The Latest Info for Restaurants in Wisconsin

Coronavirus - Resources for Restaurants

Susan Quam

For more information, contact:

Susan Quam | Executive Vice President

squam@wirestaurant.org

Dawn Faris

For more information, contact:

Dawn Faris | Vice President, Exposition & Business Development

dfaris@wirestaurant.org

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Reopening Resources

Currently in Wisconsin, restrictions to stem the pandemic are being issued at the local level with the exception of the statewide mask mandate that goes into effect on August 1st. The situation is still very fluid and things can change very quickly. Local health departments (counties and municipalities) can legally issue an emergency order to continue Safer at Home provisions within your area.  It’s imperative to keep an eye on what’s going on in your city and county to ensure that you are not in violation of local mandates, opening yourselves up to fines and license revocation. We encourage you to check directly with your local health department for the latest information for your area and check in often as regulations can change quickly. See List of Local Health Departments

Keep in mind that if restaurants and bars in your area do not do a good job with implementing reopening best practices, local health departments will likely take action to impose stay at home closures for your area. It takes just a couple of bad examples to drive public concern.

On the flip side, customers need to make good decisions on what is best for them and their personal situation. In a press release sent out statewide, WRA urged customers to be patient and understanding as restaurants make decisions that are best for their business, their employees, their customers and their communities.

We encourage restaurants to check out the Wisconsin Promise program and other helpful resources developed by WRA as well as the state guidelines released by WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation) and guidelines from the FDA on our website.

More Info
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Covid-19 Toolkit

WRA has been taking calls from restaurant operators and gathering resources from a variety of sources since the COVID-19 crisis began.  We have taken all of the information that we have gathered and created a guide with tips to help foodservice operators.  We hope you find this to be a useful tool. Even if you get just a couple good ideas, it will have been worth it.

Download the PDF (English)

Download the PDF (Spanish)

SUPPLIERS OFFERING CORONAVIRUS-RELATED GOODS/SERVICES

Suppliers are essential in helping restaurants survive and thrive. We're maintaining a list of suppliers who are partners of the WRA and offering goods and services that are critical during the Coronavirus crisis. Some are also offering special discounts. We'll continue to add to the list so check back often.

Learn More Here

How to Get Started with Delivery

As restaurants deal with this unprecedented time and a ban on in-person dining, food delivery is in high demand. Many businesses are struggling with how to move into this business model. This guide includes some of the most important things to know if you want to start delivering or increase the capacity of an existing delivery system.

Download the Delivery Guide

Download the Delivery Guide – Spanish Version

Food Safety Supplement

Chef with Tablet

Employee Resources

The crisis caused by the world pandemic from COVID-19 has caused many to lose their jobs within the restaurant industry. We honor and support all employees and know that this is incredibly difficult for you and your families. We are committed to trying to provide helpful resources for employees and options to consider.

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Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

In the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) set up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The fund will provide $500 grants to restaurant industry employees who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Individuals must meet eligibility requirements. 

Due to an overwhelming response of more than 60,000 applicants, the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund is not currently accepting new applications. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation team is working hard to respond to applicants and process applications. They have awarded more than 25,000 grants to date.

Apply or Donate Online

Please follow the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation on Facebook or on Twitter at @NRAEF for the most immediate information, how to apply for this fund & for any other questions you may have regarding this.

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EMPLOYEES WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 OR HAVE BEEN EXPOSED

Are you grappling with the issue of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive? You're not alone. Our Ask WRA Team has received quite a few questions from restaurant operators about this topic.  WRA provides resources with the latest guidance on how to handle the situation.

More Info

Coronavirus and Restaurants FAQ

Teen Labor

My student employee is attending virtual learning classes.  When can this student work?

Scheduling teens during these types of arrangements and these special circumstances will be challenging. Much is determined first by the student’s age:

For ages 14 and 15:

Under Federal law and State law, teens, ages 14 and 15 cannot work during school hours that are established by the school district. There are exceptions of course such as Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs and Work-Study Programs**. Under Federal law, “school hours” are determined by the local public school in the area the minor is residing while employed. “School hours” refers to the hours established by the school district during the regularly scheduled school year and not the hours the individual child is required to attend. 

Once the school district establishes the school hours for example 9am-4pm, 14- and 15-year-olds can only work outside of those hours (subject to the exceptions).

**Special provisions apply to students participating in a state sponsored Work Experience and Career Exploration Program or Work-Study Program authorized by the Department of Labor in accordance with §§ 570.36 or 570.37 of Regulations 29 CFR Part 570.

14- and 15-year-olds

  • After Labor Day through May 31, may not work before 7am or after 7pm.
  • Between June 1 and Labor Day, may not work before 7am or after 9pm.
  • May not work during the school hours established by the school district in the area the minor is residing while employed.
  • May not work more than 6 days a week.
  • May work up to 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on non-school days.
  • May work up to 18 hours during school weeks and 40 hours during non-school weeks.
  • Must receive a 30-minute meal break if working more than 6 consecutive hours. Break may be unpaid.
  • Must have a work permit prior to beginning work. Work permit holiday currently in place until October 26, 2020 – More information here.  

16- and 17-year-olds

There are currently no Federal laws applying to 16- and 17-year-olds regarding limits on number of work hours per day or week.  All employers in Wisconsin must follow State laws.   

