We know business owners have a lot of questions about the rapidly evolving
COVID-19 situation in our community and around the world. We are here to help.
On this page, you can find resources and information about COVID-19.
DISCLAIMER: We will continue to update this page as information becomes available, but we cannot guarantee that all information will be up to date at all times. The information on this page is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice for your business, please contact us to find out about the services that we offer.
Washington residents: Do you need internet access? Click here to find a drive-in WiFi hotspot location near you.
P.S. If you're hungry, check out these women-owned Seattle restaurants that are offering takeout and delivery. And if you're in the mood for shopping, here are some Black-owned businesses and restaurants in Seattle that you can support.
Upcoming Dates and Deadlines
Washington and Seattle
B&O Taxes (Q4 2020)
Federal Partnership Returns
Federal Income Tax Returns
Washington and Seattle
B&O Taxes (Q1 2021)
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) - **As of January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA leave. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA21) extends the payroll tax credit through March 2021 for employers with fewer than 500 employees who choose to provide paid sick and family leave.**
Employer Tax Credits - Until March 31, 2021, employers will receive tax credits for the full cost of FFCRA leave provided to employees. Eligible employers will claim credits on their Forms 941, but they may benefit from the credits more quickly by reducing their federal employment tax deposits. If there are insufficient federal employment taxes to cover the amount of the credits, eligible employers may request an advance payment of the credits from the IRS by submitting Form 7200.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans - The CAA21 provides more funding for PPP loans for businesses and certain nonprofits, including loans specifically for small and minority-owned businesses and businesses operating in low-income communities. It also allows certain businesses and nonprofits that have already received a PPP loan to apply for a second loan.
Who is Eligible - Businesses and nonprofits are eligible for a first PPP loan if they:
Have fewer than 500 employees; and
Were in businesses before February 15, 2020.
Businesses and nonprofits that have already spent the proceeds of their first PPP loan are eligible for a second loan if they:
Have fewer than 300 employees; and
Had revenue in Q1, Q2, or Q3 that was at least 25% less than compared to the same quarter of 2019. Businesses and nonprofits not in operation in 2019 may still be eligible and should check with their lender or tax advisor about eligibility.
What Loans May Be Used For - PPP loans may be used for:
Payroll expenses, which now include group health insurance benefits;
Mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments;
Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and face shields, and other investments necessary to comply with federal, state, or local COVID-19 health and safety guidelines;
Property damage related to public disturbances that occurred in 2020 and was not reimbursed by insurance; and
Goods that are essential for business operations.
One important change in the CAA21 is that expenses paid for with a PPP loan are tax deductible.
Loan Forgiveness - The full amount of the loan may be forgiven if no more than 60% of the loan is spent on payroll expenses and 40% of the loan is spent on other eligible expenses, including expenses for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, and PPE.
Employee Retention Credit (ERC) - The ERC is a refundable payroll tax credit available to businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. The CAA21 expanded eligibility for and increased the maximum amount of the ERC.
Who is Eligible - Businesses and nonprofits may be eligible for the ERC if:
In 2020, their business operations were fully or partially suspended due to a government shutdown order or their gross receipts were at least 50% less than gross receipts from the same quarter in 2019. For 2020, the maximum credit that may be claimed is 50% of wages for each employee up to $10,000 in wages for the year (up to a maximum of $5,000 per employee).
In 2021, their business operations were fully or partially suspended due to a government shutdown order or their gross receipts in either Q1 or Q2 of 2021 were at least 20% less than gross receipts from the same quarter in 2019. For 2021, the maximum credit that may be claimed is 70% of wages for each employee up to $10,000 in wages per quarter (up to a maximum of $7,000 per employee per quarter or up to $14,000 total).
Prior to the CAA21, businesses and nonprofits could claim either the ERC or receive a PPP loan, but not both. Now they may claim the ERC even if they have received or plan to receive a PPP loan. Businesses and nonprofits that received a PPP loan in 2020 should contact their tax advisor to find out how to retroactively apply for the ERC.
Beginning June 8, all employees are required to wear a cloth facial covering at work, with certain exceptions:
when working alone in an office, vehicle, or at a job site;
if the individual is deaf or hard of hearing or has a medical condition or disability that makes wearing a facial covering inappropriate; or
when the job has no in-person interaction.
Employers must provide cloth facial coverings to employees.
As of June 24, every person in the State of Washington is required to wear a facial covering in any indoor or outdoor public setting. Details are available here.
