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.

Guidance on Reopening:

  • Governor DeSantis’s Full Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, executive order 20-113:  https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-123.pdf
    • Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six foot space between tables and indoor seating at 50% capacity.
    • Retail can operate at 50% of indoor capacity.
    • Gyms and Fitness Centers may operate at 50% capacity.
    • Museums and libraries may operate at 50% capacity.
    • Bars remain closed.
    • Barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures as outlined by the DBPR may open May 11.
    • Vacation rentals- County may seek approval and submit safety plan (Bay County plan approved May 19).
    • Amusement parks- may submit reopening plan with endorsement from county.
    • Schools remain distance learning.
    • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited.
    • Elective surgeries can resume.
    • Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home.
    • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.
    • Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing.
    • Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions and where you can’t social distance.
  • 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.
  • Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments: View the US Food and Drug Administration’s Best Practices for Reopening Food Establishments https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/best-practices-re-opening-retail-food-establishments-during-covid-19-pandemic This includes checklists, signs and Q&As.
  • Communications Resources: The CDC offers a toolkit of communications tools including print resources, images, resources for travelers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/index.html

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 CLOSED): 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 (PROGRAM CLOSED): 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: 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.

Beaches and Recreation:

  • 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.