March 18, 2021 – COVID vaccination and business re-openings

Good afternoon:  There has been a flurry of activity from the Governor’s office regarding COVID vaccinations and business re-openings.  Below is a summary of the updates.

There are ten new, state-run vaccination sites that will open to the public starting tomorrow, March 19, with hours of operation from 8 am to 7 pm daily.  The gymnasium at SUNY Corning Community College is one of the ten sites selected.  Please visit the state’s eligibility website at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829) for more information.

Important dates:

  • Effective immediately – Wedding receptions and catered events can resume statewide at 50% capacity, with no more than 150 attendees per event.  More information can be found here.
  • March 19 – Indoor dining will expand to 75% capacity.  Any location with a State Liquor Authority license can remain open until 11 pm.
  • March 22 – Indoor fitness classes can begin statewide at 33% capacity.
  • April 5 – The 11 pm curfew for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms, and fitness centers will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew for food and beverage establishments and the 12 a.m. curfew for catered events will remain in effect.

March 9, 2021 – American Rescue Plan Act

Good afternoon: Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is expected this week and is the latest measure from Washington in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The $1.9 trillion bill includes many items which may be of interest to the business community so a brief listing of the contents is included below:

State and Local Aid

The funding must be distributed quickly, though it will not all be disbursed at one time. Treasury and states are given 60 days to distribute funds in the first tranche, with additional funds to be made available in 1 year, pending TBD conditions are met. Funding in ARPA can be used to combat COVID-19 and also cover revenue shortfalls, as well as investments in infrastructure. Costs must be incurred by December 31, 2024, to be eligible.

  • $195 billion for states and DC
  • $130 billion for local governments
  • $20 billion for tribal governments
  • $4.5 billion for territories 

Unemployment 

The extension and amount of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was a contentious issue that almost tanked the bill. In the end, the Senate agreed to keep the supplemental payments at their current level and extended the program by an additional week.

  • Federal supplemental UI: $300 per week through September 6, 2021 (were set to expire on March 14)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extended to 79 weeks from 50, which aids workers who otherwise do not qualify for UI
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extended to 53 weeks from 24 for workers who have exhausted all other benefits
  • COBRA premiums are subsidized at 100%

SBA-related Initiatives 

  • Restaurant Revitalization Fund established with $28.6 billion in funding for restaurants, caterers, food trucks, and bars
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) receive an additional $15 billion
  • State-Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is revived with $10 billion in new funding, to be distributed by no later than September 30, 2030
  • 501(c)(5) (unions), 501(c)(7) (social clubs), and 501(c)(8) (fraternal groups) are eligible for PPP loans, and the size of eligible 501(c)(3) groups has been increased to 500 employees; $7.5 billion in additional funding will be made available

Transportation

  • $30 billion in grants for transit agencies
  • $8 billion for airport authorities
  • $3 billion for aviation manufactures; payroll support program with retention requirements; cannot have used other assistance, such as PPP

Education

  • $40 billion for higher education
  • $123 billion for K-12
  • $135 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities

A tentative breakdown of funding for New York State is listed below. For more information, visit https://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases.

Funds for New York

  • State and Local Fiscal Relief for New York: $23.8 Billion
  • Medicaid FMAP Increase: $2.7 Billion 
  • Transit Agency Funding: $7+ Billion
  • Airport Funding: $418 Million
  • Amtrak Relief: $1.7 Billion 
  • Airline Payroll Support Program Enhancement: $15 Billion 
  • K-12 and Higher Education Funding: $11.9 Billion
  • Child Care and Help for NY Families: $5.3 Billion
  • Enhanced Unemployment Benefits for NYers: $21.7 Billion
  • Direct Payments to NYers: $22 Billion
  • New Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement and Testing: $4 Billion

Funds Available to Businesses Across New York:

  • Small Business, Restaurant, and Live Venue Relief: $57.8 Billion
  • Broadband Connectivity: $632 Million