Category: WWI News

Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant

Governor Inslee just announced a new Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program to assist small businesses that have up to 10 full time employees impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Up to $5 million in funds are provided through the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund and administered by the State Department of Commerce. The grant program will provide a limited number of businesses in Washington’s 39 counties with a grant up to $10,000.

To learn about the process, eligibility, and access the application form please click here.

Stay safe

Wine Industry COVID-19 Requirements, Relief & Recommendations Webinar

Wine Industry COVID-19 Requirements, Relief & Recommendations

Presented in Partnership by Washington Wine Institute & Washington Winegrowers Association

Date:          Friday, April 10, 2020

Time:         10:00am – 11:30am

Location:    WEBINAR (instructions will be provided day-of to registered attendees)

Vineyard and winery employers are invited to join us for this free COVID-19 webinar with experts from Foster Garvey PC and Moss Adams.  We’ll break down the CARES Act, update you on federal tax changes, identify some key considerations in contracts and insurance recovery, and review Washington liquor laws for producing and selling wine in this unprecedented time.

Registration is required; there is a maximum cap on attendance.

Due to anticipated attendance and our desire to provide as much valuable information as possible in a short time frame, Q&A will not be conducted during the webinar, but upon registering, you will be asked to submit a question to help shape content, and we will be taking questions for follow-up responses post-event.

REGISTER HERE

Stay Safe

Governor Extends Stay Home Stay Healthy Through May 4

Governor Inslee announced his “Stay Home Stay Healthy” Order for the entire state will be extended through May 4th. The Governor and state health professionals are providing some cautiously positive news that the social distancing we are adhering to is working. The caveat is that our state could see a dramatic and negative change if we let up now. While absolutely painful for our industry and all the businesses, employees, and communities across the state, we are doing our part to fight the spread of the virus. As for our current wine production, distribution, and sales allowances, nothing in the extended time frame of the “Stay Home Stay Healthy” Order changes what can do now.

We are proud of our members and the creativity and determination to do what we can in these times as wineries, local wine associations, and overall the Washington wine industry. From virtual concerts, to virtual tastings, to impressive social media and online presence, it is clear we are doing what we can with the allowances we were able to hold onto during the Governor’s several shut down orders. Keep it up and please contact Josh josh@wwi.wine if we can help with any state or federal regulatory questions!

We are in this together and will get through it together.

COVID 19 State and Federal Resources for Employers and Employees

If, like us, you’ve been flooded with emails in the past two weeks providing links and resources to state and federal loans, grants, and related programs for employers and employees, we are sure you can appreciate how overwhelming all the information can be. To try our best to help here, we’ve been busy distilling down and all that information and working on pulling together as many useful resources and links. Some of our state and federal resources are updated regularly so please check them every few days as well as look for more emails from us containing meaningful updates to our situation.

For this week, beyond the links and resources provided below, we wanted to call special attention to one LCB and one TTB announcement as were just brought forward a few days.

LCB Notice on License Renewals:

Liquor-licensed businesses are temporarily not required to pay renewal fees for their liquor licenses if the establishment is closed when the liquor license is due to be renewed. Please note, however, that they will need to pay the renewal and have a valid liquor license in place once the ban is lifted and premises re-open.

The Department of Revenue (DOR) has waived the BLS delinquency fee for late liquor license fee renewals through at least April 17, 2020. Information can be found on the DOR’s website. LCB also waived penalties for late payment of liquor taxes while the Governor’s proclamation restricting licensee operations is in effect.

TTB Announces Three Month Excise Tax Postponement

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recognizes that businesses that they regulate are being severely impacted by COVID-19. To assist these businesses during this period, they are postponing several filing and payment due dates for 90 days where the original due date falls on or after March 1, 2020, through July 1, 2020.

