Efforts to assist businesses and employees impacted by coronavirus shutdowns will include loans and grants and perhaps a moratorium on having to pay certain bills.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said Friday that wage workers and small businesses need to be at the forefront of coronavirus economic relief efforts.

Scott said on the conference call organized by the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County that assistance to companies and employees should include a moratorium on paying mortgages and fees while they are out of work or their businesses are closed down. The owed dollars, he said, could be spread out over the next year.

In particular, Scott said, workers earning less than $75,000 a year and who depend on hourly wages and tips are most vulnerable to hardship. While the federal government is working on a relief bill, Scott said the state should also earmark the $4 billion in the unemployment insurance fund as “the first line of defense.”

He also warned governments against implementing “more mandates” that will create more economic hardship.

“We don’t need government to put more mandates on how companies take care of their employees,” he said.

County officials, however, said that the impact from the decision to close beaches, movie theaters, bowling alleys, fitness gyms and concert halls was blunted by the reality that those enterprises had already chosen to suspend operations.

We have not classified businesses as essential or non-essesential,” said County Administrator Verdenia Baker. “All our businesses are essential in Palm Beach County.”

Baker added officials have no plans to close other types of industries, such as manufacturing.

“We’re not looking to close businesses, that is the last thing we want to do,” Baker said. “It is our intent to keep our business operating here in Palm Beach County as long as possible.”

Earlier Friday, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told the Palm Beach Post that the economic package being structured on Capitol Hill could be sent to President Trump by early next week. Rubio’s office said the legislation would earmark loans to small businesses that would be forgiven if the funds are used to cover payroll.


Palm Beach Post