Information Related to Executive Orders:

 

2020-21: "Stay Home, Stay Safe"

Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-21 issued on March 22 requires Michigan residents to "Stay Home, Stay Safe", prohibiting all businesses that are not critical to essential infrastructure to close, and for non-essential workers to remain home.

Regardless of whether your brewery does or does not have a food service element, all breweries are considered essential under the Executive Order as beverage manufacturers, and therefore may remain open to sell beer (and food, if applicable) for carry-out, curbside pick-up, and/or home delivery.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has released this declaration outlining which Michigan food industry components are deemed essential. As you can see in the fourth point, beverage production facilities are included.

Requirements to stay open:
As part of the order, "essential employees" must be designated as such and this can be done orally until March 31 at midnight, but must be have been put in writing (such as email) to the employee by this deadline.

Applicable language, per Executive Order 2020-21:
For purposes of this order, workers who are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations are those whose in-person presence is strictly necessary to allow the business or operation to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, care for animals, ensure security, process transactions (including payroll and employee benefits), or facilitate the ability of other workers to work remotely.

Businesses and operations must determine which of their workers are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations and inform such workers of that designation. Businesses and operations must make such designations in writing, whether by electronic message, public website, or other appropriate means. Such designations, however, may be made orally until March 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

Additional FAQs:
Here are some additional FAQs released by Michigan.gov to help answer some of the questions you may have about Executive Order 2020-21.

 

2020-09, closing bars, restaurants, tasting rooms, etc.:

Per Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-09 to limit the spread of COVID-19: restaurants, tasting rooms, brewpubs, etc. must close to the public through March 30. Food take-out is still permitted, with certain restrictions.

The MLCC has compiled these Frequently Asked Questions following the Executive Order, which provides clarification on:

  • Which types of establishments are affected
  • What regulations must be followed
  • Home beer delivery & associated legalities
  • Annual license renewal deadline extended to May 31
  • Special license requests and events scheduled through March 31

 

Hand Sanitizer Production Opportunities

Hand Sanitizer Production as an Alternative Manufacturing Option

Breweries may want to contact their distillery neighbors if the brewery might have excess beer in fermenters or would like to ferment wort for distillation. Fermentation is a potential bottleneck at a distillery and if a brewery has excess capacity it is a potential collaboration. The distillery could produce hand sanitizer with this unused beer. There is a spot on excise tax forms to indicate that the beer went out for distillation.

The Michigan Craft Distiller Association has produced this list of distilleries producing sanitizer, many of whom may be interested in partnering with breweries.

LARA / FDA Guidance for Hand Sanitizer Production

The following information released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may serve as a useful technical reference for breweries interested in producing hand sanitizer:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued temporary guidance FDA-2020-D-1106 for compounders (pharmacists) to produce alcohol based hand sanitizer and is doing so under relaxed regulatory enforcement. This is being allowed under the current national Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) in recognition of the shortage of appropriate alcohol based hand sanitizer which is used to maintain hand hygiene and help in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Like the FDA, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is acutely aware of the high demand for hand sanitizer and the product's limited availability through ordinary channels in light of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). LARA is applying the same temporary policy guidance that the FDA has issued for compounders (pharmacists) who comply with the recent FDA guidance.

This will remain in effect for the duration of the state of emergency as declared by Governor Whitmer on March 10, 2020. Compounders (pharmacists) choosing to compound hand sanitizer shall act in accordance with acceptable and prevailing standards for compounding products and abide by all CDC, FDA, and other applicable federal guidelines, in particular FDA guidance docket number FDA-2020-D-1106.

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Matches Suppliers with Buyers

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC), a function of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), assists Michigan producers of goods and services with finding purchasers.

Breweries looking to engage in the manufacture of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic can use PMBC's Virtual Procurement Assistance to potentially get matched with a purchaser. Provide your brewery's information to PMBC to get started.

Home Delivery of Beer & Wine

Per Section 203 (12) in the Michigan Liquor Control Code:

A retailer that holds a Specially Designated Merchant (SDM) license, a brewpub, a micro brewer, or an out-of-state entity that is the substantial equivalent of a brewpub or micro brewer may deliver beer and wine to the home or other designated location of a consumer in this state if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The beer or wine, or both, is delivered by the retailer's, brewpub's, or micro brewer's employee.
  2. The retailer, brewpub, or micro brewer or its employee who delivers the beer or wine, or both, verifies that the individual accepting delivery is at least 21 years of age.
  3. If the retailer, brewpub, or micro brewer or its employee intends to provide service to consumers, the retailer, brewpub, or micro brewer or its employee providing the service has received alcohol server training through a server training program approved by the commission.

