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The coronavirus has the potential to impact retailers, their customers and employees nationwide. North Carolina retailers’ first priority is always the health and safety of our customers and employees. For that reason, NCRMA is in close contact with state and federal officials and monitoring the coronavirus situation. We will use this page to share updates, link you to important documents, and provide industry specific information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 919-832-0811.

SBA UPDATE: April 1, 2020

ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

 Under this program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

 Program details:

  • For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
  • The application for borrowers can be found HERE

If you are interested in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, please contact your financial institution to see if they are an SBA lender, or would like to become one.

We will be hosting a webinar on Friday, April 3rd at 10:00 am to discuss this and other programs available to help small businesses. Link to our webinar information at: ncrma.org/webinars/

FFRCA UPDATE: April 1, 2020

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) becomes effective April 1, 2020 and runs through December 31, 2020.

The FFCRA and requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide:

  1. up to two weeks (80 hours for full-time employees or two weeks equivalent for a part-time employee) for certain COVID-19 related absences, and
  2. up to an additional ten (10) weeks of paid Family Medical Leave Act leave to care for a child who is out of school due to COVID-19.

As a covered employer you must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on your premises like you do with your labor notices and posters. If you have employees working remotely you can satisfy the posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to your employees or by posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. As of today, you are not required to post this sign in multiple languages.

________________

FFRCA Response Act Questions and Answers: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Link to the required poster here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

FAQs regarding the poster/notice from the Department of Labor: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-poster-questions

In addition, NCRMA has created a Summary of FMLA, UI and SBA info that can be accessed here: https://www.ncrma.org/ui-sick-leave-fmla-and-sba-3/

UPDATE: March 31, 2020

NCRMA President addresses NC House Committee:

Today, NCRMA President Andy Ellen presented to the North Carolina House of Representatives Select COVID-19 Economic Support Committee to explain the challenges facing the retail sector in the current environment.  NCRMA has heard from many of you over the last three weeks as we all navigate this ever-changing landscape. It is those conversations, questions and challenges that were top of mind in addressing the committee and providing some tangible requests to relieve some pressure, including:

  • Explaining the economic hardships and difficult decisions many are facing right now regarding the health and safety of their employees, their customers and their business
  • Navigating the complexities of the various federal and state relief efforts to determine how they overlay and impact their workforce
  • Providing statewide consistency rather than a patchwork of various local orders
  • On unemployment insurance (UI): allowing employers to file attached claims for COVID-19-related unemployment; waiving the next UI premium tax to allow employers to recover some of the nearly $4 billion paid in; and, allowing self-employed, member-managers of LLCs or owners of S-corporations eligibility for unemployment benefits
  • Passing legislation to waive interest on late tax payments (the state has already waived penalties but is statutorily prohibited from waiting interest)
  • Reinstating a sales tax collection allowance
  • Allowing JDIG or One NC grants to be used in rural areas for small businesses
  • Considering grants for coverage of employee health benefits to alleviate another fixed cost straining employers

Price Gouging (NCRMA How to Comply): Attorney General Josh Stein announced in a press conference this afternoon that his office has received 755 price gouging complaints that his office is investigating every single complaint. In the event your company receives a complaint from the Attorney General’s Office and we can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us. As a reminder, a State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s Price Gouging law – see the link included to NCRMA’s compliance guide.

Alcohol Sales to Continue: Over the past two days, NCRMA has received numerous calls, texts and emails asking about social media posts making false claims Governor Cooper would be terminating alcohol sales on Friday of this week. There are similar fake social media posts being circulated throughout the country. We have checked in Governor Cooper’s Office and these rumors of alcohol sales being terminated on Friday are 100% inaccurate.

Stay-at-Home Orders and Curfews

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order is now in effect as of 5pm yesterday (Monday, 3/30) and will be in effect for 30 days. Executive Order 121 does not preempt local orders therefore where a local order is more restrictive, the local order prevails and where the statewide order is more restrictive, the statewide order prevails. As a result, we have continued to see local orders issued since EO 121 was announced. NCRMA continues to track these order at the link below.

NCRMA Local Order Tracker: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

Two local orders of note this week:

City of Fayetteville: Fayetteville announced a stay-at-home order this afternoon that includes a curfew that will become effective tomorrow, Wednesday 4/1. The curfew is from 9:00pm – 6:00am but does not require a broad definition of essential businesses to close. Essential business is defined as all businesses that sell, manufacture, support or supply food, medicine or other essential household goods in addition to other detailed categories. Under the curfew, individuals are not allowed to leave their residence except for the outlined exemptions. The mass gathering provision in the order restricts any public gathering outside the home of any number of people.

