The State of Louisiana and City-Parish of East Baton Rouge have taken measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These public safety actions have led to the cancellation and/or postponement of many events and also include the temporary closing of many businesses.
While these measures are in effect, our small businesses and restaurants need the community’s support to minimize the negative impact, not only upon our overall economy, but also their businesses and families. We will continue to update the public about open downtown businesses and relief efforts as information is provided to us. Please email DDD@brla.gov if you have information to add or correct.
The White House has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.
Learn more about the phased approach here.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has also announced the creation of Resilient Louisiana, a state commission charged with examining Louisiana's economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic and making recommendations for more resilient business-related activities and commerce in the coming months.
Learn more about this initiative here.
Consolidated Appropriations Act / CARES Act Extension
President Donald Trump signed into law the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed Dec. 21 by Congress. The legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, adds $300 to extended weekly unemployment benefits, and provides more than $300 billion in aid for small businesses. It also ensures tax deductibility for business expenses paid with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, provides fresh PPP funding, makes Sec. 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organizations eligible for loans for the first time, and offers businesses facing severe revenue reductions the opportunity to apply for a second loan.
Key provisions in the bill most relevant to downtown businesses include:
$325 billion in aid for small businesses struggling after nine months of pandemic-induced economic hardships. The bill provides more than $284 billion to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) for first and second PPP forgivable small business loans and allocates $20 billion to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grants to businesses in low-income communities. In addition, shuttered live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions will have access to $15 billion in dedicated funding while $12 billion will be set aside to help business in low-income and minority communities.
$166 billion for economic impact payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for married couples making up to $150,000 per year, as well as a $600 payment for each child dependent.
$120 billion to provide workers receiving unemployment benefits a $300 per week supplement from Dec. 26 until March 14, 2021. This bill also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, with expanded coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and others in nontraditional employment, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to individuals who exhaust their regular state benefits.
The bill also extends the employee retention tax credit and several expiring tax provisions and temporarily allows a 100% business expense deduction for meals (rather than the current 50%) as long as the expense is for food or beverages provided by a restaurant. This provision is effective for expenses incurred after Dec. 31, 2020, and expires at the end of 2022.
Paycheck Protection Program 2 (PPP2) provisions
The new round of PPP, or PPP2 as some are calling it, contains many similarities to the first round of the PPP but also has several important differences. The following is a high-level view of the PPP provisions.
Who is eligible to apply
PPP2 loans will be available to first-time qualified borrowers and, for the first time, to businesses that previously received a PPP loan. Specifically, previous PPP recipients may apply for another loan of up to $2 million, provided they:
Have 300 or fewer employees.
Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan.
Can show a 25% gross revenue decline in any 2020 quarter compared with the same quarter in 2019.
PPP2 also makes the forgivable loans available to Sec. 501(c)(6) business leagues, such as chambers of commerce, visitors’ bureaus, etc., and “destination marketing organizations” (as defined in the act), provided they have 300 or fewer employees and do not receive more than 15% of receipts from lobbying. The lobbying activities must comprise no more than 15% of the organization’s total activities and have cost no more than $1 million during the most recent tax year that ended prior to Feb. 15, 2020.
PPP2 will also permit first-time borrowers from the following groups:
Businesses with 500 or fewer employees that are eligible for other SBA 7(a) loans.
Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed individuals.
Not-for-profits, including churches.
Accommodation and food services operations (those with North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes starting with 72) with fewer than 300 employees per physical location.
The bill allows borrowers that returned all or part of a previous PPP loan to reapply for the maximum amount available to them.
PPP Loan Terms
As with PPP1, the costs eligible for loan forgiveness in PPP2 include payroll, rent, covered mortgage interest, and utilities. PPP2 also makes the following potentially forgivable:
Covered worker protection and facility modification expenditures, including personal protective equipment, to comply with COVID-19 federal health and safety guidelines.
Expenditures to suppliers that are essential at the time of purchase to the recipient’s current operations.
Covered operating costs such as software and cloud computing services and accounting needs.
