April 14, 2020
NJGCA April 14th
Coronavirus Shutdown Update
SHOULD MOTORISTS WEAR A MASK WHEN FILLING UP?
EMAIL US YOUR GRANT/LOAN STORIES
SMALL BUSINESS EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE LOAN
WE STILL NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU
VAPING BAN REMINDER
INSPECTION EQUIPMENT CHARGES
NO EXTENSIONS FOR NJDEP COMPLIANCE
WORKERS COMP COVID LIABILITY AIMED AT EMPLOYERS
Should Motorists Wear a Mask When Filling Up?
In the past several weeks we have gotten calls from members at gas stations asking if they are permitted to serve customers that are not wearing masks. With the new executive order mandating the use of masks in public, there has been some confusion as to which situations require the use of a mask. We have determined that customers are not required to wear a mask when bringing their car in for fuel and you are permitted to pump gas for these customers. The governor's order does permit customers to pick up food from restaurants without wearing a mask if the customer is not going inside the restaurant. Therefore, motorists filling up their tanks sitting in their car do not need to wear a mask when refueling.
Email Us Your Grant/Loan Stories
Have you applied for a grant or loan in the past few weeks? If so, please share with us your success or struggles with the process. Any information we can learn during this time will help us further help you in obtaining any relief that is offered. This is a learning process for everyone including the banks. NJGCA staff has been participating in constant meetings with experts, government officials, and other trade groups to determine the proper advice to give our members. If you have anything to share, please send it to Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are hearing that banks are getting better at providing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as they sort through the initial rush and get more guidance from the federal government. It appears that all banks operating in New Jersey are now part of the program and able to provide these loans. We have learned that some banks, like Bank of America, that started off very problematically have since improved their service. We have actually participated in virtual meetings to receive updates and valuable info from the head of the NJ Banker’s Association, which is the trade group that represents all of the banks.
Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan
We mentioned to you last week to be on the computer at 9 AM Monday morning to apply for the NJEDA Small Business Emergency Assistance loan and here's why; we received word at 9:30 AM on Monday that the grant was already oversubscribed. You can continue to apply for that loan in case the EDA is able to get more funding for the program, they have stated that if they do they will offer it to the applicants that have already applied.
We Still Need to Hear From You
On Monday, we posted an Op-Ed on Governor Murphy’s new executive order and calling for a temporary abolishment of the ban on self-serve. The piece was picked up by NJ Spotlight, Insider NJ, and ROI-NJ, and expect other NJ media will also publish it. We continue to send your stories on the status of your businesses and employee availability to the governor to highlight our position, please continue to send them! For those of you that are dozing off on this, WAKE UP! We recognize that the status of your location may be ever changing. Thank you to those who have written to inform us each time you have had to close or have reopened due to lack of employees. We need this information, don't stop sending us emails until we say stop.
Vaping Ban Reminder
Another reminder that Governor Murphy signed into law a ban on all flavored vaping products (other than tobacco flavor) back in January, which will go into effect on April 20. We know because of the downturn in sales that many of you are stuck with more flavored e-cigarette inventory than you were expecting at this point. Unfortunately, there continues to be absolutely no appetite in Trenton to even listen to extending the deadline. They made clear when they passed this bill that they have absolutely no concern for the small businesses that sell these products. Again, this is something that hopefully the wholesalers will work with you on, since the non-tobacco flavored products can still continue to be sold in most other states.
Inspection Equipment Charges
We have heard from some members regarding their inspection equipment and your regular, monthly “break/fix” charge from Parsons. You’ll recall that this fee is required as part of your PIF contract, and was initially paid to SGS to service your equipment as technological issues arose. In light of the current landscape, we can understand why getting charged a fee can be especially frustrating when patronage is down and volume is low. With that in mind, we have reached out to our contacts to request for relief while this crisis continues. Though it is a small amount, every penny counts in this environment and we will report back with any information in a future update.
No extensions for NJDEP Compliance
Last week we notified you that NJDEP has been continuing their station inspections, visiting locations and pushing ahead with business as usual. This is not surprising as their work is generally outdoors and inspectors are able to comply with the Governor's 6+ foot social distancing requirement to complete their work. If DEP isn’t resting, that realistically means you cannot sit idle to wait for needed preventative servicing or repair work -- even during this crisis. It is not possible to know who each Members’ environmental compliance consultant is; but we do know who we’ve turned to when periodic questions arise. With that in mind, we recently had a conversation with one of our valued MBPs, Manny Alvarez of C-3 Technologies, who is still operating in the field. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a recent DEP visit or needed repair (and cannot get in touch with your regular environmental compliance consultant), please feel free to reach out to the MBPs that perform compliance testing and are listed in the NJGCA brochure for assistance. You can find contact information, and related details on all of our MBPs, on the NJGCA MBP page (you will need to be logged in to view this page).
Workers Comp COVID Liability Aimed at Employers
Yesterday, the Senate President introduced legislation expanding access to workers compensation for essential workers. This effort has been fully instigated by the unions. We participated in a coalition virtual meeting Monday afternoon that included the Insurance Council, which represents all of the workers comp insurance carriers. The business community is united behind opposition to this. We want to make the point that there's no way of proving an employee contracted coronavirus from their job and not from elsewhere. We are particularly concerned that if an employee dies from COVID, employers may then be open to wrongful death lawsuits. This especially amplifies our call to safeguard our employees at the gas pumps to protect them, and makes it more important that Governor Murphy suspend the self-serve laws. We care about our employees as family and we should be permitted to provide the maximum amount of safety for them. We continue to be frustrated that the governor is not allowing us to protect our employees to the best of our ability.