Columbus County: Columbus county amended their state of emergency to enact a curfew between 10:00pm – 5:00am. Exceptions include travel to and from work. Therefore, businesses must be closed to the public but employees are allowed travel to and from businesses for cleaning, restocking, etc. that occurs after normal business hours. The order also further limits essential businesses by requiring closures of hotels, motels, campgrounds, boat ramps, golf courses, sports facilities, and playgrounds.

New Executive Orders: Governor Cooper has also issued two new Executive Orders in the last 24 hours focused on reducing barriers for state and local governments to access surplus property and to relieve utility payment burdens for residential customers.

  • Executive Order 122 issued last evening 3/30, eases regulations on the disposition of state surplus property to help schools and local governments access state surplus property to help bridge gaps during the response to COVID-19. The Order also provides for the transfer or donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) that state government may have and not need.
  • Executive Order 123 issued this afternoon 3/31 for residential customers, barring utility companies from disconnecting people who are unable to pay for 60 days. The order covers electric, gas, water and wastewater service. The order gives customers six months to pay bills, stops companies from adding late fees and interest to bills that aren’t paid, and encourages phone, cable and internet companies to follow suit.

WIC Update: In an effort to temporarily expand the WIC approved food product list in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the North Carolina WIC Program is requesting that manufacturers, distributors and retailers submit UPCs for whole wheat or whole grain bread up to 24 ounces.  The bread must meet existing criteria for approval and the UPC(s) must be submitted following the process outlined on our website under eWIC for Vendors, at https://www.nutritionnc.com/ewic/index.htm. Bread products submitted for consideration will be quickly evaluated and added to the APL if all requirements, with the exception of the size limitation, are met.

SBA UPDATE: March 31, 2020

NEW MESSAGE FROM THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:

We know you are facing challenging times in this current health crisis. The U.S. Small Business Administration is committed to help bring relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which provided additional assistance for small business owners and non-profits, including the opportunity to get up to a $10,000 Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This Advance may be available even if your EIDL application was declined or is still pending, and will be forgiven.

If you wish to apply for the Advance on your EIDL, please visit www.SBA.gov/Disaster as soon as possible to fill out a new, streamlined application. In order to qualify for the Advance, you need to submit this new application even if you previously submitted an EIDL application. Applying for the Advance will not impact the status or slow your existing application.

UPDATE: March 30, 2020

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order is effective today at 5pm today (Monday, March 30) and will be in effect for 30 days. Executive Order 121 does not preempt local orders therefore where a local order is more restrictive, the local order prevails and where the statewide order is more restrictive, the statewide order prevails.

As noted in the Governor’s frequently asked questions document, any employee for a business deemed to be “essential” is not required to have a pass. However, we have received questions from NCRMA members inquiring as to the best way for their employees to identify themselves as being part of the essential workforce as many may not have business cards or other identifying information for their employer. For this reason, both out of an abundance of caution and to provide reassurance to your employees, NCRMA has developed two templates for letters that you can use for your employees to have on-hand. One letter references exceptions provided under the statewide order and another letter referencing exceptions provided under a local order if that applies to your business.

In the statewide order, the definition of essential business is much broader than some local orders and includes the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Critical Infrastructure list in the exceptions for essential businesses that are allowed to continue operations during the stay-at-home order as well as a number of more general retailers, and a list of some specific retail trades. Many localities have also included the CISA list by reference, but not all. Under the statewide Executive Order 121, non-essential businesses must close except for Minimum Basics Operations (Section 2A) and Essential businesses should meet social distancing requirements (Section 2C). If a business is excluded from the list of Essential Businesses, they may petition the NC Department of Revenue here.

Statewide Order for Essential Business

Local Order for Essential Business

(Local Orders that are more restrictive take precedent over the statewide order)

UPDATE: March 27, 2020

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a statewide stay-at-home order. We are still combing through all the details of this order but in the interest of getting this to you as quickly as possible, please see the bullet points below as well as a link to the full executive order as well as a “Frequently Asked Questions” document for the order.

  • The definition of essential business is much broader than some local orders and includes CISA Essential Infrastructure Workers, a number of more general retailers, and a list of some specific retail trades
  • EO 121 does not preempt local orders. NCRMA and others in the business community repeatedly requested preemption, even as late as this morning, but there were questions around whether the governor has the statutory authority to preempt the local orders.
  • No passes will be required for employees of essential businesses
  • Begins March 30th  and runs for 30 days
  • Non-essential businesses must close except for Minimum Basics Operations (Section 2A)
  • Essential businesses should meet social distancing requirements (Section 2C)


Businesses deemed essential include:

  • Businesses operating in Critical Infrastructure Sectors (CISA) identified sectors (Section 2(c)(2))
  • Groceries, pharmacies, Convenience stores and other establishments that sell food or beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) (Section 2(c)(7)
  • Food and beverage production (Section 2(c)(8)
  • Gas stations , auto-repair and farm equipment (Section 2(c)(12))
  • Home Improvement, hardware and supply stores (Section 2(c)(14)
  • Business that deliver to end-users (Section 2(c)
  • Restaurants for off-premises consumption (Section 2(c)(19)
  • Supplies to work from home (Section 2(c)(20))
  • Supply Chain (Section 2(c)(26))
  • Additional retailers (Section 2(c)(30)
  •      Electronic retailers like cell phones
  •      Lawn and garden equipment retailers
  •      Book stores selling educational materials
  •      Beer, wine and liquor
  •      Retail functions of convenience stores
  •      Retail within a healthcare facility
  •      Pet and feed stores

Social Distancing Means:

  • Maintaining six feet from others
  • Washing hands for 20 seconds or the use of hand sanitizer
  • Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
  • Facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible

If a business is excluded from the list of Essential Businesses, they may petition the NC Department of Revenue.

Executive Order 121 – NC Statewide Stay-at-Home Order
EO 121 Frequently Asked Questions


Local Orders:

As noted above, the statewide order will not pre-empt local orders, thus we will continue to provide the local orders below for reference. Each local proclamation provides exceptions for essential services that are enumerated in each order.

Many, including the statewide order, have included the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Critical Infrastructure list in the exceptions for essential businesses that are allowed to continue operations during the stay-at-home order. As this is an expansive list, we are including the link below for reference.

DHS CISA Essential Services List (for reference)

NCRMA Local Tracker: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19


Newly announced local orders since yesterday:

Previously announced local stay-at-home orders:

Wake County (+ all cities/towns including Raleigh and Cary) – 3/27 – 4/16

UPDATE: March 24, 2020

Local Orders More Restrictive than the State Executive Order: NCRMA is continuing to track local activity for your operations. Despite the many requests with the NC County Commissioners Association, NC League of Municipalities and various other entities for a statewide approach – many localities are beginning to enact their own shelter in place orders. Making this more difficult to track is that these are not being aggregated at the state level through WebEOC so if you hear of a local declaration, please share that information so that we can pass it along and add to our own tracking list.

Mecklenburg County: Today, Mecklenburg County in conjunction with the City of Charlotte and the six towns has issued a stay-at-home order for County residents. The order will go into effect on Thursday, March 26 at 8:00 a.m. and will remain in effect for the next 21 days.

Link to Proclamation here: https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Documents/Mecklenburg%20County%20Stay%20at%20Home%20Orders.pdf

The order directs all individuals living in the county to remain at their place of residence except to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain activities and work for essential business and government services. It also directs all businesses and governmental agencies to cease nonessential operations at physical locations in the County and prohibits all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals. It also orders cessation of all non-essential travel. If you leave your home for essential activities or if you go to work in an essential business you must follow social distancing practices, staying at least 6 feet apart from each other.

Essential activities include (itemized list on pages 8-11 in proclamation):

  • Engaging in or performing tasks essential to maintain health and safety. Examples include picking up medicine or visiting a doctor.
  • Obtaining necessary supplies for you, your family or household members, necessary for staying home. Support your local businesses by ordering curbside pick-up, delivery, take out or drive thru. Please only purchase items you immediately need and do not stockpile.
  • Going for a run, hike or other outdoor activity while maintaining proper social distancing. Our parks will remain open, but the play areas are closed.
  • To care for a family member in another household.
  • To care for elderly, minors, dependents, or other vulnerable persons

Essential businesses include:

  • Health care operations and home health workers
  • Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing (residential and mixed-use), industrial and commercial projects currently underway
  • Grocery stores and convenience stores
    Restaurants offering curbside pick-up, delivery, take out or drive-thru services
  • Pharmacies
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities
  • Banks
  • Garbage collection.  Waste Pro will continue to pick up trash, recycling and yard waste a normal schedule.
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses.
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work.

Buncombe County Plans: An article today references that Buncombe County is drafting a more restrictive order than the state executive order that is likely to be signed tomorrow.

As we sent earlier this morning, other localities we are aware of include the following:

  • Pitt County: Last night, Pitt County, NC approved a 2-week “Shelter in Place” order effective for all unincorporated areas of the county for non-essential travel to last from March 25 at 5pm – April 8. Many retail operations are included as essential businesses.
    Pitt County Proclamation Text
  • The Town of Beaufort and Madison County have also issued Shelter in Place Orders as linked in this article: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article241449231.html
  • The Town of Beaufort shelter in place order goes into effect at 6am on March 25 and is scheduled to last until at least April 22.
  • Madison County did not provide a timeline.
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has also implemented a shelter in place order designating grocery, pharmacy, gas stations and auto repair as some of the essential businesses. Click here to view that order.

NCRMA will be tracking any additional local restrictions here: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

NC Department of Revenue Tax Filing / Penalty Relief
The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is offering individuals and businesses relief as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

NCDOR Frequently Asked Question for COVID-19 Tax Relief

NCDOR has extended the time for filing income and franchise tax returns due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, for individuals, corporations, and estates and trusts to mirror the announced deadline change from the Internal Revenue Service. The automatic extension also applies to partnerships.

