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This is the thirty-ninth COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are usually sent on Thursdays.
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Dear Members and Downtown Stakeholders:

Just as the number of Covid-19 cases surge across America, California and Santa Clara County, so do the amount of state, county and local restrictions. We know these continual changes are confusing and frustrating. We hope that this message helps to make things at least a bit more clear. 

Here is what you need to know:
  • There are no current changes to what is permissible at the state level. The Governor announced that if regions reach 15% or less capacity in the ICUs, new restrictions will be implemented. 
  • With layered health orders, the more restrictive order must be followed regardless of whether it's national, state, county or city ordinances.
It’s weeks like these – as we anticipate “a surge on top of a surge” (per Dr. Fauci) – that we can pull together to support one another and downtown. 

We’re in for another wild ride in the next few weeks. 
COVID-19 New Risk Restrictions
State of California Update

Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide shelter-in-place plan that takes effect starting in the next few days for most of the state, and expected mid-to-late-December in the Bay Area. The shelter-in-place order is predicated on when hospitals have less than 15 percent availability remaining in the region’s Intensive care Units. The order will begin 24 hours after our region dips below 15 percent available ICU beds.

The reason for the new restrictions is the surge in coronavirus cases, leading to hospitalizations and deaths, the need for people to stop interacting with others outside their household, and for everyone to wear a mask when outdoors.

The impact on business during shelter-in-place will be great.  Bars, wineries, personal-care services and hair salons/barbershops will close.  Retail capacity for essential businesses will drop to 20 percent and restaurants will be open only for delivery and takeout.

Gov. Newsom stressed that the scope and extent of the shelter in place will be a matter of weeks only.  He advised people to get outside for exercise.

He also asked Californians to take this period seriously because “lives are in the balance.”  The current surge was projected, he said, and “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” referencing the vaccines expected in the next few months and the need to take this period head-n and stem the tide until the vaccines are readily available.

Today’s press announcement and conference can be viewed here.
                                                 Santa Clara County Update

New Risk Reductions in Santa Clara County went into effect Monday that will continue until at least Dec. 21, or until ICU availability in the Bay Area drops below 15 percent:
 
Indoor Capacity Limits
Stores, personal care services, dry cleaners, pet-grooming, food-packing  and other facilities open to the public will be limited to 10 percent capacity indoors – and will close when ICU availability drops below 15 percent. Grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors, and 20 percent when ICU availability drops below 15 percent. All facilities open to the public must establish a “metering system” to ensure that the limits are not exceeded. Indoor dining is still not allowed, but outdoor dining is if safety measures are followed.
 
Businesses currently closed to indoor activities include:  restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, smoking lounges, entertainment centers, gyms, fitness centers, card rooms, movie showings, museums,  include: 

Outdoor Gatherings
Gatherings continue to be allowed only outdoors, with a maximum of 100 people. The State limits such gatherings to First Amendment protected activities, such as religious services or protests.

Hotels and Other Lodging Facilities
Hotels and other lodging facilities will be open only for essential travel and for use to house those who need to be in isolation or quarantine.

Quarantine Post-Travel
Leisure and non-essential travel are strongly discouraged, and a new Mandatory Directive on Travel will require people to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the County from travel of more than 150 miles. When ICU availability drops below 15 percent, all non-essential travel will be prohibited.
 
Here are the latest links for  programs serving children or youthgatheringsdining, and personal care services.  

Everyone needs to continue to wear masks, keep a physical distance from those not in your household, avoid indoor gatherings and wash your hands.

Commercial Tenant Eviction Moratorium Extended Through March 31
Once Santa Clara County's moratorium on evictions expires on March 31, 2021, all tenants will have up to six months to repay at least 50% of the past-due rent and a further six months to completely pay all past-due rent they owe. The County requires a landlord to inform a tenant of their repayment rights under the moratorium before starting a repayment plan with the tenant.
 
