*UPDATED 3/31* Coronavirus Preparation, Information and Resources

We are updating this blog with information relevant to Austin businesses as we find it. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive but we are working diligently to gather and quickly vet info asap and will share it here as soon as we have it.
Stay strong out there!
NEW 3/31 Lease Letter and Recorded Information Reminder
We came across this lease letter template that can be used as a start for those who need to begin a dialogue with their landlords. The information provided through this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials provided are for general informational purposes only. Reminder that the Lease Considerations During Coronavirus webinar that we hosted with Rachel Luna of Luna Law, LLC is available on our YouTube channel and answers a lot of common questions.
NEW 3/30 Two Helpful Webinars Tomorrow March 31
Working with SCORE and an HR professional, member Rachel Luna will be presenting a webinar March 31 at 2pm about the new federal COVID-19 leave laws (including the small business exemption), remote worker considerations, onsite worker issues, and layoff/furlough concerns and options. Use code “HELP” to waive the $10 fee. RSVP here. AIBA has joined with Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform to present a webinar March 31 at 5pm on the Federal Legislation passed this week and what this means for you. This webinar will provide information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, address additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA and hear views from the small business leaders across the country. RSVP here.
NEW 3/27 Austin City Council Passes Measures That Assist Businesses and Residents
Austin City Council approved several measures to assist our community during the COVID-19 crisis, including help for small businesses, workers, and residents. The Council created a temporary “Bridge Loan Program”, approved another Economic Development Department initiative that raised the amount of money available for small business loans through the city’s Small Business Program, passed an initiative to quickly craft further programs and options to support small and local businesses and workers among other things. Succinct blog about these items available here.
NEW 3/26 Tax Help Hotline from Comptroller’s Office
All taxpayers are doing their best to remain in compliance and be responsible in submitting the taxes and, with that in mind, the Texas Comptroller’s office is offering assistance to those businesses that are struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes they collected in February. For businesses that find themselves in this situation, the agency is offering assistance in the form of short-term payment agreements and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest. Contact the Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 to learn about your options for remaining in compliance and avoiding interest and late fees on taxes due. More info here.
NEW 3/26 Department of Labor Guidelines for Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Department of Labor issued guidance in the form of general answers to questions related to, among other things, employee eligibility, calculating the paid leave entitlements, and determining the 500-employee threshold. Per this guidance, the new law goes into effect April 1, not April 2 as many believed it would. Employers should be aware that, beginning April 1, they will be required to post this notice alerting employees to their rights under the FFCRA. Info here.
NEW 3/25 E-Commerce Website Offer from Big Gorilla Design
Big Gorilla Design is lending a hand helping out local businesses who have been impacted by the coronavirus and business closings. If you are a local business who needs to get an e-commerce component onto your website or has other website needs for adapting to the coronavirus and the current shelter in place order, they are offering our services at a very reduced rate for local impacted businesses, in order to help with these aspects over the next couple of months. Please contact Monica at Big Gorilla Design for more information.
NEW 3/25 List Your Business with AIBA’s “Local Business Serves” Resource
As local business owners, you are a creative bunch and we know you’ve been hard at work finding ways to deliver products and services to your customers. The front door may have been shut but we know you’er open in so many other ways. Tell us how you are doing business now so we can help customers support you now! Register your business here.
NEW 3/25 AIBA Employee Management in Crisis Webinar with Valentine HR
We are grateful to have HR guru, Caroline Valentine of ValentineHR join us for a second webinar to discuss employee issues related to the coronavirus crisis. Friday March 27th at 11:30am. Info and RSVP here.
NEW 3/24 AIBA Crisis Business Strategy and Lease Negotiation Information Webinars Available Online
Two of the topical webinars we hosted over the last week are available to watch on our YouTube channel. Link here.
NEW 3/24 Shelter in Place Order Issued for Austin
A “shelter-in-place” order for Austin-Travis County was announced Tuesday March 24. Authorities will hold a teleconference briefing on the orders at noon. Williamson County will also be placed under a shelter-in-place order. Story here.
NEW 3/24 Web Event with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza on COVID-19
This call with the Small Business Administration and Small Business Roundtable on COVID-19 has been rescheduled and the live web event will be held Friday, March 27 at 2 PM ET. To register, please click here. Please note that internet access is required to join. Note: Registration is limited to the first 3,000 attendees.
NEW 3/23 Austin Expected to Issue Shelter in Place on 3/24
A “shelter-in-place” order for Austin-Travis County will be announced Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler confirmed to KUT. It was unclear when the order would go into effect.
NEW 3/22 Austin Economic Development Department Proposes Local Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
Austin’s Economic Development Department, said in an online public briefing Saturday that the Austin City Council will decide on Thursday whether to approve additional support for local businesses by creating the local Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. For those approved, the loan program would work as gap financing in conjunction with an applicant’s request for federal assistance. The local program would provide working capital loans up to $35,000 to Austin businesses that demonstrate an economic injury associated with the new coronavirus. More info here.