The NCDOR will not impose the late payment penalty for income tax due on April 15, 2020 if the tax is paid by July 15, 2020 to provide taxpayers and businesses additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. While the NCDOR is waiving late payment penalties through July 15, state law prevents waiving any interest.

NC DOR Penalty Waiver / Form to Waive Penalties and Delay Payment/Filing
The Department will waive any Late Action Penalties assessed against individuals or businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 (“Affected Taxpayers”) in recognition that some taxpayers because of COVID-19 may not be able to meet certain filing or payment requirements.  The waiver applies to the failure to timely obtain a license, file a return, or pay a tax that is due between March 15, 2020, and March 31, 2020, if the license is obtained, the return or extension application is filed, or the tax is paid by April 15, 2020. Under this guidance, this would allow a COVID-19 “affected taxpayer” to complete and file Form NC-5500 below to extend payment until April 15 and have penalties waived.

This applies to sales tax as well as excise taxes on malt beverages & wine, tobacco products and fuel for those returns due for a tax due between March 15, 2020 and March 31, 2020. The North Carolina Department of Revenue will make new determinations for taxes due after April 1, 2020. Again, state law prevents NC DOR from waiting any interest.

Categories included in the directive:

  • The penalty for failure to obtain a license (G.S. 105-236(a)(2);
  • The penalty for failure to file a return (G.S. 105-236(a)(3));
  • The penalty for failure to pay tax when due (G.S. 105-236(a)(4)); and
  • The penalties regarding informational return (G.S. 105-236(a)(10))

How to Obtain State Penalty Waivers:
To qualify for the waiver, an Affected Taxpayer must file the return, pay the tax, obtain the license, or receive an extension on or before April 15, 2020.  The waiver will be considered a waiver for special circumstances (i.e. the waiver will not be considered a waiver for good compliance that can only be granted once every three years per tax type).

Affected Taxpayers who cannot meet their filing or payment requirement as a result of COVID-19 should complete Form NC-5500, Request to Waive Penalties (“NC-5500”).  Affected Taxpayers should write “COVID-19” on the top of the NC-5500.  Affected Taxpayers that do not have access to the NC-5500 can attach a letter requesting a penalty waiver.  The letter should contain the taxpayer’s name, address, SSN or FEIN, Account ID, and the tax type and tax period for which the taxpayer seeks waiver of penalty. The NC-5500 or letter should be mailed to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, Customer Service, P.O. Box 1168, Raleigh, NC 27602.

NCRMA Jobs Page
We know there are some specific types of retail businesses that are in need of extra help and are looking to hire.

For that reason, we have created a dedicated page on the NCRMA website at: https://www.ncrma.org/jobs/ where we will be glad to list your business and link to your jobs or career website.

If you would like to be added to the current list, or removed, please email Ann Edmondson at anne@ncrma.org.

UPDATE: March 23, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper has issued a new Executive Order 120 today that:

Orders all K-12 schools statewide to remain closed through May 15.
Further restricts the ban on mass gatherings (from 100+) to 50+ or more people thereby ordering the closure of movie theaters, gyms and fitness clubs, bowling alleys and sweepstakes parlors as of March 25. Barbershops, salons and some other businesses also will be closed.

Also, see this corrected link to NCRMA Summary Doc for FMLA/UI/SBA Info: https://www.ncrma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/UI-Sick-Leave-FMLA-and-SBA.pdf

NCRMA Resources

North Carolina COVID-19 Resources

NC Executive Order 116 (issued March 10): Declaration of State of Emergency
NC Executive Order 117 (issued March 14): Closes all K-12 Schools and Prohibits Mass Gatherings over 100 People
NC Executive Order 118 (issued March 17): Limits operations of restaurants and bars
NC Executive Order 119 (issued March 20): Facilitates critical motor vehicle operations; expands access to health care

General NCDOR Information:
Taxpayers are encouraged to file their taxes online. Most taxpayers can file online for free at: www.NCDOR.gov/NCfreefile
NCDOR online services: www.ncdor.gov
NCDOR phone numbers: General information: 1-877-252-3052; Individual income tax refund inquiries: 1-877-252-4052

UPDATE: March 20, 2020

NCRMA understands that many retailers are seeing reduced foot traffic in their stores resulting in reduced revenue and having to make difficult decisions regarding their valuable employees.

A number of state and federal measures have recently been adopted to offer employers and employees relief during this unprecedented time.

  • The United States Congress took steps with regards to mandated paid sick leave and additional leave that is similar to that afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Link to comparison chart at: https://bit.ly/FFchart).
  • In North Carolina, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 which included measures addressing unemployment insurance.
  • Additionally, Small Business Administration Loans are also now available.

