State offers help for businesses

Sec. Kelly Schultz

CAMBRIDGE — The Maryland Department of Commerce on Friday announced resources being offered to help businesses weather the difficulties posed by the spread of coronavirus.

“As you are aware, Maryland is being impacted by the COVID-19 and the current status is fluctuating every day,” the statement said.

Maryland is currently operating under a state of emergency, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has elevated its state response activation level.

“Governor Hogan is taking very proactive steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 across our state. This week, he signed emergency legislation granting him the authority to tap into the state’s rainy day fund and announced the formation of a Coronavirus Response Team that will advise the administration on important health and emergency management decisions as this situation continues to evolve.

“Please know these measures were put in place in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible and ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors. It is our hope that by taking these actions, we can lessen the impact and get our state back on track more quickly.

“Commerce and other state agencies will remain open and operational, but we are making accommodations and preparations to ensure the safety of our employees and minimize the impact of the virus. We recognize that the spread of this virus poses numerous challenges for our businesses, and we stand ready to help however we can.”

Resources
• The U.S. Department of Labor has developed some guidelines for how companies can prepare their workplace for COVID-19. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a COVID-19 website with information specifically for workers and employers. There is also information on issues relating to wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act available here.
• The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Labor and Industry enforces the Maryland Health Working Families Act, also known as safe and sick leave, which may be useful for employees who need to take off from work due to COVID-19. To learn more about the law, email ssl.assistance@maryland.gov or call 410-767-235.
• If a business experiences a temporary or permanent layoff, Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Bulk Claim Services can open unemployment insurance claims for all affected employees. Businesses should contact a Claims Representative by emailing dluibulkclaims-dllr@maryland.gov or calling (410) 767-3252.
• The Maryland Insurance Administration has also put together an FAQ addressing insurance-related questions about coronavirus.
“I encourage you to regularly visit the Maryland Department of Health for the latest information on coronavirus and the state’s response to the outbreak,” Secretary Kelly M. Schultz said in the statement. “State agencies including the Department of Commerce are prepared to fully serve our clients in the business community, even if we must work remotely. Maryland is still ‘Open for Business.’ We are committed to helping protect the health and well-being of all Marylanders, and thank you for being our partner as we face this challenge together.”