Photo by Richard Hurd
Updated: 1/13/2022, 4:49 p.m.
The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.
To view businesses’ reopening plans that have been shared through our portal, click here.
To participate in the #JustAsk campaign, print this flyer (English or Spanish) and display it in your business to encourage customers to #JustAsk about policies and procedures being implemented to reduce risks to their health and safety.
To view the Chamber’s agenda for reopening the economy and accelerating our recovery, click here.
To view the second video in the Chamber’s “For You. For Us. Forward.” series, click here.
To learn more about community resources that Greater Madison businesses are offering, click here.
Jump to topics:
—CHAMBER TEAM RETURNS TO OFFICE
—COVID RELIEF CREDIT FOR DANE COUNTY BUSINESSES
—COVID-19/RECOVERY UPDATE ARCHIVE
—FALL 2021 BUSINESS SURVEY RESULTS RELEASED
—FEDERAL VACCINE REQUIREMENT BLOCKED BY SCOTUS
—HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
—LUNCH(UP)DATES WITH CHIEF BARNES AND MAYOR RHODES-CONWAY
—MAIN STREET BOUNCEBACK GRANTS
—MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
—OSHA GUIDANCE ON PREVENTING WORKPLACE SPREAD
—OSHA GUIDANCE ON WORK-RELATED COVID EVENTS
—OSHA SUSPENDS EMPLOYER VACCINE REQUIREMENT
—PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS
—PHMDC EXTENDS MASK ORDER UNTIL FEBRUARY 1
—PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE PLAN
—RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND APPLICATIONS OPEN
—VACCINE GUIDELINES FOR BUSINESSES
—VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP
—WEDC PPE PORTAL
FEDERAL VACCINE REQUIREMENT BLOCKED BY SCOTUS
Days after it took effect, the U.S. Supreme Court today blocked a federal rule that stated businesses with 100 or more employees must require their employees to be either fully vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests. However, the Court allowed the vaccine requirement to remain in place for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding.
In its opinion blocking the requirement for larger employers, the majority wrote, “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
We know vaccines are the only real path forward, but as we have said from the beginning, there needs to be a balance between public health, the needs of our economy and public confidence. In addition, the burden for enforcement has fallen on business since the beginning of the pandemic, and this requirement would have posed continued challenges for business.
Our latest business survey conducted with community partners showed that, of businesses with more than 100 employees that do not already require vaccines, 59 percent expected to lose workers if the requirement remained in place.
LUNCH(UP)DATES WITH CHIEF BARNES AND MAYOR RHODES-CONWAY
We’re hitting the ground running for our virtual programming in 2022, as we get set to welcome Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to our first two Lunch(UP)dates of the year.
Presented by Perkins Coie, Lunch(UP)date is the Chamber program where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying curious, connected and informed. You can also be part of the conversation by submitting in advance any questions you may have for our guests or the Chamber at email@example.com.
To sign up to hear from Chief Barnes on Jan. 27, click here.
To register for our chat with the Mayor on Feb. 17, click here.
PHMDC EXTENDS MASK ORDER UNTIL FEBRUARY 1
Today, Public Health Madison & Dane County announced that it is extending its indoor mask requirement until Feb. 1, 2022, at 12:01 a.m.
The new order is unchanged from the existing order that was set to expire Monday, Jan. 3, including still allowing people to remove their masks if all individuals in an enclosed space are fully vaccinated.
Read the full order here.
VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP
The Chamber recently hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as developers and commercial real estate owners and brokers assessed their current needs and future projections.
Most attendees said they are utilizing at least some in-person work, though one expects in-person work to be more popular among their team after Dane County’s mask requirement is lifted. Industrial and multi-family are among the types of spaces that have done well, while office and retail have faced challenges from which they are starting to recover.
Several leaders said their tenants have generally been able to make payments, and those that have struggled or had to defer payments are largely caught up. While one participant said the development process in the City of Madison has been a grind, multiple leaders marveled at how much more resilient Greater Madison has been than comparable markets around the country.
The Chamber has convened leaders in more than 20 industries as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.
FALL 2021 BUSINESS SURVEY RESULTS RELEASED
The Chamber – in partnership with the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce; Destination Madison; Downtown Madison, Inc.; Fitchburg Chamber Visitor + Business Bureau; Latino Chamber of Commerce; Madison Black Chamber of Commerce; Middleton Chamber of Commerce; and Verona Area Chamber of Commerce – recently released the results of our Fall 2021 Business Survey, which yielded responses from 305 Greater Madison businesses representing a diverse, mostly small or locally owned, cross-section of industries, as well as a significant percentage of women- and minority-owned businesses.