Click here to read NCRMA’s summary of these three programs.

Curfews & Restrictions
NCRMA has learned of the following curfews and restrictions in NC:

  • Andrews (Town) – 11pm – 6am Pedestrian Curfew
  • Murphy (Town) – 9pm – 6am Pedestrian Curfew
  • Fairmont (Town) – 8pm – 6am for 16 & under (does not apply to work)
  • Gibson (Town) – 10pm – 6am
  • Monroe (Town) – 11pm – 7am for under 16 (does apply to work)
  • Dare (County) – Access Closed to Non-Residents

For a comprehensive, up-to-date spreadsheet on local restrictions, click here:

bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

NC Re-Entry: As a reminder, this is a time to have your NC Emergency Management Re-Entry Certification on-hand either in hard copy or electronically. If you need assistance accessing your certification on WebEOC (www.ncsparta.net), please reach out to beoc@ncdps.gov and cc me, elizabethr@ncrma.org.

NC ABC Commission Extends Renewal Deadline

ABC permits normally renew May 1 but the NC ABC Commission today announced at NCRMA’s request that they will offer a grace period for the registration/renewal process until June 30, 2020.

NC Department of Revenue Tax Filing / Penalty Relief
The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is offering individuals and businesses relief as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NCDOR will not impose the late payment penalty for income tax due on April 15, 2020 if the tax is paid by July 15, 2020. This announcement was released just prior to the IRS announcement today that the filing deadline for Federal taxes will in fact be extended until July 15 to provide taxpayers and businesses additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. While we await confirmation, NCRMA has reached out to NCDOR today and it is anticipated that they will mirror this filing extension for North Carolina to July 15. While the NCDOR is waiving late payment penalties through July 15, state law prevents waiving any interest.

NC DOR Penalty Waiver / Form to Waive Penalties and Delay Payment/Filing
The Department will waive any Late Action Penalties assessed against individuals or businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 (“Affected Taxpayers”) in recognition that some taxpayers because of COVID-19 may not be able to meet certain filing or payment requirements.  The waiver applies to the failure to timely obtain a license, file a return, or pay a tax that is due between March 15, 2020, and March 31, 2020, if the license is obtained, the return or extension application is filed, or the tax is paid by April 15, 2020. Under this guidance, this would allow a COVID-19 “affected taxpayer” to complete and file Form NC-5500 below  to extend payment until April 15 and have penalties waived – this would include sales tax returns as well as pre-payments. Again, state law prevents NC DOR from waiting any interest.

Categories included in the directive:

  • The penalty for failure to obtain a license (G.S. 105-236(a)(2);
  • The penalty for failure to file a return (G.S. 105-236(a)(3));
  • The penalty for failure to pay tax when due (G.S. 105-236(a)(4)); and
  • The penalties regarding informational return (G.S. 105-236(a)(10))

How to Obtain State Penalty Waivers:
To qualify for the waiver, an Affected Taxpayer must file the return, pay the tax, obtain the license, or receive an extension on or before April 15, 2020.  The waiver will be considered a waiver for special circumstances (i.e. the waiver will not be considered a waiver for good compliance that can only be granted once every three years per tax type).

Affected Taxpayers who cannot meet their filing or payment requirement as a result of COVID-19 should complete Form NC-5500, Request to Waive Penalties (“NC-5500”).  Affected Taxpayers should write “COVID-19” on the top of the NC-5500.  Affected Taxpayers that do not have access to the NC-5500 can attach a letter requesting a penalty waiver.  The letter should contain the taxpayer’s name, address, SSN or FEIN, Account ID, and the tax type and tax period for which the taxpayer seeks waiver of penalty. The NC-5500 or letter should be mailed to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, Customer Service, P.O. Box 1168, Raleigh, NC 27602.

General NCDOR Information:
Taxpayers are encouraged to file their taxes online. Most taxpayers can file online for free at: www.NCDOR.gov/NCfreefile
NCDOR online services: www.ncdor.gov
NCDOR phone numbers: General information: 1-877-252-3052; Individual income tax refund inquiries: 1-877-252-4052

UPDATE: March 18, 2020

Alcohol Permits Referenced in Executive Order

Many retailers have on-premises or wine shop permits that allows for the sale of beer and wine for on-premises and off-premises consumption. The Executive Order language attempted to shut down “bars” by mistakenly reference facilities that were not restaurants but that had on-premises alcohol permits and then stated that this did not apply to retailers who only sold alcohol for off-premise consumption only.  This would have in effect meant that retailers who had on-premise permits would have also been prohibited from selling for off-premises consumption. (See Section 1(c)-(d))

NCRMA President, Andy Ellen, spoke with the Governor’s Office about the inconsistency and they are working on clarification. In the meantime, the ABC Commission Chairman issued helpful guidance at the link below and ALE Director Bryan House has taken the same stance which is – ABC permittees with on and off premises consumption permits may continue to sell for off-premises consumption but must halt on-premises sales.  ALE Director House has also conveyed the same information to the Police Chiefs Association.

