Coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is having profound effect on politics and policy. The COVID-19 Policy Primer provides an overview of the specific effects. Congress and the 50 states are operating at a much higher speed than usual. As GSCAA continues to monitor the situation, the primer will be updated and important resources will be added to help you respond to the threat.

GCSAA is also providing a daily update by state on the status of courses being allowed to stay open for play or where maintenance is allowed to continue if play is shut down.

Update By State

GCSAA is coordinating with lobbyists from other leading golf organizations to closely monitor and engage on all federal coronavirus-related pieces of legislation being moved through Congress to make sure golf is not discriminated against and to ensure the industry is an eligible recipient of short- and long-term relief. The same holds true for any federal tax relief legislation under consideration. GCSAA is mindful of the incredible impacts to major industries, and the golf business is certainly no different.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, more than 128 bills addressing the crisis have been introduced in Congress. For summaries and statuses of relevant legislation regarding COVID-19, see below:

Executive Order on COVID-19

On March 13, President Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency. On March 18, the President issued an executive order, under the 1998 Stafford Act, intended to free up Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds in order to address the impacts the virus has on the economy and health care system. The Trump Administration estimates it will cost around $40 billion. President Trump also declared a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to waive regulations for Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs in order to expand access to health care services.

H.R. 6074 Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (Relief Bill No. 1)

In a bipartisan effort, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 6074, which provides $8.3 billion to combat COVID-19. President Donald Trump signed the appropriations bill into law on March 6. Of the $8.3 billion, at least $1.05 billion, primarily from the CDC, will go to state, local and tribal efforts. The bill allows the CDC to provide grants or enter into cooperative agreements with state, local and tribal governments to dispense these funds. Key provisions include:

$3.4 billion — Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund

Vaccine efforts, therapeutics, diagnosis, medical supplies, medical surge capacity building, health services and oversight.

$2.2 billion — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Federal, state and local public health efforts, surveillance, testing, infection control, mitigation and replenishing funds.

H.R. 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Relief Bill No. 2)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted March 18. The bill was introduced in the House on March 11 by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). The Families First Act attempts to address the economic and health impacts of coronavirus through free testing, funding for paid sick leave, and expanded unemployment benefits. Key provisions include:

  • Free coronavirus testing, with no co-payments or deductibles.
  • Emergency funding for health care infrastructure including $60 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans testing, $64 million to the Indian Health Services for testing members of Native American tribes, $1 billion to the National Disaster Medical System to cover the cost of testing for those without health insurance, and increases federal payments for state Medicaid by 6.2%.
  • Paid-leave benefits that requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks worth of paid sick leave. Employers will receive tax credits to offset these costs. 
  • $1 billion in state grants to cover the payment of unemployment insurance.
  • $1 billion in nutrition assistance for those who do not have access to food. Half of this amount will go directly to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Households may be eligible for food security assistance if their child's school has been closed for more than five consecutive days.

The rollout of this bill will begin immediately. Agencies receiving federal funding as allocated by the Families First Act must provide reports on how the money has been used within the next month.

The Department of Labor has released fact sheets on how FFCRA affects employees and employers, as well as answers to some common questions as guidance for businesses affected by COVID-19.

  • Watch the March 30 GCSAA Town Hall for more information on H.R. 6201.
  • The DOL has issued guidance on two new refundable payroll tax credits.
  • The DOL Wage and Hour Division published additional guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including two new posters, information on posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing the agency’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act - H.R. 748 (Relief Bill #3)

The Senate unanimously passed an approximately $2.2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday night (March 26) in an effort to jumpstart an economy decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not even a stimulus package. It is emergency relief. Emergency relief. That’s what this is,” Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday afternoon ahead of the vote.

Highlights from the bill include:

  • Expanded unemployment benefits designed to fully replace the lost wages of jobless individuals for four months, including those not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Rebate payments up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for joint tax filers.
  • A refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of the first $10,000 in wages paid by an employer facing closure or severe hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • $500 billion in loans for affected industries to be distributed by the Treasury Department, including $58 billion to the airline industry.
  • $150 billion in funding for state and local governments, $100 billion for health care providers, and other significant streams of funding
  • Expanded access to Small Business Administration loans of up to $10 million, which can be fully forgiven under certain circumstances.

The U.S. House passed the bill on March 27 by a voice vote, and then President Trump signed the bill into law.

