COVID-19 And Businesses: Small Businesses May Get Reopen Kits; SBA Offers PPP Loan Forgiveness Form | Texas Public Radio

COVID-19 And Businesses: Small Businesses May Get Reopen Kits; SBA Offers PPP Loan Forgiveness Form

May 16, 2020

Businesses and city services for workers continued to adjust throughout the coronavirus crisis. As restrictions on the community changed to reflect current health conditions, businesses expanded hours, offered new retail services and looked for more employees.

Here are the latest developments:

Supply packs

Small businesses in San Antonio are eligible to receive a supply pack from the city to help with preventing COVID-19 transmission as reopening takes place.

The supply packs contain a no-contact thermometer, face masks and two gallons of hand sanitizer.

Alex Lopez is director of the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department. She said many of these supplies have been hard to get.

“Thermometers were definitely harder to locate and acquire," she explained, "but we know that when we buy in bulk the way that the city is able to purchase, we definitely can harness some of that purchasing power -- that it’s harder when you’re just buying one or two but when we buy a thousand it’s more of an impact.”

Lopez said the hope is to supply about 5,000 businesses with boxes.

Business owners with less than 25 employees can apply for the supply box by calling 311. The business must have been impacted by government closures and been in business prior to March 1.

Reopening continues

Texas continues the phased reopening of its economy. Gov. Greg Abbott announced additional businesses that will be allowed to re-welcome customers.

Offices, non-essential manufacturers, gyms, and exercise facilities may open their doors but must operate at 25% capacity and observe other safety guidelines.

The governor’s office released a checklist for businesses reopening their doors, which includes health protocols for employees and sanitization guidelines for facilities.

SBA and PPP

The Small Business Administration has released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans.

The SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to help borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers.

The documents released will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans.

More information on the program is available here.

Toyota

Toyota has begun ramping up manufacturing operations at its North American plants, including the facility in San Antonio.

The factories began opening on Monday, one week later than originally planned, after shutting down in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Toyota stated it intends to gradually resume its manufacturing operations in compliance with federal health and safety guidelines, and local and state ordinances where its facilities are located.

The company reports the health and safety of its employees and stakeholders remain a top priority and they've implemented new protocols at all of their North American manufacturing plants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Toyota says it will continue to follow all safety guidelines and monitor vehicle demand as it carefully ramps up production.

Charter Communications

The parent company of Spectrum is looking to hire 250 employees in the San Antonio area.

Charter Communications say the hiring is part of 3,000 job openings they want to fill in the 41 states they operate in. All hiring is done through virtual means. The entire application process can be done on a mobile phone.

Jobs are available in sales, billing and call centers. Charter has pledged to pay hourly workers $20 an hour for the next two years. More job information can be found at Jobs.Spectrum.com.

Charter through its Spectrum brand provides cable and broadband connectivity to 29 million customers nationwide.

H-E-B

Now shoppers will no longer be restricted to the number of food products they can buy, including eggs, rice and beans. Paper towels and toilet paper have also been removed from the list of items with purchasing limits.

Other non-food items, such as disinfectant supplies, hand sanitizer and face masks, ARE still limited per customer.

In addition to H-E-B Curbside and Home Delivery, Texans can now use Favor’s new Express Delivery service to have products delivered from every H-E-B, Central Market, and Joe V’s store in Texas.

With Express Delivery, customers can choose up to 25 items from a selected list of groceries and essentials, such as dairy, meat, produce, beer and wine and more.

People wait to enter H-E-B.
Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio

Company officials said the expanded hours follow improvements in the supply chain of products. They plan to ease product limits on many items and reopen bakeries, delis and floral departments.

Most H-E-B Pharmacies will continue to operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and their normal weekend hours.

Currently, all Joe V’s Smart Shop locations are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Central Market store hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Mi Tienda store hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Safety measures remained in place. H-E-B continued to provide employees masks and gloves for use at work. The gear was also provided to Central Market, Joe V's Smart Shop and Mi Tienda locations.

The grocery chain also continued to work with a few local restaurants to bring in some of their beloved menu items as ready-made meals, including Max & Louie’s and Rosarios.