Please read the ABC Commission and ALE interpretation at the link below.
https://abc.nc.gov/PublicResources/LegalAnnouncement/261

In addition, NCRMA has created a simple yet comprehensive explanation of the rules for Curbside Pickup and Delivery of Alcohol.

We have also created signage you are welcome to use to explain to your customers the restrictions set forth in Executive Order 118:

Optional NCRMA Retail Signage for Dine-In Closures:
ABC Permittees: http://bit.ly/drink-ncrma
Other Dining Establishments: http://bit.ly/dine-ncrma

UPDATE: March 17, 2020

NC Executive Order Issued Today Closes Restaurants and Bars for Dine-In Customers, Allows Takeout and Delivery Operations to Continue and Also Expands Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19

This afternoon, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 mandating the closure of all dine-in restaurants and bars beginning today, Tuesday March 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm EST. The executive order allows these establishments to continue carry-out, drive-through and delivery options. Businesses can continue to offer delivery, take-out, and drive-thru/pickup options. Any grocery stores with seating areas or bars for on-premise consumption need to take the appropriate measure to close access to dine-in seating areas.

NCRMA has developed signage you may use. If you would like a poster to print, feel free to use the ones linked below:

Restaurants and other food service establishments with a dining area.

Bottle shops and other on-premise establishments.

The NC ABC Commission released Compliance Guidance for Executive Order 118
  • All on-premise sales and consumption must stop.  This includes patios and outdoor picnic tables.
  • Only off-premise sales of beer and wine are allowed from establishments with appropriate retail beer or wine permits.
  • Retail permittees may deliver to vehicles at a curb or a parking space adjacent to the licensed premises while this Executive Order is in place.
  • Spirituous liquor sales from ABC stores are determined by local ABC boards.  Distilleries may still sell bottles for off-premises consumption.
  • On-premise mixed beverage sales or consumption is not allowed at distilleries while this Executive Order in is effect.
  • Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order is a Class 2 misdemeanor.  166A-19.30(d)
  • Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order could result in penalties against ABC permits.  18B-1005

 

The Executive Order also makes changes to NC Unemployment Insurance in North Carolina, including:

  • Waives the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment benefits
  • Waives the requirement that a person must look for another job during this time.
  • Allows employees who lose their jobs, or in certain cases have their hours reduced, to apply for benefits.
  • Waives the requirement that part of the application process be in person. (Info on how to apply remotely can be found at: https://des.nc.gov)
  • Directs that these unemployment losses will not be counted against employers.

We also recommend employers take the following two steps to ensure employee-filed claims are identified and processed in accordance with Executive Order 118:

  • Encourage employees to mention COVID-19 in their claim when filing for unemployment as a result of the Coronavirus.
  • The employer response to the claim should clearly highlight COVID-19 as the cause and ask specifically for “noncharging.”

UPDATE: March 14, 2020

NC Executive Order Issued today Closing All K-12 Schools for Two Weeks and Prohibiting Mass Gathering of 100+

This afternoon, Governor Cooper issued an additional Executive Order 117.

In section 1 of the order, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-19.30(b)(3), in order to regulate and control the congregation of persons in public places or buildings the Governor is prohibiting mass gatherings of more than hundred (100) people in the State of North Carolina. Mass gatherings as defined in the Executive Order as follows:

  • A mass gathering is defined as any event or convening that brings together more than one hundred (100)  persons in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs and festivals.
  • A mass gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, or other spaces where more than one hundred (100) persons are gathered. It also does not include office environments, restaurants, factories,  grocery stores or other retail establishments.

Section 2 of the orders the closure of all K-12 public schools in North Carolina, pursuant to his authority under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-19.30(b)(5) which allows him to take the  necessary action to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.

This follows Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 116 on Tuesday 3/10, declaring North Carolina under a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus. Currently, 23 North Carolina residents have reported positive test results for the virus in 12 counties. The State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s price gouging law – below is a link to NCRMA’s compliance document.

How to Comply: NC Price Gouging Law

Update on commercial “hours of service” waivers:
NC Executive Order 116 issued on Tuesday, March 10 included hours of service waivers which is interpreted to food and other essentials in commerce during the State of Emergency. In addition,On Friday 3/13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the issuance of a national emergency declaration that provides “hours of service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The declaration includes allowing transportation of “food for emergency restocking of stores” as one of the qualifiers for hours of service exemptions. It will remain in effect until the emergency declaration is lifted or April 12, 2020, whichever comes sooner (and with a possibility to be extended as needed). The full list of criteria in order for commercial motor vehicle operations to meet the “direct assistance” threshold to qualify for such exemptions with respects to Coronavirus support which includes the transportation of: supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and food for emergency restocking of stores.

