"Safe Start" Phases: Currently, King County is in a Phase 2 of the state's "Safe Start" reopening strategy, and many industries may reopen in a limited fashion. Businesses must require their customers to wear face coverings or masks while on site.
More information below and at coronavirus.wa.gov.
To help local businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing orders, the City of Bellevue has taken a number of actions, including:
- Deferred first- and second-quarter local B&O tax payments for certain small businesses until October.
- Halted water service disconnections and waived late fees for non-payment. Business customers may be eligible for payment plans.
- Created temporary curbside food pick-up zones in certain areas of downtown Bellevue with street parking and nearby restaurants and cafes.
- Adapted our Eastside Arts Partnership and Special Projects arts programs to, in some situations, allow for early invoicing and payment.
- Increased funding for local nonprofits providing key services to the area's most vulnerable residents.
We continue to monitor the situation, and are developing additional resources and tools.
Most importantly, please do not forget to document the impacts of COVID-19 on your business or nonprofit as the situation is unfolding. It will assist with relief efforts by local, state and federal agencies. Please sign up for our weekly COVID-19 resources newsletter and reach out to us if you have questions about resources, or if we can offer more help.
"Safe Start" Reopening
On May 4, Gov. Jay Inslee outlined a four-phase "Safe Start" reopening strategy, which is guiding the gradual lifting of the "Stay Home" order and the restart of business operations. On June 19, King County moved to Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start plan, which allows some additional activities. These include all activities allowed previously, plus:
- Restaurants offering outdoor dining at 50% capacity and indoor dining at 50% capacity
- In-store retail at 30% capacity
- Fitness studios outdoors with no more than 5 clients (both indoors and outdoors)
- Personal services (i.e. nail salons, barbers, etc.) at no more than 50% capacity
- Professional services at no more than 50% office capacity
Starting on July 7, the Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) will require businesses to require their customers and clients to wear face coverings or masks while on-site. LNI and the Department of Licensing may enforce penalties on businesses which refuse to require face coverings or masks.
King County has more information on allowable business operations and relevant requirements.
Tips for Returning Businesses
In many cases, businesses are returning to buildings that have been vacant for a couple of months. The Development Services and Utilities departments offer tips for ensuring the HVAC and water systems restart right.
Run HVAC systems in advance to detect musty smells or other odors that indicate potential mold growth. Thoroughly investigate the building for any signs of mold, in line with state Department of Health guidelines. Mold can grow on many different types of building materials, including ceiling tiles, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet and fabric. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) FAQ
For additional questions, please contact Development Services (DS_Support@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-4570).
The Utilities Department reminds businesses to ensure the building's water system is properly flushed. Bacteria can grow in the stagnant water sitting in the pipes for weeks. To protect staff and public health, state and federal health agencies recommend flushing the plumbing system before reopening. Details
Curbside Pickup, Patio Dining and Park Space
As part of the gradual reopening, some businesses may be interested in adapting their operations to align public health and social distancing requirements with business needs. For example, restaurants may be more interested in patio dining, and fitness studios may be interested in accessing park space.
The City of Bellevue is committed to supporting businesses making these adaptations. We've developed guides for a variety of interventions to use public and private space for business:
- Retail curbside pickup (both in-street and parking lot)
- Patio dining and retail (both in-street and parking lot)
- Rental of park space
- Drive-in cultural events
Need more information? Give us a call at 425-452-4114 or email us at email@example.com and we will walk you through your options.
Marketing and Business Development
What's Open Eastside: As we work through the phases of the state's "Safe Start" plan, many businesses will be adapting their operations to serve their customers through curbside pickup, takeout and delivery, and/or reduced hours. Several Eastside cities have joined together to promote local businesses, restaurants and cafés, and nonprofits, which are open with adapted operations. Join the list to promote your business to tens of thousands of Eastside residents.
Curbside Pickup Zones: In order to assist local restaurants and cafés, Bellevue's Transportation Department has established temporary, free Curbside Pickup Zones at several locations downtown, which will remain in place for the duration of this crisis. To request a Curbside Pickup Zone, contact Transportation.
