Philly officials announce $9M bailout to curb economic loss for small businesses

Philly's stay-at-home order is in effect

KYW Staff
March 23, 2020 - 2:02 pm

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UPDATED: 5:30 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —At 8 a.m. on Monday, a stay-at-home order went into effect in Philadelphia. The city needed to take this next step, according to Mayor Jim Kenney.

He said he hopes residents who weren't on board before, can now understand how critical social distancing is right now.

"Most people are taking it seriously, but there are still too many people not taking it seriously," he said. "We wanted to ramp the level of concern so that it can get into their heads that this is a serious epidemic and they need to be home."

Related: The latest coronavirus news from Pennsylvania and New Jersey

City officials say there can be no gatherings outside a single household, and people can leave the house only for essential travel. That means grocery store trips are still OK. Residents can still get food from a restaurant but the order must be called in or placed online. In-person orders are prohibited.

Food and other goods can be delivered, but food trucks and ice cream trucks are not allowed.

Travel for medical treatment is allowed, as is checking up on family members, friends and pets.

Outdoor exercise is OK, as long as people remember social distancing.

Officials say laundromats, vet hospitals, pet stores and banks can stay open, as well as shops that fix cell phones, bikes and motorcycles.

Emergency work at the house, such as an exterminator, is allowed, as well.

Kenney said the city will have to wait and see how enforcement will work.

"We'll address that as we see what the response is to this ... new wrinkle is. ... I can’t see us getting to the point of taking people into custody. That’s a whole another complicated issue," the mayor said.

Following Kenney's order, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for several counties in southeastern Pennsylvania that are the hardest hit: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Allegheny and Monroe counties. 

Bailout for Philly businesses

Responding to the economic havoc the restrictions are wreaking, Commerce Director Sylvie Gallier Howard announced details of a $9 million bailout fund for small businesses, provided by the city and its economic development partner, PIDC.

“Priority will be given to businesses that demonstrate a loss of over 50% average revenue, a plan for recovery, and a commitment to retaining their employees as long as possible,” she explained.

Applications for grants and no-interest loans are being accepted now.

PIDC President Anne Nevins said officials are aiming for a fast turnaround.

“We recognize that the economic impacts of this pandemic continue to change by the day and even by the hour, and we understand the important, swift action can have in helping Philadelphia businesses survive and people to stay employed,” she said.

The city is also extending the deadline for real estate and some business taxes until July 15. But Managing director Brian Abernathy said the economic damage is not something Philadelphia can repair by itself.

“This will be a national recovery. We as a country are going to have to overcome it,” he said.

Mayor Kenney criticized the national response so far, saying the lack of surgical masks and gowns is typical of what cities are facing as they try to control the virus. 

He also had strong words for those who would violate the stay-at-home order.

“It’s up to people to have some personal responsibility, to understand if their selfishness drives them outside, they’re going to be responsible for somebody else’s death. And that’s serious stuff,” he said.

Northeast Philly ShopRite reports case

Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley announced 79 new in the city, bringing total to 175 cases in Philadelphia.

Health officials say the sharp increase is attributable to an influx of results from labs that were closed over the weekend, but that underscores the need for the stay-at-home order now in effect.

A worker at the ShopRite at Morrell Plaza in Northeast Philadelphia also tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Company spokesman David Emmer, who declined a request to be interviewed, said in a statement the employee was "no longer in the workplace." He didn't identify the employee or say in what department that person worked. He said the store on Frankford Avenue remains open and that workspaces and common areas used by that employee have been sanitized.

Emmer didn't say when the employee tested positive.

He said workers who came into close contact with that employee were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, but he did not say how many employees that involved.

Supermarkets remain open under Wolf's order closing all but life-sustaining businesses. ShopRite's statement said the company hopes the employee has a speedy recovery and thanks its employees for their help in keeping stores open.

More testing sites open

A Rite Aid store in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane section is opening up a coronavirus testing site Monday — but it's only for emergency first-responders and health care workers.

The store has set up what they're calling a secure, pilot test site in the parking lot at 7401 Ogontz Ave. It will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Testing is available to health care workers, regardless of the presence of any symptoms.

Rite Aid defines "health care workers" as people who work or give direct patient care in places such as hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. 

Tests will also be administered to emergency responders.

Rite Aid said that anyone who comes in for the tests must remain in their cars from the time they arrive through the time they leave.

Broad Street Run postponed

The Broad Street Run has been postponed until Oct. 4.

The race was originally slated to be run on May 3, but Kenney announced that as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, they had to postpone it.

For those who have already registered, that registration will automatically transfer to the new date. If runners want to transfer their bib or defer until 2021, they can do that at no cost. 

“The Broad Street Run will be updating their website with an FAQ to answer many of the questions I'm sure folks have right now,” Kenney added. “You can also email info@broadstreetrun.com.”

Around 35,000 people participate in the annual 10-mile run.

SEPTA supports city stay-at-home order

SEPTA is appealing to non-essential workers to do their part in the effort to slow the speed of the coronavirus.

The agency said they know some workers, including those who work in grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services, need transit — but many others don't.

"We want to make sure that our service continues for our essential workers. ... We need the space so that those essential workers can have room on vehicles, so that they can get where they need to go and to maintain prescribed social distances," said Scott Sauer, assistant general manager of operations.

Sauer said CCT services had been on a 24-hour reservation plan. Now, he said, CCT clients can make same-day reservations. Sauer said this is especially important for seniors to get out to early-morning opening hours at grocery stores, reserved for those 60 and up.

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KYW Newsradio's Mike Denardo, Mark Abrams, Pat Loeb, Matt Leon and Kim Glovas contributed to this report.