NEW 3/20 Navigating Your Lease During Coronavirus Webinar Monday 3/23 11:30am
One anxiety expressed with regard to coronavirus is possible eviction from commercial space. To provide some guidance in this regard, member Rachel Luna of Luna Law, LLC will be addressing ideas for navigating your commercial lease during this crisis. Rachel will be walking us through some basic commercial lease provisions and language, outline some steps businesses can take and discuss the stay on evictions that is currently in place. A question and answer session (facilitated through the webinar application) will follow the presentation and will allow participants to ask questions anonymously. Monday March 23 at 11:30am. Details and RSVP here.
NEW 3/20 Facebook Cash Grants & Credits
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate. No immediate action required (applications not yet being accepted) but sign up here for more details as they become available. https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grant
UPDATED 3/20 SBA Disaster Loan Application Now Available for Texas
UPDATE: SBA is now taking disaster loan applications for Texas businesses. Here is guidance and information from the SBA. Basic guidance mirrors and quotes CDC guidelines with additional info about loan programs (both regular loans and disaster loans). https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ Note that Covid-19 HAS BEEN declared as an applicable disaster for SBA disaster assistance. Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)SBA Guidance
NEW 3/20 Event Permit Refunds For Businesses Affected By COVID-19 Cancellations
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that he is temporarily suspending certain provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code to help businesses whose events were cancelled due to COVID-19. Suspending these provisions will allow for refunds of application fees paid to obtain a temporary event permit for an event that was later cancelled. Press release here.
NEW 3/19 Virtual Town Hall on Coronavirus with Governor Abbott Thursday night
Nexstar Broadcasting will host a live virtual town hall meeting with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 7 p.m. CT.  The governor will address the statewide response to the current coronavirus outbreak and will be joined by top state government officials from the departments of health, infectious diseases, education and emergency management. Viewers can pose a question to Governor Abbott or any of the show’s guests via a variety of social media platforms using the hashtag #AskAbbott. Preference will be given to those questions submitted as videos rather than texts. https://www.kxan.com/state-of-texas/nexstar-to-air-virtual-town-hall-on-coronavirus-with-governor-abbott-thursday-night/
NEW 3/19 Texas Workforce Commission COVID-19 Specific Information Resource
The Texas Workforce Commission has developed a webpage with resources and information on actions taken by the commission in response to COVID-19. This page will be continuously updated with answers to questions about operating your business during this time. Please visit https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-employers.
NEW 3/19 11 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Coronavirus Webcast is Available to View
Our Tuesday morning webinar “11 Steps Your Business Needs to Prepare for Coronavirus” is available on our YouTube channel. Thank you again to Scott from Actioncoach for calmly addressing this scary issue. https://www.youtube.com/user/ibuyaustin/videos
UPDATED 3/17 City of Austin Covid-19 Information for Businesses, Events and Venues
This City of Austin site has recommendations for workplaces and businesses and an FAQ section to address some common questions. Businesses with questions about the new Orders are asked to call Austin 3-1-1. http://www.austintexas.gov/article/covid-19-information-businesses-events-and-venues
NEW 3/17 Austin-Travis County Offers Help for Residents and Businesses During COVID-19 Outbreak
Aware that the new Orders will impact all Austin businesses, the City of Austin is offering immediate support to ensure the economic and mental health of our local business owners, employees, and their families. Business Resources from the Economic Development Department include free business coaching, emergency planning resources, and a Family Business Loan Program. Businesses with questions about the new Orders are asked to call Austin 3-1-1. https://www.austintexas.gov/news/austin-travis-county-offers-help-residents-and-businesses-during-covid-19-outbreak
NEW 3/17 Fight to Contain COVID-19 Stepped Up with Temporary Restrictions on Restaurants and Bars
Austin-Travis County is closing bars and suspending dine-in service at restaurants for six weeks under new Orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. The new Orders will run from 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, until May 1, 2020 unless changed. Under the new Orders, food establishments are ordered to close common dining areas open to the public and encouraged to provide take-away, delivery or drive-thru, to limit exposure between individuals. Meanwhile, bars are ordered to close common bar spaces open to the public and are prohibited from allowing consumption on premises. Community gatherings of 10 people or more in a single room or other confined indoor or outdoor space are prohibited, due to “the substantial risks to the public”. A number of “critical facilities” are exempt from the Orders including but not limited to government buildings providing essential services, schools or colleges, grocery stores and pharmacies, transit and transit facilities, the airport and airport operations, and hospitals and medical facilities. These services are also encouraged to implement screening precautions to protect employees. Read the City of Austin’s Order here. https://www.austintexas.gov/news/fight-contain-covid-19-stepped-temporary-restrictions-restaurants-and-bars
NEW 3/17 Free Legal Consults for AIBA Members
Member Laura Fowler of Fowler Law Firm is offering a free legal consult to AIBA members. Any member who is facing coronavirus related challenges can receive a telephone or in person consultation at NO CHARGE and of UNLIMITED LENGTH with NO FURTHER OBLIGATION. They are making themselves available for our members and are honored to help in any way they can. Please email lfowler at thefowlerlawfirm.com night or day, 24-7. They are requiring that anyone utilizing this service share their referral source as the offer is only intended for select groups. Fowler Law attorneys have significant skill and experience in business, real estate, construction hospitality and entertainment including for more than three decades, helping our friends with both brief and long term downturns in business. These services are offered in both English and Spanish. Visit https://thefowlerlawfirm.com/ to learn more about the firm.