  • May not work during hours of required school attendance.  
  • Must have 8 hours of rest between the end of one shift and the start of the next shift if employed after 11:00pm.
  • Must receive a 30-minute meal break if working more than 6 consecutive hours.  Break may be unpaid.
  • Must be paid overtime for any hours over 10 in a day, even if they work less than 40 in the week.

According to the officials at the Department of Workforce Development, a 16- or 17-year-old is allowed to work at times during the day when school attendance is not required. It is best to obtain documentation from the school district where the employee lives if attendance on a certain day of the week or within normal school hours is not required. For example during this remote learning environment, if check in is required only from 8am-10am on a given day, that student employee may be allowed to work after 10am. But again, this will differ between each school district so have documentation from the school if you plan to schedule this student employee. This allowance applies only to 16- and 17-year-olds.


What is considered a school week or school day for my student employee?

If school is requiring the student to perform some type of remote or virtual learning during any day of the week, that becomes a school week and that day becomes a school day.   If the school district is completely shut down for a day or a week, then that is a non-school day or week and you are free to schedule that student employee as needed.   One school district in our area provides each Wednesday as a “student Independent learning day” and this day is still part of the school week so no work would be allowed on this day during established school hours.

More info


Do I need work permits for any 14- and 15-year old employees that I hire during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Governor Evers temporarily waived the under-16 labor work permit requirement.

Effective Dates: March 26 - October 26, 2020 (Work Permit Holiday)

Currently, child labor permits for minors who are 14 and 15 years old are not required during the public health emergency if the following qualifications are met:

  1. The employer will obtain all of the following information from the minor before hiring or permitting the minor to begin work:
    • Proof of Age: Such as birth certificate, baptismal certificate, Wisconsin ID card or Wisconsin driver's license, etc.
    • Employer Letter: Written intent to hire including job duties to be performed and the hours and time of day to be worked
    • Either:
      • Written Consent: The minor's parent, guardian or court-ordered foster parent consenting to the employment
      • Counter Signature: The signature of the parent guardian or court-ordered foster parent on the employer's letter
    • Social Security Card: Copy of the minor's social security card
  2. The employer, once obtaining the information specified in #1, will notify the Equal Rights Division that a minor will begin employment by emailing workpermits@dwd.wisconsin.gov and include the following:
    • Statement that the employer has reviewed the minor's proof of age and social security information
    • Employer's intent to hire letter
    • Parental written consent or countersignature on the employer's letter
  3. Within 30 days of conclusion of the public health emergency the employer shall file a permit application on behalf of each minor and pay the $10 permit fee at a work permit office.
  4. The Equal Rights Division will decline to take enforcement action against an employer for hiring and permitting a minor to work without a permit if the requirements under section 1 have been satisfied for work performed through the thirtieth day after the end of the public health emergency declared in Executive Order #72.
  5. An employer who fails to obtain work permits for minors employed during the public health emergency and make payment for permit fees will be subject to enforcement action.

More Info Here

Unemployment

Will my fund be charged for employees who are on unemployment due to the public health emergency?

According to the Department of Workforce Development – Unemployment Division, if your business laid off employees due to the public health emergency declared by Executive Order 72 and filed initial unemployment claims for weeks after May 16, 2020, you may qualify for relief of Unemployment Insurance benefit charging.

To request relief of charging, you will need to complete a form and submit it to the department by encrypted email.

Access the Form Here

The department anticipates that the charging relief will take many months to complete for all employers because it is a manual process. For taxable employers the department promulgated an emergency rule to ensure that benefit charges and adjustments for March 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020 will not affect employer contribution rates for 2021, even if the charging relief is not processed for each employer's account. The Wisconsin COVID relief package states COVID-related UI claims from March 15 through December 26, 2020 will ultimately not be charged against the employers UI account balance.

More Info


Can my full and part-time employees apply for unemployment?

Yes. Employees do not need to be “fired” to apply. Here is a link from DWD explaining Corvid-19 and unemployment insurance. Anyone can apply, but eligibility will depend on the circumstances of each employee.

Print this poster and give to employees

More Info


How do I apply for UI?

Click here for the Department of Workforce Development Unemployment Insurance site. It has easy to read and understand information.

If this is your first time applying, you must first APPLY for Unemployment Insurance, then each week you must FILE for your weekly claim.

Per the Department of Workforce Development site—
Have This Information Ready To Apply and File:

  • A username and password for filing online*
  • A valid email or mobile number
  • Your social security number*
  • Your Wisconsin driver license or identification number
  • Your work history for the last 18 months:
    • Employers' business names
    • Employers' addresses (including zip code)
    • Employers' phone number
    • First and last dates of work with each employer
    • Reason no longer working with each employer
  • If not a U.S. citizen, your alien registration number, document number and expiration date
  • Form DD-214 (Member 4 copy), if you served in the military in the last 18 months
  • Form SF-50 or SF-8, if you are a federal civilian employee
  • If you are a union member, the name and local number of your union hall
  • Your current address. You need a valid mailing address to receive important documents about your claim. Make sure you have notified your post office of any recent changes to your address.

View this video for assistance


What times can I apply or file for UI?

First you must APPLY by completing the initial form with your name, address, employers for the last 18 months etc. You are first creating an account. This is generally done during daylight hours (see hours of operation below).

Then each week you FILE your weekly claim. For example, set aside time on one specific day each week to complete this. 

Remember, even online services have hours of operation. 

Click Here to View the Hours of Operation


Where can my employees get for more information?

