The Puget Sound region is currently in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington program, which allows for some increased activity.
- Reach out to our Business Response Team to begin prepping materials for a first- or second-draw PPP loan, a Shuttered Venue Operator (SVO) Grant, or if you would like to discuss other financial assistance options.
- Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on relief resources.
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:
- 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 and on-street dining spaces in certain areas of downtown Bellevue
- Adapted our Eastside Arts Partnership and Special Projects arts programs to allow for early invoicing and payment.
- Awarded more than $600,000 in relief grants for Bellevue's small businesses and nonprofits.
We continue to monitor the situation, and are developing additional resources and tools. Most importantly, 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.
Current Restrictions on Activity: "Healthy Washington"
Governor Jay Inslee has announced that if current trends continue, and if 70% of Washingtonians initiate vaccination to protect against COVID-19, then Washington will remove most capacity restrictions on businesses and social activity on June 30. Some requirements for businesses with regard to sanitation and social distancing are expected to remain.
Restrictions in Phase 3
The restrictions listed below are the bare minimum requirements. Businesses must follow all of the state's restrictions.
- Indoor social gatherings with those outside your household are limited to ten (10) people from outside of your household. Outdoor gatherings are limited to fifty (50) people.
- Restaurants and bars may open indoor dining at 50% capacity with a 12PM close. Dining must be limited to tables of no more than ten (10) people.
- In-store retail is limited to 50% capacity with curbside pickup strongly encouraged.
- Fitness facilities and gyms may open at 50% capacity. Outdoor fitness classes are permitted with no more than five (5) people.
- Movie theaters may open at 50% capacity and must enforce dining restrictions if food is served.
- Indoor entertainment facilities (such as museums, theaters, and aquariums) may open at 50% capacity and must enforce dining restrictions if food is served.
- Outdoor entertainment facilities (such as zoos, gardens, and concert venues) may allow ticketed events.
- Personal services (i.e. nail salons, barbers, etc.) are limited to 50% capacity.
- Professional services (i.e. office environments) must require that employees work from home if possible. If this is not possible, office space is capped at no more than 50% capacity.
Mask Mandate and Violations
On May 18, the mask mandate was modified to allow fully-vaccinated individuals to go without a mask in most settings, except public transportation and healthcare settings. The mask mandate still applies for unvaccinated individuals. If you are unvaccinated, find a vaccine at the DOH's website. Additionally, businesses are no longer required to require their customers to wear face coverings, although they may require face coverings if they wish.
Safe Start guidance is enforced by the State of Washington. To report a business you believe may be violating the Safe Start guidance and public health orders, visit coronavirus.wa.gov.
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
Grants and Loans
Working Washington Round 4 opens to new applications on March 29. The program provides grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses which have been required to close or which have lost significant revenue as a result of the pandemic.
GSBA's Ready for Business Fund is now open to applications. The fund will provide $2,500 cash grants to selected small businesses, with priority given to businesses most heavily-impacted by COVID-19, including LGBTQ+, BIPOC-, and women-owned businesses. Applications close Friday, April 9.
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.
Forgivable Loans and Federal Relief
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Applications for first- and second-draw PPP loans are now open. PPP loans offer favorable loan terms and are forgivable after twelve (12) weeks. You can apply directly through your existing commercial lender. Contact our small business advisor for free, one-on-one assistance and to begin prepping materials.
- PPP loans have a 1% interest rate and a maturity of 2-5 years.
- No personal or collateral guarantees are required.
- Most small businesses and 501(c)3 organizations are eligible.
PPP Forgiveness: Businesses which received a loan should immediately start planning for the forgiveness process. OneRedmond has a great on-demand webinar to walk you through the process.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program: The SBA has 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.
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.
Artists and Cultural Nonprofits
Funding programs for the arts are changing quickly. Please sign up for our weekly COVID-19 resources newsletter and visit the Bellevue Arts Program's Instagram page for the latest information about available relief funding.
Shuttered Venue Operator (SVO) Grant Program
The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by the December 2020 federal relief package. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.
Resources and Surveys
- 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
- 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
- Artist Resource List: Google doc from Le Weatherman Sekuler
- American Guild of Musical Artists: temporary financial assistance to members in need.
- 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
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.
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.
The City of Bellevue deferred Q1 and Q2 local business and occupation (B&O) tax payments for certain small businesses until October. This applied to businesses with gross receipts of less than $5 million annually. Q3 payments must be made on time. 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 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.
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.
Unemployment and Insurance
Temporary rules expand unemployment benefits to cover more people, including many sole proprietors, contractors, artists, and gig workers.
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.
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)