With the state’s largest source of employment reeling from a mandatory shut down ordered this week due to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor John Carney moved swiftly today in announcing financial relief for restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses.
The Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) will offer no-interest loans capped at $10,000 per business per month. Carney’s office says the money can cover rent, utilities and other unavoidable bills but cannot be used for personnel costs. The loans have a 10-year term with payments deferred for nine months.
The program will be administered by the Division of Small Business will administer the program using existing state funds and is aiming to have an application available later this week.
Eligible businesses must have been in operation for at least a year, have annual revenue below $1.5 million and be in certain hospitality-connected industries. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn if you qualify or call 302-739-4271 with additional questions.
Carney also announced he had approved changes to Delaware’s unemployment benefits program for the hospitality industry for workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. These include:
- The Department of Labor (DOL) will begin processing unemployment claims as they are received with the goal of benefits becoming available within a week.
- DOL will allow part time income while collecting benefits as long as employees can demonstrate their decreased hours and earnings.
- DOL will not classify tipped employees as minimum wage earners as long as their tips are reported as wages.
Carney said the measures were crucial to supporting businesses and employees already impacted by the health crisis.
“Restaurants, bars, hotels, and other hospitality-related businesses, and their workers, are among those most seriously impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Delaware,” said Carney. “We’ve limited restaurants to takeout and delivery services and asked all Delawareans to avoid being out in public unnecessarily. Many people from other states have postponed non-essential travel, meaning they are not coming to Delaware for vacations or business. We feel it is crucial that the state step in to assist these businesses and their employees.”
Businesses applying for assistance through Delaware’s HELP program will need to prove they meet the eligibility standards. This includes providing documentation to show the business has been current for at least 80 percent of payments over the past 12 months, and not past due on its most recent payment on any bill for which it is applying for relief. This can be done through proof of payments or a letter from the entity to which the money was due.
The program announcement comes as the state also awaits official confirmation from the U.S. Small Business Administration that it has received the Economic Injury Declaration which Governor Carney formally requested on Monday.
Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or 711 for people who are hearing impaired from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov. Fo
r the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.