We've received hundreds of questions about COVID-19's impact on Washington employers from our webinars, conference calls and main office line. Please find the most up-to-date responses to the most frequently asked questions below.

Essential vs Non-Essential Businesses

Q: What are the current guidelines for business closures and who does it apply to?

A: (3/23/2020) Stay Home, Stay Healthy “Employment in essential business services means an essential employee performing work for an essential business as identified in the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list.
Read more on our blog.

Q: If my business is considered non-essential, do I have to shut down?

A: (3/24/2020) Yes, unless you and your employees can work from home. - Office of Governor Jay Inslee

Q: What are the registration requirements for those deemed essential?

A: (3/25/2020) There is no need to register for workers or businesses that are deemed essential. - Dept. of Commerce

Q: What makes a business classified as essential?

A: (3/24/2020) The full list of sectors and workers deemed essential is available here.

Q: Where do I apply to have my business listed as “essential?"

A: (3/24/2020) To clarify status, or request inclusion on the list, please fill out this application.

Q: Do essential companies' staff need travel permits?

A: (3/25/2020) No permits are needed to travel to and from essential business locations. - Dept. of Commerce

Small Business Support

Q: What simple, step-by-step advice should I follow to save costs right now?

A: The Washington Small Business Development Center has this great survival strategies list (PDF).

Q: How can small businesses access emergency funds?

A: (3/25/2020) The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Q: What kind of support is available to independent contractors/self employed folks, including Uber/Lyft workers?

A: Washington State Congressional Delegation Request for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (3/23/2020) - “When a major disaster has been declared by the President, DUA is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster... While the President approved Washington’s request to declare a major disaster in Washington related to COVID-19, the Administration is still considering the request to activate DUA as part of the declaration.”

Q: Where is a good place to find basic small business survival tips?

A: (3/25/2020) The Washington Small Business Development Center has an excellent small business survival guide (PDF).

Property Management

Q: Where can landlords make claims for rent reductions given to corporate tenants?

A: (3/25/2020) Landlords can apply for the EIDL to cover lost rents regardless of who the tenants are.

Services / Programs

Q: Where can I find information on the coronavirus and COVID-19 resources in multiple languages?

A: (3/24/2020) Multilingual resources - Department of Health Multilingual Fact Sheet

Supply chain

Q: Will this affect grocery stores and food availability?

A: (3/24/2020) The following excerpt is from the governor’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers - "Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, and other retail that sells food and beverage products, including but not limited to Grocery stores, Corner stores and convenience stores, including liquor stores that sell food, Farmers’ markets, Food banks, Farm and produce stands, Supermarkets, Similar food retail establishments, Big box stores that sell groceries and essentials."

Emergency Response Procedures

Q: Where can I find templates for creating an emergency management plan for my business?

A: The Department of Commerce has a resources page here: http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/links/crisis/covid-19-resources/

Q: How is the COVID virus being addressed in the homeless community?

A: Information on emergency housing grants and grantee guidance responding to the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed from the Washington State Department of Commerce website here: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/covid-19-homeless-services/

Health Facts

Q: As an employer, am I allowed to check the temperature of an employee before allowing them to begin work?

A: (3/26/2020) The new EEOC guidelines (and formerly ADA rules after H1N1) allow for temperature checks. Based on a few conversations, companies are (1) requiring a physician's note and (2) sanitizing the plant after a person has tested positive or come in close contact with a person testing positive. Any employees who have been in close contact are being asked to self quarantine.

Visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website for a full list of resources regarding employer anti-discrimination awareness.

Q: What are the quarantine guidelines if an employee has contact with a potential sick individual?

A: (3/24/2020) The Department of Health has the Federal Quarantine Guidance for Novel Coronavirus criteria on their Federal Quarantine page: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/Quarantine

Q: If my employee reports to me that he/she got infected, what should I do? Should I call the city, county, or state, or CDC? Should I vacate the workplace?

A: (3/24/2020) Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidance for steps to take if you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may be infected with coronavirus. - https://coronavirus.wa.gov/

Q: What areas in the U.S. are most impacted by COVID-19 and how does Washington state compare to others in number of cases and response, including number of tests conducted?

A: (3/24/2020) Daily statistics are provided by the Department of Health (DOH) or view statewide statistics on a map. - https://coronavirus.wa.gov/

Q: How do we protect our workforce and reduce the spreading?

A: (3/24/2020) CDC guidance to help families, employers, schools and others stop the spread of COVID-19 (pdf) - https://coronavirus.wa.gov/

A: (3/24/2020) The Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

We encourage you to visit the Department of Health’s coronavirus website and the CDC's coronavirus website for more information.

Q: What are the current guidelines on social distancing?

A: (3/24/2020) From the Department of Health: Home Isolation Guidance (PDF)

Health Care Coverage

Q: What health insurance can employees get if they're laid off? Our company insurance only covers full time workers.

A: (3/25/2020) Washington State re-opened access to the ACA healthcare exchange yesterday so that people who lose employer insurance can pick it up on the exchange now.


Q: Any updates on the 2020 cruise ship season?

A: (3/24/2020) The Port of Seattle now expects the launch of the cruise season will be delayed until the resolution of the public health emergency. Read more: https://www.portseattle.org/news/port-seattle-expects-delay-start-2020-cruise-season