The grocery chain reported they received offers of volunteer help. However, they said the best way for customers to help them is to bag their own groceries, throw away trash in carts and return carts to the front of the store.

It also suggested shopping for neighbors in need.

Malls

Chicago-based Brookfield properties announced North Star Mall and The Shops at La Cantera reopened for curbside services.

Customers can order products online, and employees of participating stores will fulfill the orders and bring them curbside to customers to maintain social distancing. Payment will be done electronically to avoid contact.

Also, the parent company of South Park Mall reported the mall also reopened, with weekday hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Weekend hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

South Park is also operating on a retail to go basis, and the mall doors remain closed to the public. Designated entrances will be assigned for to go deliveries.

Hours for other shopping complexes are here: The Forum / The Rim / Tanger Outlet Malls of San Marcos

Walmart

Walmart offered a special curbside pickup hour for customers older than 60, first responders, disabled customers and anyone else the CDC considers high-risk for COVID-19.

When customers visit the store website to place an order, they may select "At Risk Only" to opt into the service.

Select stores set aside the 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. time slot for the at-risk group, who were welcome to pick up items at any hour of store operations, but that early morning hour was set aside especially for them.

In a statement, the store explained that the point of pickup would be contact-free. Store workers will place the groceries in the customers' vehicle, and no signature was required.

To find a participating store in your area, check this location map.

It was the latest in a series of changes to Walmart's store operations. Stores now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at any given time.

Store employees have marked a queue at a single store entrance, and they direct arriving customers there.

Customers are admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.

Walmart store hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at most locations.

Hand sanitizer production

A variety of companies in San Antonio or with connections to the city announced they were producing hand sanitizer.

A worker at Maverick Whiskey distillery.
Credit Courtesy photo

Valero Energy Corporation recently announced its ethanol plant in Hartley, Iowa, was manufacturing sanitizer in bulk quantities. It said it distributed its sanitizer to its ethanol plants and refineries and to local hospitals and emergency care providers.

Several distilleries said they were also producing hand sanitizer.

Maverick Whiskey said it would give most of its product to the City of San Antonio, local health care workers and essential safety organizations. The company planned to continue production as long as ingredients were available. They asked for donations in the form of yellow dent #2 corn to continue production.

Also getting into the act were Rebecca Creek Distillery, which donated up to 3,000 bottles to the city; Artisan Distillery, which sold its 750 ml bottles for $10 each; and Alamo Distilling, which produced 5,000 cases of 1.7 ounce hand sanitizer for shipping to local drug and grocery stores.

To learn how to donate or to buy the distilleries' sanitizers, check their websites or social media accounts.

Communications

The nation’s largest cell phone and data providers continue to adjust business practices to serve consumers and business. Find out the latest about your provider by checking out the links below:

Verizon / AT&T / T-Mobile / Sprint

Insurance premium refunds

San Antonio-based USAA returned $520 million to its members as a result of data showing members are driving less due to stay-at-home guidance across the country.

USAA reported members with an auto insurance policy in effect as of March 31, 2020, received a 20% credit on two months of premiums. The credit was automatic. Members do not need to contact USAA.

USAA also offered payment deferrals on payments on mortgage and vehicle loans and other types of consumer loans. More information is available at usaa.com/coronavirus.

State Farm reported financial relief was available for people struggling to make ends meet. Insurance policy holders may call their local agent for help.

Questions about State Farm bank products can be answered by calling 1-877-SF4-BANK. Questions about credit cards can be directed to 1-877-SF4-VISA.

Allstate returned $600 million to auto insurance customers in April and May because driving times were way down. The return for their average customer is 15% of their money back based on their April and May premiums.

The money went automatically back into the accounts used to pay them. Allstate also offered payment relief, extended coverage and free identity protection.

GEICO gave a 15 percent credit to auto and motorcycle policy holders at renewal times from April 8th through October 7, 2020. New policies purchased during the same time received the credit too. Customers need to take no action.

GEICO estimated the average auto policy holder received $150 and average motorcycle policy holder $30. Learn more at geico.com/about/coronavirus.

Progressive waived late fees and canceling policies over non-payments through May 15th. Questions can be directed to 1-800-Progressive.

Liquor stores

WB Liquor & Wine said customers can order online and pick up orders at the store. Drive through locations can be found at wbliquors.com/stores.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But store hours near Costcos are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Gabriel’s and Twin Liquors both offer online ordering and in-store pickup and delivery.

Gabriel’s Monday through Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Twin Liquors is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Taco Cabana

Taco Cabana offered beer and margaritas to go with food purchases at its drive through windows and online. It said salsas and sauces are prepackaged.

Orders can be placed online at tacocabana.com.

It has increased stringent hand washing protocols for all employees.

Taco Cabana hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Whataburger

Whataburger said employees must double wash their hands and use hand sanitizer every 30 minutes while on the job at their restaurants.

Credit Wikimedia Commons | https://bit.ly/2OXgDtS

Company officials said employees were trained in hygienic food handling procedures and that rigorous cleaning and disinfecting continued throughout its restaurants where high contact occured.

The San Antonio-based burger chain offered curbside pickup in addition to its drive-thru. Orders can be placed on online at Whataburger.com.

Costco

Costco limited the flow of customers into its stores. No more than two people may enter the warehouse with each membership card.

Stores continued to close at 6:30 p.m. on weeknights, and the 8 a.m. hour remained reserved for seniors Tuesdays through Thursdays.

Costco said it increased sanitation of high touch areas such as shopping cart handles and shelves.

Social distancing measures continued inside and outside its stores.

Target

Target distributed masks and gloves to employees in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It also limited the number of customers in the store at the same time and set up outdoor social distancing markers, so customers may have to wait to enter.

Employees helped guide customers through the store in a efficient manner along with signage, audio messages and floor decals.

Stores closed at 9 p.m. for cleaning and stocking. They reserved the hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.

Restaurant information

To help keep local restaurants and the 57,000 food service employees in the city afloat, NOWCastSA created this map.

Get added by emailing news@nowcastsa.org with subject line, "AddMeToTheMap"

More restaurant resources

A website helped customers learn which restaurants and other food related businesses stayed open and offered takeout.

SATakeOut.com provided an interactive map for San Antonians to locate eating establishments, their hours of operation and their food offerings.

The website was the brainchild of Belkis Lane, an equipment and supply specialist at Mission Restaurant Supply. She said she launched it as a community service and not to monetize it.

Hundreds of restaurants and food related businesses were listed. Restaurants not listed had the option of signing up at the website too.

The city also created a special website for restaurants, specifically for customers craving their favorite dishes. Check it out here.

Mi Tierra sold much of its food because its dining hall had to close to the public.
Credit Nathan Cone | Texas Public Radio

Restaurant owners may also add their establishments to the list.

Businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak may find assistance from Culinaria Emergency Relief Fund, San Antonio Tip Jar, Bartender Emergency Assistance Program and Dining Bonds Initiative.

UberEats / DoorDash / Grubhub

Uber Eats waived for delivery fees for restaurants.

Uber also offered no contact deliveries to homes by leaving orders on doorsteps as restaurants seal meals with tamper-evident packaging.

Food delivery service company Door Dash also offered a no contact delivery option for customers, and its delivery personnel used hand sanitizer and gloves while on the job.

Grubhub suspended collection of up to $100 million in commission payments from impacted independent restaurants whose on-site dining revenue suffered as diners stayed home.

Funeral services

Helen Loring Dear of Porter Loring Mortuaries said mourners may go to porterloring.com and upload pictures of themselves and messages.

Both are printed up and placed on thick paper with faces on the front and messages on the back. Then they are placed in the pews at indoor services.

“This makes it look like the people that sent messages are actually there for the service,” she said.

The new practice was called From My Heart to Yours. She said it was inspired by an Italian priest who had all of his congregation printed up for display during live-streamed sermons.

Mission Park Chapels and Cemeteries offered drive-in funerals where mourners could watch services on a big screen from the comfort of their vehicles.

