For those in the events industry, we have definitely been impacted immediately with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Events have been cancelled and/or postponed and nightlife/hospitality clients are hurting financially during a time when restaurant margins are already extremely thin. Unemployment has hit a record 3.3 Million and counting in our country. The economy has come to an unprecedented standstill while numerous states have issued a stay-at-home shelter in place policy. What does this mean for you?
If you’re living in CA, we were the first state to have a statewide stay-at-home order that began on March 19th for at least 8 weeks. Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that 56% of Californians would ultimately contract COVID-19. Although he had omitted the context that this statistic was based on the assumption that nothing would be done to contain the virus, I’m grateful to have leadership that is taking this issue very seriously.
Most businesses have been shut down with the exception of what are considered to be essential services. The issue of gun stores however has been controversial, with the Governor’s office considering this an essential service while the LA Sheriff’s office has ordered all gun stores to be closed for fear of increased domestic violence and accidental gun deaths.
People are still permitted to go outside to exercise as long as they’re 6’ apart from each other (though Runyon Canyon was crowded as usual and began trending on Twitter a few days ago). Stores have been emptied of nearly all paper products – toilet paper, paper towels and Kleenex. Apparently people are starting to clog the plumbing systems with wipes and shirts. Does this mean that’s what they’re using in place of toilet paper?? Most stores have also run out of beer with the exception of Coronas (lol).
The LA Department of Transportation announced changes to parking enforcement, waiving violations for street sweeping, and expired vehicle registrations to name a few. Metered parking, colored curbs, and blocking emergency access will still be fined. For a more in-depth article on these updates click here, though this may change at any time. Check the most recent news articles for updates regarding parking.
At the time of this writing, the U.S. now has the most coronavirus cases worldwide, with 82,404 confirmed cases and counting. While we’re waiting for Congress to approve a $2.2 trillion relief package that was unanimously passed in the Senate and awaiting a House vote, there are some immediate actions you can take to address pressing concerns such as mortgages and student loan bills.
During a time when most of us don’t have a stockpile of savings, homeowners can speak with their mortgage servicer to implement a forbearance plan to avoid late fees and past-due payments. The same applies for credit card payments, you should contact your company to find different ways they will work with you during this difficult time. Many card issuers are allowing people to skip their next payment without interest.
If you’re concerned about student loan payments, borrowers should contact their loan servicer and request a forbearance. For federal loans, the Department of Education set interest rates to 0% for at least 60 days in addition to having the option to suspend two months’ worth of payments beginning on March 13, 2020. Borrowers can temporarily stop federal loan payments without concern of accruing interest. For private loans however, providers may offer forbearance with accrued interest. Ever loan service provider will differ in their policies and it’s best to contact them directly. Keep in mind that you have to initiate the request for all loan types in order to apply the changes.
For small businesses and retail tenants, many landlords are offering rent deferral for 90 days. Everyone is taking a hit. Businesses are shutting down, laying off employees, struggling to make payments, while the impact goes up the economic ladder. Landlords have difficulty collecting rents and the economy is tanking very quickly. Utility companies have said they will not cut off utility supplies to those who cannot make their payments. Further, the LA Department of Water and Power will resupply customers who’ve had their utilities turned off in the last 30 days, according to the LA Times. Included in Mayor Garcetti’s Public Order, no landlord can evict a residential tenant in the City of Los Angeles if they are unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. “Tenants will have up to six months following the expiration of the local emergency period to repay any back due rent.”
Homeless shelters are racing to house more people amid concerns that some already have the coronavirus. Governor Newsom is working to create a collection of leases with hotels that will temporarily provide housing and shelter for the homeless. Unique locations such as Salvation Army thrift stores and rec centers are also being used as temporary housing.
On March 18th, Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – an aid package that offers paid sick leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or are caring for patients who have the coronavirus, as well as free coronavirus testing. For self-employed individuals, the Act allows you to claim a refundable credit against your federal income-tax bill. You can also claim a coronavirus emergency family-leave credit for up to 50 days. The date for these credits would begin within 15 days of the March 18th date the law was signed.
Tomorrow at 9am, the House is expected to have a bipartisan vote approving the $2.2 Trillion aid package. This includes $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for unemployment aid and $100 billion or more for hospitals and health systems.
Under this pending legislation the government would provide $1200 payments to adults whose incomes are $75,000 or below. Children would each receive $500. The government has extended tax filing deadlines to July 15th, but if you’ve already filed your 2019 taxes the government will use the direct deposit information to send your payment or send it in the mail.
Every day is a new story and we’ll see how it unfolds. I know that we are a resilient country and will emerge from this stronger than before.
[Update 3.30.2020 – If you’re a sole proprietor, ESOP, cooperative or business with 500 employees or fewer you’re eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant that does not have to be paid back. This is based on a first-come first-served basis and has been allocated $10Billion in the new CARES Act signed last Friday March 27th. For instructions visit this informative video here .
There are also other benefits that are included in the CARES Act including a Paycheck Protection Program, a $1200 stimulus check per individual, and increased unemployment benefits of an additional $600 a week for up to 4 months, among others. ]
Apply for Unemployment with the Employment Development Department here.
Some online conferencing suggestions: Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Apple’s FaceTime
Publishers and audio book companies have offered free e-books for many children who are spending exponentially more time at home than they ever have. Penguin Random House and Audible are some of the companies offering free listens.