This is the fifty-third 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:

Effective today, Santa Clara County has returned to the Red Tier, meaning more restrictions have been lifted.  The upsides are better business and more social interaction -- both good for our mental health.

The County announced yesterday that it would follow the protocols prescribed by the state. However, the County also cautions in its most recent order and the press release: “Just because more activities will now be allowed to resume, it does not mean they are safe.”
In other words, the County Health Officer urges everyone to remember that indoor activities are much higher risk than outdoor activities and to take every step to reduce your risk as much as possible. To keep yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors, and our broader community safe, continue to stay masked, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others, avoid crowds, wash those hands and get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Maintaining proper protocols to keep staff and customers safe will be important to continue the downward trend.  Businesses and activities listed below are now allowed to resume in compliance with the State’s framework for the Red Tier and the County’s Risk Reduction Order. Businesses must have an updated Social Distancing Protocol on file and displayed, as well as posted and enforced capacity limits.  For specific categories of business and social distancing protocols, visit the Santa Clara County COVID-19 guidance pages.
  • Restaurants may resume indoor service, at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less 
  • Retail and grocery stores can operate indoors at 50% capacity 
  • Museums are allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity 
  • Gyms and fitness centers are allowed to open indoors at 10% capacity 
  • Movie theaters can open at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less 
  • Indoor shopping malls are allowed to open indoors at 50% capacity 

Here’s the County's press release which details further what changes will be effective.

Vaccine reminder:  As of Feb. 28, healthcare providers across Santa Clara County will expand access to COVID-19 vaccination to county residents who work in education and childcare, emergency services, and the food and agriculture industries.  Updates on vaccine eligibility and scheduling appointments are available at Call 211 for assistance in multiple languages.  New appointments will be released as vaccine supply allows.
Starting March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgment to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the following severe health conditions:
  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

Click here for Santa Clara County vaccine information.

COVID-19 Financial Update

Business webinars today and every day
Webinar today: Thursday, March 4 | 3:30-5pm | 

Claim an Employee Retention Tax Credit
Hosted by City of San Jose and Small Business Development Center

If your small business has been able to retain employees during the pandemic, you may be able to claim as much as $14,000 of payroll per employee and get either a credit or a refund on your federal taxes. Learn how to get this tax credit.   More information at IRS Frequently Asked Questions. 

Webinars every day:  More than 200 business webinars have been hosted since the pandemic began a year ago are available. Check in on the ones of interest to you by going to YouTube and view online workshops hosted by SCORE Silicon Valley, Minority Business Development Agency and Small Business Development Center.

The Office of Economic Development has 25 webinars on its OED YouTube channel.

The subjects range from how to pivot your store-front business to an online model, featuring SJDA Board of Directors member Frank Nguyen, owner of Academic Coffee, to advice on mastering applications for various loans and grants.

Application window closing soon
SBA and PPP lenders focus on non-profits and for-profits with 20-fewer employees through March 9.

The Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lenders will process loan applications ONLY from nonprofits and for-profit businesses with fewer than 20 employees. 

If you think your nonprofit may be eligible for an initial PPP loan or a second draw loan – and your organization has fewer than 20 employees – now is the best time to contact a lender (find eligible lenders) and find out how much relief may be available to you. 

Need help? Get assistance from your local SBA office (search here). PPP info here and here.

Three more funding rounds for State of CA small business assistance in March
New funding rounds 3, 4 and 5 of State of California relief grants for California Small Businesses can be found here

  • Round 3 is March 5-11 and is closed -- recipients will be eligible applicants who were waitlisted from Rounds 1 and 2 in December and February.
  • Round 4 is March 16-23 for nonprofit cultural institutions only that did not receive funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3.
  • Round 5 is March 25-31 for eligible businesses and non-profits not selected in Rounds 1, 2 or 3 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria.

Eligible grant awards range from $5,000-$25,000, depending on business revenues.  Under $100,000 revenue are eligible for a $5,000 grant.  Under $1 million revenue are eligible for a $15,000 grant.  $1 million to $2.5 million revenue are eligible for a $25,000 grant.

Eligibility guidelines and application instructions are all found on the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant web page.

