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.

  • Expanding Outdoor Seating

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    At its August 4 meeting, City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that provides more flexibility to local restaurants and taverns who wish to add outdoor seating to their establishment. We hope the relaxed requirements will help local businesses continue to navigate new restrictions during Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan.

    Businesses interested in expanding seating capacity via outdoor seating have two options, outlined below. If you are not sure which option is right for you, please contact Sarah Bluvas at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov.

    Temporary Use of ROW for Outdoor Dining

    Businesses who wish to expand into public rights-of-way (ROW) must apply for a permit. Here are the steps for applying:

    1. Complete the ROW application: https://www.mercerisland.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/community_planning_amp_development/page/24451/commerce_on_public_property.pdf
    2. Develop your site plan (refer to page 3 of the ROW permit application for additional details)
    3. E-mail your completed application 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: 3 business days
    • Permit duration: Varies (refer to “Permit Process” section on page 2 of ROW permit application for additional 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: $347.63 - City Council approved using small business emergency grant funds to cover this permit fee cost, so local business will not be required to submit payment.


    Converting Private Parking for Outdoor Dining

    Businesses adjacent to private parking lots may now convert parking stalls for outdoor dining, provided that the business:

    • Is permitted to operate per the Safe Start phased reopening plan
    • Obtains approval from the landlord/property owner

    If you are a business attached to a private parking lot, the City encourages you to work with your landlord as well as your neighbors to identify an outdoor seating 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).



    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, EOC Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov to let us know how we can help.

  • Grants Available for Art and Cultural Organizations Through WA DOC

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    ArtsWA CARES Act Relief Grants available to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

    The Washington State Department of Commerce and ArtsWA, Washington's state Arts Commission, have partnered to provide federal CARES Act funding to art and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.

    Grants are available up to $10,000 each, and no funding match is required. Download application guidelines here.

    Who is Eligible?

    • Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have current federal tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including those affiliated with tribal organizations.
    • Fiscally sponsored groups and organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note: Fiscally sponsored applicants must be sponsored by nonprofit organizations that have arts, culture, and/or heritage in their mission statement.

    Who Is Not Eligible?

    • Individuals
    • For-profit organizations
    • Political or advocacy organizations
    • Government agencies, universities, colleges, academic departments, or entities with significant public funding
    • Organizations based outside of Washington
    • Washington State law prohibits funding of parochial schools or other organizations with a religious affiliation or purpose

    For information about the application process, criteria, and more, visit https://www.arts.wa.gov/cares-act-grants/

  • Governor Relaxes Some Phase 2 Restrictions

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    Newly relaxed restrictions on movie theaters, restaurants, real estate, youth sports, adult recreation, league games, and more.

    On October 6, Governor Inslee announced more activities will be permitted in each county statewide, depending on their specific Recovery Phase.

    Under the new protocols, in Phase 2 counties, movie theaters will be able to operate at 25% capacity, but facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between households will be required.

    In addition, restaurants in Phase 2 counties can now serve alcohol until 11:00pm (instead of 10:00pm), maximum table size has been increased to six individuals, and indoor dining groups need not be comprised solely of household members.

    Real estate open houses will now be allowed within each county’s size-limit for gatherings, and some indoor activity is allowed at libraries, at 25% occupancy.

    Additional protocols will also be released for a variety of outdoor group sports with more than a dozen participants, such as: bicycle rides, fun runs and marathons, kayak and canoe races, triathlons, ski races, and others.

    More youth sports and adult recreation, including some league games, in both indoor and outdoor settings, will be allowed depending on specific risk factors for each sport, without spectators. Youth football is not yet allowed due to the amount of close contact.

    Wedding reception limits in Phase 2 Counties remain at 30 individuals.

    Click on the links below for Phase 2 updates:

    For updated information for occupancy loads during Phase 2, review this help sheet provided by the Mercer Island Fire Marshal: Phase 2 Occupancy Load Help Sheet - UPDATED

    All issued guidance is posted on the Governor’s COVID-19 webpage.