Walgreens / CVS

Most Walgreens stores were open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays. The 24 hour stores were drive through only, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Credit Pixabay

There was a senior day every Tuesday for customers 55 and older from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The stores also waived delivery fees on eligible home deliveries.

CVS store and pharmacy hours vary slightly, so call ahead to be sure.

CVS also waived delivery fees on eligible home deliveries.

Eyeglasses

Dietz-McClean Optical offered curbside service for eyeglass repair and free delivery for all products. It also offered mobile visits. Locations remained open generally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Property tax rendition extensions

State Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminded business owners that April 15 was the deadline to file property tax renditions with their county appraisal districts, but extensions were available.

Business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may request -- in a written note to the chief appraiser -- an extension of the deadline to May 15. However, some appraisal districts already extended the deadline, so check with your local appraisal district first.

A rendition is a list of the taxable inventory, furniture and fixtures, machinery, equipment and other property owned or managed as of Jan. 1 of each year.

Texas Veterans Land Board

The board offered loan relief to veterans with VLB loans bause of the coronavirus outbreak.

These relief measures included a temporary moratorium on credit reporting, evictions and foreclosures, and a temporary suspension of late payment penalties. Land board officials said current borrowers with loans should contact their loan servicer for assistance and more information.

SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Antonio said it would be closed until further notice. Annual passes, season passes, and memberships would be automatically extended for as long as the temporary closure period lasted.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas suspended operations through at least mid-May.

Guests with prepaid tickets would see those validated through the end of the 2020 season. Season pass holders would be extended for the same number of days the park was closed.

Members will receive an additional month for each month the park is closed and a free membership level upgrade for the rest of the 2020 season.

Texas DMV

Bexar County Tax Assessor Collector Albert Uresti reminded county residents a temporary waiver to obtain initial registrations, renewal registrations and renewal of disability placards was in place.  

This temporary waiver applied to all vehicle owners in all Texas counties.  The waiver would remain in effect until 60 days after the stay at home notice was lifted and regular services resumed.  

Also, there was no requirement for a title application to be submitted within a specific time.

As a result, the delinquent transfer penalty does not apply to any title applications submitted between March 16 and 60 days after the TxDMV provides notice that normal titling services have resumed.

This extension does not apply to seller-financed motor vehicle sales.  In these cases, the tax is reported and paid directly to the Comptroller’s office instead of the Tax Assessor-Collector upon registration.

Contact their office at 210-335-2251 for more information. 

Banks

Security Service Federal Credit Union's Loan Assistance Program offered 90-day extensions on most loans. Extensions were offered on auto, business and personal loans. Mortgage and credit card relief was also available. Details were on the credit union website at ssfcu.org under the COVID-19 Member Relief Programs tab.

Credit Courtesy Weston Urban

Frost Bank offered low interest loans with predictable fees. English speaking customers could call 1-800-513-7678. Spanish speaking customers could call 210-220-4511.

Broadway Banks offered special arrangement payment plans and loan deferrals. Customers in need could call 1-800-531-7650.

Chase Bank reported customers who need assistance with mortgage payments could call 1-800-848-9380. Military members could call 1-877-469-0110. Chase offered loan deferrals up to three months on other consumer loans.

Bank of America said customers could sign up for credit card payment deferrals. It offered clients assistance with mortgages and other loans at its website.

St. Anthony Hotel

The historic hotel temporarily suspended operations and planned to reopen on May 31. Reservations for June 1 or after can be made at thestanthonyhotel.com.

Whole Foods

Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Seniors 60 and older were welcome to shop one hour before regular business hours. Reusable beverage containers would not be refilled, and self-serve areas are closed. Social distancing procedures were in place.

Dollar General

Dollar General devoted the first hour of store operations to senior citizen shoppers. Also, several Dollar General stores closed one hour earlier to better enable employees to restock shelves.

Dry cleaners

Slater & White offered 24 hour drop off service for dry cleaning.

Rose Cleaners and Comet Cleaners were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Comet also offered free home and office delivery and pickup.

Five Star Cleaners was open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Norma Martinez, Lauren Terrazas and Steve Short contributed to this report.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

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