Read our blogpost or the updated County FAQ for more detailed information. If you have questions, email covid19business@sanjoseca.gov.

County Enforces Business Compliance
Santa Clara County spent the Thanksgiving holiday enforcing its restrictions.  Some 427 businesses in the county received visits and 181 retailers were fined between $250 and $3,750, according to the county.
Primary violations were:
  • Not submitting a social-distancing protocol;
  • Not posting required social-distancing signs; and
  • Not posting required capacity signs.
Some of the visits were initiated by customers who complained at scccovidconcerns.com.
 
SJDA has not seen or heard of any violators operating downtown.  Great work … maintain your vigilance.
City of San Jose Update
 
Greater Downtown San Jose Economic Recovery Task Force Sends Final 15 Recommendations to City Council, Supervisors and State
A task force of local businesses organized by City Councilmember Raul Peralez approved the final set of task force recommendations and sent them forward to city, council and state officials to assist in economic survival amid the pandemic.

The recommendations include means to enhance outdoor business operations, tax breaks, and financial assistance program; reevaluate paid parking programs; streamline marketing programs;  supporting to-go alcohol legislation; and utilize places of worship and community spaces to serve as incubators for struggling businesses.

Take a look at the recommendations here and press release here.

OED Reports on Its Activities Helping Businesses
According to an SJEconomy blog posted Tuesday, the Office of Economic Development will report to the City Council this month its roles in assisting businesses through the pandemic:
  • Providing vital, accurate information and help to impacted businesses
  • Identifying sources of funds,
  • Linking businesses to community-based support organizations
  • Creating multi-lingual web-based guidance and education.
OED examined how businesses are faring, not by sector, but by levels of vulnerability, and found three different economic realities:
  • Stabilized: businesses that can transition to remote work with little loss of productivity
  • Holding on: businesses that rely on interpersonal contact, for instance, retail, hospitality
  • In crisis: business required to shut down for long periods, not able to transition, with resulting displaced workers and remaining workers stressed with family care.
OED found that almost 40% of those who shut down in March are still closed at the end of October.

The OED workplan going forward includes: 
  • Continued efforts to find funding sources for small businesses
  • Workforce development to help laid-off workers
  • Help for small business compliance with public health orders
  • Support for small business operations outdoors as allowed
  • Capacity building for business support organizations
  • Support for artists, organizations and cultural entrepreneurs
  • Support key development projects
  • Support for retail and manufacturing sectors
  • Work with Team San Jose to help hospitality sector, maintaining San Jose marketing
The full blog is here.
Financial Opportunities
State of California
Building on the state’s ongoing support throughout the pandemic, which can be found here, Gov. Newsom announced on Monday the following immediate support and relief measures are coming up for Covid-19-impacted businesses:

- Tax Relief
In April 2020, the Governor, through Executive Order, allowed taxpayers to apply for penalty and interest relief for 90 days for any taxpayer reporting less than $1 million in sales on their tax return. Through Nov. 22, some 9,287 plans with almost $149 million in tax relief have taken advantage of this program.
The governor will direct the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to do the following:
  • Provide an automatic three-month extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax on the return and extend the availability existing interest and penalty free payment agreements to companies (with up to $5 million in taxable sales)
  • Broaden opportunities for more businesses to enter into interest-free payment arrangements.
  • Expand interest-free payment options for larger businesses particularly affected by significant restrictions on operations based on COVID-19 transmissions.
  • This tax-relief program builds on the state’s ongoing business support throughout the pandemic, including the Main Street Hiring Tax Credit, which authorizes $100 million in hiring tax credit for qualified small businesses. The credit is equal to $1,000 per qualified employee, up to $100,000 for each small business employer. The application opened Tuesday. 
  • A full list of existing state support for businesses can be found here.
- $500 Million for New COVID Relief Grant for Small Business
Newsom announced the creation of a $500 million COVID Relief Grant administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development for small businesses that have been impacted by COVID and the health and safety restrictions. Funds would be awarded to selected intermediaries with established networks of Community Development Financial Institutions to distribute relief through grants of up to $25,000 to underserved micro and small businesses throughout the state by early 2021. Non-profits would also be eligible for these grants. CalOSBA is establishing the program and will make it available to small businesses as soon as possible – for updates on availability visit here. Sign up for updates here.