For more information about unemployment insurance visit the DWD website at dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui

Or for help using online services, call 414.435.7069 during business hours.


What is the Work Share program?

If you’re looking for a way to retain trained staff during reduced business activity, consider the Work Share Program through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.  Work Share avoids layoffs, allowing workers to remain employed & employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity.

More Info

 

Alcohol Service

Are we allowed to sell beer and wine with delivery if we have a class B liquor license?

As of right now, you are not allowed to sell alcohol with delivery. BUT, with take out or curbside it depends. With takeout, yes, as long as you have a class B liquor license you can sell unopened bottles of wine and beer. If your municipality allows, you can also sell unopened bottles of spirits to customers. Most municipalities do allow the sale of spirits by the bottle by restaurants. Please remember—all sales of alcohol must be made face to face and ID’s checked.

If you do not currently have a license to sell beer, wine and spirits, you cannot sell them to your customers.

For curbside it is best to check with your local municipality for the ability to take alcohol from your building to your parking lot. The ability to accommodate curbside alcohol orders will depend on how your premise is defined on your liquor license. If your parking lot is included in the premise on your liquor license, then you can bring out the beer, wine and spirits to them—again if your municipality allows.

In many areas, local law enforcement is keeping an eye on this issue, so be sure you are following the law and make sure you are checking ID’s for all customers.


Can I sell mixed drinks in a covered and packaged container made by our restaurant/bar?

You cannot sell mixed drinks for carryout at this time. We have heard that some restaurants and bars are doing it, but it is illegal. We are asking legislative leaders and the Governor to allow it to happen during the shutdown, as long as drinks can be packaged in a way to prevent folks from drinking them while driving. But it isnot legal at this time. We will keep the industry in the loop if we can get it done.

Pay

If restaurants are mandated to close for in-house seating but we can still do take out and curbside, do I need to change my employees’ wages?

No, but you want to make sure they are still making at least $7.25/hour with tips and wages per workweek.

Delivery

Are there any restrictions to making additional employees delivery drivers?

You will need to check with your insurance carrier what steps need to be completed. Know that minors are not allowed to do much with delivery. 

More Info on Teen Labor


What insurance coverage is needed if I plan to have employees deliver food?

Hired and Non-owned Auto Coverage 

It is common for restaurants who employ delivery drivers who use their own car to obtain hired and non-owned auto coverage for liability incurred by those drivers.  This is often offered as a rider to a commercial general liability policy.  Since many of the restaurants who may begin delivery services did not anticipate the need for this coverage, it is likely that their commercial general liability policy will not include a hired and non-owned auto coverage rider.  The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) further believes that it would be impractical and untimely for these restaurants to shop for coverage that includes coverage for non-owned autos.

For these reasons, OCI orders all insurers who provide commercial general liability coverage to a restaurant to notify their restaurant insureds that hired and non-owned auto coverage is available if requested.  If the insured restaurant requests hired and non-owned auto coverage, the insurer shall, either through a rider or stand-alone policy, provide this coverage to any insured restaurant for no additional cost.

This order shall apply to all commercial general liability policies in effect on or after March 17, 2020.  The coverage afforded shall be effective upon the date it is requested.  Insurers who offer retroactive coverage may request that the insured certify that they have not incurred any potential claims in the period of retroactive coverage.  This order shall remain in effect until the public health emergency order is lifted, in whole or in part, to permit restaurants to resume normal operations.

In addition, delivery drivers are now covered under their personal auto policy.  It is strongly suggested each employee now classified as a delivery driver contact their own auto carrier and inform them of the change. Again, this is suggested, not required. 


What is a normal insurance requirement for delivery drivers?

Any employee using their own automobile for deliveries should make sure their own automobile insurance covers them for liability in the unlikely event an accident happens. If you are having employees deliver as part of your new business plan, you must contact your insurance broker. At minimum you as the business owner MUST have non-owned and hired automobile coverage added to your package policy and/or automobile policy.  

Here are the general rules most insurance companies will enforce:

  1. Drivers must have valid driver’s license with minimum three years licensed driving experience.
  2. Ask driver if they have had any violations or accidents in the last three years—two minor violations may be acceptable. If any more violations than that, do not let them drive.
  3. Ask driver if they have any major violations in last five years such as DUI, speeding in excess, reckless driving or any suspension or revocation. If the driver cannot answer no, than this is a red flag and driving for your business should not be allowed.
  4. If you want employee to use own vehicles, remind drivers that their personal insurance will pay first. 
  5. Get a copy of driver’s current auto declaration page—many personal auto policies have exclusions for delivery. 
  6. The employee should verify coverage for delivery. If no coverage on personal policy, don’t let them drive for your business.
  7. If employee is assigned to driving duties, you should add work comp classification code 7380 to your work comp policy as well. The rate set by the State is $6.37 per hundred dollars of payroll for each employee driving. 

Protect yourself and your business. Reach out to your trusted broker to have the proper coverage added to your policy BEFORE it’s too late.


What are best practices for health and safety relating to food pick up and delivery?

The Food and Drug Administration recently posted a document entitled “Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. 

More Info

Condiments

What is the best practice for condiment use?

It is best to know and keep up with any order specific to your location. Condiments in packets is the best practice. Bottles on tables are allowed but must be cleaned and sanitized between each customer use. Pump dispensers should still be off limits unless you can safely clean and sanitize between each customer use. 

