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Some State Business Restrictions Are Now Lifted

April 4th, 2021 Comments off

Pennsylvania has lifted some restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, and is increasing some gathering limits. Restaurants may resume bar service; alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food; the curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted; and indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent for those restaurants that are currently self-certified and those that undergo the self-certification process. That involves agreeing to comply with public health safety guidelines and orders, including the cleaning and mitigation protocols and other operational requirements. Those restaurants that do not self-certify may raise capacity to 50 percent. Outdoor dining, curbside pick-up and takeout are still encouraged. Requirements such as mask-wearing, and social distancing, including six feet between diners, also still apply. Capacity for other businesses also will be increased, including 75 percent occupancy for personal services facilities, gyms and entertainment facilities such as theaters and malls. Revised limits for indoor events allow for 25 percent of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. New limits for outdoor events allow for 50 percent of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the six-foot physical distancing requirement.

Pennsylvania has also reduced the six-foot social distancing rule for students in many schools to three feet and lessened the length of time schools must close after COVID-19 outbreaks. The shift in school guidance comes as more Pennsylvania schools eye a return to more in-person classes.

Gov. Tom Wolf cautioned that mask-wearing, social distancing and business adherence to safety orders are still imperative: “We’ve come so far and now is not the time to stop the safety measures we have in place to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. Keep wearing a mask, social distancing and, please, get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

Help Available Through Local COVID Grant Programs

April 4th, 2021 Comments off

Renters, owners of restaurants and lodging establishments, and other small businesses may be eligible for financial assistance to help compensate them for financial losses attributable to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic through recent federal programs.

First, Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel have designated the county’s Human Services agency to administer a federal grant received to help those who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay for rent and utilities. Those who can demonstrate a loss of income due to the pandemic are encouraged to apply. Applications can be downloaded from a website here. Once an application is complete, a Potter County Human Services case manager will be in touch to offer assistance. To be eligible, a renter household must have one or more individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

Full eligibility guidelines may be found here. Those seeking more information can contact Jim Kockler or Kara Amidon at 814-544-7315.

Second, Potter County has been awarded a $187,000 federal grant to support businesses in the hospitality industry that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioners have contracted with the Ridgway-based Northcentral Pa. Planning and Development Commission to administer the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). Grants are targeted to compensate for revenue losses and pay eligible operating expenses due to the pandemic. Owners of lodging and dining establishments must have been in operation as of Feb. 15, 2020, continue to operate, and have a demonstrated adverse economic impact due to the pandemic to qualify for funding. Funding is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds cannot be used to cover the same operating expenses that were claimed in the federal CARES Act in 2020 or similar relief programs. Grants will be awarded in increments of $5,000 up to a maximum of $25,000. Applications are being accepted until April 15. Potter County business owners seeking more information should go to the county website, pottercountypa.net, and access the Community Development section under the Departments tab. Information is also available online at http://www.ncentral.com/.

Third, low-cost, flexible financing is available to qualifying Potter County businesses through a federal government program designed to lessen the economic burden of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Low-interest, flexible loans are available to support business revitalization and growth, enhance workplace safety, strengthen supply chains and sustain/create jobs. Projects can include:
  • Real estate acquisition (construction & renovations are not eligible)
  • Machinery & equipment
  • Working capital
  • Installation/implementation of CDC-recommended safety measures
  • Technology
More information is available from Jennifer Hibbard at 814-773-3162, ext. 3049; jhibbard@ncentral.com. Details can also be found online here.