On Thursday, March 19th Governor Gavin Newsom issued a “Stay-At-Home” order for all people in the state of California which staggered many small business owners. 

Newsom’s speech touted the need to combat the spread of the COVID 19 virus and emphasized the importance of preventing an all-out outbreak but left most business owners scrambling for information. 

Luckily, we dig some serious digging and have some answers if you’re a small business in California.

We’ve broken down some of the most common questions asked that were not addressed in Newsom’s speech or on the official COVID-19 .gov website (https://covid19.ca.gov/).

COVID-19 Small Business Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find a copy of the Governor Newsom’s Order?

A PDF document and copy of executive order N-33-20 can be found here

When does the executive stay-at-home order for California start?

Executive order N-33-20 goes into effect on Thursday March 19th at 12am Midnight. 

What type of business is considered an “essential business” and allowed to stay open?

The stay at home order states that only “essential” businesses can remain open. These are specifically listed as Gas Stations, Pharmacies, Food; included Stores, Farmers Markets, Food Banks, Convenience Stores, Take-Out & Delivery Restaurants, Banks, Laundromats and Laundry Services. Including 16 government “critical” infrastructure sectors.  ONLY these business are allowed to be open but check this link to see if your business falls into one of these critical sectors.

What legal ramifications and laws are there for not obeying the California stay-at-home order?

The penalties for anyone person who violates the order are subject to Article 19 Code 8665 of the California Law which is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months imprisonment. Legislative link found here.

What health and safety codes give authority to the stay-at-home order issued by Governor Newsom?

The order is pursuant to codes 120140, 131080, 120130(c), 120135, 120145, 120175, and 120150.

Is there any financial assistance or aid for small businesses due to the stay-at-home order (current as of 3/19 10pm PDT)?

Yes, small businesses can apply for a low interest loan (some are reporting 3.75%) if your business is in California or one of the qualifying states. Business owners can apply for the loan here.

How long is the stay-at-home order issued for?

Currently, (as of 3/19 10pm PDT) the order lists “until further notice”. 

So how should a small business handle the COVID-19 pandemic?

The sudden shutdown leaves tons obvious questions to answer and the bottom line is that this is a tough situation. 

But hey, this is business.  You can’t start a successful one without a lot of hard work and the same goes for keeping one afloat.  

So what is the best way to navigate this situation?

I’ll offer up my advice and give some personal insight into a few things that might help you out. 

Let’s start with some hard stuff first.  Your employees…

  • If you have the ability to run your business remotely great! This is great opportunity to see how well you and your staff can operate on a remote basis. Get yourself some form of chat communication between staff if you don’t already.  You can setup something like Slack or Zoom for free and relatively cheap. 
  • For businesses who must operate on reduced hours, California offers a work share program  which offers partial unemployment benefits for reduced work hour employees to help you retain existing staff. 
  • Sick or quarantined employees can apply for disability insurance while those who have to miss work due to needing to provide care giving to a family member can file for Paid Family Leave.
  • If you need to shutdown entirely, your employees can file for unemployment insurance and return to work once the stay-at-home order has ended. 

It’s been mentioned that the president plans to offer financial assistance specifically for small businesses but as of the writing of this article it’s still up in the air. 

Fortunately, there are several companies lending some form of aid to small business owners. 

Organizations offering COVID-19 Aid to Small Businesses in California

  1. The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans. (see above)
  2. Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits for small businesses. Link Here.
  3. If you’re in Los Angeles the city has a micro-loan program here.
  4. The Franchise Tax Board has extended filing and payment until July 15th 2020. 
  5. Free Printable Signage from signs.com.
  6. Fact Sheets for workplace display here.

Time to Pivot…

While dealing with obvious health and safety precautions will help limit the spread of virus in the work place the real lesson here is about how well your business can adapt to challenges. 

Planning for potential downturns such as this should be part of your core business strategy.  Any good financial adviser can tell you that but many business owners are often left with the question of “how”.. 

Here are a few ways you can pivot your business when calamity inevitably comes.

  1. Sell your products or services online. 
  2. Take the time to analyze your business and look for places to improve upon for the future. 
  3. Hire! Now is a great time to start looking for new candidates, the employee pull will be getting bigger and you’re likely to find a future hire that’s extremely valuable. 
  4. See if your business can transition your products or services into CISA Critcal Sectors (as mentioned above). 
  5. Offer Gift Cards for a later date. You can get money today and perform the work later. 

Hopefully you found this a little helpful.  These are tough times but within times of chaos often comes opportunity. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blog for more helpful small business tips and additional info on how to prosper in these tough times. 


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