Startup 425 is offering online workshops this summer on topics like starting a business, refining a business plan, managing finances and selling products online. These workshops are held in partnership with Greater Seattle SCORE, and are suitable both for current business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
REACH King County provides SizeUp, an online market research and business intelligence tool, free to local business owners and operators. The service can assist you in comparing your business to competitors, identifying demographic and psychographic information, and selecting the best places to target your marketing and promotional efforts. Reach out to REACH King County to begin using the SizeUp tool.
Grants and Loans
Amazon has established a Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund, which will provide assistance for businesses with fewer than 50 employees or $7 million in annual revenue, as well as a physical presence near Amazon's buildings in South Lake Union or downtown Bellevue. Funds are expected to be disbursed starting in early April.
GoFundMe.org is providing $500 grants to businesses which raise $500 or more in matching contributions on its platform.
Seattle Foundation has established a COVID-19 Response Fund, which will initially assist nonprofit organizations that work with communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its consequences. Please note that this fund will not initially assist nonprofits that have lost revenue, though this may be considered in the future.
Facebook has established a Small Business Grants Program to assist businesses in addressing the impacts of COVID-19. These grants include both cash grants and ad credits.
All in Seattle: Contributing millions to proven nonprofits that can deliver it to those most in need. All In Seattle
Paycheck Protection Program: The PPP offers eligible small businesses a very low-interest loan of up to $10 million (determined by payroll). Loan payments are deferred by six months, and if you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll and operating expenses. Contact our small business advisor if you need free, one-on-one assistance.
- This program is open to small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
- Loan applications must be made to a lender participating in the program, which may include your existing banker or lender.
- The loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.
- There are no prepayment fees, collateral requirements or personal guarantee requirements.
- Find more information on the sample application and on the Treasury Department's fact sheet.
- The application deadline is June 30.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program: On June 15, the SBA reopened applications for its EIDL program from small businesses, nonprofits, and sole-proprietors in all industries. Contact our small business advisor if you need free, one-on-one assistance.
- This program is open to small businesses, sole-proprietorships, and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees.
- Loan applications must be made directly to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Loans may be made in amounts up to $150,000 at a rate of 2.75% for nonprofits and 3.75% for small businesses.
- Small businesses may be eligible for a forgivable advance of up to $10,000 which can be approved quickly and is separate from the loan.
- The application deadline is December 31, although the program could close sooner if funds are exhausted.
Business Impact NW: provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it has compiled an outstanding set of COVID-19 resources, including free, one-on-one business coaching.
Craft3: provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it is allowing existing Craft3 clients to revise their loan agreements (i.e. due date extensions, temporary payment reductions, etc.).
Mercy Corps Northwest: offering clients loan payment deferrals.
Utilities, Taxes, Leases and Legal Help
Bellevue's Utilities Department is not disconnecting water service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment.
Puget Sound Energy is not disconnecting utility service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment. It will work with customers on options like payment plans and bill extensions.
Comcast Xfinity is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact Comcast.
CenturyLink is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact CenturyLink.
T-Mobile is not disconnecting small business customers due to inability to pay at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving any late fees that small business customers incur due to the COVID-19 situation. Eligible customers can find more information from T-Mobile.
The City of Bellevue will defer Q1 and Q2 local business and occupation (B&O) tax payments for certain small businesses until October. This applies to businesses with gross receipts of less than $5 million annually. Find more information in our press release.
The State Department of Revenue is offering filing extensions and penalty waivers for state-level B&O taxes. Eligible businesses can get more information and apply.
The federal Internal Revenue Service has announced an extension of the April 15 tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, regardless of the amount owed. The IRS can provide additional information.
The City does not offer legal advice. However, many leases have force majeure provisions, which offer limited protection in the event of unexpected circumstances. Businesses can proactively reach out to their commercial landlords if it appears that they will be unable to meet their lease obligations.
