AIA Washington Council COVID Blog
Emails from Tammie Sueirro, Executive Director
June 1, 2020
INSLEE MOVES WASHINGTON FROM STAY HOME STAY HEALTHY TO START SAFE
On Friday, Governor Inslee announced that the Stay Home Stay Healthy order would expire at midnight May 31. We are now moving into a new phase outlined in the Governor’s Start Safe Proclamation. This new phase will allow all counties in the state to apply for movement from one phase to the next in the reopening process. Counties wishing to move to the next phase of reopening may apply as of today, June 1, 2020. Businesses and citizens are to follow the allowed activities and guidelines for the phase their county is in. See the last page of the governor’s illustrated Start Safe Plan for details for each phase, and you can find the Current County Phase Map snapshot as of May 28.
The governor also announced that counties not quite ready to move to Phase 2 will be allowed to apply for a modified Phase 1 designation. This intermediate phase allows for an easing of some restrictions and will be determined by the needs of the specific county. You can find the listing of some of the allowed activities in this intermediate phase on pages 7-8 of the Start Safe Plan.
Employers should also be aware that as of June 8, all employees at work are to wear facial coverings when working unless they work alone in an office, are alone in a car or are on a job site. They are expected to follow the established requirements of any job site they are on. Employers are expected to provide the facial coverings and can refer to the Facial Coverings and Face Mask Information page for assistance in determining the level of protection that is required in their situation. Employees may choose to wear their own coverings as long as they meet the minimum requirements.
As you plan for a safe reopening of your office, this Checklist for Businesses, endorsed by the governor, should provide the information you need.
In addition, the Association of Washington Businesses has launched their Rebound and Recovery Page which includes a business toolkit and a place to request PPE.
Remember that working from home is the safest and easiest way to protect yourself, your staff and your family. If you must return to work, we hope these resources will be helpful.
AIAWA: RETURN TO WORK PANEL DISCUSSION
AIAWA is planning a virtual statewide panel discussion to allow our members to get information about reopening, ask questions of those who are already in the process and hear from risk management professionals. I will send out more information about the panel in the next few days.
May 27, 2020
Governor Inslee stated today that the remaining counties in the state will receive more information later this week about moving to Phase 2 of reopening; he issued no further information about when our more populous counties will be moving to Phase 2. Here are some links to supplies and information that will be helpful as you look to reopen your offices:
Cloth Face Masks: Look for masks made with at least 2 layers of fabric. It should cover your nose and mouth without large gaps. The mask should have ear loops or ties so you can adjust it. For people who wear glasses, look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging. Professional masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines caring for patients. Here are some resources for cloth face coverings:
- Etsy Cloth Face Masks
- Amazon Cloth Face Masks
- Joann Fabrics Face Masks and Supplies
- How to Sew Your Own Face Mask
Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectants: Many of the local distilleries are producing sanitizer/disinfectant. This is liquid, not like the gel kinds and is readily available. These can be sprayed on hands and used to wipe down surfaces:
Informational Materials: Here are links to informational materials that can be helpful as you prepare reopen your office:
- CDC COVID-19 Posters and Printed Materials
- CDC Disinfecting Facilities Guidance
- Governor Inslee’s Safe Start WA Plan
- Phase 2 Professional Services Guidance – May 13, 2020
We believe that a revised Phase 2 Guidance will be issued in the next few days. We will share that with you once released.
May 15, 2020
We have received word from the governor’s office that the Phase 2 Reopening Guidance for Professional Services, released Wednesday, applies to those counties that have received approval to enter Phase 2 ahead of the rest of the state. The goal continues to be for a statewide Phase 2 reopening on June 1 but there are many factors that will go into that decision. You can find the guidance here: Ph2 Reopening: Professional Services Guidance
The guidance will apply to professional services once Phase 2 has been issued. We suggest reviewing the guidance and planning for how to implement the requirements now so that when Phase 2 is announced, you will be ready.
One issue that we have heard from members is the concern for PPE and disinfectants that will be required but are in short supply. We will keep listening for any guidance on acquiring those supplies and will pass that along.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us so we can help get answers.