By the way:  The state expects this program to serve businesses in the interim before the federal government announces its next business support program.

- Increase Funding for the California Rebuilding Fund by $12.5 Million
The California Rebuilding Fund is a loan program, which includes non-forgivable loans for micro-business owners backed by the iBank at 4.25% to support California’s small businesses.

The Governor wants to add $12.5 million to the previously announced $25 million for the program.  The loans are flexible, transparent and are designed to help businesses access the capital and advisory services they need to get through these challenging economic times.

To fill out a pre-application and match with a participating community lender, please click here.

Eligibility:
  • Businesses must have 50 or fewer full-time employees (FTE).
  • Annual revenues must not have exceeded $2.5 million.
  • Revenues must have declined since January 2020.
  • Business must be operational and working to stay in business.
Key terms:
  • Loans up to $100,000 are available with a three- or five-year repayment period.
  • Loans have a 4.25 percent interest rate, with an interest-only period for the first 12 months and fixed monthly repayments.
  • No upfront fees charged to the small business.
  • Loan to be used as flexible working capital.
The applicant will be matched to a participating Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) at caloanfund.org.

Greater Downtown San Jose Covid-19 Assistance Grant
The City of San Jose is pleased to announce the availability of the Greater Downtown COVID-19 Assistance Grant beginning today, Wednesday, November 25, 2020.
 
The Greater Downtown COVID19 Assistance Grant is available to businesses that qualify in the following parts of San Jose:
  • Downtown Business Improvement District
  • Japantown Business Improvement District
  • Alameda Business District 
  • East Santa Clara Business District 
The grant will provide one $1,000 grant per business.
 
The funds can be used to pay for COVID-19-incurred costs and/or to help with economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These expenses must have occurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.  
 
Business owners who would like to apply for a grant should fill in a brief questionnaire on the City of San Jose’s Web Grants platform. Business owners have until 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7 to submit an application. Thirty-five businesses will be randomly selected from that pool.  

Applicants will be notified of their status by December 15, 2020.  Grant funds are expected to be distributed by January 31, 2021.

Ask Santa Clara County Supervisors to Support $100M Small Business Relief Fund
Santa Clara Supervisors will vote next week on a $100 million small business financial assistance package proposed by Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Joe Simitian.  This package could potentially include cash grants and loans for small businesses. A coalition of 17 chambers of commerce have launched a letter-writing campaign recommending approval of the package, especially since the federal government has been hesitant to provide a second stimulus package.
 
You can urge approval here.
SJDA Year in Review 2020 Meeting
SJDA’s annual year-in-review presentation will be virtual this year on Friday, Dec. 11, starting at 8:15 am. This meeting will also include the Golden Nail presentation and a farewell to SJDA and PBID Board of Directors members reaching the end of their terms. Stay tuned on our Facebook for updates. Register for this meeting here.
COVID-19 Links
More Local Resources for Businesses
If you are a business or property owner reaching out about vandalism, theft or property damage, you can submit an online police report here.

To report graffiti and things that need to be cleaned within the district, use the Groundwerx Everywhere app for iPhones or Android.
To report damage, graffiti or things that need to be cleaned in city parks/property or outside the district, use the San Jose 311 app for iPhone, visit sanjose.custhelp.com or call 311.

Businesses who would like a free graffiti removal tool kit can send an email to antigraffiti@sanjoseca.gov with their contact information and an address. A kit will be delivered to your place of business. 

SJDA staff can help.  Our list of staff and emails are here.
Let us know how else we can help by replying to this email. We’ll have another message next Thursday. We're in this together.
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