Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association Response to the Current Issues Surrounding COVID-19
March 22, 2020
As you are all aware, the country is in the throes of an unprecedented response to a contagious virus. As our federal and state governments are responding aggressively to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses will be disrupted in some manner. We want to support our members during this time and have developed a list of guidelines we hope will be helpful in protecting the health of our members, their families, and consumers.
We recommend heeding the guidance provided by your state and federal agencies in preventing the spread of COVID-19, The President's Coronavirus Guidelines, and CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19). While we must all work together to help prevent the spread of the virus, there are many instructions from state leaders on business closures. If you remain open, we recommend the following precautions to help protect the well-being of your staff and customers.
• Maintain recommended social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet.
• No more than 10 people (including staff) allowed in establishments at a time, based on the size of your store/square footage, so that your customers may maintain 6 feet of separation from each other.
• Remove any and all sampling stations and bottles from the counter. Do not allow sampling at all.
• No handling of customers' items — coils, glass etc.
• Do not allow customers to handle store merchandise prior to purchase.
• Develop disinfecting and cleaning protocols to reduce exposure for both customers and employees. You can reference the EPA's disinfectant guidelines here.
• Encourage employees to wear protective gloves and to change them between interactions.
• Offer and encourage customers to use shipping, delivery, pickup, or curbside options.
• No loitering. Close all lounge areas.
• Enforce CDC recommendations regarding hand washing for all staff.
• Have hand sanitizer available.
• Recommend that staff wash hands and disinfect areas between helping patrons.
• Require anyone that is ill or has been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home and seek medical attention.
• Allow any staff who can work remotely from home to do so.
The following federal actions took place this week:
H.R. 6201 - the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a supplemental appropriation, provides paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expands food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requires employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers. The bill also provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations for critical food assistance programs and nutrition programs.
Economic Relief Package. The Trump Administration also proposed another plan, billed at about $1 trillion, to further stem the tide of an economic downturn. This proposal is being negotiated in the Senate currently and is expected to be voted on by Monday. Many states are putting packages together to help stem the pain small businesses will feel. This will take the form of some sort of SBA loan so visit your state economic development agency to see if there is relief available.
Additionally, many states are enacting orders for citizens to stay at home and have already closed or are closing non-essential businesses. There are exemptions to these orders on a per case basis, so check your local state's sites for announcements. SFATA is working on a response to assist with exemptions as an essential business. Please reach out to us for help.
To help American families and businesses, the Treasury Department announced that Tax Day will be moved from April 15 to July 15. No interest or penalties will be charged for filing during this extended window, but any American expecting refunds or credits may claim now to get their money sooner.
To minimize the impact on our nation's students, the Department of Education is temporarily waiving all interest on federally held student loans. Secretary Betsy DeVos has also directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60 days.
We are all in this together, so be safe. We will come through and out of this together.
Wishing you all health and safety,