May 14, 2020
STAY HOME STAY HEALTHY ORDER UPDATE Governor Inslee released a memo yesterday discussing the reopening of “professional services” in Washington. You can find the memo here: Phase 2 Reopening: Professional Services. It states that newly authorized businesses can resume operations immediately, and must “meet and maintain all requirements, including providing materials, schedules and equipment needed to comply. Previously authorized professional-service operations must implement all requirements under Phase 2 – Professional Services by May 27, 2020.” You can find the guidance for reopening for Professional Services here: Guidance for Professional Services.
May 6, 2020
Last week Governor Inslee approved a plan to reopen low risk construction projects to start moving our economy forward. AIAWA inquired as to whether architects supporting these projects were also approved to return to work.
Today we received word that architects supporting low risk projects are allowed to return to work if they follow established safety guidelines. They stressed though that businesses that are able to continue working remotely are strongly encouraged to do so.
If you are supporting low risk construction projects that are coming back on line and plan to reopen your office, review the guidelines in the “Safe Start” plan. Also, Challenge Seattle and the Washington Roundtable have developed a business checklist which is a great starting point for businesses as they prepare to reopen safely.
May 1, 2020
Governor Inslee held a press conference this afternoon to explain his 4-phase plan for reopening Washington as well as the extension of the Stay Home Stay Healthy order until May 31. His first phase of reopening, which is partially in place with low risk construction resuming, will begin to open more sectors. This phase requires these additional sectors to create protocols for safety just as the construction industry did. He stated he expected these protocols to be ready for implementation by May 15.
There will be at least 3 weeks in between phases which would mean the implementation of Phase 2 would happen sometime in June, if the data allows. Phase 2 is where professional offices can begin to reopen. You can find the phased plan (here). The governor also explained that some counties in the state with lower numbers of cases may be eligible for earlier implementation of the next phase. We will bring you more details on the plan as they become available.
April 30, 2020
Over the past week Washington has reopened low risk construction and soon will reopen some of our recreational parks, trails and activities. Tomorrow Governor Inslee will discuss additional details of his phased plan, which we fully expect to include keeping our Stay Home Stay Healthy order in place for a little longer.
Our members have participated in the slowing of the spread of the virus by working remotely and embracing technology to keep office culture alive. Some of you helped to be part of the solution by fabricating PPE for our front line medical professionals. THANK YOU!
We will be back to work soon and an important part of that transition is planning for a safe environment for your staff and clients. There is a lot to think about as you prepare for a gradual reopening of your offices. Thank you to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce for bringing together a 28-member team of community leaders to collaborate on a toolkit that provides a detailed approach to reopening businesses. You can find the report (here). Soon Governor Inslee will provide specifics as to what businesses will be responsible for during the reopening and until then this report should help with planning. Remember that working from home is the most effective way to keep our community safe, and when it is time to reopen your office, this tool may help you make some necessary decisions to do so safely.
April 24, 2020
This morning Governor Inslee announced the results of his Construction Industry Roundtable charged with determining the safety precautions necessary to keep construction workers, trades people, and job sites safe. The comprehensive plan, found here, walks through a detailed set of protocols for low risk construction projects to reopen. All architects working on construction sites are encouraged to carefully review the plan.
Governor Inslee did not state when other businesses would be able to return to work. He stated that he would be gathering other business stakeholders together to provide input on future plans for other sectors to reopen. He stressed that “no work will resume until health experts and data determine it is safe to do so.”
There was also no mention in the plan or at the press conference about the impact of this reopening on the businesses, such as architects, who support construction. Until we receive additional details on supporting businesses, architects should continue to work from home. If staff need to go to the office for brief, project related tasks to support construction that has been allowed to reopen, firm leadership should insist on physical distancing and establish workplace safety measures as outlined by the WHO and CDC. If/when an architect is required to make a site visit, they should review the site requirements for safety and distancing provided by the contractor.