This follows Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 116 on Tuesday 3/10, declaring North Carolina under a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus. Currently, 23 North Carolina residents have reported positive test results for the virus in 12 counties. The State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s price gouging law – below is a link to NCRMA’s compliance document.

UPDATE: March 13, 2020

NC Medicaid issued a Special Medicaid Bulletin today that will impact both pharmacy (especially 90-day supplies) and durable medical equipment providers.

Link here to the Special Bulletin. The most important information below.

Pharmacy: Temporary Flexibilities Effective March 13, 2020

Recommendations for social distancing in response to the COVID-19 present situations where Medicaid and Health Choice beneficiaries may benefit from an early refill or expanded quantity of their prescription medications. In these situations, NC Medicaid enrolled pharmacy providers should resubmit these claims with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and a valid value for an E.R. override in the Reason for Service, Professional Service and Result of Service fields to override a denial for an early refill. Do not place any values in the Submission Clarification Code field.

This override code will allow for early refills and will also allow for coverage of up to a 90-day supply of the medication. Be aware that NC Medicaid policy allows a 90-day supply to be filled when the prescription is either written for a 90-day supply or has enough refills remaining to fill for up to 90 days.

  • Note that these edit changes do not apply to controlled substances. Additionally, providers are encouraged to follow all applicable state and federal laws and regulations for controlled substances.
  • If necessary, up to a 14-day emergency supply can be billed for any pharmacy claim requiring prior approval when no active prior approval is showing in NCTracks. The pharmacy provider should resubmit these claims with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and “03” in the Level of Service Field.
  • For beneficiaries in the Pharmacy Lock-in Program needing emergency supplies of Lock-In program-related medications, up to a 14-day emergency supply can be billed with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and “03” in the Level of Service Field. This override is only valid once per beneficiary per year. Beneficiaries and providers may also contact the NCTracks call center to change either the preferred Lock-In pharmacy or preferred Lock-In prescriber on an emergency basis.
  • Copay requirements are still applicable to these pharmacy claims.

Providers may submit any information related to market shortages of medications directly to NC Medicaid staff at Medicaid.PDL@dhhs.nc.gov.

Durable Medical Equipment: Temporary Flexibilities Effective March 13, 2020

Effective March 13, 2020, Medicaid and NC Health Choice coverage was added for HCPCS code A4928 – surgical mask, per 20. If medically necessary, this item may be provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections and their caregivers without first seeking prior authorization (PA).

Also effective March 13, 2020, if medically necessary, the respiratory equipment and supplies listed below that typically require PA may be provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections without first seeking PA.

Effective March 13, 2020, if medically necessary, quantity limits on the following supplies may be exceeded when provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections without first seeking PA:

UPDATE: March 12, 2020

Insurance Commissioner authorizes extra prescriptions during state of emergency due to COVID-19

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has directed all health benefit plans licensed by the N.C. Department of Insurance to allow for extra prescriptions as a result of the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper.

This means covered persons may obtain one refill on a prescription if there are authorized refills and not contrary to the dispensing authority of the pharmacy.

This emergency authorization is in effect until April 9, 2020 or 29 days after NCDOI issued a bulletin March 11 to all insurance companies, the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees, and any optional plans or programs, and other stand-alone prescription medication plans issued by entities licensed by the Department.

CVS Pharmacy has announced it will also waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications to encourage people at a higher risk for COVID-19 to stay home as much as possible.

Insurance Commissioner Causey reminds consumers the largest health insurer in the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, has agreed to waive copays for coronavirus diagnostic testing (not services) and NCDOI is encouraging other health insurers in the state to do the same.

Many insurers have also agreed to cover telemedicine or virtual visits to allow people to remotely speak to their doctors.

The Department understands the COVID-19 public health emergency is changing daily and encourages the public to visit their insurer’s website for the most up-to-date information pertaining to their health coverage.

Information via ncdoi.gov.

UPDATE: March 11, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Offers Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

The document provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure.

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”

This guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers, and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
  • The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.

UPDATE: March 10, 2020

Governor Cooper Declares a State of Emergency

Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency over the recent outbreak of coronavirus in North Carolina. According to Gov. Cooper, the DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO COORDINATE RESPONSE AND PROTECTIVE ACTIONS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19, will speed up the flow of supplies, allow for budget flexibility as well as help the response to and prevention of further infections.

*North Carolina’s price gouging law is now in effect after today’s state of emergency declaration.

Click here to read the full text.

UPDATE: March 9, 2020

Retailers, If your store location has been exposed to a person with the Coronavirus, you should contact your local county health department immediately.

NCRMA strongly encourages you to prepare now by identifying the corresponding county health department for each of your store location(s) before a situation arises. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/county-health-departments

 

Facts, Not Fear

WRAL News answered coronavirus questions with guests State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, Wake County Human Services Director Regina Petteway and Timothy Sheahan from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Epidemiology. Access the video here.

