Support and Information During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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SWBA is here to help you through this difficult time. As information and resources become available, we'll be updating this page. If you have a specific question, or need help connecting to an expert or resource, please reach out to us and we'll do all we can to get you what you need.

Current Allowed Activity


COVID-19 requirements have been relaxed for businesses serving food. Changes begin Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at 12 p.m. (noon). 

New changes are listed in bold. 

New requirements for restaurants, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brewer taprooms, micro distillers, cocktail rooms, craft wineries, cideries, golf courses and clubs, dining clubs, and other places of Public Accommodation that offer food and beverages are allowed to offer food for indoor and outdoor onsite consumption, are: 

  • Indoor Capacity is limited to no more than 50% of established capacity, up to a maximum of 250 patrons, whichever is lower 
  • Outdoor Capacity is limited to a maximum of 250 patrons 
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between parties.  
  • Onsite dining hours are extended one hour to 11:00 p.m. Onsite dining is not allowed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Outside of these hours, follow your approved hours of operation. Take-out and delivery may continue after 11:00 p.m.  
  • Party/table size must be limited to no more than six people 
  • Patrons are required to wear masks indoors, except when eating or drinking, and must be seated in all areas, except for limited, separated activities outlined in the Stay Safe Guidance for Restaurants and Bars  
  • Private parties, events, receptions, or other gatherings in private, separate space (ballroom or other private room) are allowed, subject to the capacity limits below and the Requirements for Celebrations and Significant Life Events. These events must be separated from all other dining areas if the facility hosts a private party and also serves members of the public. Occupants of a private event count towards overall maximum capacity  
  • Limitations on tents and igloos. See Stay Safe Guidance for Restaurants and Bars for more detail 

No changes to Minneapolis ban on bar service

  • Minneapolis Emergency Regulation 2020-17 remains in effect prohibiting seating, congregating, and eating or drinking at bar counters in Minneapolis businesses with on-sale alcohol licenses
  • For businesses that only use counter service, the business may designate an area for customers to order at the bar/counter. Customers must maintain six feet of distance and wear masks while waiting in line. Customers may get their orders then be seated.
  • Customers must remain seated at their tables
  • Reservations are required for onsite dining

State of Minnesota Resources

Executive Order 21-07 

Stay Safe Guidance for Restaurants and Bars 

Requirements for Celebrations and Significant Life Events 

Private wedding and funeral receptions, celebrations, and parties

These private events are allowed, subject to the following:

  • Private celebrations and parties that involve food or beverages: Occupancy capacity is limited to 25%; up to a maximum of 50 patrons with physical distance of 6 feet maintained. These events must end by 11 p.m. Events may not occur between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
  • Celebrations and private parties that do not involve food or beverages must adhere to capacity and restrictions applicable to the venue
  • Dancing is strongly discouraged

In The News

  • The Fed is still haggling over the next package of assistance. It doesn't look like the two sides are close to coming to an agreement.

  • The state did apply for extra FEMA funding to supplement income for people suffering low income due to the pandemic. Self-employed contractors are eligible for these funds through the unemployment insurance.

  • Language for Liability Protection for businesses and colleges regarding litigation due to contracting covid or having to wear a mask is in the works and has passed through one body.

  • Federal Government has proposals for automatic PPP loan forgiveness for loans under $150,000. SWBA is tracking this and will report when a decision is made. The advice we are hearing on forgiveness documentation is to hold off for now as the rules continue to change.

Conversation area for local businesses to ask questions and share information about surviving the Covid-19 pandemic.

Business Property Safety During Mandated Shutdown

There's already been an uptick in burglaries of closed businesses due to #Covid19 shutdown.

Southwest Businesses Continue to be Hit With Smash and Grabs

Breakins overnight where windows and doors are smashed and a quick entry to grab whatever may have value continues to be a problem throughout the Southwest business community. Because of the fast nature of these attacks, police are not able to arrive before the suspects have left the scene. We urge all businesses to review your security measures and consider the following:

Join the Southwest Crime Watch Group


  • Review your security plans.
  • Remove all cash from the business leaving cash drawers open and empty.
  • Post a sign notifying all that there is no cash on site.
  • Add security window film to your windows and glass doors to prevent glass from breaking/shattering should a suspect throw rock/brick to get in. Uline and local hardware stores should carry this. It is a relatively inexpensive security improvement that would be very effective against current events.
  • If you're replacing any glass windows or doors, consider a heavier glass that is less likely to smash through easily.
  • Consider installing bars or roll-cages to the inside of your windows and doors.
  • Remove or secure items of opportunistic theft, especially items that can be seen and then grabbed by smashing an exterior window.
  • Remove/Lock up the most commonly stolen items: computers, cash registers, drugs, cash, phones, ipads, liquor, jewelry, cigarettes, and other small valuable or easy to sell items.
  • Ensure your security system is operational and accessible. Arm it every time someone is not present.
  • Check to make sure security cameras are working and aimed at the right locations to capture suspicious activity and suspects’ faces.
  • Review your security and staffing plans to ensure a sufficient number of employees are on site.
  • Review plans for limiting opportunities for crime and insure staff know your procedures for robbery and theft incidents.
  • Review your policies for cash on hand.
  • Control access to the establishment for customers coming in for pickups; maintain safe spacing of at least 6-feet between people.
  • Lock all doors that are not being used for the operation of your limited business.
  • Secure access to non-public areas, bathrooms and storage rooms.
  • Train staff to be observant and report suspicious people within or around your business
  • Check to make sure security cameras are working and aimed at the right locations to capture suspicious activity and suspects’ faces.
  • If you are using delivery drivers, review safety plans with drivers. Remind them to be vigilant if approached by a stranger on the street.They should never leave the keys in their car and never leave the car running while making the delivery.

How You Can Keep Operating During the State of Emergency

Delivery Service, Window Service, Walk-Up Service, Drive-Through Service, Drive-Up Service, Online Sales, Online Group Connections and Classes are all allowed and encouraged, keeping in mind the current recommendations for social distancing and increased health recommendations for businesses deemed essential in the Governor's Executive Orders.

The Governor is permitting up to 5 members of the public to be in a location at any given time for the purpose of picking up orders, so long as those individuals stay at least 6 feet apart from one another while on site.

Groceries, Markets, Convenience Stores, Pharmacies, Drug Stores, Food pantries, Health Care Facilities, Child Care Facilities, and other Care Facilities are exempt from the restrictions. 

Governor Walz's Executive Orders

Keep Promoting Your Business and Connect Online

Trending Tags

#TooLocalToFail #quarantineandchill  #supportyourlocalcommunity  #AloneTogether  #shoplocal  #localcommunity  #ilovemycity  #coronavirus  #fightcoronavirus  #staysafeeveryone  #takeout  #keepsafe  #socialdistancing #fightcovid19 #loveunitycommunity

Guaranteed Internet Access

Comcast has announced free access to Minneapolis hot spots and free essential internet access to new customers to help everyone stay connected. Learn more at


NEW Hennepin County Forgiveable Loans

Hennepin County is offering up to $10,000 in forgiveable loans to businesses located in the county with 20 or fewer employees and under $1 million in annual revenue. The deadline to apply for these funds is May 8.

Watch Out For Fraud

With additional funding sources opening up, and online lenders approved to work on federal programs, the opportunity for fraud has also increased. Don’t provide information to anyone reaching out to you, unless it is a banker you have a direct and existing relationship with (and then verify it is really them by calling them back on a number from one of your official statements). Always verify who you are talking to before providing any information to them. Google them, ask for local references. If they say they can process applications for you faster, whether free or for a fee, know that it is probable too good to be true. If you have encountered any fraud or schemes. Please contact the local SBA office via email at

Sign up for their regular updates at, and watch their social @SBA_Minnesota

NEW Funding Information for Independent Contractors and Solo Business Owners

There’s been confusion on whether or not independent contractors and solo business owners can apply for assistance. Please know that the federal government has opened up their programs to be available to you. You can apply for PPP and EIDL, and will qualify for forgiveness as your income counts as payroll for you (see forms for calculations). In addition to these programs, the federal government authorized Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide unemployment funding for those who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. The state and federal governments are working hard to get this newest program up and running, and expect it to be available by the end of April at the latest. MN DEED is encouraging you to apply now if you believe you may qualify for these benefits at

As an independent or solopreneur, you can count your income for payroll up to $100,000. Calculate all income for 2019, divide by 12 to figure out an average monthly income, then multiply by 2.5 to determine how much you can apply for (and have count as payroll expenditures).

In addition to the federal aid programs, existing low-interest loans are available from the state and the City of Minneapolis.