The full press conference can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/yajacjwn We will continue to press for details and will provide more information as it becomes available
April 23, 2020
Funding for a second round of COVID-19 relief could be released as early as tonight. This new round includes $310B in additional funds for the Paycheck Projection Program and $60B in emergency disaster loans and grants. If you’d like more information about applying for these grants please see (here).
AIAWA has spoken with a few people regarding these loans including Ronnie Henderson, banking manager at Homestreet Bank. What we have heard is that smaller banks might be more responsive to clients than larger banks, though smaller banks don’t usually have the number of employees necessary to handle the influx of applications that are being requested. Mr. Henderson had a few tips to pass along to members regarding these processes:
- If you have already applied, he recommends that you reach out to your bank and inquire about your application. Most banks have continued to process files in anticipation of the next round of funds being released. You’ll want to be sure that everything is in place so you are in the queue.
- If you have not yet applied, he recommends that you still do. Even though it is likely that this round will also run out quickly, in the event of another release of funds, you will be ready.
- Work with your current bank. Though banks have not been given any policies and procedures for this program, they will only work with current clients.
- Only apply once. He could not stress enough that if you have more than one application in process, the SBA will likely reject your request.
We hope this is helpful and please let us know how we can assist you in these unprecedented times.
April 14, 2020
As we make our way through week 5 of the WA Stay Home Stay Healthy order, I wanted to share a few resources with you.
Regardless of the shut down and stay home order, the requirements for continuing education are still in place to maintain your license. Thank you to AIA Seattle for opening up their online continuing education offerings to the entire state! They have an incredible calendar of meaty courses to consider during this time of being at home. Check out their line up (here).
AIA National continues to curate resources and create new tools for members navigating their business during this shut down. Here are a few to take a look at:
- Harvard Business Review’s free e-book titled Coronavirus + Business (here)
- AIA National’s COVID-19 Resource page, particularly the Legal “tab” (here)
- AIAU Live course on the Economic Impact of COVID-19 (here)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s page on Protecting your Finances during the Pandemic (here)
We are hearing that another round of COVID-19 stimulus is being debated and it is vital that housing resources be part of this next package. If you are interested in communicating this priority to your legislators, you can take action (here).
April 21, 2020
STAY HOME STAY SAFE
Tonight Governor Inslee will discuss the impact of his Stay Home Stay Healthy order and his plans for reopening the Washington economy. You can watch his address, starting at 5:00pm, (here). We have learned that a bipartisan draft plan was presented to Governor Inslee late last week and we’re pleased to see residential construction at the top of the list of sectors to bring on in this first phase. You can read more about the plan (here).
This afternoon Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and congressional leaders reached a deal on a new $484B economic stimulus plan to help small businesses cope with the economic impact of COVID-19. In addition to other necessary economic relief, an additional $320B is intended to be added to the Paycheck Protection Program which ran out of funds in just two weeks. See (here) for more information. AIAWA will continue to monitor the movement of this new package.
April 6, 2020
With the Stay Home Stay Healthy order extended through May 4, Washington businesses are going to have to try to stay afloat for several more weeks.The CARES act put in place a series of tools businesses can use to preserve their staff and to help with expenses. This program was launched on Friday and we know there have been significant questions around who qualifies and how to apply for the loans. You can find (2) different FAQ resources in addition to other resources on our website (here).
You can also review the AIA National Webinar that took place last Thursday on these programs. You can access the recording of this material (here) though the sound quality is not great. We hope these resources are helpful to you and your firms.
April 2, 2020
The Paycheck Protection Program, a component of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) is designed to help small businesses maintain staff during this pandemic. From the US Small Business Association:
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.
Click Here to learn more.
March 19, 2020
We are experiencing unprecedented impacts to our communities and our firms. As we share the responsibility to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus, we know that the very measures we take to slow the spread can also negatively impact our projects and our businesses.
Our staff is working to curate resources on our website for our members so that they can navigate this situation. AIA|WA will work with the local chapters to provide assistance and resources where we can. If you have further resources to share with other members, please forward them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please see this page on our website, which we will keep up to date. Together we can get through this. Stay healthy everyone.