NEW 3/15 Small Business Administration Guidance & Information
Here is guidance and information from the SBA. Basic guidance mirrors and quotes CDC guidelines with additional info about loan programs (both regular loans and disaster loans). Note that Covid-19 is not yet available as a declared disaster so business are not yet able to apply. A call to SBA informed us that they are waiting for official declarations etc to be uploaded into their system and have no timeline for when that will happen. We have also reached out to their public info office and will post updates when we have them. Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)SBA Guidance
NEW 3/15 SXSW Overstock Community Swap
If your business stocked up on supplies or consumables for SXSW and are now stuck with more than you can use or more than you need, there is a Facebook Group looking to facilitate selling or swapping these items with other locals. Article about the group is here or search Facebook for “Austin 2020 Emergency Swap”
NEW 3/14 New Temporary Gathering Ban
Community gatherings of 250 people or more anywhere in Austin-Travis County have been prohibited for the next few weeks to slow the transmission of COVID-19. https://www.austintexas.gov/news/gatherings-250-people-banned-help-tackle-covid-19
NEW 3/14 Austin Control Orders and Emergency Rules
A number of control orders and emergency rules have been introduced mandating specified actions aimed at slowing the spread and reducing the impact of COVID-19. Notable for food service members are new Food Establishment Rules issued March 13. Read text of the new emergency rule here.
NEW 3/14 City of Austin Utilities Suspends Disconnects
Immediate assistance is available to all customers. Details and contact info here.
City of Austin
Here is the City of Austin page relating to our local response (newly published this morning). We expect that there will be future guidance and mitigation plans as the situation develops. This is the official city page for updates. Notable here are downloadable posters to print and hang at your location (see Flyers Additional Resources link in blue). www.austintexas.gov/COVID19
CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
This is info straight from the source, the CDC. Simple but a good, straightforward checklist. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
Stand with Austin Fund
This fund was created to support nonprofits assisting individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW and least able to recover on their own. No details or dates on being able to apply for funding or follow which non-profits get funds (to ultimately request funding from them). https://www.austincf.org/stand-with-austin/
Austin Relief Fund
This fund was created to provide swift support to individuals and businesses in the food and beverage industries who are suffering a loss of income by SXSW’s cancellation. To apply for assistance: https://form.southernsmoke.org/smoke/application
Rally Austin: mobilizing to start revitalizing the ATX business community
Rally Austin is a connected group of locals who are committed to supporting Austin businesses through this crisis period (and beyond?). This is not a direct support resource but is an opportunity to think/work/strategize with others who are in the same situation about how to lift up the local business community. Kickoff gathering March 16 at Inn Cahoots (details here) and info about the project here: https://rallyaustin.com/
Original Blog Text:
We’ve always been big fans of the idea that knowledge is power and do everything we can to make sure our members have all of the information they need to be their best most successful selves. We are now in unprecedented territory with the cancellation of SXSW and the threat of covid-19 further impacting Austin’s physical, social and economic well-being. AIBA is doing all that we can to help our members weather this storm right now and will continue to monitor and modify our efforts as the situation develops. Right now, we are sharing some resources that we have compiled. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive but is instead focused on giving and getting help in the wake of the SXSW cancellation and actions businesses can take to prepare for covid-19.
Additionally, AIBA is running several campaigns over the new few weeks encouraging and reminding the Austin public that the best way for consumers to support local businesses is to SHOP LOCAL. We are also offering two webinars to help businesses navigate these changes. Member Scott Finkelstein of ActionCoach Business Coaching will be talking through 11 steps to avert crisis in business. Member Caroline Valentine of Valentine HR will be hosting a webinar on the HR ramifications business owners should be aware of and sharing strategies to combat them. These are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday early morning and Wednesday late afternoon. We will send specific dates, times and links as soon as we have them. Please join the AIBA Members Only Facebook Group to be able to discuss strategies and ideas with your compatriots.
In conversations with city staff, we expect to have some more information to share that specifically relates to assistance for businesses from the City of Austin. We are working diligently to get that info asap and will share it as soon as we have it.