Response to COVID-19 in the District of Columbia

The U.S. Small Business Administration has accepted the District of Columbia’s request for assistance in the form of economic injury disaster loans following the advent of COVID-19 and DC businesses can start applying now. The District’s liaison with the SBA is Kristi Whitfield, Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development. The SBA will provide working capital loans of up to $2 million to District small businesses and private nonprofit organizations to overcome the temporary loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. DC businesses can start the application online at www.SBA.gov/disaster.

Additionally, the DC Council unanimously passed an emergency COVID-29 response bill, which the Mayor has signed into law on March 17, 2020. It will remain in effect for 90 day and will require a second Council vote to remain in effect for 270 days. The emergency bill:

  • extends unemployment compensation to those unemployed due to COVID regardless of whether the employer has provided a date certain of employee’s return to work or employee has a reasonable expectation of continued employment with current employer, and waives the work-search requirement;
  • extends employment protections under DC FMLA;
  • extends March 31st real property tax for hotels to June 30th and allows other businesses to defer February and March sales taxes to July 20, 2020;
  • creates a public health emergency grant program which allows eligible small businesses to apply for a grant from the Mayor by demonstrating financial distress caused by reduction in business revenue due to the circumstances giving rise to or resulting from the COVID-19 emergency;
  • allows for pick up or delivery of beer and wine in a sealed container to be consumed in the home from a restaurant if ordered with food;
  • extends time for filing biennial corporate filing report;
  • expands authority for the Mayor under the Public Emergency Act;
  • allows for flexibility in health insurance and matters regulated by DISB;
  • extends public benefit programs such as Alliance, TAFN, and SNAP;
  • limits price gouging and stockpiling;
  • prohibits electric, gas, and water disconnect for all customers;
  • prohibits eviction for residential and non-residential tenants;
  • allows for prescription drug refills before the end of waiting periods;
  • extends licenses and registration renewals;
  • provides for contingency provisions under Homeless Services Reform Act;
  • extends TOPA deadlines and prohibits landlords from charging late fees;
  • allows discretion to Department of Corrections to award additional good tie credits for those sentenced for misdemeanors;
  • allows for DCPS summer school calendar flexibility;
  • extends time for research practice partnership review panel meetings;
  • clarifies schools’ attendance reporting during emergency;
  • allows ANCs to meet less than nine times per year and to meet remotely;
  • suspends meetings of other boards and commissions;
  • extends FOIA deadlines but the clock will not toll during health emergency;
  • allows for flexibility in open meetings act compliance when meeting remotely;
  • sets May 6th as the deadline for Budget Submission Requirements; and
  • allows the Council to meet virtually.

There are additional assistance programs with various eligibility criteria offering grants and loans to impacted persons and organizations, as follows:

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program Restaurant Workers COVID 19 Crisis Relief Fund One Fair Wage Emergency Fund Children of Restaurant Employees DMV Restaurant Worker Relief Fund

As we navigate this uncertain time, small businesses are encouraged to apply to for assistance loans from the SBA and as well as the Mayor’s grant program. Small businesses should also encourage their effected employees to apply for unemployment benefits.