Among the survey’s key findings are:
— The two largest barriers to local businesses are related to global challenges: 65 percent rated access to talent as a top barrier to their business, closely followed by increased operating costs at 59 percent;
— The next two largest barriers to local businesses were related to local factors: government regulations (34 percent) and lack of clarity in local government reopening plans (30 percent);
— 24 percent expanded their workforce in 2021, while an additional 30 percent wanted to expand but weren’t able to due to talent shortages;
— 65 percent experienced revenue growth in 2021, though the 24 percent that reported revenue losses were disproportionately small businesses;
— 78 percent have a workforce that is at least three-quarters fully vaccinated, which exceeds Dane County’s overall rate;
— Among for-profit businesses, opinions on the Dane County indoor mask requirement are split, with 44 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed;
— Among those that said the mask requirement has impacted their business positively or negatively, 71 percent said it has hurt their business;
— 66 percent said none of their employees are working fully remotely, up from 45 percent in Spring 2021 and nearing pre-pandemic levels; and
— 35 percent rate Dane County’s business climate as above average or excellent, up from 18 percent in Spring 2021, but down significantly from the 81 percent of Fall 2020 survey respondents who rated Dane County’s pre-pandemic business climate as above average or excellent.
For more information about the survey, click here.
For additional survey coverage, read the Wisconsin State Journal.
OSHA SUSPENDS EMPLOYER VACCINE REQUIREMENT
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has suspended enforcement of the federal rule that businesses with 100 or more employees require their employees to be either fully vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had granted a motion to stay the requirement that was published Nov. 5, and OSHA said it will not enforce the requirement “pending future developments in the litigation.” The vaccine requirement for federal contractor employees remains in place.
We will continue to monitor this issue closely and share updates as we receive them. We are also engaging our members to gather feedback and gauge potential effects if and when the requirement is ultimately implemented, including further challenges for businesses in getting people to return to work, impacts on small businesses, and remaining questions around compliance and enforcement.
MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
In collaboration with local designers UnderBelly, the Chamber launched “Greater Madison: Making the Difference” to tell the stories of area businesses that have taken extraordinary steps to solve the challenges posed by COVID-19.
This week, we are highlighting Pan Genome Systems, which was founded by a UW–Madison professor and has worked to tackle the rapid spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin’s mink, while also addressing human-to-animal-to-human spread that can occur.
We previously highlighted the efforts of Epic, Delve, Midwest Prototyping, UW–Madison, Teel Plastics, American Family Insurance, Catalent, Nordic and AkitaBox as part of this series. Visit our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages for more stories about businesses that are Making the Difference.
MAIN STREET BOUNCEBACK GRANTS
Since applications opened, there has been significant interest in the state’s new Main Street Bounceback Grants program, and the Chamber has received several inquiries about program benefits and eligibility requirements. The program enables businesses and non-profits considering moving into a vacant Wisconsin commercial space to be eligible to receive $10,000.
The main eligibility criteria are:
— The business is moving into a vacant commercial space or has moved into a vacant commercial space as of January 1, 2021.
— The business can certify that it has not or will not vacate a commercial space in Wisconsin to become eligible to claim this grant.
Business are not eligible if they are:
— Part of a national or regional chain, unless the business is an independently owned and operated franchise;
— A home-based business or property landlord, unless they are moving their business functions into the vacant commercial space;
— Real estate investment firms that intend to hold the property for investment purposes only;
— Planning to use the space for storage only or for residential purposes.
The program runs through June 30, 2022, or until funds are expended. It is being administered in our region by the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP). Click here to learn more and apply.
If you need assistance with verification, please contact Helen Stewart.
CHAMBER TEAM RETURNS TO OFFICE
As of July 6, the full (and fully vaccinated) Chamber team has returned to our space on the third floor of the U.S. Bank building at 1 S. Pinckney St., Suite 330.
Our return-to-office plan involves being in-person Mondays through Thursdays with Fridays being remote-optional, all during normal business hours. Even though our office is currently closed to the public, we look forward to being able to welcome you back soon.
After working remotely to serve you for 68 weeks, we are grateful for the opportunity to be together again in-person. We are excited about everything we have been able to accomplish and, with your help, we are ready to tackle the challenges still in front of us.
RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND APPLICATIONS OPEN
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which was established by the American Rescue Plan Act to help restaurants, food stands, caterers, taverns, bakeries, breweries, wineries, distilleries and other eligible businesses stay open.
The RRF will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses by March 11, 2023.
For full program details and to apply, click here.
