Tuesday, November 28, 2023

COVID-19 Resources

The list of information below is to assist our membership and we will continue to update info as we receive it from all resources – the AIA, Federal and State Government, CT Legislature, Municipalities, and Firms. Please utilize this resource as we all continue to work and live through this health crisis. If you or your firm have something to contribute, please email gcalabro@aiact.org
Federal and State Daily Updates : May 2020    April 2020   March 2020
AIA: COVID-19 resources for architects
NIBS COVID-19 Town Hall: Preparing for Re-entering Buildings - Thanks to the National Institute of Building Sciences for permission to  post.
ALERT: Governor Lamont released his Reopen Connecticut report, which contains recommendations from the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group – the panel of local health, business, workforce, and education experts who provided his administration and legislative leadership with recommendations on the reopening of Connecticut’s economy and education system as the nation emerges from the unprecedented public health emergency caused by COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Lamont has been using the advisory group’s recommendations, combined with inputs from state agency leadership, legislators, and other stakeholders, to inform his decisions on the reopening of the state.
With the release of the governor’s report, the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group has adjourned its activities and will no longer meet, however the governor said he will remain in contact with its members over the coming months as the situation continues to develop.
DownloadReopen Connecticut Report 
ALERT:  Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration has released documents detailing specific rules that eligible businesses falling under phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plans must follow amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase – which includes restaurants; offices; hair salons and barbershops; retail stores; and outdoor museums and zoos – is currently planned to take effect beginning May 20.
The governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose, however if they do they must follow the rules as prescribed. The protocols were developed by Governor Lamont, members of his office, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with legislators and recommendations made by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which consists of several of the state’s leading medical experts and representatives of several business and industry groups.
Documents containing the rules for the first phase of reopening have been published on the state’s coronavirus website – ct.gov/coronavirus – and are available to download directly at these links:
Hair Salons & Barbershops
Museums and Zoos (Outdoor Only)
Restaurants (Outdoor Only)
Retail & Malls
ALERT: The State of Connecticut is partnering with the developers of the How We Feel app in an effort to anonymously provide scientists with critical health information needed to understand the spread of COVID-19. Available to download for free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play store, it is supported by a nonprofit organization and does not require logging in or the sharing of any personal details, such as name or email address. In addition to being available to download to mobile devices, users can also complete the survey through a web version available at howwefeel.app.
ALERT: Effective at 8:00 p.m. on April 21, 2020, any person in a public place in Connecticut who is unable to or does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering. In addition, individuals shall use a mask or cloth face covering when using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service or means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area. The commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development will be required to update the previously issued Safe Workplace rules and Safe Store rules. Nothing in this order shall require the use of a mask or cloth face covering by anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition, anyone under the age of 2 years, or by an older child if the parent, guardian or person responsible for the child is unable to place the mask safely on the child’s face. If a person declines to wear a mask or face covering because of a medical condition as described above, such person shall not be required to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.
ALERT: Governor Ned Lamont announced he has signed an executive order that enacts a series of protections for residential renters struggling to pay their housing costs during the COVID-19 emergency, ensuring that they will not be evicted during this nationwide crisis and receive grace periods over the next several months. The order also extends all previously enacted closures, distancing, and safety measures – including for schools, restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, and other establishments – through at least May 20, 2020. In addition, it permits food trucks to operate at certain highway rest areas, and also modifies educator certification testing.
ALERT: Legislative session delayed until April 23rd.
ALERT: To speed up the processing of claims, unemployed residents who have not yet filed should:
  • Visit filectui.com
  • Click the link that says “For quicker payment of unemployment benefit, please follow these instructions”
  • Information will be provided on filing claims as a “Temporary Shutdown” option and provide guidance on entering a return to work date.
  • For residents that have already filed a claim, it is very important they check their email (including junk and spam folders) daily for updated messages from CTDOL. Messages may include next steps or a request that claimants log back onto their claim since following these instructions will help speed up processing.
  • For additional information read the list of Frequently Asked Questions the agency created related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALERT: Governor Lamont announced on March 31st that his administration has reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to the state’s residents and businesses who continue to face hardship caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement, the following relief policies are being offered by participating financial institutions:
  • 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments: Participating financial institutions are now offering mortgage-payment forbearances of up to 90 days, which will allow homeowners to reduce or delay monthly mortgage payments. In addition, the institutions will:
    • Provide a streamlined process for requesting forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation;
    • Confirm approval and terms of forbearance program; and
    • Provide the opportunity to extend forbearance agreements if faced with continued hardship resulting from COVID-19.
  • Relief from fees and charges for 90 days: For at least 90 days, participating financial institutions will waive or refund mortgage-related late fees and other fees including early CD withdrawals.
  • No new foreclosures for 60 days: Financial institutions will not start any foreclosure sales or evictions.
  • No credit score changes for accessing relief: For those taking advantage of this COVID-19-related relief, late or missed payments will not be shared with credit reporting agencies.

More than 50 credit unions and banks statewide are participating, including Webster Bank, American Eagle Financial Credit Union, Liberty Bank, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Bank of America, Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union, and Peoples United Bank. Additional financial institutions are expected to join the initiative in the coming days. The Department of Banking will maintain updated list of participating institutions on its website.

