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New emergency order requires masks in homes, private gatherings

From Delaware Live

When Gov. John Carney rounded up all the modifications of his State of Emergency Order and put them into one new document, it added a sentence:

“A private residence where there is an indoor gathering of more than 10 people who do not reside at that property shall be considered an indoor space open to the public for purposes of this Order.”

That is new, confirmed Carney spokesman Jon Starkey, “though we have had some restrictions on private gatherings for a while.”

The new rule comes as Labor Day weekend is heading into full swing, with the last parties and cookouts of summer.

The new verbiage showed up Thursday, when Carney issued a press release saying that he had signed the 27th modification to his State of Emergency, combining all active COVID-19 restrictions into a single order, creating an Omnibus Executive Order.

The modification also formalized reopening bar service in Delaware beach communities and required that businesses more strictly enforce face covering requirements among their employees.

The new addition — in the section about face coverings — essentially requires homeowners and guests to follow the same protocols that restaurants and other public places do: wearing masks unless eating, but making sure the face coverings are on if you are moving around.

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Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce set to launch soon

From Delaware Business Times

MIDDLETOWN — To amplify the voices of and opportunities for success for Black business owners, a Middletown consultant is leading efforts to form a Delaware chapter of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Khan Consulting President and CEO Ayanna Khan started the groundwork for the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce (DEBCC) this summer, but envisions a future organization that not only advocates for Black business owners, but also grants them a door to funding opportunities and workforce development.

“There is definitely a disconnect in the business community when it comes to helping Black business owners,” Khan told Delaware Business Times. “This will be the state’s first chapter, and it’s time to start one. We need to pull together to make sure these businesses are not left behind.”

A survey conducted by the Global Strategy Group showed that only 12% of Black and Latino businesses who applied for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) received the full loan amount requested. About 26% of businesses surveyed received only a fraction of what was requested.

In Delaware, 14 out of the total 2,073 PPP loan recipients identified as businesses or nonprofits run by a person of color. Of the 14, five recipients identified as a Black-owned business or organization. Overall, 138 applicants identified as white and 1,921 applicants did not identify their race.

That inequality spoke volumes to Khan, especially since her firm helped nonprofits bring in millions through grants and fundraising.

“Seeing that Black business owners locked out of the PPP across the country because they didn’t fit the eligibility or the requirements, that really spoke to me,” Khan added. “Here I am, able to bring in millions for my clients and there’s a chance that businesses like mine wouldn’t see anywhere near the amount. No matter where you are in the state, it’s access to capital that’s the main struggle for Black businesses.”

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As Maryland enters stage 3 of COVID-19 reopening, movie theaters, live venues can open

From The News Journal

Movie theaters and entertainment venues can begin reopening later this week as Maryland moves into the third stage of coronavirus reopening, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

All businesses in Maryland will be able to open in stage three, Hogan said. That includes movie theaters and live venues that have been shuttered since early in the pandemic.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Entertainment facilities will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity or up to 100 people at indoor venues or 250 people at outdoor venues, Hogan said. Retail stores and houses of worship can now move from operating at 50 percent capacity to 75 percent capacity, he said.

“I want to remind the people of Maryland that moving into stage 3 does not mean that this crisis is behind us,” Hogan said, “and remind them that we must remain vigilant so that we can keep Maryland open for business.”

Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions can choose to apply more restrictive rules.

Hogan on Tuesday also announced that Maryland will be one of the first states in the country to provide some COVID-19 tracing services through a collaboration with Apple and Google.

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Sixty-acre sports complex set to open near Georgetown

From The News Journal

Georgetown’s long-awaited Sandhill Fields sports complex is set to open Sept. 9.

The almost 60-acre property at 20330 Sand Hill Road features eight regulation Bermuda grass soccer/lacrosse fields and six regulation pickleball courts.

A 3.1-mile regulation cross-country course is part of Sandhill Fields’ 3.5-mile wooded walking trail, half of which is an above-ground boardwalk.

“You have to see it,” said Lewes’ Joe Schell, who first envisioned the complex and donated the land. “It’s something else.”