If you are interested in offering home delivery of beer, please also review the MLCC Frequently Asked Questions (page 2).

 

GoTab Offering Free Carryout and Delivery Portal Set-Up:

In an effort to assist breweries, GoTab has generously offered their carry-out & delivery portal technology to MBG members at zero cost beyond credit card processing fees (required by credit card companies).

There will be no set-up or service fees charged by GoTab for this for the foreseeable future, and GoTab will assist breweries in setting up their menu for free.

For an example of how this feature looks and works, visit Caboose Brewing's website.

Contact GoTab to get started and let them know that you're a Michigan Brewers Guild member.

 

Unemployment Info:

Expanded Unemployment Benefits:

In an effort to help provide emergency support for Michigan's working families, Governor Whitmer today also announced Executive Order 2020-10 to temporarily expand unemployment benefits eligibility.

This executive order will remain in effect through end of day April 14th, and extends benefits to employees who experience:

  • Forced unpaid absence from work due to illness, quarantine, or immunocompromised health
  • Unexpected childcare responsibilities
  • Necessary care of loved ones who become ill

In addition, this order increases access to benefits by:

  • Increasing benefits from 20 to 26 weeks
  • Increasing application eligibility period from 14 to 28 days
  • Suspending the normal requirements for in-person registration and work search

Under this order, an employer shall not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.

Eligible employees should read the Unemployment Insurance Agency's Fact Sheet as well as additional information from Michigan.gov, and they can apply online or by calling 1-866-500-0017.

Employers are also encouraged to implement the state's Work Share Program, which allows for employers to maintain operational productivity rather than laying off workers during declines in regular business activity. With the plan, rather than being laid off, eligible employees work a reduced number of hours in the work week and receive a portion of weekly unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) Update: High Volume

Workers are encouraged to apply online at Michigan.gov/UIA or over the phone at 866-500-0017, but due to tremendous call volume, certain callers may receive a busy signal.

The UIA has issued this Update Information to assist workers in getting through to the UIA during this busy time. The update advises workers to contact the agency during off-peak hours, and provides some additional detail about what that entails.

State Provides Guidance to Employers Contemplating Potential Layoffs

In addition to encouraging businesses to utilize the Work Share program (see above), the State offers businesses some guidance on choosing Temporary Leave vs. Termination.

Due to the uncertainty regarding potential congressional action regarding whether and how furloughed workers will be able to access federal paid sick, family and medical leave resources, employers are strongly urged to place employees on temporary leave and advise the worker that they expect to have work available within 120-days as opposed to termination. There is no additional cost to employers, employees remain eligible for UI benefits through the state, and employees may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.

Steps for employers placing employees on temporary unpaid leave:

  • Do not terminate the employee – specify a temporary/indefinite leave with return to work expected that is within 120 days.
  • Do not create a contractual obligation to bring the employee back to work – Let the employee know that the situation is fluid and subject to change.
  • Provide the employee with a formal Unemployment Compensation Notice. Employers will need to provide their Employer Account Number and Federal Identification Number.
  • Communicate to the employee about their rights. Under Governor Whitmer’s recent Executive Order, workers are placed on leave, or are unable to work because they are sick, quarantined, immunocompromised, or have an unanticipated family care responsibility, are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Ensure employees are provided information on how to obtain unemployment insurance benefits. A factsheet can be found here.
  • Get each employee’s up-to-date contact information.
  • Let employees know if you will be putting updated information on the entity’s website or intranet, if applicable.
  • Appoint a single, or limited number of individuals who will field questions, and communicate that information to employees.
  • Keep a tally of all questions and answers. Periodically share with employees.

The state is monitoring issues related to continued medical insurance coverage and will update accordingly.

 

Insurance Issues:

Recouping Business Losses Through Business Insurance:

Miller Canfield, another Allied Trade member of MBG, has provided this information about recouping financial losses through business insurance.