Beverage Stations

Can customers use beverage stations? 

It is best to know and keep up with any order specific to your location. As a best practice, self-serve beverage stations are discouraged because of the uncontrolled touching of cups, lids, station area, etc. Lever type dispensers limit customer contact with the area and avoids accidental contamination if the restaurant provides the cup and lid directly to the customer. Be sure to clean and sanitize the station frequently.

 

Insurance

Will my business insurance (Society or other) cover my business losses due to these special circumstances?

Our understanding is that most business insurance covers losses only due to a physical location issue (damaged building, fire, tornado, etc.) and pandemics are not covered in these policies. However, all policies are different so you should contact your broker directly about your specific coverage. 


Is it possible the federal government will address the lack of coverage in this area?  

WRA is advocating for the federal government to address this issue through the COVID 4 package. We are encouraging Congress to develop a fund for insurance companies to draw upon to pay out at least a percentage of business interruption claims.

The unfortunate part is that insurance companies do not have enough money to cover business interruption claims for this crisis.  WRA spoke to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) quite a few times regarding business interruption insurance.   OCI knows the financial situation and was the first to tell us that it would bankrupt every insurance company. 

WRA was able to help secure delivery insurance for both employees and employers at no additional cost.  We realize that is not a huge help to every restaurant, but it is a start.

WRA encourages employers to look at the various relief measures that is available in the CARES package. Here is a link to the basics.

More Info

Financial Assistance

What Financial Assistance is Available for Restaurants?

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP)

What is the PPP and can I still apply?

The PPP is the Paycheck Protection Program allowing for loan forgiveness if used according to the rules. The program continues to be updated by the government. Check the US Treasury Department website at https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares/assistance-for-small-businesses for additional information and updates. You can apply for the loan through your SBA banker/lender. Check the Wisconsin Bankers Association Website for a list of all Wisconsin institutions processing SBA loans.

Employee Retention Credit (ERC)

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Learn More

Q& A - FIGURING OUT WHICH FEDERAL RELIEF PROGRAM WORKS BEST FOR YOU

Are you having trouble figuring out which financial relief program in the federal CARES Act is right for your business? WRA prepared this Q & A to help you better understand a few of the programs.

I have heard that if I already have an existing non-disaster SBA 7(a), 504 or microloan, I can get some relief, is this true?

Yes! The Small Business Debt Relief Program created by the CARES Act will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the President signing the bill into law. You can also apply for one of these loans as a new borrower.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a 7(a), 504, or microloan?

In general, businesses must meet size standards, be based in the U.S., be able to repay, and have a sound business purpose. To check whether your business is considered small, you will need your business’s 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and 3-year average annual revenue. Each program has different requirements.

More Details
What is a 7(a) loan and how do I apply?

7(a) loans are for borrowers who lack credit elsewhere and need access of up to $5 million in funding. The loan can be used to provide short-term or long-term working capital, to purchase an existing business, refinance current business debt, or purchase furniture, fixtures and supplies. In the program, banks share a portion of the risk of the loan with SBA. There are many different types of 7(a) loans, you can visit this site to find the one that’s best for you. You apply for a 7(a) loan with a bank or a mission-based lender. SBA has a free referral service tool called Lender Match to help find a lender near you.

What is a 504 loan and how do I apply?

The 504 Loan Program provides loans of up to $5.5 million to approved small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. It is a good option if you need to purchase real estate, buildings, and machinery. You apply through a Certified Development Company, which is a nonprofit corporation that promotes economic development. SBA has a free referral service tool called Lender Match to help find a lender near you.

What is a microloan and how do I apply?

The Microloan Program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers to start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000. These loans are delivered through mission-based lenders who are also able to provide business counseling. SBA has a free referral service tool called Lender Match to help find a microlender near you.

What is this $10,000 grant that is part of the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)?

If you apply for an EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan), it includes a grant to provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an EIDL. To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.

You can apply for an EIDL, accept the $10,000 grant and then turn down the remainder of the EIDL loan. To be eligible for an EIDL grant, the business must have been in operation since January 31, 2020, when the public health crisis was announced.

Can I apply for both an EIDL Loan and the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and get both?

Yes, the SBA has clarified that if you take out an EIDL loan for working capital expenses only, you can then take out a PPP to pay for payroll expenses. Original guidance from the SBA indicated that you could not use both loans. It is possible that the SBA will deduct the $10,000 EIDL grant from your PPP loan, depending on what expenses, other than payroll, you plan to use the PPP loan for. 

My bank is a SBA approved lender, but it is telling me that it does not want to service my Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, but it is processing a loan for the restaurant down the street. Is that possible?

At this time, some lending institutions are not fully on board with how to process PPP loans, and therefore may have set standards that each applicant needs to meet, such as payback risk based on loan forgiveness from the SBA. As the SBA and US Treasury Department further clarify loan guarantees and application requirements, hopefully more lending institutions will be able to process additional loans. If your lending institution is not accepting your loan application, we suggest that you contact other institutions in your area.

Check the Wisconsin Bankers Association Website for a list of all Wisconsin institutions processing SBA loans.

Can I take advantage of the Employee Retention Credit if I have a PPP loan? 

No, if you have the PPP loan (forgiveness or not), you are not eligible for the ERC.

Learn More

Can I take advantage of the ERC if I give back the PPP money?

Yes, but only if you returned the funds prior to May 18, 2020. 