To be eligible for full loan forgiveness, PPP borrowers will have to spend no less than 60% of the funds on payroll over a covered period of either eight or 24 weeks — the same parameters PPP1 had when it stopped accepting applications in August.
PPP borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs in the year prior to the loan or the calendar year, the same as with PPP1, but the maximum loan amount has been cut from $10 million in the first round to the previously mentioned $2 million maximum. PPP borrowers with NAICS codes starting with 72 (hotels and restaurants) can get up to 3.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, again subject to a $2 million maximum.
The new COVID-19 relief bill also:
Creates a simplified forgiveness application process for loans of $150,000 or less.
Includes set-asides to support first- and second-time PPP borrowers with 10 or fewer employees, first-time PPP borrowers that have recently been made eligible, and for loans made by community lenders.
Tax deductibility for PPP expenses
The bill also specifies that business expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans are tax-deductible. This supersedes IRS guidance that such expenses could not be deducted. This provision applies to loans under both the original PPP and subsequent PPP loans.
We will continue to update the page with information as these new programs roll out.
Open Safely Guidelines
Register your business receive updated communication, notifications, and helpful guidance via email from the State Fire Marshal’s Office specific to your business type. These notifications will answer the important questions:
When can I partially or fully open my business?
What are the steps to open my business?
What changes can be expected for businesses that have been operating, but with restrictions?
What restrictions are my business subject to, if any?
Are there any new sanitation requirements for my business?
Are there any personal protective requirements (masks, gloves, etc.) for my employees?
The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were passed by Congress on March 27, 2020 to assist business owners and our economy. This OVERVIEW provides information about the major programs and initiatives that are available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, including the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Recovery Loan advances, and small business debt relief for existing SBA loans.
Loans made under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (part of the CARES Act) are made by banks, Credit Unions, and other private lenders. Contact your preferred lender directly.
Emergency Relief and Benefit Programs
- Louisiana Main Street Recovery Grant Program
- Main Street Lending Program
- Louisiana Economic Development Resources for Businesses
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber Resources for Businesses
- Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance
- Louisiana Main Street Recovery Grant Program
- Louisiana Workforce Commission Unemployment Benefits
- BR Works Job Listing
- Baton Rouge Area Foundation Emergency Relief Fund
- Employee First Program
- Creative Capitol Arts Resources
Local COVID-19 Information
- Governor Edwards Mask Order
- Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome Mask Order
- Phase Two Order
- Phase One Order
- Stay At Home Order
- CISA’s Guidance on Identifying Critical Infrastructure
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Coronavirus Updates
- Louisiana Office of the Governor Coronavirus Information
- Louisiana Department of Health Guidance & Resources
- City of Baton Rouge Coronavirus Updates
How You Can Help
- If you have planned a visit or event downtown during while these safety measures are in effect, please consider rescheduling/postponing with the hotels and venues instead of cancelling to support our local economy.
- Purchase a gift card from restaurant/businesses that you can use later, but can support the business now.
- Donate to Relief Efforts including the BRAF Emergency Relief Fund.
- Shop local online
- Leave a positive review on Facebook, Google, or Yelp
- Keep your membership or subscription active
- Prepay for services like a haircut, personal training, tours, etc.
Support Downtown Restaurants
Most of our downtown restaurants are locally owned and need your support during this time. Visit the restaurants now operating at lower capacity, many with outdoor dining options. Also, consider using food delivery services such as, Waitr, Uber Eats, and DOORDASH. Restaurants are typically working with smaller margins so a little will go a long way to helping out these small businesses. Also consider purchasing a gift card!
Downtown has a grocery store, pharmacy and walk-in health clinic that are operating at normal hours to serve you.
- Matherne's Market Downtown, The Matherne's Market downtown will be operating at their normal business hours and will maintain the breakfast, lunch, and dinner deli. Ourdoor seating is available
- Prescriptions to Geaux
- Neighborhood Health
* Neighborhood Health offers health screening for COVID-19 and IV IMMUNOTHERAPY available to the patients in need! Call to schedule an appointment.