COVID-19 Updates

The Bay County Chamber of Commerce wants to provide you with as much information as we can regarding COVID-19. On this page you can find local and state government updates, business closures, resources and more. Check in periodically as information related to the Novel Coronavirus is subject to change.

6/20/20

Florida Department of Health Issues Additional Public Health Advisory

~Advises wearing masks in public, encourages elderly and vulnerable populations to limit interactions outside of the home, and urges all individuals to refrain from participating in gatherings of more than 50 people~http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2020/05/062020-1640-covid19.pr.html

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, visit http://bay.floridahealth.gov/ for more information and testing options.

The Bay County Chamber currently has masks available. These masks are courtesy of the Florida Chamber and are available in limited supply. They are available to businesses for your employees. We ask that your request only be for the quantity that you absolutely need. Masks must be reserved in advance by calling 850-785-5206. Your order will be assembled and placed outside of the Chamber building for pick-up at our front entrance with your company name attached from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The building is closed and advance notice of your need is required. Please know that this is an effort to help keep our businesses open to provide products and services to the community.

Damage Assessment Surveys: The Bay County Chamber has conducted Damage Assessment Surveys during each phase of reopening.  Click to view Phase 1 Reopening Results and Phase 2 Reopening Results.

Guidance on Reopening:

Governor DeSantis’s Phase 3: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, Executive Order 20-244 (effective September  25, 2020): Presentation

Employers

  • Telework
    • Employees should resume unrestricted staffing of worksites and implement the final phasing in of employees returning to work. For vulnerable populations, teleworking can be considered.
  • Employee Screening
    • Employers should take prudent and practical measures to ensure employees do not enter the premises if they believe they are infected with COVID-19 or show symptoms of inuenza like illness.
  • Travel
    • Employees should resume non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
  • Local Government Meetings
    • These meetings should return to in-person quorum and public participation for local government bodies.

Restaurants, Bars, Pubs

  • Bars, pubs, and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of sales from alcohol should operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus should be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use.
  • Restaurants and food service establishments may operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should continue to be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus shall be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use.

Gyms

  • Gyms and fitness centers should open to full capacity but should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation.

Retail

  • Operators of retail businesses should operate at full capacity but should continue to maintain adequate sanitation practices for employees and patrons.

Entertainment Businesses

  • Entertainment businesses, including by not limited to movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades, may operate at full capacity but should continue to maintain adequate sanitation practices for employees and patrons.

Personal Services Businesses

  • Personal services businesses, including but not limited to tattoo parlors, acupuncture establishments, tanning salons and massage establishments may operate while adhering to guidance from the Florida Department of Health.
  • Personal Services Businesses, such as cosmetology salons, barber shops and nail salons, should operate under full capacity but should consider the following mitigation measures:
    •  Continue to maintain adequate sanitation practices for employees and patrons.
    •  Regularly clean and disinfect working stations and equipment between interactions with customers to the greatest frequency feasible.
    • Remove all unnecessary, frequent-touch items such as magazines, newspapers, service menus, any other unnecessary paper products and décor from customer service areas.

Guidance­

  • Vulnerable Populations
    • Individuals older than 65 years of age and individuals with a serious underlying medical condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immune-compromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed. Vulnerable populations should affirmatively inform their employer that they are a member of the vulnerable population so that their employer can plan accordingly.
  • Social Gatherings
    • Non-vulnerable populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.
  • Travel
    • Non-essential travel may continue.

State Resources/Guidance:

  • Safer At Home: Please click here for Governor DeSantis’s latest Executive Order 20-91 re: Safer At Home. This document link includes, Executive Order 20-91, Safer At Home; U.S. Department of Homeland Security Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during COVID-19 (v.2, March 28, 2020) and Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 07-20. This order contains a list of essential businesses that may still operate.
    • Click here for a list of FAQ’s regarding Exec Order 20-91, Essential Services and Activity during COVID-19.
  • Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers: Florida is using The Department of Homeland Security’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers. Click here to view the list, which includes a downloadable pdf at the bottom.
  • FAQ’s on Restaurant Operations/Alcoholic Beverage Vendors from the Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation, Executive Order 20-71:  http://www.pcbgov.com/Home/Components/News/News/3330/18?backlist=%2fhome
  • Emergency Business Damage Assessment Survey: Governor DeSantis activated an Emergency Business Damage Assessment Survey for COVID-19. This survey can be taken online.
  • Loans/Grants
    • FL Emergency Bridge Loan (Program reopened on June 15th): Governor DeSantis activated an Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses impacted by COVID-19. Small Business owners with 2-100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short term loans. For more information on the program, click here. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at (866) 737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.
    • Northwest Florida SBDC Grant Program (Will continue after deadline until funds depleted): Gulf Power, in partnership with the Florida SBDC at UWF, has created the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program. To see eligibility requirements and download an application, click here.
  • Governor’s Media Advisories: If you are interested in receiving Gov. DeSantis’s media advisories and press releases, email a request to media@eog.myflorida.com.
  • Governor’s Executive Orders: Click here to view all 2020 Executive Orders.
  • FL Department of Revenue: FAQ’s for businesses with sales tax accounts, file/pay sales taxes.
  • FL Dept. of Economic Opportunity: Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide – COVID-19 (updated April 18)
    http://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/new-individual-faq-includes-cares-act-final.pdf?sfvrsn=5f2547b0_14
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) (includes gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed): PUA is available to individuals whose employment has been lost or disrupted due to COVID19 who is not ordinarily eligible for state Reemployment Assistance. http://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/cares-act/applying-for-pua-and-faq-04-26-20.pdf?sfvrsn=84b746b0_2

Federal Resources/Guidance:

  • Paycheck Protection Program: (Deadline to apply is August 8) Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. Visit https://home.treasury.gov/cares.
  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This program provides unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible under Florida’s state Reemployment Assistance program, including independent contractors and individuals who are self-employed. Individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19 and believe they may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, can visit www.FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim” to apply and be considered for PUA.
  • Independent Contractor’s Guide to Cares Act Relief: If you are an independent contractor or self-employed individual, you may be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans/grants, SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and/or Unemployment Compensation for losses of income related to the coronavirus pandemic. Please click here.
  • Economic Impact Payments: The IRS has introduced the Get My Payment program. This will allow you to check your payment status and update bank account information if needed. Click here!
  • Federal Unemployment Insurance: The U.S. Department of Labor’s website provides information on federal unemployment including FAQS.
    https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#faqs
  • U.S. Small Business Administration Guidance for BusinessesClick here for information on Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Debt Relief and SBA Express Bridge Loans.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL): Click here to view the U.S. Chamber’s Guide to SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), including how to access an emergency $10,000 grant.
  • CDC Guidance for Businesses and EmployersClick here for the latest guidance for businesses to plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19.
  • Avoid Coronavirus Scams: Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for information for consumers to avoid coronavirus scams, business guidance during coronavirus, types of scams and how to report a scam.  https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice
  • IRS: Main Page for Coronavirus Tax Relief Information
  • IRS: FAQ on the Employee Retention Credit in the CARES Act
  • Treasury Department : FAQ Employee Retention Credit
  • Department of Labor:  Resources for COVID-19 and the American Workplace
  • Department of Labor: Temporary Rule on Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Summary
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Save Small Business Fund: Click here to find information on the the Save Small Business Fund.
  • U.S. Sen. Rick Scott COVID-19 FAQs/Resources:  Please click here for help for small businesses, individuals, relief for students, support for health care and emergency management workers and support for aging and disabled.
  • CDC Guidance on Preparing for Hurricanes During the COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/prepare-for-hurricane.html
  • FEMA APP: Download the FEMA mobile appfor disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. Available in English and Spanish, the app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.

Beaches and Recreation:

  • Mask Ordinances: The City of Panama City Beach City Council passed an emergency ordinance on July 23 requiring customers and employees in businesses to wear a face mask to stop the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance, goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, July 27. The ordinance applies to indoor businesses including retail, restaurants, bars, indoor amusements, hotel/motel public indoor areas, etc. It does not apply to outdoor businesses, the beach and around swimming pools. Six-foot social distancing should be followed while in line waiting to enter businesses and in the check-out line. Businesses (within the city limits) are also required to post signs at all public entry points.                        PCB city limits map      Posters for businesses    Panama City Beach’s ordinance
  • Vacation Rentals: Effective immediately (May 19, 2020), Vacation Rentals are permitted to open pursuant to the County’s Safety Plan. Click here to view Bay County’s Revised Vacation Rental Opening Plan. FL DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshear’s approval of the plan is available here.
  • Vacation Rental Reservations:  The Bay County Safety Plan states, “Vacation rentals reservations and stays will be allowed from all U.S. states with a COVID-19 Case Rate less than 500 cases/100K residents as of May 14, 2020. Vacation rental reservations, from areas identified by Governor DeSantis as high risk, through Executive Orders, must be for periods longer than the quarantine period established in that Order. Guests occupying those vacation rentals must adhere to the quarantine restrictions or be subject to established criminal and civil penalties.” View Bay County’s Safety Plan for opening short term rentals. Click here!
  • Unincorporated Bay County Beaches: On April 30, 2020, the Bay County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to reopen the portion of Panama City Beach that is under their authority, beginning Friday, May 1. There will not be any restrictions but beach-goers will still have to follow restrictions set forth by Governor DeSantis. This means that people cannot gather in groups of more than 10 and should at least six feet apart from others.
  • Panama City Beach: On April 30, 2020, the City of Panama City Beach City Council approved reopening the sandy beach beginning Friday, May 1. There will not be any restrictions but beach-goers will still have to follow restrictions set forth by Governor DeSantis. This means that people cannot gather in groups of more than 10 and should at least six feet apart from others.
  • Mexico Beach: On May 1, 2020 Mexico Beach City council members voted to reopen their beach with no restrictions. You must still follow the CDC’s guidelines on the sand.
  • Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities: Click here for CDC guidance for protecting yourself and others while visiting parks and rec facilities.
  • Public Pools, Hot Tubs and Water Playgrounds: Click here for guidance on what local governments, apartments, hotels and condos can do to maintain healthy operations at aquatic venues.

Community Resources:

  • CareerSource Gulf Coast: For those seeking Unemployment Compensation/Reemployment Assistance, Employment Services or Businesses looking for Qualified Candidates, visit CareerSource Gulf Coast’s website. Be sure to check out their COVID-19 webpage for the latest updates and how to apply for Reemployment Assistance.
  • CARES ACT: Click here for the Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act and Q&A.
  • Veterans: Click here for COVID-19 resources for Veterans.
  • Interactive Locater Maps: Bay County Geographical Information Systems (GIS) has created online interactive locator maps that outline important COVID-19 information such as where to find testing sites – including new beach locations – food pantries, feeding sites and open daycare centers. Visit https://www.baycountyfl.gov/QuickLinks.aspx?CID=91 to view the maps.
  • Alerts: Text bayhealth to 888-777 to receive alerts on your phone.
  • Cleaning your Home: CDC offers guidance on how to clean and disinfect a variety of surfaces including soft surfaces, electronics and more. Click here for more information.

Bay County Municipalities:

To find out more information on how your municipality is operating business during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit their website or Facebook page.