As of July 7, businesses may not serve any customer who is not in compliance with the statewide facial covering requirement. What should you do if a customer refuses to wear a mask? Here are some best practice tips.
Employers must notify their local public health department within 24 hours if they suspect COVID-19 is spreading in their workplace or if they are aware of two or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery - Beginning on January 11, 2021, Washington will follow a regional COVID-19 recovery plan with eight regions beginning in Phase 1. Each region's phase will be determined by four metrics as determined by the Department of Health.
In order to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four of these metrics:
Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population by at least 10%
Decreasing trend in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100k population by at least 10%
ICU occupancy (including COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 cases) of less than 90%
COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10%
To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least three of these metrics:
Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population;
Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100k population;
ICU occupancy (including COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 cases) of less than 90%; and/or
COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10%.
Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will move back to Phase 1.
Metrics for each region will be updated on Friday and will move into a new phase - forward or backward - the following Monday.
High-Risk Employees - Employees at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 must be provided accommodations that protect them from risk of exposure to COVID-19 or, if accommodations are not feasible, must be allowed to use all available leave or unemployment insurance without risk of adverse employment action. Employers are required to continue health insurance coverage for these employees while on leave and return them to their position when they are able to return to work. These requirements will remain in effect through the duration of the current state of emergency initially proclaimed in Proclamation 20-05, or until otherwise rescinded or amended.
The CDC now categorizes employees as: (1) employees who are 65 years or older; (2) employees who are "at increased risk"; and (3) employees whose conditions "might [put them] at increased risk," but only if, based on the employee's medical circumstances and workplace conditions, the employee is in fact at increased risk. Click here for a list of individuals who are "at increased risk" or "might be at increased risk" for severe illness from COVID-19 due to certain underlying health conditions.
UPDATE: On July 29, 2020, Governor Inslee clarified that employers must not require verification from a medical provider when the employee either is 65 years or older or falls within the "at increased risk" category. Employers may require verification from a medical provider when the employee either falls within the "might be at increased risk" category or seeks to use any leave where a state or federal law or contractual obligation requires verification (e.g., paid sick leave, employer-administered paid leave, FFCRA leave, and unemployment insurance compensation).
Courts in Washington are mostly operating at limited capacity through at least September 30, 2020. For a list of emergency modifications to court operations, click here.
Stay Home Order - Governor Newsom issued a Stay Home Order for residents in regions of the state that have less than 15% ICU availability. The Stay Home Order does not apply to essential workers. More information on the order, including the status of the order in each region, may be found here.
Essential Businesses - Essential businesses are businesses designated by Governor Newsom as exempt from Stay Home Orders, including those in the healthcare, emergency services, food, manufacturing, and transportation industries. The full list of essential businesses may be found here.
COVID-19 Safety Requirements for Employers - California employers who have employees physically in their workplace must comply with new emergency COVID-19 requirements. Businesses with only one employee in the workplace who does not have contact with other people are exempt from the rules.
These new rules require employers to:
Develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program that contains specific policies and procedures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, communicating with employees, and what to do if an employee tests positive;
Evaluate and correct COVID-19 hazards in the workplace;
Ensure social distancing and masking requirements are followed and, if neither requirement can be followed, what alternative measures may be taken to protect employees;
Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms;
Notify employees within one business day if they may have been exposed to an employee who has COVID-19;
Require employees to quarantine for at least 10 days (14 days is recommended) if they have been exposed to an employee who tests positive;
Provide testing to employees when an employee tests positive. This may include directing an employee to a free testing site and paying the employee for the time spent getting tested, including travel time to and from the site;
Contact the local health department if an "outbreak" occurs at work. An outbreak occurs when there are three or more COVID-19 cases in the workplace within a 14-day period;
Train employees on the COVID-19 Prevention Program, symptoms of COVID-19, and benefits and leave available to them; and
Maintain an employee's job and benefits, and possibly pay the employee during the time they must quarantine.
Employers should review their COVID-19 policies and procedures and ensure they comply with the new emergency requirements.
Workers' Compensation - For California employers who have five or more employees, California has established a disputable presumption of injury for purposes of workers’ compensation for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 if the illness occurs during a specific time frame and meets specific criteria. This means that the burden is on the employer to prove the COVID-19 illness did not occur as a result of employment or work.
An employee is presumed to have contracted COVID-19 at work if:
For employers with five to 100 employees, four or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period; or
For employers with more than 100 employees, four percent of the employer’s workforce tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
Employees must first exhaust all COVID-19-related paid sick leave prior to obtaining wage loss through the workers’ compensation system.