COVID-19 News Updates 5/29/20

May 29, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act clears the House, enters the Senate

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed HR 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The bill was created to relax the current terms of the PPP loan program.

Here are a few of the key changes in the bill:

  • Extend the loan application deadline from June 30 to December 31, 2020.
  • For new loans, the minimum loan term would be 5 years instead of the current 2-year term. For loans already made, banks and customers could agree to extend the term to 5 years.
  • Reduce the requirement that payroll costs must make up at least 75% of the loan forgiveness to 60%.
  • Extend the 8-week period in which costs incurred and paid can be forgiven to 24 weeks or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.
  • Extend the initial deferral period (months during which no payments are due) from 6 months to 10 months.

Read more about it here. 

Mercy Urgent Care to offer COVID-19 antibody testing

Mercy Urgent Care is now offering viral and antibody COVID-19 testing. The viral test detects current infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19). The antibody test, which may determine whether a patient has had a previous infection of the virus, is used to detect specific proteins, called antibodies, that the body makes in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  For more information, contact Mercy Urgent Care Executive Assistant/Fundraising Coordinator Sharon Owens at 828.281.2598 or

Explore Asheville kicks off Asheville Cares Pledge 

The Stay Safe pledge is a new national initiative brought to Asheville by Explore Asheville CVB. The pledge is a “visual reminder of recommended precautions that both businesses and guests ‘pledge’ to take, such as washing or sanitizing hands, following physical distancing guidelines, and staying home when feeling ill.

Participating businesses may print out flyers or posters from the CVB to post in their store windows or use in their business branding on websites and social media. Businesses in towns and municipalities outside of Asheville can download their own version of the pledge – “Black Mountain Cares,” “Weaverville Cares,” and so on. A generic “We Care” version is available for use beyond Buncombe County, demonstrating unity in a shared commitment to safety across Western North Carolina.

Temporary flexibility in completing Form I-9 and renewing List B documents has been extended

I-9 forms: The DHS temporarily relaxed the requirements for in person physical examination of I-9 documents and extended the deadline until May 19th. That deadline has been extended for additional 30 days, but will only apply to employees who are working remotely. For businesses that plan to reopen, all documentation that was remotely inspected must be brought in for a physical inspection within 3 days of reopening. Employers should enter “documents physically examined” in the Additional Information field of Section 2 or Section 3 if appropriate, date, and sign.

For employees who are on site at a work location, employers must follow the regular in person physical inspections.

List B documents: Many states closed their Departments of Motor Vehicles due to the pandemic, which has impeded the ability of individuals to renew driver’s licenses, ID cards, and more. As a temporary measure, the DHS announced that beginning May 1st, List B documents that were set to expire on or after March 1st, 2020 may be treated as valid.

Read more 

Got a PPP loan but workers rejected your rehire offer? You might have to report them to unemployment

Laid-off employees who reject an offer of rehire may wind up being reported to the state unemployment office if their company took a forgivable federal loan. In order to obtain forgiveness, at least 75% of the proceeds must be used to cover payroll, according to the Small Business Administration. No more than 25% can be used for other costs.

The SBA and Treasury Department rolled out further forgiveness guidance last week in an interim final rule — and it addresses a burning question entrepreneurs have had for some time: Will I have my PPP forgiveness reduced if a worker I laid off rejects an offer of rehire?

The answer is no — but the employer will have to document the offer and the rejection, and then report the employee to the state unemployment office.

Learn more

ABC Commission temporarily loosens restrictions on outdoor alcohol sales and consumption 

Bars and breweries may not have been included in the initial Phase 2 reopening list, but it’s certainly headed in that direction. Thanks to a last minute policy change last week, breweries and taprooms in Buncombe County were allowed to reopen under the same capacity laws as restaurants and retail. In addition, the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has issued new guidance for Phase II of reopening. These include temporary outdoor expansion permits, which allow businesses like restaurants to expand their premises into outdoor areas like sidewalks or parking spaces if approved by local governments.

If you’re an Asheville business owner and are interested in applying for a temporary outdoor expansion, visit the City of Asheville’s form here. You can also view Asheville’s guidelines and the North Carolina ABC Commission’s guidelines here.

N.C. House passes bill to allow N.C. bars to reopen despite Governor Cooper’s executive order

The state Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to let bars serve customers outdoors, despite Governor Cooper’s recent executive order keeping them closed due to COVID-19. House Bill 536 Temp Outdoor Restaurants for Outdoor Seating would allow bars to operate at 50 percent of total capacity. The state House joined with the Senate and approved legislation to allow “safe”outdoor seating for dining and beverage service in North Carolina at half of each bar’s total maximum occupancy. The bill is set to expire October 31st or after any stay at home order is expired.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s fully passed yet. The bill now goes to Governor Roy Cooper, who commented that this is a tough time for business.