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.

  • Two Options for Expanding Outdoor Dining Space

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    16 Apr 2021
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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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    29 Mar 2021
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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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    19 Mar 2021

    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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    12 Feb 2021
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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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    27 Jan 2021
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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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    15 Jan 2021
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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.

  • Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery

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    15 Jan 2021
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    On January 11, Governor Inslee signed the "Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery" proclamation. The new two-phased plan eases some restrictions while focusing on the health and safety of residents and paving the way for economic recovery. Unlike the previous recovery approach, which was organized by county, Healthy Washington divides the state into eight regions and outlines metrics that will be used to determine phases for each region. The Department of Health will evaluate metrics weekly and announce changes to phase status every Friday. King County is currently in Phase 1 of the Healthy Washington plan. Here is an overview of current restrictions during both phases.

    Note that not every business activity is listed. For a complete list of reopening guidance, click here.

  • APPLY NOW: Round Three of Working Washington Small Business Grants

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    02 Dec 2020

    The third round of the Working Washington Small Business Grants program is now open. Businesses with revenue of $5m or less in 2019 are eligible to apply for up to $20k in emergency funding. Apply here:

    http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/working-washington-round-3/

    The application is time-sensitive, so apply as soon as possible (definitely before the end of next week, according to the DOC). If you need help with the application, call this support number: (360) 725-5003.

    Additional details about the grant program (directly from the DOC):

    Gov. Jay Inslee announced an additional $70 million for business grants. $50 million of this is for round three of the Working Washington Small Business Grants program. The remainder will go towards funding qualified businesses that applied in earlier rounds of our resiliency grant program.

    NOTE: Businesses that applied for the resiliency grant program will not need to take any action.

    Who can apply for Round 3 of WWSB?

    These grants are prioritized for:

    • Small businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019, AND
    • Businesses in the sectors that are most impacted by the recent public health measures or sectors that have experienced significant, cumulative impacts. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys and music and event venues.
    • Certain nonprofits may also be eligible if they have a primary business activity that falls into a similar category as noted above. Example – a nonprofit full-service restaurant or nonprofit music venue.
    • If Commerce is able to fund all the eligible applicants from the priority pool, and funds remain, we may be able to provide grants to additional businesses or nonprofits from other sectors or who have annual revenues larger than $5 million.
    • The application describes additional criteria.

    What does the grant pay for?

    • The maximum award grant will be up to $20,000.
    • The grant can only cover expenses or costs incurred due to COVID-19 and that were necessary to continue business operations.
    • The application has more detail regarding what expenses are covered by this grant.

    How to apply:

    Here is a checklist of the information you’ll need to have ready:

    • Applicant W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number.
    • Copy of valid government-issued photo I.D.
    • For tribal-member owned businesses: license or certification if business activity is conducted outside the tribal jurisdiction; letter or certification from the tribe recognizing you as a business if business activity is within the tribal jurisdiction.
    • Copy of 2019 Tax Return or other confirmation of Business Gross Revenues for 2019.
    • For businesses with a physical location, evidence of that location, such as lease, tax statement, utility bill, etc.
    • NAICS code or clear description of your primary business activity. A NAICS code is helpful, but not necessary. If you have never used a NAICS code, you can learn more here: What is a NAICS Code? and explore NAICS codes to see which one fits your business.
  • MInext is now LIVE! What will your next MI experience be?

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    05 Nov 2020
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    Today we launch MInext, a new marketing campaign to support Mercer Island's businesses. MInext aims to strengthen connections between Islanders and the local businesses that make Mercer Island a unique place to live, play, and enjoy. Over the next several weeks, we invite the community to learn more about the people "behind the masks" with blog and video interviews, special promotions, advertising, signage, and more. Our hope is that the community will think Island businesses first for their next purchase of a product, service, or experience.

    The website launches today with six interviews of local businesses and will continue to be updated with new blog and video content through the end of the year. Businesses are offering special promotions to campaign followers, and we are working with our consultants to cook up a few more surprises for the duration of the campaign. We are also tying the campaign into other efforts to support the community and local businesses this winter, including Illuminate MI.

    Check out MInext online:

    This campaign is the result of a partnership with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and local consultants L+B Design and Suzanne Zahr. It is fully funded by the City's Port of Seattle and King County CARES grants.


    Are you a local business interested in participating? Start by reading more here.

    Thanks to our grant funding, we are able to offer this campaign to the business community at no cost. Participating businesses will receive a welcome kit including a facemask, open/closed sign, and window decal as well as other campaign gear to get into the MInext spirit (while supplies last). We ask that participating businesses offer a special MInext promotion to advertise on the website and other channels.


    Ready to join? Complete your MInext interview & submit pictures here.


    Questions? Contact Sarah Bluvas, EOC Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov.