They are:

  1. Postponing tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes.
  2. Postponing filing due dates for excise tax returns.
  3. Postponing filing due dates for submission of operational reports.
  4. Postponing filing due dates for claims for credit or refund by producers.
  5. Postponing filing due dates for claims by manufacturers of non-beverage products.
  6. Postponing due dates for submission of export documentation.
  7. Considering emergency variations from regulatory requirements for affected businesses on a case-by-case basis.
  8. Reviewing requests for relief from penalties based on reasonable cause.

Federal Links 

CARES Act: Covid-19 Stimulus Summary

On March 27th, the President signed into law the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (the CARES Act), the largest economic relief act in our country’s history.

WineAmerica has provided a basic summary of the CARES Act and benefits for the wine industry here

The US Travel Association has provided a list of relief resources through new or existing federal programs as a result of this legislation. You can find those specific programs here 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

An SBA Loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-10) crisis. Information on the program as well as how to apply can be found here

The US treasury also has published information on assistance for small businesses thru the paycheck protection program, you can access that information here

TTB Updates and Guidance on COVID-19

The TTB is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments to provide you with the latest updates and guidance to help you and your business respond to the COVID-19 national emergency. As updates are available, the TTB will post all information here

US Department of Labor

The US Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Wage and Hour posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective today, April 1, 2020. 

The US DOL will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help you learn more about the FFCRA.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD) invites webinar viewers to call the agency’s toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with trained WHD professional about any questions you may have. Please also check our COVID-19 response website often, as we continue to update the compliance assistance information available there. Similarly, signing up for the USDOL Key News Alerts  will ensure that you remain current with all notice requirements.

The Seattle District Office is also here locally to offer assistance to our stakeholders in the business, government and worker communities in Alaska, Washington and Northern Idaho at  206-398-8039.

Washington State Links

Washington State Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response 

Latest news and what you need to know about the coronovirus in Washington State.  Includes statistics, what to do if you are ill, state closures, essential businesses, etc.  That information can be located here 

Department of Revenue WA State 

The Dept of Revenue is taking several actions to provide relief to COVID-19 impacted businesses during the state of emergency . These actions address a broad range of taxes and programs: business and occupation tax, real estate excise tax assessments, leasehold excise tax, forest tax, and tax deferrals for biotechnology and medical device manufacturing. Find additional information on the actions taken by the Dept of Revenue here

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board 

The LCB has provided resources and information for licensees and the public during the COVID-19 state restrictions period.  The LCB has made temporary modifications to ensure safe customer engagement for your business. Unless otherwise mentioned, these temporary modifications are effective until determined differently. You can find a list of the temporary allowances that include excise tax payment penalties waived details, alcohol sale allowances, return of alcohol, curbside delivery, and license renewal payment details, as well as FAQ here

Employment Security Department of WA State (ESD)

The ESD has provided information including answers to FAQs on their website here

If you do not find the answer to your question on the ESD website, please send your question directly regarding any UI or related items to Josh McDoanld at WWI – Josh@wwi.wine. We have secured a direct contact with ESD to get answers for all Washington wine industry questions. ESD has requested our members use a point person with their association to try and help with the overwhelming amount of questions and requests they are getting right now. This approach will likely get your question(s) answered much faster!

Stay Safe

WSLCB Tax Payment Penalties Waived Temporarily

We have one update for you today in regards to Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and what it means for wineries.

Taxes Deferred

Governor Inslee yesterday signed Proclamation 20-05, which allows the WSLCB to waive the penalties for failure to timely remit tax payments until April 22. This does not waive taxes due but temporarily allows for a late payment without assessing automatic, statute-directed penalties.

To be eligible for deferment: Continue to submit sales reports to the WSLCB, even if you are not able to pay on time. Submit requests to pay late & have penalties waived by email to beerwinetaxes@lcb.wa.gov.

As a reminder, Washington wineries may continue all currently allowed activities, as the wine industry falls under the “essential workforce” category of agriculture. Although wineries and tasting rooms must be closed for in-person tastings and events, wineries may offer sales to-go, curbside sales and deliveries under proper social distancing recommendations. Please refer to the article on our website for details on all current restrictions and allowances.

