VFA COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

On behalf of the Board and staff of the Virginia Forestry Association, we hope that you, your families, your colleagues, and your employees are and remain healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

VFA is committed to providing Virginia’s forestry community with factual, reliable, and timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on companies, employees and individuals in the forestry supply chain.

COVID-19 Page Menu
 
Guidance: Operating a Virginia Forestry/Forest Products Business During COVID-19
 

NEW: On June 2, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 65 (EO 65), amending previous Executive Orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and beginning implementation of Phase II of his three-phase Forward Virginia reopening plan. EO 65 is effective Friday, June 5, 2020 for most of Virginia, as northern Virginia and the City of Richmond remain in a Phase I status. The text of previous Executive Orders 51, 53, 61 and 62 may be found in the State Document Library at the bottom of this page.

EO 65 includes formal guidance entitled "Guidelines for All Business Sectors" as part new guidelines for other industry sectors that were previously restricted or closed.

IMPORTANT: EO 65 states that any willful violation or refusal, failure or neglect to comply with the Order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. Further, EO 65 empowers the State Health Commissioner to seek injunctive relief for violation of this Order, and permits agencies with regulatory authority over businesses to enforce the Order to the extent permitted by law. Under EO 53 and EO 55, there were no explicit penalties associated with non-compliance with recommendations for businesses.

Forestry businesses are strongly encouraged to follow the newly issued guidance issued under EO 65, including:  

EXECUTIVE ORDER 65 - JUNE 2, 2020

SAFER AT HOME: PHASE TWO

Guidelines for All Business Sectors

PHYSICAL DISTANCING BEST PRACTICES

  • Establish policies and practices for physical distancing between co-workers and between members of the public.
  • Provide clear communication and signage for physical distancing in areas where individuals may congregate, especially at entrances, in seating areas, and in check-out lines.
  • Limit the occupancy of physical spaces to ensure that adequate physical distancing may be maintained.
  • Encourage telework whenever possible.
  • For those businesses where telework is not feasible, temporarily move or stagger workstations to ensure six feet of separation between co-workers and between members of the public.
  • Limit in-person work-related gatherings, including conferences, trade shows, and trainings.
  • When in-person meetings need to occur, keep meetings as short as possible, limit the number of employees in attendance, and use physical distancing practices.

ENHANCED CLEANING AND DISINFECTION BEST PRACTICES

  • Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of high contact areas and hard surfaces, including check out stations and payment pads, store entrance push/pull pads, door knobs/handles, dining tables/chairs, light switches, handrails, restrooms, floors, and equipment. Follow CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection and use an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean. For high contact areas, routinely disinfect surfaces at least every 2 hours. Certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
  • To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide access to and instruct workers to use an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean items before and after use.
  • Provide a place for employees and customers to wash hands with soap and water, or provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When developing staff schedules, implement additional short breaks to increase the frequency with which staff can wash hands with soap and water. Alternatively, consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol so that workers can frequently sanitize their hands.
  • Provide best hygiene practices to employees on a regular basis, including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and practicing respiratory etiquette protocols. A CDC training video is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html.

ENHANCED WORKPLACE SAFETY BEST PRACTICES

  • Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employers should screen employees prior to starting work. Employees should also self-monitor their symptoms by self-taking of temperature to check for fever and utilizing the questions provided in the VDH Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Daily Screening of Employees before reporting to work. For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to starting work/before each shift. CDC considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish.
  • Implement practices such as those described in VDH Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Daily Screening of Employees for examples of a screening questionnaire. A sample symptom monitoring log is available in this Interim Guidance.
  • Instruct employees who are sick to stay at home and not report to work. If an employee becomes ill or presents signs of illness, follow CDC What to Do if You Are Sick guidance. Employers should post signage in the common languages of the employees telling employees not to come to work when sick.
  • Develop or adopt flexible sick leave policies to ensure that sick employees do not report to work. Policies should allow employees to stay home if they are sick with COVID-19, if they need to self-quarantine due to exposure, and if they need to care for a sick family member. Employers should recommend that employees follow CDC guidance on If You Are Sick or Caring For Someone.
  • Some employees are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These vulnerable employees include individuals over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions. Vulnerable employees should be encouraged to self-identify and employers should take particular care to reduce their risk of exposure, while making sure to be compliant with relevant Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) regulations.
      1. Consider offering vulnerable employees duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees (e.g., restocking shelves rather than working as a cashier), if agreed to by the employee.
      2. Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness by supporting and encouraging options to telework.
      3. If implementing health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations. Confidentiality should be respected.
      4. Other information on civil rights protections for workers related to COVID19 is available here.
  • Designate a staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. Employees should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Implement staggered shifts for both work periods and break periods. Consider cohort scheduling where groups of employees only work with employees in their group.
  • Limit the number of employees in break rooms and stagger breaks to discourage gatherings.
  • Use messaging boards or digital messaging for pre-shift meeting information.
  • If the building has not been occupied for the last 7 days, there are additional public health considerations that should be considered, such as taking measures to ensure the safety of your building water system. However, it is not necessary to clean ventilation systems other than routine maintenance as part of reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.
  • Establish a relationship with your local health department and know who to contact for questions.