Learn More 

ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS

Wisconsin businesses can now apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million per business.  Wisconsin’s access to SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance was unlocked on March 20th. 

Click here to apply. Keep in mind, the website is experiencing high volume due to large demand. They recommend logging in between 7:00 pm and 7:00 am for better luck connecting.  Also make sure to save your application as you are working on it.

Here’s a list of things you will need to apply for a loan.

  • Tax Information Authorization (IRS Form 4506T) for the applicant, principals and affiliates. 
  • Complete copies of the most recent Federal Income Tax Return.
  • Schedule of Liabilities (SBA Form 2202).
  • Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413)
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Monthly sales figures (SBA Form 1368)

For more on SBA programs for the coronavirus, please visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus.

Questions about or changes to your application can be directed in an email to disastercustomerservice@SBA.gov. You will need to put your EIDL loan number in the subject line.

Loan Webinars 
Wisconsin's SBA office will again offer live daily webinars to walk you through the application process and answer your questions. Register for Monday, March 30 through April 10. All sessions are at 2 pm:

REGISTER FOR LOAN WEBINAR

State of Wisconsin $2,500 Grants for Small Businesses

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is currently not accepting applications for the $75 million We’re All In Small Business Grant (WSBG) Program. We will update this information if this changes.

The program, which provides $2,500 grants to 30,000 small businesses, is designed to help small businesses get back on their feet amid the COVID-19 pandemic while encouraging them to adopt best practices to keep employees, customers and communities safe.

Funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the We’re All In Small Business Grant Program will provide grants to assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible, businesses must:

  • Be a Wisconsin-based, for-profit business;
  • Employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, including the owner NOTE: Full Time Equivalent employees is a different number than total employees for most restaurant businesses;
  • Earn greater than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues (gross sales and receipts); and
  • Have started operating prior to Jan. 1, 2020, and have been in business in February 2020.

More Info

FAQ

Milwaukee Restart Program

Restart is a program that helps Milwaukee businesses to reopen and adapt to the "new normal." Grants will assist for-profit businesses located in the City of Milwaukee that have 20 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees and greater than $0 but less than $2 million in 2019 revenue. Restart grants are limited to one per business owner. All applicants must be current on property taxes owed to the City of Milwaukee up through the 2018 tax bill.

Businesses may apply to cover specific expenses associated with re-starting business operations including personal protective equipment for employees, modifications to business space and operations to adapt to COVID-19 pandemic and restock of perishable inventory.

Link to Application. You will need to create an account.

Applications must be made online and will be accepted between May 28, 2020 and June 12, 2020.

MORE INFO

Heartland Capital

Small businesses can have access to loans up to $5 million and access a line of credit up to $500 thousand.  What will be needed to apply:

  • Currently open for business
  • In business three years
  • Can provide three consecutive bank statements
  • Have a credit score of 550 or higher

You do not need to be a current Heartland customer to apply.

To learn more please text the word “Capital” to 1-414-409-0087 or call 414-973-9128. You may also email Tony Jalan directly at tony.jalan@e-hps.com or Sarah Bauer at sarah.bauer@heartland.us.

DANE COUNTY SMALL BUSINESS PANDEMIC SUPPORTR GRANT PROGRAM

The Dane County Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, administered by Dane Buy Local, is available for qualifying small businesses experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Dane Buy Local

ServSafe

Are ServSafe classes being offered?

ServSafe classes are being offered. To see the ServSafe schedule and register for upcoming classes, please click here.

NOTE: The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection has indicated that businesses will not be penalized for having an expired certificate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the cancellation of Certified Food Protection Manager courses, DATCP is extending the requirement to renew this certification by 90 days after courses resume. If your certificate expires, you can continue operating as usual.

More Info

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Payment and Payment Recovery

What is the FFCRA?

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law by the President recently.  It requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.    

There was confusion on the effective date and the Department of Labor (USDOL) confirmed the law becomes effective April 1 through December 31, 2020.

Guidance on the FFCRA will continue to flow. 

Guidance from the National Restaurant Association

DOL Resource Page

helpful quick guide

This main page includes specific information such as:

FFCRA Questions and Answers

FFCRA Employee Paid Leave Rights

FFCRA Employer Expanded Family and Medical Leave Requirements

From the IRS:

FFCRA Tax Credit Overview

Paid Leave FAQs


What sources are available to me to help recover some costs?

Below is a link that provides information on how small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

Click for More Info


Is there a required poster about the FFCRA?

Yes, all covered employers (i.e,all private sector employers with fewer than  500 employees) are required to post this notice.

Click here

FAQs regarding the poster -

Click here 


What is the plan for reimbursement of emergency paid leave under the FFCRA?

The IRS posted this news release on their website. This is the plan on how employers will be able to recover dollar for dollar payment to employees when the required leave is paid.

More Info


Health and Safety

Should counter, drive through and curbside services staff use gloves?

Gloves can be helpful, but can also be a hindrance, in slowing  the spread of this virus. In the food code, gloves are one way to prevent bare hand contact of ready to eat food and reduce food borne pathogens. They are NOT a way to directly prevent cross contamination between hard surfaces. You can contaminate surfaces with gloved hands, just like you can with bare hands.

