Masks now mandatory in public
On Wednesday, July 15, Gov. Kay Ivey signed an executive ordering requiring people to wear masks in public if they’re unable to stay at least 6 feet away from someone who lives in a different household.
The order will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, is set to expire on July 31.
Under the order, businesses will be required to take “reasonable steps, where practicable,” to encourage customers and employees to wear masks. The governor’s office said employers will not be required to deny entry to people who do not want to wear a mask, but “they always retain the right to do so.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health is offering a number of free posters that employers can download to remind employees and customers about public health guidelines related to the coronavirus. Get them here.
Additional $600 COVID-19 unemployment benefit expires soon
The Alabama Department of Labor said on July 13 that the $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit including in the CARES Act to help workers displaced by the pandemic will expire on July 25.
Labor Department officials warned that states do not have the ability to extend the benefit. However, if a claimant is eligible for retroactive benefits on their claim, they will receive the additional $600 FPUC payment for eligible weeks between March 29 and July 25, even if the claim is processed after July 25.
The state Labor Department offers no-cost services to help people finding a new job. Visit alabamaworks.alabama.gov for more information.
Grants to help small businesses recover
Gov. Kay Ivey has announced a $100 million grant program to help employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Revive Alabama will reimburse small businesses for expenses incurred because of operational disruptions caused by the coronavirus and related business closures.
The application period for the Revive Alabama Small Business Grant Program will open at noon on July 16 and run through midnight on July 25.
Ivey extends Safer at Home order
Gov. Kay Ivey has extended the state’s Safer at Home order through July 31. The order was set to expire on Friday, July 3.
The order requires entertainment venues, gyms, childcare facilities, and close-contact service providers such as salons and barbershops to follow social distancing guidelines and, in most cases, wear masks. It also limits capacity inside restaurants and retail stores. Click here to read the governor’s latest order.
New rules for entertainment venues, sports
On Thursday, May 21, Governor Ivey issued an amended statewide Safer at Home Order. The order, which includes an expanded list of items to reopen will be effective from 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22, to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 3.
The amended orders includes new rules for entertainment venues, sports, schools, child care and summer camps. Click here to learn more.
Proclamation for liability protections
Governor Ivey issued two supplemental state of emergency proclamations on Friday, May 8. One allows for probate judges to improve procedures for administering the July 14 primary runoff election. The other provides safe harbor to health care providers, businesses, and other entities to encourage the reopening of our state.
The second order protects healthcare providers from a frivolous lawsuit based on actions they took or failed to take as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits when they conduct COVID-19 testing or distribute personal protective equipment to help protect people from COVID-19.
Governor revises ‘safer at home’ order
Governor Ivey issued a revised “safer at home” order. The order is set to run from April 30 to May 15. Under the previous order, essential businesses could open subject to 50% capacity, social distancing and sanitation rules. Under the order issued going into effect on April 30, all retail stores will be allowed to open subject to the same limitations intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Certain “higher-risk businesses and activities” will remain closed. Learn more here.
COVID-19 business task force issues report
The Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force and the Subcommittee to Reopen the Economy has released Phase One of its “Reopen Alabama” report. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth announced the task force on April 9. Ainsworth said, “The purpose of this subcommittee is to provide a roadmap to reopening the economy that balances the public’s health and safety with the need for small business owners and employees to resume operations.” Subcommittee members include NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash.
Sample letter for ‘essential’ workers
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has created a draft letter that employers can adapt and give to “essential” workers in case they’re stopped by law enforcement. The letter says the employee “should be exempt and/or excluded from state and/or local travel restrictions and/or stay-at-home orders.” Read the sample letter here.
Statewide stay-at-home order
Governor Ivey has issued an executive order for Alabama residents to stay at home except for “essential activities” beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 4. The order will remain in effect until 5 p.m. on April 30. Exceptions to the stay-at-home order include going to work, getting supplies, attending church, visiting the doctor, and exercising outside. Read the governor’s executive order here.
State government information for small businesses
State officials are posting the latest local, state, and federal coronavirus-related information for small business owners at the Atlas Alabama website.
Ivey to small businesses: Start preparing to apply for stimulus dollars
Gov. Kay Ivey is urging Alabama’s small business owners to start preparing now to apply for federal coronavirus relief. “Today, you need to contact your local banker, accountant, financial advisor or credit union to get the latest details about who is eligible, what documents are needed and how best to apply for funding relief caused by COVID-19,” the governor says. Read the governor’s letter to small business owners.
Latest information from state government
Governor Ivey has announced a special state website with the latest updates and information from state agencies. Click here.
Beware of scams
The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) says it expects to see a surge of fraudulent investment schemes in the coming weeks pegged to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Scammers will begin perpetrating schemes that require little or no advance planning and minimal sophistication,” ASC Director Joseph P. Borg says. “Most will simply be old scams dressed in contemporary clothing.” Click here to learn more.
Labor Department urges workers to seek benefits under CARES Act
The state Department of Labor is encouraging employees who believe they may qualify for programs under the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package known as the CARES Act to file a claim. These employees will also need to certify weekly to continue to let us know that they remain unemployed. Details here.
New restrictions on ‘non-essential’ businesses, public gatherings
State health officials have announced new restrictions on public gatherings and “non-essential” businesses, effective Saturday, March 28. The order says non-essential businesses include bowling alleys, concert venues, hair salons, and department stores. Click here to learn more and see a full list of affected businesses.
Governor updates state of emergency proclamation
Gov. Kay Ivey on March 27 issued a supplemental state of emergency proclamation that, among other things, lets agencies change rules concerning electronic records. Read the proclamation here.
State income tax deadline extended
On Monday, March 23, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that the state income tax filing due date is extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. Read her statement here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration said on Saturday, March 21, that the State of Alabama has been approved for disaster assistance. Details here.
Ivey Updates Health Order
Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday, March 20, issued an update to her previous statewide health order prohibited non-work related gatherings of 25 or more or any non-work related gatherings where participants cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance from other people. In a statement, the governor’s office said, “Employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.” Read more about it here.
Charges waived on partial unemployment claims
Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington has temporarily ordered that relief be offered to employers whose employees must file unemployment compensation claims for weeks filed due to COVID-19 related issues. All charges will be waived against those employers who file partial unemployment compensation claims on behalf of their employees.
Tax relief for lodging industry
On Friday, March 20, the state Department of Revenue said it will offer relief to state lodgings tax account holders who are unable to timely pay their February, March, and April 2020 state transient occupancy tax, also known as the lodgings tax. Late payment penalties will be waived through June 1, 2020. Details here.
Liability protection for businesses
Sen. Arthur Orr (Decatur) plans to introduce a bill that would protect give businesses immunity from liability from people who claim they caught the coronavirus on the business’s property.
The immunity would be retroactive to March 1 and would not apply to businesses that operated outside emergency restrictions.
Lawmakers are currently on a previously-scheduled spring break but are expected to return to Montgomery next week.
Career Centers closed
All 51 of the Alabama Department of Labor’s Career Centers are closed until further notice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
All resources, webinars, news releases, and lobbying activities can be found on this landing page. On it, you will find such information as:
- NFIB Small Business Legal Center article, How Small Business Can Prepare for Coronavirus
- NFIB Legal Foundation and NFIB Research Center webinar, How Small Business, Workers, and Workplaces Should Respond to Covid-19. Click here to listen to the 42-minute presentation
- The latest NFIB poll of its members about the coronavirus