  • Results from the Mercer Island Business Survey

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    Earlier this summer, we collaborated with local consulting firm Hardwick Research, the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from the Mercer Island business community to conduct a survey of all Island businesses. This project was funded via the Port of Seattle Economic Development Partnership grant program and had two main goals:

    1. Gather information regarding issues facing the Mercer Island business community, focusing primarily on COVID-19 related impacts
    2. Gather baseline data for long-range economic and community development efforts

    The online survey was sent out to the more than 1,300 businesses registered on Mercer Island, and we received 269 individual responses (~20% response rate).


    Click the graph above to read the full report PDF.

    Key Findings

    • The biggest challenges facing Mercer Island businesses due to the COVID-19 crisis include: a decline in business, understanding the State's COVID-19 phases and rules, and understanding Federal loan programs for COVID-19 impacts
    • More than half of respondents have sought financial assistance during the pandemic, with most (39%) taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program.
    • Only about a third of survey participants were aware of the City's Let's Talk page sharing COVID-19 resources for local businesses.
    • Overall, business want information, connections, and City programs/assistance during and after the COVID-19 crisis.


    The full report, including detailed findings, recommendations from Hardwick Research, and the survey questions, can be viewed here.


    Over the next several months, City staff will work with City Council, the Chamber, and local businesses to translate the results into continued and new actions to support our local business community. Stay tuned to Let's Talk for exciting updates, including information about a new marketing campaign launching in October to support Island businesses.


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, EOC Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercerisland.gov to let us know how we can help.

  • Webinar Recording: New Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) Program

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    King County is launching the Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) on August 3rd. Business owners are invited to participate in a webinar to learn more about the program.

    Updated August 3, 2020: Public Health — Seattle & King County is striving for a safe reopening so King County residents can get back to the activities they enjoy. In an effort to help restaurants and food establishments reopen and operate safely, and to keep us on the path to further reopening, King County launched the Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) on August 3rd. Click here to watch the informational webinar.

    SSTAR provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance. It also increases the accountability of restaurants to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening.

    Come and learn more about what to expect from this new program and get your questions answered.

  • Additional Phase 2 Guidelines for Restaurants, Taverns, and Fitness Studios - UPDATED 07.31.20

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    Governor Inslee announced changes to the Safe Start phased approach to reopening. The new rollbacks target activities that data have shown create a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

    Since the governor announced the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order four months ago, COVID-19 cases in Washington have risen from 2,000 to nearly 50,000, and deaths have increased from 110 to nearly 1,500.

    To combat these rising numbers, Governor Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman adjusted the Safe Start guidance and regulations for restaurants, bars, gyms/fitness studios, and other activities.

    Below we outline the updated Phase 2 guidelines that apply to Mercer Island businesses and are now in effect. Read more about other impacted activities here.

    Restaurants, Taverns, and Other Eating & Drinking Establishments

    • Indoor dining at restaurants limited to parties of household members only (outdoor dining and take out still available for customers/small parties from different households)
    • Indoor service is prohibited at taverns, breweries, wineries, & distilleries unless certain food service is provided (outdoor service guidelines remain in effect)
    • Bar-seating is prohibited (counter-style seating permitted in other areas)
    • Alcohol service must end at 10pm
    • Game and social areas must close (pool tables, dart boards, video games, etc.)

    Read the updated guidelines here.


    Gyms & Fitness Studios

    • Indoor fitness services limited to five participants (not including staff)


    Read the other current Safe Start Guidelines here.


    In addition to these rollbacks, Secretary Wiesman also expanded the face coverings order. Beginning Saturday, July 25, face coverings are required in all common spaces, including elevators, hallways/shared spaces in apartment buildings, assisted living facilities, and more.



    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, EOC Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.

  • Governor's Face Covering Order: Resources for Businesses

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    The Governor's Order is in effect, requiring businesses not to serve unmasked patrons (with limited exemptions). Businesses can learn more from State's business guidance resources.