  • Ventilation and Air Quality for Reducing Transmission of COVID-19

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    30 Oct 2020
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    The DOH has issued new ventilation and air quality guidance to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

    Good ventilation and indoor air quality are important in helping reduce airborne exposure to viruses, including COVID-19. However, ventilation and air filtration are not effective alone. They are tools that must be used along with other measures such as health screenings, physical distancing, reducing building occupancy, implementing appropriate cleaning and disinfection, and other protocols.

    Considerations for Improving Ventilation and Air Quality*

    *Since buildings vary in design, age, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, and their ability to provide adequate ventilation and air filtration, a professional engineer or HVAC specialist should be consulted to determine the best way to maximize the system’s ventilation and air filtration capabilities for each specific room in the building.

    General Considerations
    • Upgrade filters to MERV 13 if the system can handle the air resistance.
    • Change filters as needed (clogged filters decrease HVAC operation, stress the fan motors, and decrease ability to improve indoor air quality). Visually inspect monthly.
    • Inspect and clean entire systems. Make repairs quickly to prevent more serious issues.
    • Reduce recirculation of air, increase/maximize outside air.
    • Maintain humidity of 40-60%.
    • Bring in outside air prior to occupancy and after, especially while cleaning and disinfection is occurring.
    • Inspect and maintain local exhaust ventilation in restrooms, kitchens, cooking areas, labs, etc. Increase exhaust ventilation from restrooms above code minimums.
    • Work with building engineer or HVAC specialist to generate air movement that goes from clean-to-less-clean air through positioning of air supply and exhaust air diffusers and/or dampers.
    • If there are ceiling fans, reverse the flow direction to draw air upward or turn them off.
    Buildings with an Existing HVAC System
    • Adjust the HVAC system to allow the maximum amount of outside air to enter the program space. Disable demand-controlled ventilation to bring in more outside air. Reduce recirculation of air.
    • Clean unit ventilators, upgrade filters if possible, and adjust for maximum outside air.
    • Visually check outside air dampers to make sure they are open.
    • Assess units to determine if filters can be upgraded to MERV 13-14, or the highest MERV that will not significantly diminish airflow. Ensure that filters fit tight.
    • For existing HVAC systems that cannot be upgraded, optimize as much as possible and consider supplementing with other measures (see below).
    • Flush the building’s indoor air two hours before and two hours after occupancy and always when cleaning and disinfecting.
    • There is no special cleaning or disinfection for (HVAC) systems. Cleaning the system or filters with disinfectants is not recommended and not necessary.
    • Clean and service HVAC unit on a regular schedule (check with HVAC specialist).
    Buildings that DO NOT have an Existing HVAC System

    Opening windows:

    • Open windows and doors if it is safe and weather allows, and include more outside time during the day.
    • Reduce occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation cannot be increased to the optimal amount.
    • Use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows. Position fans securely and carefully in or near windows so as not to induce potentially contaminated airflow directly from one person over another (strategic window fan placement in exhaust mode (e.g., blowing out of the window) can help draw fresh air into room via other open windows and doors without generating strong room air currents).
    • Ventilate building or room 2 hours before and after occupancy.
    • Use of fans for cooling is acceptable. They should blow away from people.

    Portable air filtration:

    • Portable HEPA air cleaners can supplement ventilation and are most critical in rooms with poorer ventilation or in isolation areas.
    • Unit air ratings are based on the square footage of the room and the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). This guide provides a useful tool to calculate ventilation rates for indoor space(s): Harvard-CU Boulder Portable Air Cleaner Calculator for Schools.
    • The equivalent of at least 5-6 air changes per hour is recommended.
    • Consider the noise rating as some units can be quite loud. Consult with the manufacturer before purchasing. The Clean Air Delivery Rate is at the highest speed, which will be too loud for some environments. Choose one rated for a larger size room and run it on the low fan speed to reduce the noise, or use two for the room.
    • Units should be pointed so they do not blow air across occupants (e.g., from one individual to others). • Air filtration should be maximized in the space 2 hours before and after occupancy.
    • Choose HEPA air cleaners certified by the California Air Resources Board to not emit dangerous levels of ozone.
    • Do not use ozone generators, electrostatic precipitators and ionizers, or negative ion air purifiers because they can produce harmful by-products.
    • Do not use personal air purifiers.
    • HEPA filters should be replaced regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. The unit should be vacuumed and cleaned on a regular schedule – this should be done outside. Filter disinfection is not needed or recommended.
    Additional Considerations

    Restrooms:

    • If toilets have lids, instructions should be given to shut them during flushing.
    • Ensure restroom exhaust fans are functional and operate at full capacity 24/7.
    • Install paper towels to dry hands, disconnect hand dryers (blowers).
    • Ensure that face coverings are worn in the bathroom.
    • Ensure that all drain traps are primed (water flow maintained regularly).

    More Detailed Guidance

    Guidance for schools

    “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and airconditioning (HVAC) systems, can reduce airborne exposures. Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and airconditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.” -American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers