Special COVID-19 Retailer Resource Guide

Washington Retail would like to acknowledge the rapid response and resiliency demonstrated by the business community, their employees and policymakers during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.

As stewards of Washington’s retail experience, we will look to our members to more clearly understand the unique needs of retailers across Washington State as we navigate the situation.

Retail Re-opening Resources

Making safety planning a priority to protect your employees and customers is essential to reopening retail businesses during a pandemic. The Retail COVID Safety Operational Plan and In-store Posters will help you prepare for each phase of your reopening.

When the entire retail sector is prepared to meet this challenge by giving consumers the assurance that reopening our economy is gradual and well-thought out, customers will come back with confidence.

Retail opening updates:

  • Announced May 27 – new counties added to list of those approved to open Limited In-Store Retail Operations in Phase 2. A total of 24 counties are now eligible and those include: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties.
  • Governor Inslee has released a memo and a set of guidelines for the pet grooming industry.
  • The Governor has opened Phase 1 – Curbside retail effective May 8.  See Phase 1 requirements.
  • Effective May 13 Governor Inslee also released requirements for Phase 2 operations.
    • The following counties have been approved to open Limited In-Store Retail Operations:
      Wahkiakum, Skamania, Stevens, Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille.  See Phase 2 requirements.
  • Also, previously authorized retail must implement all requirements under Phase 2 In Store Retail – Effective May 26, 2020

Related updates:

This COVID-19 Retailer Resource Guide consists of resources to:

  • Support employers and employees
  • Provide retailer specific guidance on business operations
  • Make COVID-19 general topics available
  • Webinars to help you navigate throughout this challenging time.

Webinar Recordings and Summary

  • How’s the CARES Act working for your business? April 21, webinar recording and Q&A
    • We brought back the SBA Director and Washington Small Business Development Center Regional Managers to give us updates and answer practical questions on survival and on unemployment insurance.
  • Tools to Reboot your Business April 15, webinar recording and Q&A
    • It is not too soon to identify tools to reboot your business when COVID is over. Chris Eyler – Executive Director, Northwest Region Congressional and Public Affairs at U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Kate Fessler – RISE Up Outreach Director for the National Retail Federation Foundation.

Stay updated and stay in touch with Washington Retail. Should you have additional input and or questions, please contact Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations and Retail Services, at rgundersen@waretailservices.com or 360-200-6452 (o) / 360-704-0049 (c).

Resources for employees

  • If your scheduled hours have been temporarily reduced or diminished entirely…

Besides keeping employees safe and healthy, finding resources to support their financial need is a priority inquiry from our members. The Employment Security Department (ESD) launched a COVID-19 resource webpage with a Scenarios & Benefits Option Chart to provide guidance on various potential benefits available to employees in our state. You will likely find one or more of the following options applicable to your scenario. Frequently Asked Questions is a wonderful resource also.

    • Protected leave and state benefit options for infected employees, quarantined or care for family members
      • Paid sick leave may be available for many scenarios common in the current crisis.
      • Paid family medical leave is available only when you are tested positive.
    • Shared work is a great resource if your employer reduces work hours, but employers need to initiate and coordinate with the ESD.
    • Temporary layoffs or standby – Employees who are either part-time or full-time are eligible to apply for this benefit without meeting the job search requirement. (ESD has just promulgated emergency rules to also make this option for part-time employees.)

Applications with the ESD are available by phone or online here. According to the ESD Commissioner Suzan LeVine, their staffing to process unemployment applications is ready and adequate unless the current situation worsens dramatically.

  • If you or your family members are quarantined or ill due to COVID-19 exposures
    • The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act temporarily expands the current Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and provides paid sick leave for eligible employees who can’t work (or telework) because of their minor child’s school or childcare service closure due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by a federal, state or local authority. A tax credit is created for employers who incur expenses due to this act.
    • The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) just announced allowance of COVID-19 exposure as a valid workers’ compensation claim for healthcare providers, first responders and those who work in facilities with documented exposures. For retail employees whose exposure or contraction is incidental, the claim will likely be denied. You may read L&I news on this topic sent on March 9, 2020 here.
  • If you want other tips to prevent, manage a likely infection or potential exposures …
    • Workplace tips for employees from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
    • Go to the General and regional information on COVID-19 section below.


Advisory and support for employers and businesses


Retailer specific tips and information

  • Temporary Waiver of Plastic Bag Ban are happening in many Washington cities. Click here for a list provided by the Washington Food Industry Association.
  • The Office of Labor Standards of Seattle’s new Secure Scheduling Ordinance Question and Answer resource to address questions about COVID-19 and its impact on premium pay for certain schedule changes.
  • The Coronavirus and Force Majeure Clauses – As a result of the disruption, many businesses are assessing their contracts to understand the extent of their rights, remedies and obligations with respect to their business partners.  This article from the National Law Review provides some insights to manage these situations.
  • Coronavirus and the Retail Industry: Pricing and Advertising Issues – Retailers are facing challenges related to pricing and supply chain issues. Jurisdictions across the U.S. generally prohibit price increases on certain goods during times of emergencies.  The report explains some of the challenges other companies are facing.
  • The impact of the Coronavirus on Retail – Retailers’ top priority is the health and safety of their workers and their customers. This report provides insights into the variety of disruptions in terms of supply chain, “aggressive shopping” with some retailers, threats to luxury and brick-and-mortar stores, and boosts for e-commerce.
  • 10 tips for protecting your small business from Coronavirus – Please find 10 tips to manage the possible risks of the virus to your business. This guides companies to be ready in the event your company is exposed to the virus.
  • Seattle and King County Retailer Guidance


General and regional information on COVID-19