Updates, Resources for SC Small Business Affected By COVID-19

Date: April 22, 2020

Governor McMaster announced the launch of the initial phase of accelerate.sc.gov on Tuesday, May 5. The one-stop website will provide the latest information related to the COVID-19 pandemic including details about the state’s revitalization efforts.

“AccelerateSC is an all-encompassing, statewide effort to revitalize South Carolina’s economy while keeping our people safe,” the governor said. “This website is a critical component of that effort because it provides South Carolinians with real-time information about the state’s response to the coronavirus and how they can best help themselves and their loved ones through this challenging time.”

The South Carolina Department of Administration created the website and collaborated with multiple state agencies to ensure the site provides appropriate, up-to-date, and helpful information.

City of Charleston issues guidelines for businesses that re-open

The City of Charleston has issued an emergency ordinance to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The ordinance, which becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, lists requirements for maximum occupancy, social distancing, sanitation, signage, and monitoring employees for symptoms. Read it here.

Some businesses allowed to reopen

Governor McMaster has announced the creation of accelerateSC, a coordinated economic revitalization plan involving small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials, and education professionals. Learn more about it here.

The governor also issued Executive Order 2020-28, which removes restrictions on public access points to the state’s beaches, public piers, docks, and wharfs, while delegating to local officials the authority to restrict access, as they see fit.

This order also re-opens retail stores that were closed pursuant to Executive Order 2020-18. The businesses to be reopened:

  • Furniture and home-furnishings stores
  • Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Department stores, with the exception of hardware and home-improvement stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Book, craft, and music stores
  • Flea markets
  • Florists and flower stores

All other businesses previously closed by executive order will remain closed until further notice.

Under the order, retail stores may reopen Monday, April 20, at 5 p.m. but must adhere to strict social distancing requirements, operating at 20% occupancy or five (5) customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. In addition, businesses must not knowingly allow customers to congregate within six feet of one another, excluding families, and follow relevant CDC and DHEC guidelines. 

Public beach access points, piers, docks, and wharfs may reopen Tuesday, April 21, at noon. Public boat ramps and boat landings were previously reopened pursuant to Executive Order 2020-25.

Benefits for furloughed workers

Governor McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-22 on Wednesday, April 8. It allows furloughed employees to receive “COVID-19 Support Payments” from their employers and still qualify for unemployment benefits. The governor’s order specifically directs the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce to consider “a voluntary payment, or series of payments, made by an employer to an employee in response to furloughing the employee” as a form of severance pay. This means that the furloughed employee will not lose eligibility for unemployment benefits. Click here to learn more.

‘Home or work’ order 

Governor McMaster has issued an executive order that includes a mandatory “home or work” order effective Tuesday, April 7, at 5 p.,m. The order also limits capacity retail businesses still operating. “As we have said before – when the science, data, facts and experts determine it’s time to take action, it would be taken. It’s time,” the governor said. “Taking this measure now will hopefully slow the future rise in infections and the virus’ toll on our state’s economy.” Read the order here.

More businesses to close temporarily

On Friday, April 3, Governor McMaster announced two additional executive orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus in the state. The first called for more businesses to close temporarily, including furniture stores, department stores, jewelry stores, bookstores, and craft stores. Click here to read the order. The second order planes new restrictions on short-term rentals to guests from areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control as coronavirus hotspots. Learn more here.

‘Non-essential’ businesses to close

Gov. Henry McMaster on March 31 issued an executive order closing all “non-essential” businesses for 15 days beginning April 1.

The list of businesses ranges from concert venues and movie theaters to fitness centers and spas to hair salons and tattoo parlors. Read the executive order, with a complete list of affected businesses, here.

3-step process for SBA disaster loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has details on how small business owners can apply for economic injury disaster loans. This flyer explains the three-step loan process, while this one explains which businesses can apply

New employer claims forms

The Department of Employment and Workforce on March 23 updated its fact sheet on employer filed claims. Read about it here.

‘A Resilient Columbia’

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin on March 23 outlined a $6 million COVID-19 emergency economic stimulus package. It includes $500,000 for zero-interest forgivable loans for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and allows bars and restaurants to delay and avoid penalties for hospitality tax payments through June. Click here to learn more.

Unemployment benefits
The state Department of Employment and Workforce has posted a flyer explaining how workers laid off or who have had their hours cut because of the novel coronavirus workers can potentially receive unemployment benefits. Get it here.

SBA OKs Disaster Assistance 

Gov. Henry McMaster’s office said today that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved a request to provide South Carolina’s small businesses with disaster assistance. Governor McMaster requested the disaster declaration in a March 17 letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

The disaster declaration means that small businesses that have sustained significant economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 virus may qualify for low-interest federal disaster loans.

All 46 counties are included in the disaster declaration.

“These low-interest loans are of monumental importance to our business community,” McMaster said. “There’s no doubt that our state’s small businesses have suffered losses throughout this incredibly difficult time, but help is on the way. To have Administrator Carranza approve our request so quickly shows that President Trump’s administration is fully committed to helping our businesses recover from the impact of this virus.”

Owners can click here and apply.

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