Coronavirus is NOT a foodborne pathogen.  If the gloves come in contact with the coronavirus, such as touching a door knob or counter surface, they will transport that virus to other hard surfaces.  Proper handwashing and frequent glove changes would be key to their use, which is what restaurants need to do all of the time. Gloves may help provide protection to employees, as long as they do not touch their face when wearing them. 

Gloves tend to make consumers feel better, but if used improperly, they will help spread the virus, not protect the customer. Until recommended directly by the FDA and Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection for this virus, the use of gloves is not required.  It is up to individual restaurants. If they help customers feel better, then use them, but increase handwashing and glove changes to help prevent moving the virus from surface to surface.


Should employees in retail food and food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19?

The FDA has information on the use of faces masks and cloth face coverings for the food sector.

FDA Guidance 


How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?

To prevent spread of COVID-19, CDC is recommending individuals employ social distancing or maintaining approximately 6 feet from others, when possible. In food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments, an evaluation should be made to identify and implement operational changes that increase employee separation. However, social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities.

The risk of an employee transmitting COVID-19 to another is dependent on distance between employees, the duration of the exposure, and the effectiveness of employee hygiene practices and sanitation. When it’s impractical for employees in these settings to maintain social distancing, effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Also, see Should Employees in retail food and food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19? (Posted April 4, 2020).

IMPORTANT: Maintaining social distancing in the absence of effective hygiene practices may not prevent the spread of this virus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces.  

Because the intensity of the COVID-19 outbreak may differ according to geographic location, coordination with state and local officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside.  

Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

These and other COVID Food Safety Guidance can be found here:

More Info

Health and Safety Guidance for Restaurants from the National Restaurant Association Law Center


What are best practices for health and safety relating to food pick up and delivery?

The Food and Drug Administration recently posted a document entitled “Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. 

More Info

Restaurants Selling Grocery Items or Packaged Foods

As the COVID-19 continues, restaurants are looking to other ways they can help consumers purchase not only meals for takeout, but also some basic grocery items like eggs, milk and bread. Below is some guidance to begin offering basic grocery items.

Do I need a grocery store license?

Grocery stores and restaurants operate as licensed food establishments, and follow the same food safety and packaging rules so no you do not need a grocery store license.


What items can I sell?

We recommend you consider selling pre-packaged goods, such as gallons of milk, loaf of bread or a dozen eggs.  We do not recommend selling bulk items by the pound, unless you have a scale that complies with Wisconsin’s weights and measures rules.  More information on weights and measures rules can be found here.

If you would like to sell items that you bake/cook in your restaurant, such as a loaf of bread, you need to follow state and federal labeling requirements. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Food and Drug Administration has temporarily relaxed the requirement for nutrition information on food labels.  For restaurants that wish to sell packaged food to consumers directly, or to other businesses for sale to consumers, the FDA does not intend to object if the packaged food lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label, including the following, as applicable:

  • a statement of identity,
  • an ingredient statement,
  • the name and place of the business of the food manufacturer, packer, or distributor,
  • net quantity of contents, and
  • allergen information required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.

You can also sell a “meal kit” that contains all of the items needed to for the customer to cook at home. Similar to single items, you will need to provide a sheet of paper or label that complies with the above requirements. There must be an ingredient statement for each of the items in the meal kit, unless you are using prepackaged items that has its own list of ingredients on the label.  Items such as meat and poultry should have a weight included, such as “two 12-ounce steaks”. Unless you have a scale that complies with weights and measures rules, you purchase pre-weighed and packaged meat products from your suppliers.


What price can I sell my items for?

Wisconsin has laws that prevents price gouging in times of crisis. The Governor must declare the state is experiencing is in a period of abnormal economic disruption—which Governor Evers has. Once declared, wholesalers and retailers are prohibited from selling consumer goods or services that are subject to the order at prices that are not more than 15 percent above pre-declaration prices. However retailers are permitted to pass on their cost increases. Here is a simple example:  if you purchased a gallon of milk from your supplier for $2.00 you cannot sell it for $5.00, unless you are hearing from your supplier that it is raising its price to $4.00 per gallon.  You need to use some common sense to the market prices in your area and not take advantage of your regular customers.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is developing an official guide for restaurants who wish to conduct grocery store activities. When that guide is available it will be posted here. Please check back for additional information. Questions can be directed to Susan Quam at 608-270-9950 or squam@wirestaurant.org.

Scams

Are there more scams businesses need to be wary of?

Society Insurance warns that scams are on the rise. Under normal circumstances, hackers and scammers are annoying at the very least. With recent events revolving around coronavirus (COVID-19), scammers have upped their game, increased their efforts, and are making a hard situation even more difficult. Not only has the volume of scams gone up in recent days, the complexity and authenticity of those scams is making it very hard to separate the legitimate from the fake.

Read More

Forbearance Offers On Money Owed

What does it mean if my lender, mortgage company or supplier company offers forbearance on money owed?

Your lenders or supplier companies may offer you forbearance on a loan or mortgage or money owed for products or services in light of the Coronavirus crisis.  While this sounds great, it’s important to ask questions before accepting a forbearance offer.  Forbearance usually is not loan or debt forgiveness.  Often it just postpones it to a later date and your loan or debt amount keeps accumulating which can add up to a huge amount very quickly.  You need to be clear how much you will owe at the end of the forbearance period and when that amount would be due.  It’s especially important to keep in mind with mortgages or loans.  If you accept forbearance , you may end up unknowingly forgoing your ability to refinance.  Make sure you ask some of these important questions before accepting an offer of forbearance.

