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 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 – 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