About half of the walking trail at Sandhill Fields consists of a raised boardwalk.

There are picnic pavilions, restrooms and ample parking. Two playgrounds are still being built. An area at the center is reserved for food trucks.

The “first-class multisport center,” as described by Sandhill Fields’ website, is open to the public for free use. Sports clubs who wish to use the fields for practice, games and tournaments will be charged a fee.

It cost around $6.5 million, part of which was funded by a loan from the Sussex County Council. Any profit will go toward maintenance or future expansion.

Schell said a few organizations have already booked the fields for this fall. He is looking forward to busy spring and summer seasons next year.

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As donations run dry, closure looms for some Delaware nonprofits. What about their clients?

From The News Journal

Sixty-seven percent of surveyed nonprofits said they need financial support to pay for the cost of personal protection equipment required by state order, and 52% of nonprofits who received Personal Paycheck Protection loans from the Small Business Administration will need more to retain employees, according to a survey of over 100 Delaware nonprofits by the Delaware COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative.

Meals on Wheels volunteer Bob Casey, right, delivers a meal to a recipient Thursday, August 27, 2020, in Dover.

But much of this funding will be gone by the fall.

The survey found that despite assistance from the philanthropic community and funds from the federal government, nearly a third of responding nonprofits have less than 10 weeks of available cash on hand.

Take Modern Maturity, which doubled its production when the pandemic began and went from delivering 1,500 meals a day to almost 3,000 for several weeks. Now, the center is back to 1,500 meals but has added services like phone check-ins to make sure the seniors are receiving care.

Employees also keep an eye on clients like Hutson. Recently, she told the carrier that her fan was broken during one of Delaware’s particularly hot weeks and the center provided her with one – free of charge – and set it up.

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Delaware stays in middle of pack in Covid-19 jobless claim decline

From Delaware Business Now

Delaware continues to see a slower recovery than its neighbors from the coronavirus pandemic.

The WalletHub website reports that the state ranked 19th in the decline in unemployment claims stemming from the shutdown of schools, businesses, and nonprofits from Covid-19.

Source: WalletHub

Florida, which has been struggling with a surge in cases, ranked 51st. Two other states with a surge in cases, Texas and California, ranked 37th and 40th respectively.

Neighboring Pennsylvania ranked third in the decline of jobless claims, with Maryland seventh and New Jersey in the 10th spot.

Delaware saw a decline in its June unemployment rate, but ranked 10th from the bottom among the 50 states.

The hospitality industry has seen a sizable loss in jobs, even though the state was quicker to reopen than neighboring New Jersey and Philadelphia.

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State, New Castle County will offer $100 million in grants to small business, nonprofits

From Delaware Live

The state of Delaware and New Castle County have launched a new program that will offer $100 million in relief grants to small businesses and nonprofits across the state who have been affected by COVID-19.

The DE Relief Grants program will be funded by some of the state’s and county’s share of money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Delaware Division of Small Business director Damian DeStafano said during Gov. John Carney’s weekly press conference about COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon that the fund would be “at least” $100 million, but will be re-evaluated if the need is higher than anticipated.

The program is expected to reach more than 3,000 small businesses and nonprofit organizations with grants ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, a press release from Carney said.

The Division of Small Business will be taking applications in early September at delbiz.com/relief.  Funding rounds will follow in October and November.

The site is live now, he said, and the division will be hosting online webinars about how to apply. DeStafano recommended that business owners and nonprofits sign up now in order to be alerted by the webinars.

The program is designed to reimburse people for changes required by COVID-19 or who want to make changes because of it, DeStafano said.

