Assistance relating to convenience stores as essential businesses, such as template letters for employees and state actions.
Are convenience stores considered essential businesses?
On April 17, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) updated it’s guidance identifying convenience stores, their distributors and supply chains as critical infrastructure workforce. The CISA guidance is advisory and is not a federal directive to states, meaning state and local governments are not required to provide the same level of recognition. Here are key messages (PDF) about how convenience stores meet the essential needs of their communities.
Does NACS have a template letter for convenience store employees to carry that recognizes them as employees of essential businesses?
Yes. Here is a template letter for retailers to give employees that recognize them as essential workforce in the event that they are stopped when traveling to and from work. Note that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not certify any employer letters. However, FEMA encourages businesses that run into state and local issues (for example, the local authorities do not recognize that the business is essential or do not understand that an employee is allowed to work) to email NBEOC@max.gov with their issue.
Is there a template letter for employees of suppliers and distributors delivering fuel and other critical supplies?
Yes. FEMA issued letters that truck drivers can carry with them to ensure they can receive and deliver fuel and other critical supplies:
The Convenience Distribution Association has also provided critical infrastructure certification letter templates for drivers and for employees.
Where can I find information about stay-at-home orders by state?
Here’s two resources:
- Multi-State State Tracker: information on emergency declarations, executive orders and other sources of official information in all states and large U.S. cities
- GovPredict Tracker, compares state bills in response to the coronavirus
Information on federal loan programs available to businesses.
Tell me more about small business loans available under the CARES act.
NACS legal counsel, Steptoe & Johnson, has prepared answers to commonly asked questions about the Paycheck Protection Program established under the CARES Act. The program is designed to encourage employers to maintain payroll and to help small businesses cover their expenses (e.g., payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, etc.) in the near-term.
The Treasury department issued the loan application document and the final rules governing this program. NACS also hosted a webinar on this topic.
On April 24, Congress appropriated additional funds for this program and banks may again begin accepting applications or processing existing ones.
Tell me more about the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
The SBA offers an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for small businesses affected by COVID-19 at an interest rate of 3.75% for small business and 2.75% for non-profits, as well as up to $2 million in assistance and up to 30 years to pay off the loan.
As part of the CARES Act, the first $10,000 can be a grant and payments are deferred for one year. Although businesses may apply for both a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and an EIDL, the $10,000 grant amount from the EIDL will be reduce the forgivable amount of the PPP loan by the same amount. Businesses would also be restricted from using the EIDL for any of the permitted purposes under the CARES Act for the PPP loans. For more information visit the SBA’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 24 Congress appropriated additional funds for this program and SBA may again begin accepting applications or processing existing ones.
CDC and FDA guidance on preventing the spread of the virus and steps for employees with suspected or confirmed cases.
What are some immediate steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Public health agencies advise that personal hygiene is of critical importance to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to become familiar with safety precautions from CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrubbing for at least 20 seconds) and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue—discard tissue immediately into a closed bin
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay home if you have a fever
- Be vigilant in cleaning common surfaces in the workplace.
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow these steps from the CDC to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.
Should employees in retail food and food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19?
Review the CDC’s recommendation regarding the use of face masks, respirators and cloth face coverings for workers in the food and agriculture sectors to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The FDA and CDC also released a fact sheet that provides a quick reference to these items. CDC recommends the use of simple cloth face coverings as a voluntary public health measure in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. For workers on farms, and in food production, processing, and retail settings:
Here's a list of companies (PDF) compiled by NACS that offer hand sanitizer, PPEs, protective barriers, signage and thermometers.
New FMLA requirements, paid-time off requirements and other employment-related issues.
Where can I find information on how to access small business loans and tax credits available under FFCRA and the CARES Act?
NACS has hosted several webinars that are available online. Additionally, NACS legal counsel Steptoe & Johnson has online resources.
Does NACS have a template letter for employees to use when requesting emergency paid sick leave or emergency family and medical leave?
Yes, NACS legal counsels at Fisher Phillips have provided this template letter.
Where can I find information on employment-related issues facing employers?
Fisher & Phillips, NACS legal counsel on employment regulations and issues, has assembled a comprehensive set of FAQs for employers that will be continually updated throughout the recovery period.
Access NACS resources for emergency planning, preparation and recovery.
Are there resources from NACS available to my company?
NACS Emergency Planning Resources can assist the convenience retail community with disaster planning, preparation and recovery—including pandemics. The downloadable documents, Emergency Planning and Job Aids, include a plan evaluation and tasks and checklists for store employees to perform during emergency and disaster planning and recovery.
Resources are available to retailers via the SpotOnResponse mobile app and web application. Through the NACS-SABER partnership, retailers can download the COVID-19 business information and tracking app at SABER.org.
A response plan developed by NACS member company StrasGlobal is available to all retailers who may looking for advice on crafting their own plans as they adjust operations in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Services and supplies for cleaning and sanitizing, including training and CDC guidance for areas where COVID-19 could be present.
Are there cleaning and sanitizing resources I can quickly access to share with my employees?
Here's a list of companies (PDF) that offer cleaning and sanitizing services and supplies for both inside the store and the fuel island.
NACS e-learning partner Ready Training Online (RTO) has created a free seven-minute training module on how to help prevent the spread of illness and disease at businesses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed EPA-registered surface disinfectant products in its Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list. The EPA notes that coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.
The CDC provides recommendations on the cleaning and disinfection of rooms or areas of those with suspected or with confirmed COVID-19 have visited.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education, of which NACS is a partner, has free resources on handwashing and food safety available to retailers to download and share in their stores.
FDA and CDC guidance on fresh produce, food and food packaging.
Where can I find food safety resources pertaining to workplace guidelines and workers testing positive?
The FDA regularly updates resources available to industry members and consumers on COVID-19 and food safety, including food supply chain guidance, social distancing and disinfecting, temporary policies and what do to if a worker tests positive for COVID-19.
Can fresh produce transmit the COVID-19 virus?
There is no evidence that fresh produce (or any other food, or other product/material) can transmit the virus. FDA directly addresses food safety on its FAQ page.
Additionally, FMI – the Food Industry Association, has compiled COVID-19 resources and information to support the food industry.
Should I take additional measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 on food and food packaging?
Per the FDA, currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.
If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and review FDA’s guidance, Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic–Information for Consumers.
Access the latest COVID-19 updates from U.S. government agencies and global organizations.
Where can I find the latest updates from government and global resources?
Access timely information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak from the following resources: