin your application.

    The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application opened on April 8 via the SBA. This program provides $16b in grants to support organizations like theaters, museums, concert venues, and more that had to close during the pandemic. Learn more and apply here: https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/

    Did you receive a PPP loan and need assistance with the loan forgiveness process? REACH and Business Health Trust partnered to provide FREE CPA assistance to small businesses in the region. E-mail leighj@seattlechamber.com to get connected with CPA services from Clark Nuber.

  • Two Options for Expanding Outdoor Dining Space

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    The City is again enabling local eating & drinking establishments to use public Right-of-Way or private parking to expand their outdoor dining. Are you a café, restaurant, tavern, or other food/beverage business interested in creating more outdoor space? Keep reading to learn more about each option and see which one is right for you!




    Temporary Use of ROW for Outdoor Dining

    Businesses who wish to expand into public Right-of-Way (ROW) parking need a temporary use permit. Here are the steps for applying:

    1. Complete the temporary-use application: https://bit.ly/ROWdining
    2. Develop your site plan (refer to page 4 of the permit application for additional details)
    3. E-mail your completed application and site plan to to epermittech@mercerisland.gov (please also copy patrick.yamashita@mercerisland.gov and sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov). Reference "Temporary use of ROW for Outdoor Dining" in the e-mail subject line.

    Additional information related to this option:

    • Estimated time of review/approval: 5 business days
    • Permit duration: Varies (Refer to the “Permit Process” section on page 3 of the permit application for details)
    • Before a permit can be approved, businesses must submit a Certificate of Insurance naming the City as an additional assured. If you have questions about this requirement, please contact Sarah Bluvas at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov.
    • Permit cost: $213 (plus hourly rate if estimated review/inspection exceed 1 hour) - If cost is a barrier for your business, contact Sarah Bluvas to find a solution.

    Converting Private Parking for Outdoor Dining

    Businesses with private parking lots may use parking spaces for outdoor dining, provided that the business:

    • Is permitted to operate per the current Healthy Washington phase guidelines
    • Obtains approval from the landlord/property owner

    If you are a business with a private parking lot, we encourage you to work with your landlord as well as your neighbors to identify an outdoor dining solution that works for everyone. Converting private parking for outdoor dining does not require a permit at this time.

    Using Tents in Your New Outdoor Seating Area

    If you plan to use a tent or canopy in your new outdoor seating area, please limit your tent size to 400 square feet. Any tents exceeding this size are subject to an operation permit and review by the City’s Fire Marshal (per Chapter 31 of the International Fire Code).

    Technical & Marketing Assistance to Support Your Outdoor Dining Experience

    In addition to providing these opportunities, the City also applied for grant funding through the Port of Seattle to support your outdoor dining projects. We are still awaiting approval for the grant award, but we anticipate that we will have resources available to guide you in setting up your outdoor space and promoting it to the community. Stay tuned for more details about this!


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Economic Development Coordinator, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov to let us know how we can help.

  • APPLY NOW: Round Four of Working Washington Business Grants Now Open

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    On Monday, March 29, the Washington State Department of Commerce opened applications for the 4th round of Working Washington Grants. Applications are due April 9.

    This latest grant round focuses on brick-and-mortar businesses most directly impacted by COVID-19 public health measures.

    These grants are aimed at for-profit small businesses in industries that have hard costs associated with their operations, and faced the most significant challenges to paying those hard costs because they were required to close. Hard costs include but are not limited to rent, utilities, payroll or personal protective equipment.

    Eligible applications will be reviewed based on the following priority criteria:

    • Industries that had to close as a result of safety and public health measures.
    • Size of the business (measured by 2019 revenue).
    • Lost revenue between 2019 and 2020 as well as added expenses to maintain safe operations.

    Some of the criteria outlined in this legislation include:

    • Businesses must apply the grant award toward expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 through June 30th, 2021.
    • Commerce must take into account previous Working Washington awards distributed by the agency or affiliated partners. This means grant awards will vary. The maximum grant award will be $25,000.
    • Grants must be equitably distributed statewide and to historically underserved and disadvantaged populations.