Help with Emergency Loan/Funding Applications

There are several resources out there for mentors who can help you through the process of selecting and applying for assistance. Government officials are advising that you connect with your regular bank as many of them are SBA partners and can advise on the best avenue for your business. Officials are also encouraging all businesses to take advantage of as many of the federal programs as possible. As we identify resources, we'll add them here:

Recommended Steps SCORE Women Venture West Bank's KJ 

Minneapolis Small Business Team 
 Minneapolis Technical Assistance Provider List 

SBA Assistance and Lender List Entrepreneur Fund

Minneapolis Emergency Fund

You've likely seen information in the news about Minneapolis' new emergency fund. The fund does earmark dollars for local small business, but the City has set the program up to provide funding only to businesses in designated geographic areas that have the highest concentration of businesses not likely to qualify for any other assistance programs. As of right now, there are no areas within the Southwest District that qualify for this program. SWBA and your district Council Members are advocating to find funding to offer additional assistance to businesses in our district that are still in need. We'll keep you updated as information is made available

Community Response Fund

Minneapolis has an opportunityNeighborhood organizations, cultural organizations, nonprofits, businesses, places of worship and faith organizations are invited to apply for grants of up to $15,000 for COVID-19 response activities to take place between May 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Projects can be focused on direct response, support efforts or other byproducts of the pandemic such as food, shelter and health (mental or physical) and safety needs. The intent of the COVID-19 Community Response funds is to support community-led strategies. With that in mind, applicants are encouraged to propose activities that reflect their own expertise, experience, and knowledge and that focus on the specific issues identified within their areas or communities. 

  • To apply, please review the COVID-19 Community Response Fund request for proposals (RFA) for the application and detailed information.
  • Submit your application by email to by April 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Local, regional, or state government entities are not eligible for funding under this RFA.
  • For more information about the City of Minneapolis' COVID-19 response, visit

Minneapolis Low Interest Loans Go to 0%

In an effort to support local Minneapolis businesses, the city has made adjustments to its regular low interest loan program. The interest rate is dropped to 0% for COVID relief, and working capital is now included in eligible expenses. The city is working to update its site to reflect these changes. The City also announced a new Gap Funding program for small business relief, but it is being made available for specific geographic areas within the city with the most need. For now, Southwest does not qualify. We'll update you if that changes.

Minneapolis Low Interest Loans


Our partners in the West Bank neighborhood have staff with grant funding that are equipped to offer advice and assistance in selecting and applying for funding assistance. They've put together a great FAQ to explain the options available from the federal government, and information to help you select the best solutions for you and your business. This was sent in an email on 4/2 to all businesses we have email addresses for. 

CARE Act FAQ  Forbes Summary Article

Paycheck Protection Program (from SBA)

This prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Under this program, eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount. Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months. If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination. SBA's Paycheck Protection Program website.

  • Loans up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks prior average payroll + additional 25%
  • Use to pay payroll and certain other expenses
  • Deferred payments for 6 months
  • Amount used to cover payroll for first 8 weeks forgivable if criteria met

PPP Recommendations and Notes

  • Have your documentation ready. Tax forms are by far the best. Bank records or other official records that show income can fill in any gaps
  • You and your employees income (read payroll) is eligible up to $100,000 per individual
  • If you have applied for funds through multiple institutions, check in with each of them and let them know you have multiple requests in. Make sure you don’t accept more than 1.
  • If your bank offers you less than the 2.5 months worth of funding through this program, and you need more. Its recommended that you apply through another organization rather than accepting the lower amount. You can only accept PPP funding once, regardless of the amount.
  • The point of PPP money is really to allow you to keep your employees on the payroll and receiving paychecks through the closure. There is no mechanism to delay the start of the payment and the schedules that it triggers.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don't use the wrong numbers for your calculations! Use Gross Payroll for the payroll amount (not including employer portion of FICA)
  • Don’t include contractors and sub-contractors. This goes on a separate application
  • Make sure you cap any individual compensation at $100,000
  • Recommend you use numbers from April 2019 to March 2020 to calculate rather than 2019 calendar year

Funding Forgiveness

  • Forgiveable income will not be taxed at the federal level. Most states are following this lead
  • 2 tests you have to pass. What is the max you are able to apply for – at 8 weeks after loan originated, keep super track of payroll, rent, utility payments. At least 75% needs to be spent on payroll. 2nd, they’ll look at your employee head-count. If you’ve reduced pay or number of people employed, your forgiveness will be reduced. BUT if you immediately bring back employees you had previously let go, as long as you keep them on through June 30th then you’ll qualify
  • The forgiveness determination will be made on the 8-week period from the first disbursement of funds. Your bank has a maximum of 10 days from SBA approval to close on the loan and make the first disbursement to you. The 8-week period starting from your first received funds is what the program will base your loan forgiveness determination on. You must spend at least 75% of the amount received on payroll to receive full forgiveness of these funds.
  • The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000
  • Federal guidance says that your forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount. It also states that you have until June 30th to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between Feb 15th and April 26, 2020. But, remember that your PPP amount and the 8-week timeline immediately following first disbursement will be used to determine your forgiveness calculation.
  • Even if you don’t receive forgiveness in part or full, it can still make sense to use these funds. The terms are currently at 1% and come due in 2 years. Whether this is favorable for you is something you will have to determine.