  • Safe Start Washington & Other Reopening Resources

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    On May 1, Governor Inslee announced an extension of his existing Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order through May 31 and unveiled Safe Start Washington, a four-phase plan that will be used to stage the gradual reopening of businesses and facilities statewide. Each phase will last for at least three weeks in order to gather health data and evaluate continued advances.

    It is crucial to maintain some level of community interventions to suppress the spread of COVID-19 throughout all phases of recovery until there is an effective vaccine, effective treatment, or herd immunity. Each phase, while allowing for additional services to open and return to full capacity, is grounded in required practices for all employers.

    This page compiles resources intended to assist local businesses in safely reopening through the state's phased approach. Check back often for more resources.


    Safe Start Washington: A Phased Approach to Recovery


    Infographic detailing the four phases outlined in the Safe Start Washington plan



    Industry-Specific Guidelines

    Below we link to the industry-specific guidelines issued by Governor Inslee's office. Don't see your business's industry listed? That may mean that the Governor has not published guidelines for your specific industry yet. We will update this listing as soon as guidelines become available.

    Car Wash Services
    Construction
    Domestic Services
    Drive-In Theaters

    Movie Theaters

    Miscellaneous Venues


    Fitness & Training
    Landscaping Services & Outdoor Maintenance
    Library Services
    Manufacturing
    Medical Services
    Outdoor Recreation & Sporting Activities

    Outdoor Recreation

    Sporting Activities

    Personal Services
    Pet Grooming
    Pet Walking
    Professional Photography
    Professional Services
    Real Estate
    Religious, Spiritual, & Faith-Based Services
    • Phases One-Three Guidance
      • Memorandum on Conducting Religious, Spiritual, & Faith-Based Drive-in Service
      • FAQ for for Religious and Faith-Based Organizations from Public Health - Seattle & King County
    Restaurants
    Retail

    Curbside Guidance

    Resuming Limited In-Store Retail Operations Guidance

    Weddings, Funeral and Memorial Services
    Vehicle & Vessel Sales


    - - - - - - - - - -

    Other Useful Reopening Resources

    Federal & State Guidelines

    Reopening Toolkits and Databases

    Industry-Specific Resources

    Webinar Recordings



    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.

  • Employer Requirements for All Safe Start Phases

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    The new Safe Start Washington plan outlines a four-phase approach for gradually reopening businesses and facilities statewide. It is crucial to maintain some level of community interventions to suppress the spread of COVID-19 throughout all phases of recovery until there is an effective vaccine, effective treatment, or herd immunity. Each phase, while allowing for additional services to open and return to full capacity, is grounded in the following required practices for all employers.

    Requirements for All Employers in All Phases

    • Maintain the 6-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons.
      • Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
    • Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
    • Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors, and patrons.
      • Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
    • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
    • Identify and provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards.
    • Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee.
      • Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness.
      • This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
    • Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
    • On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
    • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
    • Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Proclamation 20-25, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Coronavirus Prevention Under Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.


    Businesses are also expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry, such as those that have been established for construction.

    More information about Washington's Safe Start Phased Approach to reopening the state can be found here. Challenge Seattle and the Washington Roundtable have also developed a business checklist to help businesses as they prepare to reopen.

  • Extension of City B&O Tax Deadline to Oct 31

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    At its April 7 video meeting, the Mercer Island City Council passed an ordinance that temporarily allows Island businesses to delay Business and Occupation (B&O) tax payments. Over the past few weeks, the City has heard from the Chamber of Commerce as well as a number of business owners about the undue financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 emergency and mandatory closures.

    For businesses that submit their B&O tax payments quarterly, the Council amended the City’s code allowing the Finance Director to extend payment deadlines this year during the declared COVID-19 emergency. The extensions would apply to businesses earning gross receipts of at least $250,000 per quarter; all other businesses (earning at least $150,001 per year) pay their B&O tax annually.

    The Director has announced that first and second quarter payment deadlines will be extended to October 31, 2020.

Page last updated: 08 October 2021, 17:31