Communities Rise has established a Commercial Lease Amendment Toolkit, designed to assist small businesses and nonprofits as they negotiate with landlords for rent relief and extensions.
The King County Sheriff's Office has announced that until further notice, it will not enforce residential or commercial evictions. Evictions may, however, continue to be filed in the King County Superior Court.
Communities Rise is providing a virtual legal clinic to help small businesses and nonprofits navigate the issues they might experience as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers a free, 60-minute phone or video call consultation with a lawyer which can meet each specific business' needs.
Artists and Cultural Nonprofits
King County (4Culture) is providing a Cultural Relief Fund of $1 million to organizations and individual artists impacted by facility closures, event cancellations, and loss of work. Applications are reviewed weekly on a rolling basis, with quick approval of funds.
ArtsWA is providing rapid-response relief grants to nonprofit and fiscally-sponsored arts groups which are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program provides funding of up to $5,000 to support general operations. Funding is provided by the CARES Act through the National Endowment for the Arts.
Resources and Surveys
- NEW! Take the City of Bellevue's Arts and Culture Audience Participation Survey, offered in seven languages.
- Take the Statewide Cultural & Creative Economic Recovery Survey
- Artist Trust: financial assistance resources for artists, cultural and community organizations. Join Artist Trust's COVID-19 Response for Washington State Artists Facebook Group.
- Americans for the Arts: impact survey and resources
- National Endowment for the Arts: detailed resource list, including for specific crafts/trades
- Artwork Archive: financial assistance for artists affected by COVID-19
- COVID-19 Freelance Artists Resources: List
- Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Arts: resources for the performing arts
- King County: unemployment and financial help for creatives
- Artist Resource List: Google doc from Le Weatherman Sekuler
- ArtsFund: relief fund enables arts organizations to retain core functions and staff to reopen when possible.
- Artist Trust: relief fund rapid response grants supporting critical needs of artists.
- American Guild of Musical Artists: temporary financial assistance to members in need.
- CERF+: one-time $1,000 grants available to meet urgent food, housing and health insecurities. The grants will be awarded in two cycles: the application opens July 8th and the deadline for the first round will be July 29th, the second will be September 9th.
- Foundation for Contemporary Arts: Emergency Fund for eligible visual and performing artists. Average grant award totals about $1,600.
- Recording Academy MusiCares: short-term financial assistance for personal needs due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Sweet Relief: donor-directed assistance fund for short-term financial support for musicians and music industry workers
Employment, Workforce and Mitigation
WorkSource has compiled a long list of businesses in essential industries that are currently hiring, including displaced workers. Jobs include opportunities in grocery, retail, fulfillment, healthcare and janitorial.
Additionally, the Employment Security Department is currently (and quickly) hiring remote workers.
Unemployment and Insurance
Temporary rules expand unemployment benefits to cover more people, including many sole proprietors, contractors, artists, and gig workers. At present, these rules also provide an additional weekly COVID-19 impact payment of up to $600.
The Employment Security Department also administers the state's paid family/medical leave program, and has established detailed guides for your situation. The state is waiving the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8.
Washington Healthplanfinder, the state's health insurance exchange, has opened a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are or become uninsured. Some may be eligible for Apple Health (Medicaid). Healthplanfinder's FAQ
We understand that some businesses can continue and are continuing to operate. We have resources.
The Office of Gov. Inslee has established a detailed list of financial, export, insurance and workforce assistance which may be available for businesses and nonprofits.
The Washington Small Business Development Center has developed a detailed Business Resiliency Toolkit to help businesses plan and adapt to disasters. Additionally, the center is running resiliency webinars through this crisis.
Public Health Resources for Businesses
- COVID-19 resources and information (Greater Seattle Partners)
- Planning for a Coronavirus Pandemic: A Guide for Businesses (Public Health - Seattle & King County)
- Business resources and checklist (Centers for Disease Control)
- Instructions for Employers on Mitigating an Outbreak (Washington Department of Health)
- Model employer policies and resources (Business Health Trust)