Round 6 has not yet been scheduled, but will serve those businesses that have applied, met requirements and were waitlisted.

Federal Paycheck Protection Program
The deadline to get approved for the second round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding is March 31. Distribution is on a First-come, first-serve basis.

The PPP 2.0 includes two avenues for accessing funds: First Draw Loans and Second Draw Loans:

First Draw Loans

  • Open to organizations that did not receive a PPP loan in 2020, or that did not receive forgiveness by 12/27/20 for a 2020 PPP loan, and either returned or did not accept a portion of that loan
  • Small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees are eligible
  • Also: tribes, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors

Second Draw Loans

  • For organizations that received a PPP loan in 2020 and
    • have used or will use the full loan amount for authorized expenses
    • have 300 or fewer employees
    • can show a 25% or more decrease in gross revenue between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020
  • For most borrowers, the maximum Second Draw loan amount is 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs for either 2019 or 2020.

Both types of loans are forgivable if, within the 8- to 24-week period after the loan is received, the organization:

  • maintains employee and compensation levels
  • spends the funds on payroll (at least 60% of total) and other eligible expenses

Funds from both loan types can be spent on:

  • payroll costs, including benefits
  • mortgage interest, rent, utilities
  • worker protection costs related to COVID-19
  • certain other operations expenses

The new PPP 2.0 includes special set-aside funds (First Draw more than $15 billion; Second Draw, more than $25 billion) for borrowers with 10 or fewer employees

Need help? Get assistance from your local SBA office (search here). PPP info here and here.

Downtown Events, Promotions and Other Info
St. Patricks’ Day promotion
From March 12-17, SJDA and the City are hosting a St. Patrick’s themed photo contest, green lighted features and a leprechaun search to the downtown landscape. 

Palm trees, buildings and pathways downtown will be lit in green, the San Jose logo arch will be installed in San Pedro Square, and dozens of leprechauns will be hosted at businesses throughout downtown.  Everyone will be encouraged to take a photo at the arch or snap a selfie with one of the leprechauns and post to Facebook or Instagram to be entered to win gift cards to downtown businesses.

There are lots of ways for your business to participate in the fun, and get increased visibility through the SJDA website and social media:

  • Offer a “green” food or drink special. Email details on your special to     
  • Add to the festive atmosphere by turning your business green with window displays or green lighting. Snap a photo and tag SJDA on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Display one of the lucky leprechauns at your business. If you would like to participate, please send an email to by Monday, March 8, and we will deliver them directly to you. Supplies are limited so contact us soon! 
Cinequest virtual Cinejoy Festival returns March 20-30
Cinequest brings it’s virtual movie program to town starting March 20. Though the Cinejoy version of the film festival won’t draw 100,000 people into the movies in downtown San Jose, it will still be one of the best events of the year.

How we look forward to the return of the films, the stars, the directors and talent behind the scenes and all those pre-and post parties at downtown restaurants.  But for this year, encourage support and try to check out a movie or two.  Let’s make sure the Cinequest we adore returns -- and in the near future.  Schedule and tickets here.
Dog Days in Downtown
Although there have been fewer two-legged friends downtown, the four-legged residents are out and about.  With the opening of the new SoFA Pocket Park dog park on Feb. 18, we’re becoming even more of a dog-oriented city center.  As customers walk around with their pets, businesses have an opportunity to support these clients by supplying doggie treats, water bowls and other pet-friendly amenities. If this is a strategy you are thinking about for your business or are already doing, let us know so we can promote your pet-friendly actions.  Need some ideas? Our friends at downtown pet store and adoption center Andy’s Pet Shop can help you think about how and what to serve this new audience.    

Also, here’s a blog about the importance of public spaces (like dog parks) during a pandemic.
San Jose Downtown Construction Update - Register here
SJDA in the News

Recent media reports involving Downtown San Jose with commentary or behind-the-scenes input by San Jose Downtown Association.  Keeping downtown in the news in a positive light is good for business!

San Jose revamps plans for downtown’s Diridon Station area. “What a long way we have come in seven years since the original (Diridon Station Area) plan,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “The San Jose City Council has before them not just the technical components — zoning and environmental clearance — but a grand vision of how these 262 acres can represent the best values of our future city.”

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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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