Please contact us if we can help answer questions or otherwise be helpful. We are all in this together.

Governor Inslee Stay Home, Stay Safe Order Update

Thank you for your patience as we worked closely with the Washington State Wine Commission, Washington Winegrowers, and the WSLCB to confirm what Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order means for wineries. As a reminder, this order:

  1. Requires every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
  2. Bans all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
  3. Closes all businesses except essential businesses within 48 hours after the order is signed.

We are happy to report that we, in coordination with legal counsel Emily Gant at Foster Garvey, confirmed with the WSLCB this morning that we may continue all currently allowed winery activities, as the wine industry falls under the “essential workforce” category of agriculture.There is one additional permission now needed for curbside sales, please see below under “winery allowances.”

RESTRICTIONS

  1. All wineries and tasting rooms must be closed for in-person tastings and events.

ALLOWANCES

The following is permitted:

  1. Wine bottle/case sales to-go. You are permitted to allow customers into your tasting room or winery to purchase wine bottles to-go, or pickup online/phone purchases.
  2. (Adjacent to Winery/Tasting Room Premise) Curbside sales and deliveries. To do sales of wine on the curbside or similar location adjacent to the winery and technically off your licensed premise, you can request curbside delivery by submitting the Added Activities form. You will need to handwrite the request for curbside delivery privileges on the form. Send the form to nonretailliquorlicensing@lcb.wa.gov. 
  3. All deliveries, including direct from winery to customer. If you currently have delivery privileges, you may continue to deliver product now. If not, you can request delivery privileges by submitting the Added Activities form. Please send the form to nonretailliquorlicensing@lcb.wa.gov.  
  4. Winery production activities.
  5. Vineyard activities.
  6. Wholesale activities. Returns of alcohol from a business to a distributor.

Please remember that all current activity must meet proper social distancing recommendations. While to-go orders are still permitted, here are a few suggestions for social distancing:

  1. Encourage customers to call in their orders before they arrive.
  2. Make any transactions swiftly.
  3. When customers arrive to pick-up, have them wait in line 6 feet apart.
  4. Encourage customers to wait in their vehicles and you can call them in or deliver wine to their car when it’s ready.
  5. Check IDs from a distance. When making deliveries, the signature requirement has been temporarily waived – just ask customers to hold up their ID and check it from a safe distance.
  6. Adopt a “no cash” policy.
  7. Remove chairs from seating areas.

Emily Harris Gant is a partner at Foster Garvey, a Washington Wine Institute Associate Member, and provided help to our association as we translated what the most recent order means to our industry. We are grateful! Emily’s practice focuses on the alcoholic beverage and cannabis industries.  You can reach Emily at emily.gant@foster.com or 206.816.1454.

Please contact us if you need to talk, have questions or want to brainstorm. We’re in this together.

March 2020: Washington Wine & our Temporary Reality

As the news surrounding COVID-19 changes daily, even hourly, we know you are doing everything you can to keep up, be safe, and protect your businesses. We are doing the same at the Washington State Wine Commission. In lieu of our normal monthly newsletter, we are dedicating this email to how the COVID-19 restrictions affect you, along with some resources to communicate and engage with our community and your customers. We are in this together.

WINERY RESTRICTIONS:
Gov. Jay Inslee announced an emergency proclamation this week that mandates the temporary closing of restaurants, bars, entertainment and recreational facilities. We sent out a series of emails regarding how the WSLCB is responding, and you can refer to the latest email to get up-to-date information about current WSLCB restrictions & allowances.

The bottom line is that through March 31, and possibly longer:   All wineries and tasting rooms must be closed for in-person  tastings and events.

WINERY ALLOWANCES:
The following is permitted:

  1. Wine bottle/case sales to-go.
  2. Curbside sales and deliveries.
  3. All deliveries, including direct from winery to customer. Please follow these guidelines.
  4. Production activities.
  5. Wholesale activities.
  6. Returns of alcohol from a business to a distributor. More information here.