RESOURCES TO PRINT AND DISPLAY

CDC Printable Flyer English

CDC Printable Flyer Spanish

CDC Re-Opening America Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes

CDC What You Need to Know About Handwashing VIDEO

 
Work Travel Guidance
 

Virginia State Police: Enforcement Practices of Governor's Executive Orders and Directives

On April 1, 2020, the Virginia State Police released guidance on plans to enforce Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55. Notably, the State Police indicated that the current executive orders do not require individuals to carry documentation related to one's purpose for travel in Virginia, but encouraged individuals to review requirements in other states for travel there.
 
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
 

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave Poster

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, includes requirements that certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

All businesses covered by the law (i.e. private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required by law to post the FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave poster above.

 
Resources: Small Businesses
 
Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:
 
COVID-19 Business Loans
 
The U.S. Congress has authorized two primary loan programs to assist small businesses in maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has compiled the side-by-side comparison chart below so that business owners may assess if either program may be beneficial to their specific circumstances.
 
Additionally, SBA has created an "Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program," with loans of up to $25,000 while businesses await lender decisions on EIDL or PPPL programs described below. To learn more about the Express Bridge Loan program, click here.
 
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of May 6, 2020, these U.S. Small Business Administration is only accepting Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications on a limited basis from U.S. Agricultural Businesses as defined in section 18(b) of the Small Business Act. For the most up-to-date information the status of EIDL lending, click here.
 
Side-by-Side Comparison of COVID-19 Business Loans (Source: NFIB)
Program Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL)
Lender

Small Business Administration

Financial Institutions (banks, credit unions, other approved lenders)

Program Period

Through December 31, 2020

Through June 30, 2020
(Loan covers 8-weeks of eligible expenses within above time frame)

Eligibility
  • Have 500 or fewer employees;

  • Are a sole proprietor, independent contractor, or self-employed individual, and;

  • Have been in business since January 31, 2020.

  • Have 500 or fewer employees;

  • Are a sole proprietor, independent contractor, or self-employed individual;

  • Are a small business that meets the SBA small business industry-specific standards, and;

  • Been in business since February 15, 2020 and paid taxes on your employees or independent contractors.

Amount
  • The maximum loan size is $2 million. (Initial loan payments are capped at $15,000)

  • Applicants who apply for this loan may request an advance Emergency EIDL grant of up to $10,000 from the SBA.

  • 2.5x the average monthly “payroll” costs, measured over the 12 months preceding the loan origination date.

  • Seasonal business may use the period February 15, 2019 – June 30, 2019 or March 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019 to calculate the average payroll.

  • The maximum loan size is $10 million.

  • “Payroll” includes:

    • Salaries, commissions, tips, or similar compensation

    • Employee benefits (including health insurance premiums and retirement benefits),

    • State and local taxes,

    • Compensation to sole proprietors or independent contractors.

  • “Payroll” excludes:

    • Annual salary in excess of $100,000,

    • Foreign employees,

    • FICA and income tax withholdings.

Eligible Expenses
  • Payroll costs, including benefits;

  • Fixed debts (mortgage, rent, lease);

  • Accounts payable, and;

  • Other bills.

