Restaurants in the city of Shreveport that wish to create outside dining during COVID-19 restrictions can now do so thanks to an expedited procedure approved by the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).
The one-page document should be filled out and sent in prior to placing tables, chairs and other items outside.
Downtown restaurants should also fill out and return the Hold Harmless.
These documents will allow you to seat people outside (liquor service is NOT allowed under these temporary provisions) for up to 60 days from issuance.
Chances are good that when the economy enters Phase One, businesses will be allowed to reopen with occupancy restrictions. If you are told you can reopen at 25% occupancy, how do you determine what that number is? Many businesses over a certain size will have an Occupancy Load on paperwork from the State Fire Marshal or City of Shreveport. If you do not, here is the formula to determine it.
Your Total (Gross) Square Footage divided by 15 = your ‘normal’ Occupancy Load. This number should be divided by four to get 25% or two for 50%.
Example: 1000SF divided by 15=66 divided by four =16. 16 would be your 25% occupancy.
Any questions about occupancy can be directed to the Fire Prevention division at the City of Shreveport, 318-673-6740.
On Monday, April 27, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the state Stay at Home order remains in effect until at least Friday, May 15. On Monday, May 11, Governor Edwards will announce whether the state will move into what is called Phase One on May 15.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU/YOUR BUSINESS?
ALL business and other entities that are currently allowed to be open can remain open. Non-essential retail stores can remain open, but can only allow in ten persons at a time. Restaurants are still limited to take out/delivery only.
Be Aware of These Changes
1. The Governor says everyone who works in a business who has any contact with a member of the public MUST wear a mask.
2. The Governor ‘strongly suggests’ that every citizen wear a mask when around other people (other than at home, of course).
There Are Three More Changes Coming Friday, May 1.
-Malls will remain closed to the public, but the stores in the malls may be open and provide items via curbside delivery
-If they wish, Restaurants can allow patrons to sit at outdoor tables that they have in place- with ample social distancing (6 feet)- and eat. Restaurants CANNOT offer table service. This is simply allowing a person who picks up a ‘to-go’ order to sit and eat outside, IF the restaurant wishes to allow this.
-All employees coming into contact with the public MUST wear a mask.
WHEN Stay-At-Home orders are lifted, salons, restaurants and some other businesses and Houses of Worship will be limited to 25% Occupancy.
How Do I Determine What My Business Occupancy Is?
Many businesses, especially those with an Occupancy Load over 50 persons, will have that number on an official document from the State Fire Marshal. If you have a current Occupancy Load, simply divide it by FOUR to get to your 25% Occupancy.
For those smaller businesses that have no Occupancy Load listed:
Find out your GROSS SQUARE FOOTAGE
Divide that number by 15
Divide that number by 4
= 25% Occupancy.
For example, your total square footage is 1,000SF. 1,000 divided by 15 = 66. 66 divided by four =16. That is your 25% Occupancy Load.
Shreveport Fire Prevention tells me that they are going to allow self-determination on occupancy load, but if there are problems or crowded conditions, know that the city will be alerted. The State Fire Marshall also sent a memo (See below) specifically for restaurant owners. In it, there are some additional specific requirements for table spacing, number of people per table, Use of PPE and sanitizing requirements. Please read over this and start working now to reset your spaces to meet the new rules. This is going to mean – at the very least- moving tables around and possibly roping off booth space.
Shreveport Fire Prevention- the local arm of the State Fire Marshall- encourages you to also be aware of social distancing and safety in the kitchen. These are more enclosed areas with more people but do all that you can to space people out, keep waitstaff out of the kitchen to keep the number of persons lower, etc. Chris Robinson at Fire Prevention says he is always available to answer questions and has been a great help already!
Other BEST PRACTICES for Food/Beverage Service:
-Either have small laminated menus that can be sanitized after each use, small paper menus to throw away after each use or a digital menu.
-Consider limiting your menu to a smaller number of items – these items will be easier to post on a board and will save you the overhead of having to stock multiple food items that may or may not be used.
– individual condiment packs
– no cutlery, cups, samples, etc., sitting out in the open.
-Social Distancing spacing also applies outdoors.
There are multiple opportunities for help listed here- everything from grants and loans to unemployment information, marketing assistance, hotline advice and more. Please scroll through to see what is right for you and/or your business.