COVID RELIEF CREDIT FOR DANE COUNTY BUSINESSES
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway have announced a new effort with Public Health Madison & Dane County to give licensed establishments including restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds a COVID-19 credit of more than $550,000 to help recover from the pandemic. This 30 percent credit will provide financial assistance to more than 3,500 qualifying establishments in Dane County.
Public Health sanitarians normally conduct annual inspections and provide ongoing consultation for these establishments, but sanitarians have been reassigned to support the COVID-19 pandemic response for much of the past year. They instead worked with businesses to prevent spread and help them implement safe practices for customers and employees.
Qualifying licenses are associated with food and drink establishments, tattoo and body piercing, hotels and tourist rooming houses, bed and breakfasts, swimming pools, campgrounds and recreational campgrounds. Operators in these categories must renew for the 2021-22 licensing year to receive the credit. School and temporary food establishment licenses are excluded from this funding.
VACCINE GUIDELINES FOR BUSINESSES
With businesses playing a critical role in encouraging widespread vaccination from COVID-19, the state has released new resources to assist businesses in continuing to contribute to the vaccination campaign.
Among the resources are guidance for effectively encouraging vaccination among employees, information about how to set up a workplace vaccination clinic, and links to posters that can be downloaded or adapted for posting in workplaces.
You can find guidance to help promote vaccination among employees here, a customizable PowerPoint presentation through this page, and information on how employers can raise awareness and connect employees with vaccination options here.
Gov. Tony Evers signed into law Special Session Senate Bill 1, which includes COVID-19 liability protections – retroactive to March 1, 2020 – for businesses, individuals and schools, a provision the Chamber supported. The bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate and Assembly last month.
Under the law, businesses, individuals and schools are not liable for “the death of or injury to any individual or damages caused by an act or omission resulting in or relating to exposure, directly or indirectly, to the novel coronavirus identified as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 in the course of or through the performance or provision of the entity’s functions or services.” However, liability protections do not apply “if the act or omission involves reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct,” such as intentional violation of public health orders.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS
Thousands of Wisconsinites are being notified by the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) about a new federal requirement that they must provide documentation to continue receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The requirement was included in the federal Continued Assistance Act passed in late December.
Under the new law, the federal government requires that people seeking PUA benefits send proof of employment or self-employment (or planned start of employment or self-employment) for the year before their PUA application date. Anyone who fails to provide proof will be required to repay PUA benefits received for the week of Dec. 27, 2020, or later.
Acceptable forms of documentation include:
— Employment: Paycheck stubs, earnings and leave statements showing the employer’s name and address, and W-2 forms.
— Self-employment: Business licenses, tax returns, business receipts and signed affidavits from persons verifying the individual’s self-employment.
— Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and educational/religious organizations: Documentation provided by the organization and signed affidavits from persons verifying the individual’s attachment to such organizations.
— Proof of the planned commencement of employment: Letters offering employment, statements/ affidavits by individuals (with name and contact information) verifying an offer of employment.
— Proof of the planned commencement of self-employment: Business licenses, written business plans or a lease agreement.
To submit the required proof of employment, claimants may now upload their documentation directly to their portal here. Individuals unable to upload documents may mail or fax them, with instructions included in the notice letter they receive.
OSHA GUIDANCE ON PREVENTING WORKPLACE SPREAD
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance to employers on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Separate guidance is applicable to healthcare and emergency response settings, and OSHA has additional industry-specific guidance.
This guidance contains recommendations, as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. Included are recommendations for implementation of workplace prevention programs in the workplace, as well as details relating to:
— Separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people;
— Implementing physical distancing;
— Installing barriers;
— Use of PPE; and
— Improving ventilation.
OSHA will update this guidance over time to reflect developments in science, best practices and standards. View the full guidance here.
OSHA GUIDANCE ON WORK-RELATED COVID EVENTS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidance to employers on how to report in-patient hospitalizations and deaths resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19, as well as the requirements for doing so.
Employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization “occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident.” Employers must report a fatality to OSHA “if the fatality occurs within thirty (30) days of the work-related incident,” and that fatality must be reported within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.
Work-related COVID events can be reported by calling the nearest OSHA office, calling the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or by electronic submission.
See the full OSHA reporting guidance here.
WEDC PPE PORTAL
As part of the Wisconsin Ready plan, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is working to identify manufacturers to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to businesses as they reopen.
Businesses looking for PPE can search for masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and shields. Manufacturers of PPE can list themselves as a supplier by filling out a profile on the site.
Learn more here.
PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE PLAN
The Chamber is continuing to advise all levels of government on the development of a public policy response to COVID-19.
We’re looking for immediate needs that will help employers and workers. Ideas have ranged from helping the newly unemployed with emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits; specific ways to help shuttered businesses; ways to help businesses with HR issues or health and safety concerns; or any additional challenges you are facing from COVID-19.
Ideas can be related to issues including funding, taxes, licensure, temporary loosening of some agency rules and more. Proposals will be shared with policymakers on an ongoing basis.
Fill out the form here.
United Way of Dane County has a webpage devoted to providing information about opportunities to volunteer safely during this time of need. Opportunities include food deliveries, child care, serving meals, transporting needed supplies and much more.
Check out a list of volunteer options here.
HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
It is important that we continue to support local businesses to strengthen our economy and be there for our friends and neighbors. Here are just a few ways you can do so:
Tip well. Tip more if you are able to do so. Service workers make much of their living on tips, and your generosity can help make up for fewer people ordering food or buying services.
Keep those tickets. If you bought tickets for a local charitable or arts event that was later canceled, consider not asking for a refund, or tell the organization to keep the money you paid for your ticket as a donation.
Buy gift cards. Purchasing gift cards and gift certificates for yourself and others is a great way to support local businesses now while frequenting them at a later date.
Seek virtual options. You can browse and order items from local businesses, including many retailers, online as an alternative to in-person shopping.
Shop for friends, family and neighbors. When shopping, consider asking those who are vulnerable or less mobile if you can purchase anything for them.
Get delivery or takeout. Call restaurants directly or use an aggregated order and delivery service like Madison’s own EatStreet.
We strongly encourage you to consult these helpful, regularly updated resources as you implement your business’s infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans:
—CDC: COVID-19 Main Page
—CDC: Situation Summary
—CDC: Resources for Businesses and Employers
—CDC: General Business Frequently Asked Questions
—CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
—CDC: Preventing Spread in Communities
—CDC: Print Resources
—DHS: COVID-19 Information
—PHMDC: COVID-19 Main Page
—City of Madison Civil Rights: Mask FAQ
December 16, 2021 – Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller
December 2, 2021 – DOA Secretary Joel Brennan
November 18, 2021 – Workforce Development Trends and Opportunities
November 11, 2021 – Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett (audio only)
October 7, 2021 – Col. Bart Van Roo
September 30, 2021 – Dr. Alex Gee
September 16, 2021 – UW Health Dr. Peter Newcomer
August 19, 2021 – Urban League President Dr. Ruben Anthony
August 12, 2021 – Matt Younkle, Alnisa Allgood and Forrest Woolworth
July 29, 2021 – DMI President Jason Ilstrup
July 22, 2021 – Airport Director Kim Jones
June 24, 2021 – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire
May 13, 2021 – Madison Common Council Leadership
May 5, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
April 22, 2021 – Deb Gilpin, Conor Caloia and Joel Plant
April 1, 2021 – Chancellors Rebecca Blank and Mark Mone
March 25, 2021 – Spring 2021 Business Survey
February 25, 2021 – MadREP President & CEO Jason Fields
February 11, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
January 21, 2021 – PHMDC Pandemic Operations Section Chief Doug Voegeli
January 7, 2021 – Madison College President Dr. Jack Daniels III
December 17, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
December 3, 2020 – United Way of Dane County President & CEO Renee Moe
November 19, 2020 – Destination Madison President & CEO Deb Archer and MadREP President Paul Jadin
November 12, 2020 – NAMI Dane County Executive Director Anna Moffit (presentation)
November 5, 2020 – UnityPoint Health – Meriter CEO Sue Erickson
October 8, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher
October 1, 2020 – 365Nation CEO Henry Sanders
September 16, 2020 – MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins
August 27, 2020 – SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright
August 20, 2020 – WISC-TV & Madison Magazine Editorial Director Neil Heinen
August 13, 2020 – Gov. Tony Evers and WI Tech Council President Tom Still
August 6, 2020 – Black Chamber President Camille Carter and Latino Chamber President Jessica Cavazos
July 23, 2020 – DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman
July 16, 2020 – Chancellor Rebecca Blank
July 9, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
June 11, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan
May 19, 2020 – County Executive Joe Parisi and Public Health Director Janel Heinrich
May 6, 2020 – MMAC President Tim Sheehy
April 29, 2020 – WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes
April 24, 2020 – UW Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan
April 17, 2020 – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
April 9, 2020 – SBA Wisconsin Director Eric Ness
April 2, 2020 – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
COVID-19/RECOVERY UPDATE ARCHIVE
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