NEW INFORMATION

  1. FedEx has informed us that they are not requiring physical signatures for alcohol deliveries, but are still requiring the customer to show a valid ID. The FedEx driver will not touch the customer’s ID but they must show it to the driver.
  2. There has been some confusion as to whether or not you can allow customers to consume wine outside of your tasting room but still on your licensed winery premise. As of our understanding today the answer is, unfortunately, no. Under Gov. Inslee’s restrictions there is to be no consumption on your property (whether inside or outside).

We understand that these temporary restrictions will be challenging, but we have seen some really creative engagement from you already (shipping specials, complimentary hand-delivery, even supporting our friends in the restaurant industry by offering a discount on wine if a customer shows a take-out receipt). Our industry is strong, and will persevere through this.

 

The Washington Wine Institute (WWI) has collected information regarding Gov. Inslee’s plan for economic relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID 19 outbreak. You can view the latest here.

General Resources
Washington: Department of Health
National: CDC
Regional Travel & Tourism: Visit Seattle
Resources for Employers & Workers: Governor’s list of resourcesAssociation of Washington Business

Governor Inslee Announces Business and Employee Relief Measures

Governor Inslee yesterday announced details regarding economic relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID 19 outbreak. Below are details regarding both. We will continue to provide updates to these efforts at both the state and federal level as they become available.

In addition, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) has created a helpful resource page for businesses and their employees. You can access that page here.

Finally, AWB is hosting a COVID 19 Business Impact Webinar on Monday, March 23rd 10-11:30 AM. The speakers on the webinar confirmed come from the following agencies and related fields: WA State Department of Labor & Industries; WA Small Business Development Center, WSU; University of Washington School of Public Health; WA Emergency Management Division; U.S. Small Business Administration; WA State Department of Commerce; WA State Department of Health.

One-Week Waiting Period Waiver for Unemployment Insurance & Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Expansion:

Inslee announced a waiver of one week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8th. The Governor said he is working with the White House and our congressional delegation to become eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. That would allow WA State to expand unemployment insurance to those who are otherwise not eligible for unemployment insurance, like workers with less than 680 hours and independent contractors.

WA State Small Business Assistance:

Governor Inslee will allocate up to $5 million of the Governor’s Strategic Funds reserve to be made available as small business grants to prevent closure due to COVID-19. Once available, applications will be coordinate under the state Dept of Commerce.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans:

The federal Small Business Administration approved Governor Inslee’s request for disaster declaration, which unlocks low interest loans for WA small businesses to help meet financial obligations and cover operating expenses. Congress approved up to $7 billion in SBA disaster loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19. We encourage you to apply if needed and learn more here.

Flexibility for Tax Collections:

The WA State Dept of Revenue will have authority to waive, suspend penalties and interest on certain late payments. The state will create payment plans on the amount businesses owe without filing tax liens in federal courts. This includes waiving late filing fees for property tax exemption renewals; business license renewal late fees; and excise tax interest on B&O, real estate sales, and other taxes the department administers.

Utility Rate Payer Assistance:

The Governor called on all public Utilities in WA State to suspend disconnection tariffs for nonpayment during this emergency; waiving late fees for customers who are our of work or offering customers payment plans; and expanding bill assistance programs.

Cash Assistance to Families:

Governor Inslee has directed the state Dept of Social and Health Service to expand eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children.

Workforce Retention and Economic Development:

The Employment Security Department and Department of Commerce will lead efforts to support economic retention, resilience and recovery efforts. This team will work with the business community to move forward toward economic recovery. As resources and tools become available, check here.

Mental Health Support:

The behavioral health community is ready to help those who may be struggling with stress and mental health during this on-going crisis. If you or a family member needs emotional of mental health support, consider calling the Washington Poverty Help Center Line at 1-866-789-1511.

