New COVID-19 Updates

Please see below for an overview of the Governor’s Order, Congressional action, assistance on SBA loans, tax filings, etc.

Gov. John Bel Edwards Issues “Stay At Home” Order

Governor John Bel Edwards announced a statewide “Stay at Home” order Sunday in response to the growing number of cases of Coronavirus in Louisiana. The Governor’s order takes effect Monday, March 23, at 5:00pm and runs through Sunday, April 12. Louisianans are required to STAY HOME except to obtain food, medicine, medical care, or visit family, engage in certain safe outdoor activities, or go to work in an “essential” industry sector. To read the Governor’s entire proclamation, click HERE.

With regard to business closures, the Governor’s Order makes three distinctions:

  1. Closes specific types of businesses, including malls, places of amusement, and all personal care and grooming services. Still, these closed companies may engage in necessary business activities such as payroll, cleaning, and routine maintenance and upkeep.
     
  2. Designates businesses that may remain open pursuant to federal guidelines for “essential” businesses, as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the US Department of Homeland Security. Under Governor Edwards’ directive, “essential” businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations, will remain operational. In addition, restaurants will be able to stay open for takeout and drive-through orders. For the full list of essential industries and occupations, read CISA guidance here. It is worth noting that businesses and manufacturers deemed essential to the state’s supply chain, such as construction and energy, are also allowed to continue work. To see a list of these businesses, click HERE for additional guidance from the Governor’s office. 
     
  3. Authorizes all businesses not specifically required to close or listed as “essential” to reduce operations to essential employees, put measures in place to ensure minimal contact with customers and follow the guidelines on social distancing and limiting groups to no more than 10 people. 

You can find answers to some frequently asked questions about the Governor’s order here. For more information, visit the Coronavirus page on the Governor’s Office website. 

LABI Urges Congress to Quickly Pass More Aid for Employers and Workers

Our team at LABI is encouraged by the additional aid promised by Congress and the President in the past few days. Cash flow for small businesses continues to be a top concern, as many hope to stave off layoffs. LABI urges our Congressional delegation to act swiftly to pass the COVID Phase 3 legislation known as the CARES Act.

As introduced in the Senate late this week, the CARES Act seeks to provide between $1 and $2 trillion in aid for the US economy. As drafted, the bill provides:

  • Direct financial aid through “recovery checks” to most American households
  • Rapid relief for small businesses and their workers in the form of forgivable loans for payroll
  • More support for hospitals and front-line health care workers to address supply shortages, speed vaccine development and encourage telehealth.

Read a summary of the CARES Act here. Negotiations have continued throughout the weekend, but stalled late Sunday. LABI urges the Senate to take up this bill as soon as possible.

COVID-19 News Update

The Advocate: Louisiana issues statewide stay-at-home order to combat coronavirus spread; see details here

Politico: Senate fails to advance coronavirus rescue package

The New York Times: The U.S. Shut Down Its Economy. Here’s What Needs to Happen in Order to Restart

The Wall Street Journal: The Worst of the Global Selloff Isn’t Here Yet, Banks and Investors Warn

LABI Member Survey Reveals COVID-19 Impact Tell us How You’re Affected, Take the Survey Below

In an effort to understand the affects of COVID-19 on Louisiana’s employers, LABI is surveying our members to best relay needs and concerns to decision makers at the state and federal government.

At the end of the first week, results reveal a profound impact in those surveyed with only 7.5% saying it’s business as usual with few interruptions.About half have seen a decline in business, some more rapid that others, 60% have canceled or postponed events and conferences, and 6.5% tell us they’ve paused operation entirely. About 3% say they’ve actually seen an increase in business, and a quarter of those surveyed says they’ve sent non-essential personnel home to work remotely.

So how is your business affected? Take the survey and let us know, so we can better advocate for you as we move forward together.

IRS Extends Income Tax Filing Deadline to July 15

As part of the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus crisis, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the IRS will be extending the deadline for businesses and individuals to file income tax returns to July 15. The IRS is also waiving all penalties and interest during the three-month extension period. 

Earlier this week, the IRS issued guidance allowing all individual tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments originally due on April 15 to July 15 without penalties or interest. Similarly, the new deadline for corporate tax payments up to $10 million is also July 15. 

For more tax information, visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website

Louisiana Department of Revenue Extends Sales Tax Filing Deadline

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued a two-month extension, to May 20, for businesses to file returns for their sales and excise taxes that were originally due today.  

According to LDR’s official announcement, the extension will apply to sales, beer, and wine excise tax returns and payments for the February 2020 period. In addition, the Department will be waiving penalties and interest for returns and payments received by the extended deadline.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Offers Tax Payment Deferral  For Employers

The Louisiana Workforce Commission announced today that due to the COVID-19 crisis, employers across the state can receive a deferral from paying their first quarter 2020 unemployment taxes until June 30. 

It is worth noting that LWC’s announcement does not affect the filing deadline for business wage and tax reports, which is still set for April 30. 

See LWC’s official announcement for more information.

Information from the Louisiana Department of Health

With 837 cases of the Coronavirus confirmed across 36 parishes (Orleans, Jefferson, St. James, Caddo, St. Tammany, East Baton Rouge, Bossier, Lafourche, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Terrebonne, Lafayette, St. John the Baptist, Ascension, St. Landry, Washington, West Baton Rouge, Acadia, Assumption, Avoylles, Beauregard, Bienville, Calcasieu, Catahoula, Claiborne, DeSoto, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Livingston, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Rapides, St. Mary, Tangipahoa, Webster) the Louisiana Department of Health has resources available for the state’s business community.  

  • To see LDH’s Guidance for Business and Employers, click HERE

In addition, LDH has also made printable items available that can be placed around your place of business and company facilities.  

For more information, visit LDH’s coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the coronavirus in our state.

Recommendations for Louisiana Businesses

As you look to pass accurate information to your workers and make important decisions regarding business operations, a good place to start is with the CDC’s recommended business strategies, which include:

  1. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
  2. Separate sick employees.
  3. Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees.
  4. Perform routine environmental cleaning.
  5. Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps.

For more information, see below or visit the website of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, for a variety of other resources, fact sheets and fliers regarding COVID-19 including:

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