The Georgia Forestry Association is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information related to COVID-19 and the impact on the forestry community in Georgia. Please check this page regularly and sign up for our email alerts here →
To find more information on the status of COVID-19 from the State of Georgia, visit:
- Georgia COVID-19 Daily Status Report: click here
- Georgia COVID-19 Hotline: (844) 442-2681
Forestry Considered Critical Workforce Under “Shelter in Place” Executive Order
UPDATE: on April 8, 2020, Governor Kemp announced plans to extend Georgia’s Public Health State of Emergency through May 13 and the Statewide Shelter in Place Order through April 30.
On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order, which instated a statewide “shelter in place” order in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. GFA has prepared an issue brief, which provides analysis and information on the key components of the Executive Order for the forestry community in Georgia. Below are a few key facts:
- The Executive Order and supporting memo from the Governor’s Office makes clear that forestry workers are included as a critical workforce under the guidance from the Department of Homeland Security.
- This statewide order supersedes and replaces the patchwork of local ordinances at the city and county level
- Thanks to clear direction from the Governor’s office, a letter allowing critical industry workers to circulate is not required at this time.
To view the Association’s Issue Brief, which includes a detailed description of the Executive Order, click here →
Public Health State of Emergency Extension Includes Special Weight Permit for Log Trucks Through July 12
On Thursday, May 28, Governor Brian Kemp extended Georgia’s Public Health State of Emergency through July 12, 2020, which includes a provision for log trucks and other commercial vehicles to apply for a permit through the Georgia Department of Public Safety to reach up to 95,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight. For current holders of the special permit, the Department of Public Safety will re-issue the permit with the new expiration date at no cost to the permit holder.
Those interested in applying for a permit can apply by visiting https://gapros.dot.ga.gov/ or by calling the following numbers during normal business hours:
- 844-837-5500 (Preferred Number, Third Party Permit Vendor)
- 404-624-7258 (DPS # if you have trouble)
When you apply, please be sure to have your USDOT number ready.
The Forest Resources Association is currently tracking the impacts of COVID-19 on each state, including logging and mill restrictions. Click here to learn more →
GFA Action on Advocating for Forestry as an Essential Industry
Forestry has been designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a critical industry that should remain open during “shelter in place” ordinances around the country. Starting with timber, Georgia’s forest industry provides myriad products that are essential during these trying times—toilet paper, medical supplies, cleaning/disinfecting supplies, diapers, lumber, and many more—and must remain open for business. GFA has notified Governor Kemp and several agencies of the essential nature of forestry, and we are very pleased to report that Governor Kemp heeded GFA’s recommendation, leading to forestry being considered critical infrastructure in his recent shelter in place order. To view the federal guidance and GFA’s March 10th letter to Governor Kemp, see the links below.
- Click here for a copy of federal guidance →
- Click here for a copy of GFA’s letter to Governor Kemp on this issue →
FRA: Impact of COVID-19 on the Forest Industry
The Forest Resources Association has compiled information from each state related to impacts to the forest industry from COVID-19. This site is helpful for individuals and businesses who are operating across state lines.
Congress Passes “CARES” Act Stimulus Package
In response to the economic turmoil brought on by COVID-19, Congress passed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion relief package aimed at bolstering both individuals and businesses. Below is a summary of some of the most important provisions:
- Direct Payments to Individuals
- Provides up to $1,200 for every individual and $2,400 for married couples as well as $500 for each child under 17
- Amounts phase out for those with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are doubled for couples
- Truck Weights – clarifies that states have the authority to issue special permits to increase weights limits on Interstates (currently they only have authority for state highways)
- Unemployment Insurance Given Big Boost
- Those who file for unemployment insurance will be given an additional $600/week for up to four months on top of standard state unemployment benefits
- $350 Billion in Forgivable Loans for Small Businesses up to $10 million per Business (Paycheck Proection Program—More Deatil
- $100 Billion Injection for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers Fighting Coronavirus
- $23.7 Billion for Rural America and American Farmers (Summary Here)
- Tax Credit for Employers Payroll Costs
- To encourage employers to keep employees on the payroll during these tough times, the legislation provides a fully refundable tax credit for 50% on an employee’s compensation for the first $10,000 of compensation
- Student Loan and Loan Interest Payments Deferred Until 9/30 Without Penalty
EPA Relaxes Regulatory Enforcement
On 3/6/2020, the EPA announced it will exercise enforcement discretion for certain non-compliance activities as a result of reduced staffing at affected facility sites. The EPA has said that this doesn’t mean cart blanche to violate environmental laws, but it is a recognition of more difficult times for affected industries.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is newly created by the CARES Act and authorizes $350 billion in forgivable loans with the goal of incentivizing small businesses to keep employees on the payroll. The maximum loan amount is 250% of the employer’s monthly payroll costs, or $10 million (whichever is less) and the loan will be made forgivable if it is spent on payroll, rent, utilities, or mortgage interest payments and the small business maintains its pre-crisis full-time employment level. While the rules for the program are still under development, applications will be made through banks and other financial institutions that administer Small Business Administration loans.
- Click here for a helpful flyer prepared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) – Unemployment Insurance
If you are now without work due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to apply for unemployment insurance through the Georgia Department of Labor. And with the passage of the CARES stimulus legislation, insurance recipients can receive up to an additional $600/week for four months on top of state benefits. This is an important section for employers as well as there is information below on paperwork you have to file with GDOL in order for past employees to be able to apply for insurance.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Resources
The US Chamber has a helpful COVID-19 Business Resources Page that has everything from best practices for a safe workplace to a communications toolkit for businesses affected.