Capacity

My county allows for 50% capacity. How is that determined?

For the purpose of restaurants, the intent is to provide efficient physical space to allow for adequate social distancing. Maintain a minimum 6 feet social distance between your customers not in the same household. This includes customers waiting for a table. It is important you take the necessary measures to accomplish this: 

  • 6 ft. distance back to back from chair to chair, booth etc. 
  • Provide two open barstools between each party
  • Use best judgement when in specific situations

Your capacity number varies by city/county health department orders. However, staff must maintain social distance requirements and if that is not possible, masks and other protective equipment may be required. Check with your specific health department. 

County Health Departments

Chef washing hands

Information and Resources

WISCONSIN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (WEDC)

WEDC has information and resources to help navigate some of the challenges that COVID-19 is presenting for small businesses in Wisconsin.

Navigating Through COVID-19 in Wisconsin
a Guide for Small Businesses 

WEDC Website - COVID-19 Business Resources 

National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association has information and resources specifically for restaurant operators relating to the Coronavirus

Resources & Info 

Department of Tourism

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has resources to help your business, organization and employees navigate this incredibly difficult time.

WI Department of Tourism Partner Resources

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FREE FOOD SAFETY TRAINING AVAILABLE

Because of the challenges presented by COVID-19, ServSafe has developed a number of free resources aimed at keeping our workers and the dining public safe. Free courses include ServSafe Reopening Guidance: COVID-19 Precautions, ServSafe Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions and ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions.

Access Free Training 

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How to Help Your Community

Donate Supplies to the Front-Line Workers
Consider donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to help your local front-line employees get the protection they need. Helpful items could be gloves, masks, gowns, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. Contact your local fire departments, police departments or hospitals to find out where you can drop off supplies.

Other locations requesting supplies:

Dane County Sheriff's Department
Need: Surgical masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, N95 masks
Drop-off: Call 608.327.9371 or email bowers.juan@dansheriff.com 

Kemps
Need: Hand sanitizers & disinfecting wipes
Drop-off: W55 N155 McKinley Blvd, Cedarburg, WI

Rock County Sheriff’s Department
Need: Masks, gowns, face shields
Drop-off: Please call 608.290.4589 or email eoc.eoc@co.rock.wi.us to make arrangements

Donate Food
Open up your restaurant’s freezer/pantry so they can feed their families. Local food banks are welcoming donations of canned or non-perishable items, as well as other basic necessities.

Patronize Local Restaurants
Grab curbside, take out or delivery from your favorite local dining spot or consider purchasing a gift card to be used at a later date.

Volunteer
Organizations that feed and run errands for the elderly such as Meals on Wheels America and Feeding America are desperately seeking volunteers to help with deliveries and stocking shelves.

Donate Blood
The American Red Cross and other blood centers are experiencing a decrease in blood donations. If you are healthy, consider scheduling an appointment.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been working to protect your businesses and champion important policies that provide financial relief and critical support to you and your employees during this difficult and challenging time.

As your trade association, we are in constant communication with the Governor’s office and the Federal Government through the National Restaurant Association, as well as various agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

Through conversations with the Governor's office, WRA was instrumental in keeping restaurants open in Wisconsin for takeout, drive-through, curbside and delivery as orders from the Governor came through. WRA also worked with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to clarify that under the Safer at Home order, customers can still order takeout at restaurants onsite without pre-ordering. WRA also worked with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to require insurance companies to add insurance for delivery activities at no cost.

Lobbying by WRA and the National Restaurant Association helped get specific benefits for the restaurant and hospitality industry in the CARES Act that was signed by the President on March 27th.

WRA Has Got Your Back! WRA-man Revealing Logo Thru Suit

During the Safer at Home orders, WRA worked with other associations to lobby for provisions that will help restaurant businesses and employees in Wisconsin including:

  • Implement a Back to Business Plan for reopening safely.  The Wisconsin Restaurant Association was part of a coalition of groups who created the Back to Business Plan which is a proactive plan strategically designed to open Wisconsin businesses based on a number of risk factors and offers employers a clear vision for when and how they can begin to operate, once again. The Back to Business Plan was developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including those in business, government and the medical community. Additionally, it draws on best practices and recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • WRA, along with other hospitality organizations, urged the Governor to develop a Hospitality Bridge Grant program for restaurants and bars in the amount of $25,000 for each business utilizing funds distributed to Wisconsin from the CARES Act. This is a Wisconsin solution that helps businesses with their immediate expenses. It will also serve as an economic stimulus plan, allowing supper clubs, taverns and restaurants to pay their bills and stay in business while continuing to provide jobs and contribute to the local and state tax base. This will assist other main street businesses restart and begin circulating cash in the local economy
  • WRA advocated to permit delivery of alcohol through age verified sales via phone/online transactions for Class B license holders during the Emergency Order directly or through a third party
  • WRA advocated for temporary take out of mixed beverage alcohol for Class B license holders as long as they are contained in a sealed container, e.g. growlers, and include a face-to-face transaction 
  • WRA successfully advocated to
    • Prohibit any foreclosures or evictions of any licensee until 60 days after the Emergency Order expires
    • Prohibit any insurance cancellations of any licensee until 60 days after the Emergency Order expires
    • Suspend the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance
    • Waive certain parameters related to the Work-Share Program, specifically eliminating the current 20-employee minimum and 2-week waiting period
    • Provide protections for businesses from UI rate increases due to employee layoffs caused by the public health emergency
    • Allow golf courses to re-open to golfers only
    • Provide a 2-month moratorium on all state tax payments and include the opportunity to pay them back in installments to allow businesses to start to get back on their feet first
    • Impose a freeze on Unemployment Insurance rates so that businesses needing to lay off a high amount of employees do not face insurmountable increases in their UI costs
  • Repeal the 15 day beer credit law and 30 day alcohol credit day law. License holders who are unable to make a payment during the shutdown cannot receive future shipments of product, which will be critical for when operators will be allowed to fully re-open

