Refer to reopening guidance for businesses and workers from the Washington State Governor’s office to find guidance for your specific industry on how to reopen your business during the pandemic while continuing to protect public health. These documents are being updated regularly.
Business and Restaurant Requirements During COVID-19
The City of Seattle requires businesses to comply with health and safety guidelines outlined in the Washington Secretary of Health and the Washington Governor’s office’s guidelines on face coverings.
This rule requires every person in a business establishment to wear a protective face covering over their nose and mouth. Businesses must also comply with physical distancing, applicable guidelines and other personal protective behaviors required by the Governor’s statewide order. Violation of the statewide order is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $100 fine. Businesses with repeated and/or egregious offenses may also face additional penalties, including immediate suspension of their business license and criminal charges punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
If you have any questions, please call 206-684-2489 or visit For more information visit the city’s Business and Restaurant Requirements webpage. For in-language interpretation, or business support contact the Office of Economic Development (OED) at 206-684-8090.
City of Seattle Reopening Toolkits
The City of Seattle is offering guidance for businesses in various industries in several languages. These include guidance on the current phase of reopening, checklists and lists of resources to assist businesses in your industry. Visit their page: COVID-19 Reopening Your Business for more information.
King County Safe Start Supply Kits
King County and local business and chamber groups are offering free safe start up supply kits for businesses located in King County. These kits include 2 bottles of hand sanitizer, 200 disposable masks and 50 cloth masks. You can sign up to pick up these supplies on select dates here or you can have a kit shipped directly to you. Hand sanitizer is not included in the shipped kits.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The $2 trillion CARES Act passed by congress and signed by the president includes a number of investments for businesses and workers, including:
- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable. To help bring workers who may have already been laid off, the program can be retroactive to Feb. 15, 2020, so employees can return onto payrolls.
- Expanded federally-funded unemployment benefits workers who have been laid off or lost hours.
- Direct funding for state and local governments to help with the fiscal impact of COVID-19.
Note: while the initial round of funds for PPP ran out quickly, Congress recently approved an additional round of funding for this program. The SBA resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020. The deadline to apply for the most recent round of funding was August 8, 2020. This program is currently closed.
New Paycheck Protection Program Funding and Changes
In Jan. 2021, $284 billion was renewed for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and is now open to new and previous borrowers. This includes forgivable loans based on 2.5 times average monthly payroll if at least 60% of the loan is used for payroll. Businesses in Accomodation and Food Services industries may receive loans of up to 3.5 times average monthly payroll.
Additional eligible expenses under PPP include operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.
To be eligible for for PPP:
- Must be in business on or before Feb. 15, 2020.
- No more than 300 employees.
- Second time borrowers must be able to document 25% revenue reduction in gross receipts between 2019 – 2020.
- Eligible entities include businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veteran organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, small agricultural cooperatives, as well as 501(c)(6) and Destination Marketing Organizations.
Small Business Association Loans
In addition the PPP loans, the SBA has made loans available statewide to small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations to help alleviate economic injury caused by COVID-19. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to COVID-19.
Under CARES, the SBA’s existing Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) can provide an advance of up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties. These can help meet necessary financial obligations that a business could have met had the disaster not occurred.
SBA Express Bridge Loans enable small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
The SBA is also providing a financial reprieve through debt relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Seattle Office of Economic Development has offered assistance for businesses to access these loans. For information, visit their SBA Disaster Loan information page. For city assistance with this process, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program
This program is designed to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, but now need loans to help maintain their operations until they have recovered from, or adapted to, the impacts of the pandemic.
Loans originated under the program have several features that will help businesses facing challenges. The program offers 5-year loans, with floating rates, and principal and interest payments deferred. These loans range in size from $250,000 to $300 million.
See the program website for more information.
Extensions on Tax Filing
The Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) can work with impacted companies that request an extension on tax filing. The law grants the department authority to extend the due date for excise tax returns. A business may request such an extension from the department prior to the due date of the return and, if granted, the business would be allowed to delay reporting and paying its tax liability. If a business needs an extension of more than 30 days, the law requires the department to collect a deposit from the business. DOR may also waive penalties under limited circumstances if a business is late in paying its tax obligation. The state’s Employment Security Department has also developed rules to retain incomes for workers and stabilize businesses. For more information, consult the Washington State Department of Revenue COVID-19 response page.
Deferral of City Business and Operations Taxes
Effective immediately, the Department of Finance and Administrative Services will defer business and operations (B&O) collection for eligible business owners, allowing small business owners increased flexibility during a period of financial duress caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible businesses include those that have annual taxable income of $5 million or less and currently pay city taxes on a quarterly basis. Businesses will have until late 2020 to pay their B&O under this plan. To find out more, visit the city’s B&O information page.
Relief for Utility Payments
As announced earlier by Mayor Durkan, all Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light customers can set up deferred payment plans if their financial stability has been jeopardized by COVID-19. Residential and commercial customers can set up deferred payment plans if their financial stability has been jeopardized by COVID-19 by calling 206-684-3000 or using this form.
Expansion of Small Business Stabilization Fund
Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) expanded its Small Business Stabilization Fund to support income-qualified microbusinesses. To supplement the federal government’s relief effort, the city’s fund targeted outreach to microbusinesses in areas at high risk of displacement. Eligible business owners were able to access these funds regardless of immigration status.
The fifth round of funding is currently being organized. Expect 160-180 potential additional grants in mid 2021. Check their website for the latest updates on when applications might open to the public.
Keep Workers Healthy and Safe Fund
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce set up the Keep Workers Healthy and Safe Fund to provide immediate cash relief so small businesses can help keep workers healthy & safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance is designed to help employers continue to provide uninterrupted medical insurance for their employees and keep employees safe by offsetting the costs of additional sanitation and safety supplies.
Small Business Legal Support
Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has been working with Communities Rise to develop small business legal support services related to COVID-19 impacts.
COVID-19 Legal Clinic intake form for businesses who are interested in meeting with a lawyer for a free 60-minute consultation:
General criteria to receive the services:
- Must be a business with 50 employees or less
- Must be a business adversely impacted by COVID-19
- Must be a Washington State business
Communities Rise offers phone interpretation support in many different languages. If interpretation support is needed, please be sure to select the language you need in the intake form.
Extension to SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan
The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) has been extended through Dec. 31, 2021. EIDL can provide an advance of up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties. These can help meet necessary financial obligations that a business could have met had the disaster not occurred. Businesses that previously received the loan can reapply to receive the balance up to $10,000. The EIDL advance is no longer deducted from PPP forgiveness amount.
EIDL is utilized for operations expenses only. Payments are deferred on year from loan funding. For more information, visit this link.
Grants for Shuttered Live Venue Operators
$15 billion in grants have been allocated for live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, movie theater operators, and talent representatives who can show at least 25% reduction in revenue. Initial grants of up to $10 million to an entity to be used for expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and PPE.
For the first 14 days of implementation of the program, grants shall only be awarded to entities with 90% or greater revenue loss. Second 14 days of implementation grants shall only be awarded to entities with 70% or greater revenue loss. After these two periods, grants shall be awarded to all other eligible entities.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
Those who receive PPP can now also qualify for Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) for wages that are not forgiven by PPP. The ERTC is a reduction in the amount due on 941/940 tax forms of up to 70% of qualified wages. Additional information can be found here.