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.

  • Vaccine Verification Toolkit for Businesses

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    Starting October 25, proof of vaccination or negative test will be required in King County to participate in most indoor and outdoor activities and establishments including

    • Indoor restaurants and bars
    • Arts and entertainment venues
    • Gyms
    • Outdoor events with over 500 people
      • Including sporting events, concerts and performances

    • Indoor event spaces rented for private gatherings, such as weddings and parties

    The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is providing businesses with resources to navigate the new verification process with its Vaccine Verification Toolkit. The Toolkit provides businesses with resources to comply with King County’s new vaccine verification order.

    Click here to access the toolkit and other resources.

  • Results from the 2021 Business Needs Assessment

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    In summer 2021, the City partnered with Hardwick Research to conduct the 2021 Business Needs Assessment. This project was a follow-up to the survey conducted in summer 2020 and aimed to collect more information about business needs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Additionally, the State of Washington lifted most business and activity restrictions on June 30, 2021, and staff sought to learn if businesses anticipated facing new challenges as they prepared to resume or increase operations.

    The survey posed questions aimed at learning the following:

    • What, if anything, has changed for businesses since conducting the 2020 survey?
    • What challenges are Mercer Island businesses still facing?
    • What types of aid and support do Island businesses still need?
    • What new needs have arisen?
    • How can the City best support the local business community?

    We distributed the digital survey to more than 950 Mercer Island businesses and received 176 complete responses (18% response rate). Keep reading for a summary of the key conclusions, read the full report, or tune in to City Council on Tuesday, October 5, for a presentation by Hardwick.

    Key Conclusions

    • Overall, Island businesses are in a better situation now than they were a year ago due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Businesses want the City to keep them in the loop, especially when it comes to plans for Town Center. They also want the City to continue seeking feedback from Island businesses and community members on economic development initiatives for the City.
    • Businesses indicated that the opportunity to network with other Island businesses is important.
    • They are also looking for continued support, including maintaining some COVID-19 related supports such as extra outdoor seating in public spaces.
    • Mercer Island businesses think the City should focus on Town Center and feel the ideal Town Center is walkable, well-maintained, inviting, and "cooler." They also think a thriving Town Center is key to a vibrant local economy.

    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.

  • New Funding Resources for Local Organizations

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    Three new funding resources are available for local businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

    King County Arts & Culture Fund

    • $20m in economic support for arts, culture, and science organizations; independent music venues; and independent movie theaters
    • Grant program made possible via America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds received by the County
    • Apply by October 18 at: https://kingcountycreative.com/home/arts-and-culture-fund/

    4Culture Recovery Fund

    • Grants available for cultural organizations with $1m or below in revenue that experienced revenue losses in 2019 and 2020
    • Program opens September 23
    • Apply at: https://apply.4culture.org/

    Comcast RISE

    • $1m in grants and technology/marketing resources to 100 BIPOC-owned small businesses in King and Pierce Counties
    • Application open October 1-14
    • Apply for $10,000 monetary grant and technology/marketing assistance at: https://www.comcastrise.com/

    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.

  • King County Announces New COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Requirement

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    On September 16, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a new vaccine verification requirement for many businesses and activities. Beginning October 25, 2021, the County requires customers and attendees to show proof that they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Types of businesses and activities that now must require verification include:

    • Indoor dining at restaurants
    • Bars
    • Gyms
    • Arts and entertainment venues
    • Sporting events


    The County will review this policy no later than six months from October 25, including for possible extension based on future outbreak conditions. Public health officials are clear that COVID-19 is more likely to spread in crowded outdoor settings and indoor venues. This latest policy is meant to best protect employees and the public, help businesses stay open, and incentivize vaccinations as we fight to move beyond this latest spike caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.


    Help is Available for Your Business

    The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the County to assist in the outreach efforts to implement this new requirement. Seattle Metro launched kcvaxverified.com, which includes resources such as Frequently Asked Questions and more details on the new policy, such as which businesses are impacted, what qualifies as proof of vaccination, and plans for enforcement. We continue to receive details about the policy and implementation from Public Health – Seattle & King County; Seattle Metro will update their new website as we learn more from the County, including providing a toolkit with resources like:

    • Guidelines for employers
    • Signage
    • Employee training guidance
    • Implementation checklist
    • Vaccine verification messaging points
    • Updated FAQs


    Stay tuned to kcvaxverified.com over the coming days for this toolkit and other updates.


    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.

  • 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.

Page last updated: 08 October 2021, 17:31