Straight from the SBA: PPP FAQ   PPP Fact Sheet

New Main Street Lending Program

Under the CARES Act, the government is facilitating banks making loans to businesses under 10,000 employees. These funds will be provided through normal banks and institutions, but the Federal Reserve will “buy” 90% of the loan from the banks, reducing the bank risk and encouraging greater funding. This program should be available within a week. Funds from this program can be used in addition to PPP and EIDL, depending on your needs.

SBA Debt Relief

Provides a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. Under this program, the SBA will pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020, and current 7(a) loans for a period of 6 months. SBA Debt Relief Site

SBA Loans

Minnesota's small businesses are now eligible for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and can apply for a loan on SBA's website.

  • Low-interest loans of up to $2 million 
  • Use to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills 
  • Interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses, 2.75% for non-profits
  • Repayment options, up to a maximum of 30 years. 

Forms to fill out FIRST

Here's a list of documents you'll need to provide to complete the application. 

Preparing these documents before you go to will save you time and streamline the process.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The SBA highly recommends you complete your application online, rather than mailing it in. 

More Info on Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
  • These loans are only intended as working capital loans utilized to assist with impact caused by the coronavirus emergency efforts.
  • Loan applications will be evaluated by SBA loan officers. Criteria includes:
    • Credit history acceptable to the SBA
    • Repayment abilities
    • Eligibility - business must be headquartered in a declared state and suffered working capital losses due to the declared disaster (not a general downturn in business due to the economy or other reasons).

    For more on SBA programs for the coronavirus, please visit and sign up for updates as they become available at

    Forbes Compiles Funding Sources for Small Businesses

    Forbes Magazine has pulled together a comprehensive list of government and private/nonprofit companies that have loans or grants available to small businesses impacted by COVID19. They're updating this list as additional sources become available.

      Forbes Funding Sources

      MN DEED Loans
      Authorized to Issue 0% Forgivable Loans

      • Range from $2,500 to $35,000 and be based on firms economic injury and financial need
      • Be Interest Free
      • Paid back monthly over 5 years, with first payment deferred 6 months with potential partial forgiveness
      • Only available to Minnesota-based businesses 

      To Qualify:

      • Must be able to demonstrate direct and adverse impact by the conditions that precipitated the emergency declaration in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08
      • Be current on financial obligations as of March 1, 2020
      • Be existing small business operating in MN for at least 1 year
      • Willing to provide collateral or personal guarantee for at least 20% of the loan
      • Been denied credit by a lender and sought or be in process of seeking an SBA EIDL assistance loan.
      • Pay-off the emergency loan if financing is received from alternate sources subsequent to loan approval.

      Learn More and Apply for MN DEED Loans

      Facebook Small Business Grants

      Facebook has announced that they will spend $30 Million in Grant funding for small businesses. They are in the process of developing the program, and will be taking applications. We highly encourage all of you to visit the program page, and sign up for updates so that you'll be notified directly as soon as the program is available.

      Employment Information

      Questions on Unemployment

      We know that there is a minefield of options and considerations when determining whether to cut hours, issue layoffs and more. Know that SWBA is here to help answer your questions. Add a forum question below, or call or email us at 612-823-3472 or Unemployment FAQs can be found at

      Sick & Safe Time City Interpretation Regarding Pandemic

      An employee's accrued sick and safe time hours are legally protected for their use due to Coronavirus symptoms, testing or infection. Protection extends to the employee and the employee's care of a covered family member. Ordinance protection includes, but is not limited to:

      • Coronavirus screening;
      • Care or quarantine due to Coronavirus symptoms or infection;  
      • Testing or quarantine following close personal contact with a Coronavirus infected or symptomatic person;
      • Covered family members' school or place-of-care closure due to Coronavirus; and
      • Workplace closure by order of a public official due to Coronavirus.

      Minneapolis Sick & Safe Time

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      Southwest Business Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. Minnesota , P.O. Box 8932, Minneapolis, MN 55408

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