  • Payroll costs, including benefits;

  • Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;

  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020, and;

  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Duration

Up to 30 years

Up to 2 years

Interest Rate
  • 3.75% for businesses

  • 2.75% for nonprofits

1.0% for all borrowers

Forgiveness

No loan forgiveness

Emergency EIDL grant of up to $10,000 is forgiven. Grant must be used for the following expenses:

  • Providing paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to the direct effect of COVID–19

  • Maintaining payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns

  • Meeting increased costs to obtain materials unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains

  • Making rent or mortgage payments, repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses

Eligible expenses (below) within an 8-week period from February 15, 2020 – June 30, 2020:

  • Payroll costs (including everything listed above)

  • Payments on mortgage interest

  • Rent

  • Utilities

***Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease the number of your full-time and/or decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.

Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.***

Repayment

Additional guidance needed

Payments (and interest) are deferred for 6 months

Collateral Requirement

No

No

Personal Guarantee

Not for loan less than $200,000

No

Prepayment Penalties

No

No

Required Documents
  • Required documentation may vary by bank
Availability

As of May 6, 2020, SBA is accepting applications on a limited basis from U.S. agricultural businesses only.

Will vary by participating banks.

 

COVID-19 Tax Relief
 

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline Extension Until July 15, 2020

Regardless of amounts owed, the extension includes individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

CARES Act Corporate Tax Relief Provisions

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for corporations were a number of tax credits, deferrals, and other modifications. According to the Forest Resources Association (FRA), specific CARES Act corporate tax relief measures include:

Net Operating Losses (NOLs) - The CARES Act relaxes limitations on a company’s use of losses from prior years. The CARES Act allows losses from 2018, 2019, or 2020 to be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. The goal of this language is to allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior years’ returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Deferred Social Security Tax Payment - The CARES Act allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022.

Refundable Payroll Tax Credit - The CARES Act authorizes a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above.

Corporate AMT Credits - The corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but corporate AMT credits were made available as refundable credits over several years, ending in 2021. The CARES Act accelerates the ability of companies to recover those AMT credits, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.

Business Interest Deduction Expansion - The CARES Act temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020. As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

S-Corp and Pass Throughs - The CARES Act modifies the limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. The provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees. 

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Additional IRS COVID-19 Relief and Updates

Includes additional information on IRS relief measures, including: agency operations, paid leave for workers, eligibility of high-deductible health plans to cover COVID-19 expenses.

Virginia Department of Taxation: State Sales Tax Filing and Payment Extension & Penalty Waiver

Businesses impacted by coronavirus can request an extension of the due date for filing and payment of their February 2020 sales tax return due March 20, 2020, for 30 days. When granted, businesses will be able to file and pay no later than April 20, 2020 with a waiver of any penalties.

 Virginia Department of Taxation: Income Tax Payment Extension & Penalty Waiver 

Any income tax payments due during the time period of April 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020, will now be due on June 1, 2020. This includes individual and corporate income taxes paid to Virginia Tax. All income tax filing deadlines remain the same, including the May 1, 2020 individual income tax filing due date. Late payment penalties will not be charged if payments are made by June 1, 2020. However, interest will still accrue, so if you can pay by the original filing due date, you should.

Additional COVID-19 Business Relief Measures

Virginia State Corporation Commission: Suspension of Utility Cut-Off

The suspension of Utility Disconnections was extended until June 14, 2020.

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Resources: Landowners

Landowner Guidance: COVID-19
  
Virginia Department of Forestry/Virginia Cooperative Extension: PAUSE. PLAN. ACT.
 
The Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Cooperative Extension have developed a guidance document for forest landowners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of financial uncertainty, a "forest savings account" may provide a welcome source of financial relief. However, landowners should exercise caution in making the best decision possible while avoiding the potential for scams.
 
 
Virginia Cooperative Extension: Webinar: Virtual Woods Walk - Selling Timber
 
On April 15, 2020, Virginia Cooperative Extension hosted a webinar on Selling Timber. The 45-minute session covered the basics of selling timber in current times, including: how to sell timber, forest management, and avoiding timber theft. You may find information about how to access the April 15th webinar at the link provided above 
 

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Resources: Individuals and Employees

Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:

Unemployment Benefits
 
 
Virginia employees may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. Governor Northam has directed that the one week waiting period and the requirement to conduct a weekly job search both be suspended for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
 
CARES Act Unemployment Provisions
 
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for individuals was the expansion of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for individuals affected by the pandemic. According to the National Law Review, specific emergency unemployment benefits in the CARES Act include:
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program - The CARES Act creates a temporary, federally funded program providing unemployment benefits to individuals who otherwise would be ineligible for such benefits under state or federal law – such as individuals who are self-employed (for example, consultants or independent contractors), who are seeking part-time employment, or who lack sufficient work history. The program will cover any individual who: (1) is not otherwise eligible for, or has exhausted all rights to, unemployment benefits; and (2) is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of COVID-19-related circumstances.
 
Additional UI Payment - The CARES Act allows individuals who are otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits under state or federal law to receive an additional $600 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment compensation under state law, through July 2020.
 
Federal Support for Week One UI Benefit - The CARES Act will allow the federal government to fully fund the cost of an individuals first week of UI benefits if a state has waived the one week waiting period requirement. Governor Northam waived Virginia's one week waiting requirement on March 15, 2020.
 
Extension of UI Benefits - The CARES Act will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if individuals remain unemployed after their state benefits are exhausted. The additional 13 weeks will be provided to unemployed individuals at a weekly rate of $600. For Virginia, this increases to unemployment benefits for individuals up to 39 weeks. 

Direct Stimulus Payments
 
CARES Act Economic Impact Payments: IRS Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus) Page
 
As has been widely-reported, the CARES Act will provide a "stimulus check" to a majority of U.S. taxpayers. The IRS is encouraging individuals and families to visit their Economic Impact Payments page (linked above) to check on the status of their payment and to provide information on preferred method of delivery.
 
 
Additional Forestry Community Resources - Individuals and Companies
 

VFA is proud to partner with many organizations at the federal and state level that continue to provide invaluable insight into the implications of COVID-19 on the forestry community. Below are direct links to the resources provided by VFA’s partner organizations:

Federal Resources

Forest Resources Association: Impact of COVID-19 on Forest Products Industry Dashboard

Updated daily by noon, FRA is tracking the operational status and related compliance requirements of each state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Federation of Independent Businesses: COVID-19 Employer Compliance FAQ (Federal)

NFIB, and its Virginia state office, are continuing to update guidance to assist employers with understanding federal compliance requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Alliance of Forest Owners: COVID-19 Resources

NAFO has compiled a number of useful company templates on sanitizing procedures, prevention and mitigation requirements and how companies are communicating with employees and shareholders on its COVID-19 resource page.

State Resources

Virginia Department of Forestry: COVID-19 Information Page

VDOF continues to maintain normal agency operations as much as possible through increased telework options for staff and staggered scheduling to minimize contact in office buildings. This page provides the latest status updates, information for DOF employees, links to additional state resources, and educational materials for Project Learning Tree for use in home education.

Virginia Cooperative Extension: VCE COVID-19 Resources

Cooperative Extension has compiled a number of useful resources for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes preventative measures that you can take at the grocery store, with takeout or during other public interactions. The site also contains educational material including: activities for kids, resources for parents and some diet and exercise recommendations during quarantine.

Virginia.gov: COVID-19 Resources and Latest State-Level Actions

Virginia’s most concise gathering of state government actions/resources regarding COVID-19 can be found on the Virginia.gov website.

Virginia Manufacturers Association: COVID-19 Resource Center for Manufacturers

VMA is tracking its coordination of industry's response to state government, including its recommendations for regulatory relief for Virginia's manufacturing businesses.

Hellebush Consulting: COVID-19 Tips & Takeaways Blog

VFA's contract lobbying firm, Hellebush Consulting, has started a blog to monitor both the impact of COVID-19 policy on Virginia businesses, as well as to share some practical advice for small employers and those who are self-employed.

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Federal & State COVID-19 Document Library
 

Throughout the federal and state government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of guidance documents and formal responses that continue to be referenced. Below is a library of PDF documents and/or webpages for your reference regarding the response to COVID-19:

Federal Document Library

U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS-CISA)

 

U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration (DOL-OSHA)

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (March 2020)
OSHA COVID-19 Resource Page (March 2020)

State Document Library

Virginia Governor's Office

 
Virginia Department of Transportation