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American Rescue Plan Act Provides Additional COVID Relief
March 12, 2021

By Elizabeth A. Rosso, Shareholder

Introduction

On March 11, 2021, the President signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“Act”) into law. As with previous COVID-19 relief and stimulus packages, the Act contains numerous provisions designed to help individuals, businesses, and state and local governments survive the pandemic. A few key provisions of the Act are highlighted below.

Restaurant Relief Grants

The Act establishes the $28 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, to be used to make Restaurant Revitalization Grants to eligible entities. Eligible entities include restaurants, food trucks, food carts, taverns, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, or another “similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.” Funds may be used to cover a variety of expenses, including payroll costs, rent, utilities, construction to accommodate outdoor seating, protective equipment and cleaning materials, and paid sick leave.
Applications will be processed in the order received, and for the first 21 days of the program, priority for grants will go to small businesses owned and controlled by women and veterans, and to socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns. The maximum grant amount is $10 million.

FFCRA modifications

The Act extends the payroll tax credit for paid sick leave and paid family leave, for wages paid between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. This effectively resets the 80-hour limit on emergency paid sick leave per employee, allowing (but not requiring) employers to offer an additional 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave to each employee. In addition, the Act expands the reasons for which emergency leaves may be used to include seeking or awaiting the results of COVID-19 testing after exposure, obtaining COVID-19 immunization, and recovering from side effects of COVID-19 immunization.

COBRA extensions

The Act also provides for premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage for individuals and families. While this is an individual benefit, it triggers notice requirements for plan administrators. The Act requires the Secretary of Labor to release a model notice of availability of premium assistance within 30 days of enactment of the Act, and to release a model notice of expiration of the period of premium assistance within 45 days of enactment of the Act.

PPP modifications

The PPP has been expanded to make additional non-profit entities eligible for both first draw and second draw PPP loans. Those entities must still meet size requirements (not more than 500 employees per physical location) and lobbying limits.

Education assistance to address learning loss

Finally, the Act authorizes $122 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Funds will be provided to schools, including charter schools, through the states, and at least 20% of those funds must be used to address learning loss through implementation of summer school, extended day, after school, or extended school year programs.

Conclusion

The Act requires many of the federal departments and agencies in charge of implementing the provisions above to issue additional guidance or regulations in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Jordan Ramis is available to help determine which benefits you may be eligible to receive. Please contact us for assistance.

Elizabeth A. Rosso is an attorney and shareholder at Jordan Ramis PC. She is experienced in helping clients weather and plan for various crises, including COVID-19. Contact her at elizabeth.rosso@jordanramis.com or (503) 598-7070.