California Enters Stage 2 of Reopening and Other Coronavirus News

California Enters Stage 2 of Reopening

California has entered Stage 2 of its four-stage reopening. Under Stage 2, curbside retail, manufacturing plants and offices are allowed to operate with restrictions.

For the California construction industry, Stage 2 doesn’t represent much of a change perhaps with the exception of manufacturing supply chains, although construction supply chains were arguably already exempt.

While construction in California is permitted, project owners and contractors should check their local, and, in particular, county health departments, for any job safety requirements such as the “Construction Projects Safety Protocols” currently required in the Bay Area.

Federal/State Workplace Safety Guidance for Construction

On May 12, 2020, CalOSHA issued guidance for the construction industry entitled COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Construction. The Guidance addresses worksite specific plans, employee training, individual control measures and screening, and other topics. The Guidance is in addition to CalOSHA’s Safety and Health Guidance issued on May 13, 2020 entitled COVID-19 Infection prevention in Construction.

To date, OSHA hasn’t issued any industry-specific guidance for the construction industry although it had earlier issued an OSHA Alert with “tips” for the construction industry.  General guidance applicable to all workplaces has been released by OSHA entitled Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

Guidance from both CalOSHA and OSHA reference guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including social distancing, use of face coverings, and workplace hygiene.

SBA Issues Loan Forgiveness Form and Instructions

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”), the construction industry received the most of any industry sectors of first round funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), accounting for approximately 13 percent of all loans approved, representing approximately $45 billion of the $349 billion allocated in the first round of funding of the PPP program.

If you were one of the lucky firms who obtained a PPP loan, on May 15, 2020, the SBA issued its anxiously awaited PPP loan forgiveness form and instructions. Under the PPP program, for loan funds to be forgiven, they must be used to pay for eligible expenses during the eight (8) weeks after loan funds are received including payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, 75% of loan funds must be used for payroll, and you must maintain (or increase) you number of employees.

Some changes may be brewing however as small businesses complain that the eight (8) week period to use loan funds is too short. Bills pending in the House and Senate would extend the the eight (8) week period from 16 weeks to 24 weeks and eliminate or revise the 75% rule.

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