UPDATE: March 6, 2020

Second Case of COVID-19 Identified in North Carolina

North Carolina health officials announced Friday that a second North Carolinian has tested positive for the strain coronavirus known as COVID-19. The man is from Chatham County and has recently returned from a trip to Italy where he began experiencing symptoms.

The department distributed the linked press release on the newly diagnosed case: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/north-carolina-identifies-second-case-covid-19

Governor Roy Cooper, along with state health officials and others, held a press conference this afternoon. You can watch the video via WRAL https://www.wral.com/coronavirus-sickens-second-person-in-nc/18996626/

We will keep you updated as news continues to break.

UPDATE: March 4, 2020

Case of COVID-19 Identified in NC

For NC Coronovirus updates, follow @ncrma on Twitter and check NCRMA’s coronavirus webpage at https://www.ncrma.org/coronavirus/

Yesterday, North Carolina identified its first case of COVID-19 in a Wake County resident who had visited the long-term care facility in Washington State where there were numerous confirmed cases. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has been working to identify individuals who were on the same flight back to North Carolina as the Wake County resident that was exposed to the Coronavirus.

Story Link: https://www.wral.com/person-in-wake-county-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-is-doing-well/18990198/

Governor Cooper held a press conference urging residents to stay calm, to continue to wash their hands and to stay home if sick.

Press conference link: https://wlos.com/news/local/first-coronavirus-case-confirmed-in-north-carolina?jwsource=cl

NCRMA has been in contact with Governor Cooper’s Administration as well with the Division of Emergency Management to best help NCRMA members prepare their businesses and continue serving their customers. In the event the coronavirus should escalate we anticipate that the Division of Emergency Management would activate the Emergency Management Center to monitor and manage the coronavirus.

UPDATE: February 27, 2020

North Carolina Coronavirus Task Force Urges Businesses, Residents to Be Prepared

North Carolina officials’ message to residents and businesses about COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus): if you haven’t started thinking about it, it’s time to start.

Specifically for businesses, officials said it might be time to break out the HR handbooks and make sure employees know their options for Telehealth and working remotely.

On Wednesday afternoon, the co-chairs for Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus task force urged North Carolina residents to begin taking certain, limited, action in preparation for a potential outbreak of the virus, which has infected tens of thousands of people around the globe.

Health officials stressed that zero cases of COVID-19 have been verified in N.C. as of Wednesday afternoon and said they do not suggest that people begin working from home or taking drastic action.

“We still consider the risk to North Carolina to be very low,” state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson said during a press briefing. “We want people to take advantage of that low to prepare. … this is a matter of how to best prepare but not to panic.”

READ MORE: WakeMed, Duke: If coronavirus hits Raleigh-Durham, home quarantine will be the best option

Concerns over COVID-19 have been steadily rising across the globe since its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, late last year. In recent days confirmed cases of the virus have stretched across every continent except Antartica. Infections have been confirmed in more than 25 countries and officials have advised that an outbreak is “inevitable” in the United States. As of Wednesday, the virus has been blamed for more than 2,700 deaths, with the vast majority being in China.

North Carolina received its first COVID-19 scare in late January when a traveler who passed through Raleigh-Durham Airport was presenting symptoms. That case was determined to not be a result of the COVID-19 strain.

This poll is not a scientific sampling. It offers a quick view of what readers are thinking.

State health officials said they cannot anticipate when – or if – the virus is coming to North Carolina.

“I think it’s a really hard thing to for us to know when,” Tilson said. “Which is why we’ve been preparing for the last month, we’re preparing today and we’ll prepare tomorrow. It’s hard thing to say if and when, so the best thing we can do is be as prepared as possible today.”

Mike Sprayberry, N.C. director of Emergency Management, is also a co-chair with the task force.

Tilson’s advice to residents is to practice behaviors that would make just as much sense during flu season: wash hands, don’t touch your face and avoid those who are sick. She also reminded residents that face-masks do little to prevent infection and should be reserved for medical workers and the sick who actually need them.

The state’s specific advice for businesses and employers is:

  • Practice good hand hygiene and encourage your employees and patrons to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Review your policies and procedures for remote or teleworking where possible.
  • Cross-train employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences.
  • Review absenteeism policies to make sure employees are not being encouraged to come to work if they are sick.
  • If you have not already, establish a relationship with your local health department and communicate with them if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19.

UPDATE: February 26, 2020

While there are currently no known cases of the Coronavirus in North Carolina please use the links to the webpages of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Coronavirus. Additionally, Federal OSHA has just issued information concerning the Coronavirus in the workplace. There will be more information to come as it becomes available.

There is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19. However, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure to COVID-19. Among the most relevant are:

  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
    • When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, 29 USC 654(a)(1), which requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
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