ALERT: Connecticut residents urged to be aware of scams linking coronavirus stimulus checks with the 2020 Census
Be mindful of fraudulent emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media posts falsely claiming that Americans must respond to the 2020 Census in order to receive a stimulus check from the federal government. In some cases, scammers may urge users to visit a fake census website and sign up to receive a stimulus check from the U.S. government, along with other false claims.
For more information, read the press release the three state officials issued on these potential scams.
ALERT: The Legislative Office Building and Capitol will be closed until April 13.
ALERT: Connecticut Department of Revenue Services extends filing and payment deadlines for personal income tax returns to July 15, 2020
ALERT: Federal Tax Day is moved from April 15th to July 15th, per Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.  All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.
ALERT: Governor Directs All Non-Essential Functions in Connecticut to Suspend In-Person Operations Beginning 8PM Monday; Governor Provides Updated Guidance to Individuals and New Order Affecting Businesses

DECD Guidance on Essential Businesses

Although it is still the Governor's intent is to keep as many people home as possible, here is the clarification: Construction and related activities are deemed to be an essential service. This includes "planning, engineering, design... and other construction support activities."

9. Construction including

- all skilled trades such as electricians, HVAC, and plumbers
- general construction, both commercial and residential
- other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes
- planning, engineering, design, bridge inspection, and other construction support activities

This includes architects. The understanding is that if the job is up and running then it is essential and any services related to that job continuing are essential as well.  Clarification from DAS was also asked--their intent is to keep most of their construction projects going.

Clarification of Executive Order No. 7H Regarding Non-Essential Business Operations. Executive Order No. 7H, dated March 20, 2020 is hereby amended to permit 1) non-essential retailers to be staffed on site, provided that they may only offer remote ordering (e.g. phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and delivery or curb-side pick-up, and 2) non-essential businesses and nonprofits to allow staff or third patties on site to the minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages, or other services deemed essential in implementing guidance issued by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Connecticut Insurance Department Informs Small and Medium-Sized Businesses that the IRS Will Provide Immediate and Full Reimbursement For Covid-19 Medical Leave Costs 

Connecticut Insurance Department Commissioner Andrew Mais would like businesses to be aware of recent IRS guidance on novel coronavirus COVID-19 – related employee medical leave and new payroll tax credits. The cost of not just the leave but also of health insurance during the leave will be covered.

“This is very good news for small and medium-sized Connecticut businesses with employees on medical leave caring for themselves or family members,” said Commissioner Mais. “It removes a concern and reduces expenses related to employees on medical leave in the hopes of keeping more workers on the payroll.”

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) announced in IR-2020-57 that 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. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act). For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.

Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act.

  • Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
  • Employers face no payroll tax liability.
  • Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.

Reimbursement will be quick and easy to obtain.

  • An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided.
  • Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.

The IRS also noted that eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during a child care leave period should a child care provider be unavailable due to the Coronavirus. This credit is equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the child care leave credit.

NCARB Updates

With the health and safety of test takers and staff in mind, Prometric has decided to temporarily close all test centers in the United States for the next 30 days, beginning on March 18, 2020. Prometric currently expects to reopen test centers on April 16, 2020, pending additional developments in the Coronavirus outbreak.

If you have an appointment scheduled later than three business days from now, we encourage you to self-serve by logging into your NCARB Record and rescheduling existing appointments at no cost. We recommend rescheduling for late May and into the months of June or July.

Rolling Clock Considerations
NCARB will be applying a universal 90-day rolling clock extension to all candidates as appropriate. This extension will be applied automatically as soon as possible.

For additional questions and concerns, please contact NCARB or Prometric. Be aware that due to the high volume of requests, wait times may be longer than usual and you may not see changes to your NCARB Record immediately.

Small Business Loans

Beginning this week Connecticut became one of the first three states in the nation (along with Maine and Rhode Island) to make available Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to state-headquartered companies that have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The initiative makes available loans of up to $2 million to qualifying small businesses and non-profit organizations. These are working-capital loans used to address economic injury already incurred as a result of the crisis as well as to continue operations at a time of reduced revenue streams as a result of the crisis.

SBA had made eligibility requirements for small businesses applying for disaster-relief loans as broad as was practical. Eligible companies are those directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, those indirectly impacted and also companies that provide goods and services to businesses in either of the first two groups.

Information on using electronic filing to apply for EIDL is available at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also phone 800-659-2955 for direct assistance.

Small businesses with questions about this SBA loan program or other assistance provided at the state-level can call 860-500-2333 to speak directly with a DECD representative. Businesses can also stay informed on news and guidance related to COVID-19 and its impact on Connecticut by visiting the state’s dedicated coronavirus website at ct.gov/coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Payroll Tax Compliance Information

Department of Revenue Services extends filing and payment deadlines for certain small businesses

At the direction of Governor Lamont to provide Connecticut small businesses with immediate administrative tax relief in recognition of the impact of COVID-19, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) today announced that it granting a two-month extension of filing and payment deadlines for certain small businesses.

Taxpayers that have $150,000 or less in annual sales tax liability qualify for an automatic extension of time to file and pay. Similarly, those that have $150,000 or less in annual room occupancy tax also qualify for this relief. Entities that collect both sales tax and room occupancy tax must evaluate each tax separately to determine eligibility for relief.

To determine if it is a qualified small business, entities are required to utilize a calendar year look back period of January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2019. Any taxpayer that reported $150,000 or less in tax during that period qualified for the relief.
Returns covered by this extension includes:
• For monthly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due March 31, 2020, and April 30, 2020, are extended to May 31, 2020.
• For quarterly sales tax and room occupancy tax filers: Returns and payments due April 30, 2020, are extended to May, 31, 2020.

Those who need to contact DRS regarding their specific situation may e-mail the department at DRS@po.state.ct.us or phone 860-297-5962.

Additional Information

Visit preparerespondserve.org for a list of resources and timely updates on how technology can be your friend in dealing with emergencies. 501 Commons is providing guidance on how to prevent work disruptions, and stay connected to files, data, and colleagues while some or all staff members are working remotely. They also provide advice on management practices and HR policies that support remote work.

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO) Recommendations for Mass Gatherings

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

United States of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center