The U.S. Chamber released new resources for businesses seeking relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

  • An updated small business loan guide to help small businesses, independent contractors, gig economy workers and other qualifying individuals prepare to file for a coronavirus relief loan under the CARES Act. Beginning April 3, small businesses will be eligible to apply for the loans described in the guide.
  • An interactive map ;to show the small business aid available on a state-by-state basis.
  • A guide on the CARES Act’s expansion on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which includes $10,000 grants for eligible applicants.
  • A guide explaining the employee retention tax credit for employers for whom the coronavirus resulted in closings, partial closings, or significant revenue losses.

The major golf organizations, including GCSAA, PGA Tour, PGA of America, LPGA, USGA, NGCOA and CMAA, have spearheaded an effort to reach Governors of all 50 states appealing to keep the outdoor space of the golf courses open. Golf courses have tremendous benefits to offer during times of crisis, including health, wellness and fresh air in open spaces for recreation and a break from stress. Golf courses are responding to health advisories and adjusting their operations by closing clubhouse amenities and restaurants and complying with CDC Social Distancing Guidelines, while trying to keep the golf courses open as an ideal recreational activity during this difficult time.

The group has contacted 48 states about the importance and value of allowing golf play to continue while supporting social distancing. Alaska and South Dakota are all that remain.

GCSAA has developed a resource to help members communicate with stakeholders about the steps golf facilities are taking to allow for play while social distancing.

Shelter in place orders

California was the first out of the gate to issue a “shelter in place order” on March 19, then came New York and Illinois, and the rest of the states are following. As of March 23, at least 18 states had an order in effect.

Stay at home is a stricter form of social distancing. Stay at home means:

  • Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others)
  • Only go out for essential services
  • Stay 6 feet or more away from others
  • Don't gather in groups

A campaign to ensure basic maintenance practices are allowed, even if there is a mandated shutdown or "shelter in place" order is issued, is currently being led by the GCSAA with cooperation from other allied associations. GCSAA’s government affairs and field staff teams are closely monitoring all shut down orders. GCSAA is taking the lead for the industry in responding to them. Reading them line by line and looking for what they say about golf play and maintenance. If play is allowed, then continued routine maintenance is not an issue. If a golf course is specifically told to close, then GCSAA is working to allow for continued routine maintenance. GCSAA has prepared a resource to help members navigate through a shutdown and protect the most valuable asset at any facility.

CISA

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s responsibilities as assigned under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure. CISA developed an initial list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. The list can also inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub-sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for CDC workforce and customer protection guidance.

On March 28, CISA released a new version of its Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure guidance to help state and local jurisdictions and the private sector identify and manage their essential workforce while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Governors Association

The golf industry has been in contact with the National Governors Association to promote the playing of golf as critical during this time of social distancing. The National Governors Association offers a comprehensive coronavirus resource center as well as outlines the steps all 50 states have taken to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which includes a State Action Tracking Chart.

As the federal government leads the national response to COVID-19, state and local health departments stand on the front lines. State or public health emergency declarations have been issued in every state and territory, including the District of Columbia.

At least 31 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation to support state action related to COVID-19, including resolutions to encourage certain practices and bills that involve funding, workforce protections or medical coverage, disease surveillance, isolation and quarantine or are related to actions taken by the governor in a state of emergency. Of these, 26 states and the District of Columbia have enacted or adopted legislation.

National Conference of State Legislatures

NCSL, founded in 1975, represents the legislatures in the states, territories and commonwealths of the U.S. The NCSL has a great resource to help track coronavirus legislation in all 50 states.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a dashboard to help you monitor the response of state and local governments to the coronavirus. The COVID-19 State and Local Policy Dashboard provides a quick and easy reference to updates and information issued by state and key local agencies and policymakers (updated daily).

John Hopkins Case Tracker

Johns Hopkins experts in global public health, infectious disease and emergency preparedness have been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19. Johns Hopkins' website includes a resource to help advance the understanding of the virus, inform the public, and brief policymakers in order to guide a response, improve care, and save lives.

Chamber of Commerce Resources to Help Your Small Business Survive

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping small businesses navigate the Coronavirus pandemic. The Chamber has consolidated five resources to help small business owners navigate the financial difficulties of the pandemic, including supplemental information about disaster assistance loans, state-wide initiatives to help small businesses, assistance options from credit card companies and banks and more.

Professional Golf

Collaboration is underway to make appropriate adjustments to the year’s golf calendar. The PGA Tour has cancelled events on all six tours up through AT&T Byron Nelson (May 7-10), LPGA has postponed events (including Symetra Tour) through ANA Inspiration (April 2-5). The Masters (April 9-12) has been postponed, and the PGA of America has postponed the PGA Championship (May 14-17). The USGA is currently holding dates for 2020 U.S. Open as scheduled (June 18-21) but is monitoring the developing situation.