The grants can be used for:

  • Purchasing equipment to make a workplace suitable for COVID-19 safety (such as PPE, plexiglass, air purifiers, etc.)
  • Refinancing of debt incurred due to COVID-19 (including State of Delaware HELP loans)
  • Advertising efforts undertaken as a result of COVID-19
  • Fixed expenses the applicant accrued during COVID-19

The size of the relief grant will be based up the business or nonprofit’s 2019 revenue:

  • $0-$500,000: Up to $30,000
  • $500,000-$1 million: Up to $50,000
  • $1 million-$2.5 million: Up to $72,500
  • $2.5+ million: Up to $100,000

“Multiple programs are necessary to address the challenges Delaware’s small businesses face,” DeStefano said in the press release. “We believe this assistance, coupled with other efforts, including the Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) and the COVID-19 Customer Protection Standards, help make the difference for some of our small businesses.”

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Delaware rolls out financial aid for renters, homeowners late on rent, mortgage payments

From The News Journal

Delaware is going to spend $40 million to help residents who are struggling to pay rent or mortgages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eligible renters and homeowners can get up to $5,000 in aid. The money would be paid directly to the property owner or mortgage servicer.

Gov. John Carney and the Delaware State Housing Authority announced Monday that the state is resurrecting the Delaware Housing Assistance Program to help people who are missing payments because they lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The program was originally launched in late March but then halted a few weeks later because it was swamped with applications. At the time, they received requests from three times more tenants than they originally set aside funds to help.

The $40 million to pay for this program comes from the federal CARES Act, which Congress passed in late March to help states and local governments cover coronavirus-related expenses. The state is paying half from its share of the federal money and New Castle County is paying the other half.

Using weekly Census surveys, the financial consulting firm Stout Risius Ross LLC found about 29% of renters in Delaware at the end of July had no or only slight confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent. That firm also estimated a monthly shortfall of $10 million in rent statewide.

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Carper sets stage with ENCORES bill to support live entertainment venues

From Delaware State News

MILTON — Live entertainment venues look to get a boost, as Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., discussed his newly introduced bill at Milton Theatre on Monday, which will give live entertainment venues across the country a tax credit to make up for revenue lost to canceled shows amidst COVID-19.

The Entertainments New Credit Opportunity for Relief & Economic Sustainability (ENCORES) bill was introduced by Sen. Carper and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, to Congress on July 29. The bill has been assigned to the finance committee in the House of Representatives to await further discussion.

Sen. Carper said his love for the arts is what pushed him to create the ENCORES bill.

“I love music, I love live performance, it’s one of the joys of my life, and I think it’s one of the joys of a lot of people’s lives,” Sen. Carper said. “If we didn’t have music and the arts, we would be missing a whole lot. You don’t have to be in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, or LA to find great music. We have it here.”

The live entertainment industry has dealt with show cancellations, ticket refunds and strict health regulations since the spread of COVID-19, making it one of the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic thus far. Live entertainment simply does not exist in the same way since March, as they were one of the first industries to shut down and have faced many hardships in trying to reopen safely.

Milton Theatre Executive Director Fred Munzert spoke Monday about how COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on its staffing and revenue.

“On the 13th (of March), we shut down. It was just so emotional for us and everyone who worked here. (For) almost 30 employees and contractors, this was our life blood, our passion, our love, and for many, our mortgage payment, putting food on the table for our kids, all of those things,” Mr. Munzert said.

“We let everyone go. We had to. Our income stopped in a day. Then, the influx of calls for refunds. $150,000 almost immediately of requests for refunds came in. It was remarkable, the impact and terrifying.”

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‘I am going to be screwed’: Unemployed Delawareans face loss of federal benefits

From Delaware Online

Qiana Jones’ catering business, founded in late 2018, really took off last year. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, Jones was forced to return $15,000 worth of payments for canceled events, sending her bank account into the negative.

Jones did not receive her unemployment insurance until the week of July 4. Two weeks before she was paid, she was handed a 60-day eviction notice and moved in with her brothers.

“I’m 48 and sleeping on an air mattress in a living room, and I’m trying to find a place now,” Jones said through tears. “It’s difficult. It’s really hard.”

Jones is among the 12.5% of Delawareans who are unemployed as of June. For some, the $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit is all that is keeping them afloat. But with those benefits due to expire at the end of the month, many Delawareans who still cannot return to work are wondering how they will go on.

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