 

Curbside Deliver and More Information For Wineries

We know this is a confusing time, and you continue to get new information regarding Gov. Inslee’s restrictions on tasting rooms every day. We are dedicated to distilling this information for you in a clear, concise and timely way.

As of today, Wednesday, March 18, here is what you need to know:

WINERY RESTRICTIONS

  • All wineries and tasting rooms must be closed for in-person tastings and events.

WINERY ALLOWANCES
The following is permitted:

  1. Wine bottle/case sales to-go.
  2. Curbside sales and deliveries. Licensed wineries may immediately sell products to customers outside of their business, but within the licensed property line. This is a temporary allowance.
  3. All deliveries, including direct from winery to customer.
  4. Production activities.
  5. Wholesale activities.
  6. Returns of Alcohol.
    1. Due to the emergent circumstances, the WSLCB is providing approval for distributors to pick up product from businesses impacted by COVID-19, which includes the allowance for distributors to provide a refund for the returned product. This is a temporary approval until April 1, 2020.
    2. Retail licensees impacted by closures may contact their distributor(s) to request the return of product.
    3. Distributors should email Lieutenant Robert Knowles with the retail liquor license number(s) and product to be returned.

Governor Inslee Statement on Temporary Shutdown of Restaurants, Bars, and Entertainment and Recreational Facilities

Governor Inslee issued an emergency declaration announcing the temporary closing of restaurants, bars, entertainment and recreational facilities. This announcement coincided with a similar statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine.

You can read the Governor’s official statement here.

The Seattle Times article here provides more detail including the closure notice will extend until March 31st.

There are allowances for wineries to provide take-out and delivery sales. We are in direct communication with the Governor’s office, the Department of Commerce and the Liquor and Cannabis Board so that we can provide that assurance and clarity for all wineries.

We will continue to communicate information from the Governor’s office, our state regulators, community resources, and information about help for small businesses and employees.

As we continue sending emails updating you as the situation evolves, we strongly encourage our wine associations, schools, and others to send these notices broadly to reach the largest amount of the WA wine industry as possible.

Resources for Businesses and Employees:

Financial Resources for WA Residents Impacted by COVID-19

COVID-19 Resource List for WA Businesses and Workers

Employment Security Department Emergency Employment Resources

Unemployment Benefits

Department of Commerce COVID-19 Info & Updates

Small Business Administration Disaster Relief Loans

Association of Washington Businesses COVID-19 Employer Resources

Additional Unemployment Security Department Resources:

https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/

https://esd.wa.gov/SharedWork

https://esd.wa.gov/SharedWork/eligibility

 

Several WA Wine Bills Continue to Advance in Olympia

Today is the 40th day of the 2020 legislative session, with two-thirds of this year’s legislative journey over and the final 20 days looming ahead. The Senate and House passed many bills out of their respective chambers, with focuses on health care, mental health, the environment, affordable housing, and to a lesser extent small business regulatory changes and reform. For the Washington wine industry, we had a very strong floor session with four of our priority bills surviving the process and continuing on into the next phase of the legislative process! Here is an updated list of the Washington wine bills that survived the floor session cutoff process and are still alive. These include:

WWI authored legislation:
SB 6392: Creating a local wine industry association license

Other:
HB 2050: Creating the Washington wine specialty license plate
SB 6095: Allowing common carrier activities not prohibited under the three-tier system (supports the Alaska Airlines Wine-Flies-Free Program among other promotional opportunities with airlines, cruise ships, and trains that cross state lines)
SB 5006: Allowing, in a limited amount, Washington wine to be sold at a craft brewery and Washington beer to be sold at a winery and satellite tasting rooms

The Legislature now shifts to spending the final days voting on survivng bills out of the House and Senate committees for the next week, then finishing the 2020 session with final votes on bills out of the full House or Senate. As always we will keep you our members informed as our work within the 2020 legislative session continues towards a March 12 finish.