    The application portal will be open until 5:00 PM PDT on April 9. Application information and technical assistance is available in multiple languages and is accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities.

    Beginning March 22, businesses can contact Commerce’s technical support center by phone or by email: (855) 602-2722 or commercegrants@submittable.com.

    Business owners can find information about the program and a link to the application portal at commercegrants.com.

    To ensure equitable distribution, Commerce will also consider businesses operating in a rural or low-income community or that is owned by someone from a historically underserved population (minority, veteran, LGBTQ+ or women-owned).

    Materials in 16 languages will be available on the site in the coming days.

    Visit commercegrants.com for more information about eligibility, the documents required to apply and how to reach someone for assistance.

  • Updated Reopening Guidance Available for Phase 3

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    This coming Monday, March 22, the entire state will move into Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan. This new phase allows 50% occupancy in most indoor venues, including gyms, restaurants, retail locations, and personal services providers. To date, Governor Inslee's office has released Phase 3 guidance for Mercer Island businesses in the following industries:

    Additionally, guidance for spectator events, golf, and some indoor and outdoor entertainment establishments has been updated. We will expand this list as more Phase 3 guidance is released. You can also find the latest reopening guidance on the Governor's website: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers.

  • 8 Ways to Prepare for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

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    The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was included in the federal stimulus package approved on December 27, 2020. The program provides funding for museums, movie theaters, live performing arts organizations, and other venue operators impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here: SVOG Program FAQs

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) still hasn't opened the application portal for this new funding opportunity, but Americans for the Arts created a handy checklist to help organizations prepare.

    Here are 8 ways you can get ready to apply as soon as the application portal opens, regardless of your Priority Category:

    1. If you or your organization does not already have a Dunn and Bradstreet DUNS Number, get one.
    2. Once you have your DUNS number, register in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). (Note: You can't use a Taxpayer or Employer ID Number to apply for the SVOG, and it may take up to two weeks to finalize your SAM registration.)
    3. Gather documents that demonstrate your number of employees and monthly revenues so you can calculate the average number of qualifying employees you had over the prior 12 months.
    4. Determine your gross earned revenue losses. It looks like SBA is going to use the Gross Earned Revenue definition to determine Priority Eligibility, but it’s not confirmed yet.
    5. Determine the extent of gross earned revenue loss you experienced between 2019 and 2020 on a quarterly basis.
    6. Make PDFs of additional information such as floor plans, contract copies, and other evidence that you'll need to apply for a SVOG.
    7. Sign up for updates from the Washington Small Business Development Center, which hosts webinars and provides webinars to help organizations navigate the SBA funding programs.
    8. You can also contact the SBA directly with questions about SVOG eligibility by e-mailing SVOGrant@sba.gov.
  • Free safety supplies for restaurants and bars in King County

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    The Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program continues its mobile outreach to provide free supplies for food establishments including facemasks, gloves, thermometer, hand sanitizer, disinfecting solutions, posters and educational materials. Upcoming giveaway events include:

  • Paycheck Protection Program NOW Reopened

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    Today the US Small Business Administration, in consultation with the US Treasury Department, reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) portal for first and second draw applications. PPP-eligible lenders with $1b or less in assets can access the portal now, and the application will fully reopen to all lenders on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

    Click for more information about the Paycheck Protection Program

    First draw PPP loans are available for borrowers who did not receive a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. Second draw PPP loans are available for eligible businesses who previously received a PPP loan. To be eligible for a second loan, businesses must:

    • Have 300 employees or less
    • Demonstrate at least a 24% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020
    • Use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses


    Like the first iteration of the program, you should work with your lending institution (bank, credit union, etc.) to apply for a new PPP loan. Need help finding a lender? Use the SBA's Lender Match tool to find participating lenders.

    Updated PPP lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.