For more information, contact Joe Infante - infante@millercanfield.com | (231) 740-8199

Insurance Considerations for Delivery

Fischer Insurance, one of MBG's Allied Trade members, has provided the following information which will be helpful to breweries considering operating delivery services during the taproom shut-down:

"Great care must be taken to ensure that drivers are well qualified and proper controls are in place. Attached are a few relevant documents to assist you. Most importantly:

  • Prospective drivers must be evaluated carefully:
  • Youthful / inexperienced operators should not be permitted to perform delivery services if this can be avoided. Drivers under age 18 should be prohibited.
  • All drivers must have a valid driver’s license. A current MVR should be reviewed to verify a favorable driving record. The document Evaluating Motor Vehicle Records offers guidance here. Employees can secure their driving record from the Secretary of State.
  • Since primary auto liability coverage would be provided by the employee’s PAP, proof of coverage should be verified with minimum split limits of $100/300/50 or $300,000 Combined Single Limit. Have your employee provide you with a copy of their current policy.
  • All delivery drivers should be required to sign an agreement that outlines expectations while operating their vehicles in the course of business. The technical bulletin Tips for Employers technical bulletin provides direction in this area.

Employee-owned delivery vehicles are non-owned autos from the insured restaurant’s perspective. A policy with non-owned auto coverage (example here) will respond to protect the named insured on an excess basis over the employee’s PAP, but it is not covering the employees themselves."

For more information, contact Mark Irwin - mark@fischerins.com | 800-453-6170

 

Annual License Renewals - Extended Deadline:


In response to the state of emergency called on 3/10 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the MLCC issued Administrative Order No. 2020-05, extending the annual license expiration date for 2020 from April 30 to May 31, 2020.


The Commission strongly encourages businesses to renew online to ensure timely processing of your renewal application and avoid any potential delays with mailing your renewed license.

 

Michigan Department of Treasury Waives Penalty & Interest of Sales, Use, & Withholding Tax for 30 Days:

On March 17, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced that it will waive penalty and interest fees for any sales, use, and withholding taxes paid within 30 days after the monthly due date of March 20.

Any return or payment currently due on March 20, 2020 may be submitted to the Department without penalty or interest through April 20, 2020.

 

New MEDC Relief Grants & Loans

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has been approved to provide Michigan Small Business Relief Programs in Grants & Loans. Details have not yet been released on how to apply.

Grants: Provide grant support for businesses hardest hit by COVID-19. Funds for the program are expected to be available no later than April 1, 2020.

Loans: Provide small business loans to businesses immediately impacted by COVID-19. Funds for the program are expected to be available no later than April 1, 2020.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Relief Loans Now Available:


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Governor Whitmer's request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA.

The EIDL designation means that Michigan small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will now have the ability to apply for low-interest loans as part of $1 billion in funding made available to the SBA by Congress earlier this month.

The application for disaster loan assistance is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. For businesses looking for more information on how to apply for an SBA EIDL loan or whether it is something they should consider, visit michiganbusiness.org/covid19.

The EIDL declaration by the SBA adds to the growing number of resources available to small businesses in Michigan negatively impacted by COVID-19, including the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which will provide more than $20 million in grants and loans to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce.

Businesses can contact the Michigan Small Business Administration offices in either Grand Rapids or Detroit with questions or for assistance in this process.

 

Draught Equipment Shut-Down Maintenance Guidelines

BA Draught Quality Recommendations During Extended Bar/Taproom Shutdown

From the Brewers Association:

In the event you are unable to serve draught beer for an extended period, it is important to take some steps to make sure your system stays healthy and you are not faced with an unexpected expense or quality concerns when starting it back up. If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, the system will be at risk of an irreversible bacterial contamination. Taking the right steps can prevent you from having to deal with dangerous gas leak hazards, costly draught line contamination, or even more expensive draught line replacement.

Micro Matic Recommendations for Draught System Hibernation Maintenance

Micro Matic has shared these Draught System Recommendations for maintaining proper system health during an extended shut-down.

 

Other Useful Links:

In the event you are unable to serve draught beer for an extended period, it is important to take some steps to make sure your system stays healthy and you are not faced with an unexpected expense or quality concerns when starting it back up. If beer is left stagnant in draught lines for too long, the system will be at risk of an irreversible bacterial contamination. Taking the right steps can prevent you from having to deal with dangerous gas leak hazards, costly draught line contamination, or even more expensive draught line replacement.

michigan.gov/coronavirus
cdc.gov/coronavirus
who.int

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