We are now ten days away from advancing into Illinois Phase 4. Although preliminary information was sent along with the phase announcements months ago, we’re hearing that we may see updated direction for this next phase by the end of this week. That would be welcome news as it will allow all time to prepare for the allowed changes. We did hear a rumor last week on a couple of different fronts regarding a possible phase “3.5,” but that really didn’t advance at all and we’re so close now to the next phase that nothing will likely change until June 26.
What We Know About Phase 4
We know that all of the numbers and percentages are in place to move forward to phase 4, but what does that mean? Restaurants are to be allowed inside seating with limited capacity and Illinois Department of Public Health approved guidance. Gatherings of 50 or fewer will now be allowed as long as social distancing and other guidelines are followed. All schools and child care facilities will be allowed to reopen under IDPH guidelines. Health clubs and gyms can open with capacity limits rather than one-on-one training or outside sessions. Salons, barbers, and spas will have less restrictions as well. Phase 4 will see the return of cinemas and theaters with capacity limits and all outdoor recreation previously unavailable will now be open. Lastly, all employees can return to work under IDPH guidelines with masks and social distancing still required. All employers are still urged to provide accommodations for covid vulnerable employees and continue to allow remote work where applicable. All manufacturing and retail businesses will be open with less restrictions as well.
We will pass on further information once it becomes available.
SBA Announces Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) has been Reopened
Last night, the Small Business Administration announced that the portal to apply for the EIDL program has been reopened. SBA has also resumed processing EIDL applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 and will be processing these applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested organizations can apply here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
Also, here is the link to the information as a refresher: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19#section-header-0
PPP Interim Rule Text
New guidance reflecting the Payroll Protection Program Flexibility Act was issued by the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Treasury.
Click here to read the interim final rule. It is also attached to this email. Here are two items of note to clarify two of the major changes:
- There is NO 60% “Cliff” that could have invalidated loan forgiveness
- Borrowers can choose an 8-week period (if receiving the loan before June 5) or the 24-week period
Recreation Cannabis Records
Illinois set records highs in May for recreational cannabis sales, both to residents and non-Illinois residents. In all, $44 million worth of product was sold across the state. An extra $10 million on top of that will go to state and local taxes. May also saw $32 million worth of product sold through a medical card. Of the $44 million sold, $34 million was bought by Illinois residents, leaving $10 million to visitors. Both of these totals are new records, besting the previous record back in January when the first month of sales opened. Cannabis sales have been “essential” since the beginning of the pandemic.
Illinois Republicans Sue Governor
Illinois State Republicans and three local Republican groups have initiated a lawsuit that claims the limit to the number of people at gatherings violates First Amendment rights. The current limit of 10 persons is part of the phase 3 limit on gatherings in-person. Republicans are asking that political parties be exempt from this cap and are looking to hold in-person gatherings as we get closer to the November election.
Republicans are also seeking a temporary restraining order blocking the restriction and want the court to declare the entire order invalid because they allege Pritzker has exceeded his authority to extend a disaster proclamation beyond the initial 30 days. The lawsuit alleges that Pritzker’s May 29 order violates the First and 14th Amendment rights of political parties by treating them differently from religious groups or protesters. In addition to the Illinois Republican party, the other three groups joining on the lawsuit are the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization, the Northwest Side GOP Club and the Will County Republican Central Committee.
Hotel Groups Lobby for Larger Gatherings Too
The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association is asking Governor Pritzker to consider allowing 50% capacity as we move into phase 4 rather than the cap of 50 people. The association launched a public relations campaign yesterday pushing their ask. Part of their argument is that a strict 50 person limit is contrary to guidelines that have been announced for other industries.
They have a plan that includes social distancing being practiced at events, including contactless check-in. Also, hand sanitizer would be widely available, employees and guests would wear face masks in common areas, and no food buffets would be allowed. Those attending and working meetings would have their temperature checked.
Governor Pritzker Announces Programs Expansion
The Governor was in Belleville yesterday to announce that two existing programs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant Program, will expand.
LIHEAP provides direct financial assistance for low-income people who are having trouble affording their utility bills. The Community Services Block Grant program offers financial help for things like food, shelter and medicine. Both programs are operated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Activity. In the budget passed during a special session in May, lawmakers added $90 million to the programs from federal funds, bringing the total available to $275 million, and they expanded eligibility for the programs so they are now available to households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $52,400 a year for a family of four.
Pritzker also announced a new web portal, HelpIllinoisFamilies.com, where people can pre-apply for benefits under either program. Until recently, it was a federal requirement to apply in person at a local office. Applicants will be asked for proof of employment, such as pay stubs for the head of the household for the past 30 days; copies of heat and electric bills issued within the past 30 days; a copy of their rental agreement if they are renting their home; and proof of Social Security numbers for all people living in the household. People who need to talk with someone to walk through the application process can also call a new hotline number, 1-833-711-0374.
Finally, don’t forget that this Thursday is our next Virtual Conference. Join us at 1:00 as we present Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace…in the World with Troy Cicero of MultiultuReal Communications. The session will focus on:
- Understanding Diversity and Inclusion and the urgency of now
- Prepare for paradigm shifts
- Gain broad perspective for greater workplace effectiveness
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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