Letter to WRA and TLW

WRA Testimony on Back to Business Plan

Hospitality Bridge Grant Funding Letter

Back to Business Plan 

Safer at Home Extension Response from Tourism Federation of Wisconsin

Joint Letter with Tavern League to State Leaders

Joint WRA WGA Letter on Alcohol Delivery

Tourism Relief Request

Tourism Help Request

Tourism Property Tax Relief Request

Letter to SBA Administrator

Customer Appreciation Posters

WRA has created posters and social media images for restaurants to download and display. Choose your favorite poster to display at your location and/or share one of the images to your social media accounts to show your customers that you appreciate their continued support.

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  • Poster (with space for text or your logo)
  • Social Media (with space for text or your logo)
 
Chef Cleaning

State of Wisconsin Order

On March 24th, Governor Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions.

We are pleased the Governor took WRA’s guidance to allow restaurants that remain open for delivery, takeout, drive-through and curbside services to continue operating as they have been for the last seven days.

On April 16th, Governor Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to extend the Safer at Home order from April 24, 2020 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress that has been made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again. For example, there is a provision for private and public golf courses to be open with certain restrictions.

The new order does NOT include any changes relating to restaurants. The restrictions remain the same.

WRA is urging the governor to look at loosening up restrictions in counties that have very few cases.

On April 20th, Governor Evers unveiled a detailed plan called “Badger Bounce Back." The plan, generally based upon federal guidelines, includes a three-phased approach to re-opening the economy and society in Wisconsin. Each phase is incrementally less restrictive on businesses and individuals while protecting the public from COVID-19. A major difference between the state and federal plan is the Wisconsin plan takes a statewide approach, while the federal plan suggests a community by community approach can be implemented.

There is no set timetable for the phases. The Department of Health Services will determine when it is appropriate to progress to the next Phase. Criteria for progressing to the next Phase include increased testing, a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period, and a downward trajectory of COVID-19-like syndromic cases reported in a 14-day period.

WRA is working on getting more details on this plan to assess how it will affect restaurants. We will provide updates as more information is available.

The extended Safer At Home order remains in effect until May 26 unless a superseding order is issued. 

Badger Bounce Back Plan

Extension of the Safer at Home Order

Safer at Home Order 

Orders Specific to Restaurants

Gov. Evers Suspends Evictions and Foreclosures During Public Health Emergency

Read Press Release

WRA has developed (in conjunction with the Restaurant Law Center) an Essential Employee letter that you can provide to all of your employees who will be working in your business and be sure to carry this with you. Fill in the appropriate blanks and make sure all your staff have one in their possession at this time.

Essential Employee Letter

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COVID-19 Bill Signed by Governor

On April 15, 2020 Governor Evers signed into law COVID-19 response legislation. The law includes many items that WRA lobbied for that will provide relief and assistance for restaurants and their employees.

  • Suspend the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance.
  • Waive certain parameters related to the Work-Share Program, specifically eliminating the current 20-employee minimum and 2-week waiting period.
  • Provide protections for businesses from UI rate increases due to employee layoffs caused by the public health emergency.
  • Impose a freeze on Unemployment Insurance rates so that businesses needing to lay off a high amount of employees do not face insurmountable increases in their UI costs.
  • A city, village, or town may, after making a finding of general or case-by-case hardship, waive interest and penalties on installment payments of property taxes due and payable after April 1, 2020, if the total amount due and payable in 2020 is paid on or before October 1, 2020 (WRA asked for interest and fees to be waived without local approval, but this partial win is a start).
  • Require the Wisconsin Economic Development Council (WEDC) to develop a plan to help tourism businesses (WRA asked for increase in funds for grants and loans, but this is a good start).
  • Ensure that the money forgiven in Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans are not considered taxable income.

See "What is WRA Doing" for other relief initiatives that WRA is asking state leaders to adopt.

WI Capitol Building

On Friday (3/27) Congress passed and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

PRESIDENT SIGNS CARES ACT CORONOVIRUS RELIEF BILL

The $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance, a rescue fund for state and local governments, immediate cash for hospitals, tax benefits and a huge pool of grants and loans for small businesses. The bill offers help for small businesses including independent restaurants and franchisees with many provisions that were specifically lobbied for by the National Restaurant Association and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. 

WRA will keep restaurant operators posted as more details are available on exactly what this means for restaurant businesses.

CARES Act Benefits for Restaurant Operators and Their Employees

Paycheck Protection Program Info 

Phase Three CARES Act FAQ

Help for Wisconsin Taxpayers

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR), like the IRS, automatically extended income tax payment and return due dates to July 15, 2020. On March 27th, the Department announced several additional measures to help taxpayers including immediate steps to help small businesses with sales tax payments due on March 31. 

More Info 

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