For all the latest up-to-date business loan/grant information, go to Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). They are also hosting daily video and phone conferences, you do not need to be a member to participate.
Louisiana Small Business Loans through LED- Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program
The State of Louisiana has committed $50m to provide loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and who have 100 or fewer employees. The program will be run by Louisiana Economic Development through partner banks. A list of those banks are here. To help Louisiana businesses sustain operations, the loans will require no payments for 180 days and carry below-market interest rates of no more than 3.5%. Read the full story at BusinessReport.com.
This federal program is in addition to the loan program offered by the State of Louisiana LED.
- The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
There is also an Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan of $10,000 for businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. (This has now been changed to $1,000 per employee on the payroll. Therefore, if you have one employee, you can get an advance of $1,000, two employees, $2,000, etc.) Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. (We are not yet aware of local businesses who have gotten this money. Reports say the SBA has run out/is running out of money and the pipeline is clogged. TRY ANYWAY.) The loan advance will not have to be repaid.
Congress is likely to vote to approve an additional $310B for this fund on Thursday, April 23. Speculation is that it could be allocated in just ten days, so do not wait if you still need to apply. MANY local regional banks and credit unions are now working with non-customers to process these loans that can turn into forgivable grants. Forbes magazine is reporting that there may NOT be a third round of PPP.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You will apply for this through a bank or credit union. See the names of those who are participating in this program here. Click on ‘Find a Lender’ and put in your zip code.
Federal Stimulus Check
Federal Stimulus Checks are hitting the accounts of many Americans, others will be waiting for a while for a mailed check. The IRS has launched a new Get My Payment Tool that seems to be overwhelmed most of the time, saying only that ‘Payment Status Not Available.’ If you did not file taxes in 2018/2019 and do not receive Social Security you will need to go to the Internal Revenue Service website and provide them with account information.
City/Chamber Set Up a Help Desk to Provide Guidance
Shreve.biz is here to help you!
Click on the link, or call 318-230-7891 to go to the Shreveport/Caddo-area Help Desk. Shreve.biz provides free one-on-one counseling to business owners and managers; important help in walking through the grants, loans and other rapidly changing information coming from local, state and federal officials.
New Local Gift Card Site to Help Small Businesses
The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the City of Shreveport have launched a giftcard website to assist local small businesses affected by COVID-19. Businesses can enroll to sell gift cards here or email email@example.com.
REMEMBER: Unemployed workers must file for weekly benefits EVERY week that they are not working or their work hours have been reduced. If not, they will not get paid.
How to Apply for Unemployment if your job has been eliminated due to Covid-19.
If any of the following situations apply to you, you may be eligible for unemployment through the Louisiana Workforce Commission:
- Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to Coronavirus.
- Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
- You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.
You can file a claim at www.louisianaworks.net
If your work hours have been reduced, partial benefits could be available to you up to a maximum of $247 a week. You must report any earnings for the week that you work, even if you’ve not yet been paid. Include all income, commissions, tips and gratuities. Report the gross amount before deductions. These earnings would be factored into the amount of unemployment benefits paid to you for that week.
A number of factors determine eligibility for benefits. The LWC reviews each case separately.
Free Counseling Hotline Available
Feeling overwhelmed and need to talk? The State of Louisiana has set up a COVID-19 Counseling Hotline. This free service offers a friendly ear and good advice at 1-800-310-7977.
Funding Programs & Business Support
The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses. Learn more.
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits through their Small Business Grants Program. Learn more.
JPMorgan pledged $50 million global philanthropic commitment to support communities and people hit hardest by this public health crisis, including $2 million to existing nonprofit partners and $8 million to assist small businesses. Learn more.
Kabbage launched an online hub to help boost sales for U.S small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including a system through which businesses can sell gift cards to consumers for use at a later date. Learn more.
The James Beard Foundation is launching a fund that will be gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need. Learn more.
MainVest, a crowdfunding platform, announced its new Main Street Initiative: a $2,000, zero-interest, 120 day loan for restaurants or other brick and mortars affected by the shutdown. Learn more.
Opportunity Fund, which specializes in money lending to small businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color, is collaborating with investors and nonprofits to put together a coronavirus relief fund that will provide grants and low-interest rate loans. Learn more.