Yoga Alliance is writing to provide several important updates on new relief from the Federal Government related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, President Biden announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses that could benefit numerous yoga businesses across the country. For two weeks—beginning today Wednesday, February 24 at 9:00 am ET and ending on March 9 at 5:00 pm ET—only businesses with fewer than 20 employees, including sole proprietorships, will be able to apply for PPP funding. Members can apply for funding and find the latest guidance on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s website.
The Biden Administration also announced changes to eligibility rules that will allow self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, and independent contractors to qualify for more funding. Further, the PPP will be made available to previously excluded categories of small business owners: those with non-fraud related felonies, those delinquent on their federal student loans, and some non-citizen residents (such as Green Card holders or those in the country on visas). These changes go into effect the first week of March, but unfortunately are currently not retroactive.
President Biden characterized the changes as a “starting point” that could provide much-needed relief to very small businesses that might have been left out of previous iterations of the PPP. At the same time, the President is urging Congress to pass legislation to implement his proposed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” The House of Representatives will likely vote on that legislation —the American Rescue Plan Act—later this week; thereafter, the Senate will consider either the House-passed version of the bill or similar legislation. Supporters of the American Rescue Plan Act are aiming to send to the legislation to President Biden’s desk prior to March 14, the day that the current enhanced unemployment compensation authorities expire under law.
If passed, the American Rescue Plan Act would add $7 billion into the PPP, provide a $1,400 economic impact payment to most Americans, and extend enhanced unemployment compensation (including a $400 subsidy above state unemployment compensation amounts) to both traditionally unemployed workers and self-employed and “gig” economy workers. Yoga Alliance has advocated strongly for the continuation of each of these relief measures throughout the duration of the pandemic and backs their inclusion in the American Rescue Plan Act.
Yoga Alliance also strongly supports a new bill, H.R. 890, the Gyms Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act, which would provide targeted relief for the fitness and wellness industries. The GYMS Act would authorize SBA to award grants to struggling fitness/wellness businesses usable for payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, and other day-to-day expenses. Businesses could recover up to 45 percent of 2019 revenue to replace 2020 revenues lost because of the pandemic and especially distressed businesses could be eligible for a supplemental grant. Yoga Alliance strongly supports the GYMS Act and is advocating for its inclusion in the American Rescue Plan Act, a future COVID relief measure, or as a standalone bill. We believe that this targeted relief is necessary because shutdown orders, social distancing mandates, and general hesitation among individuals to congregate in group settings even when permitted have disproportionately affected our profession, along with fitness and wellness businesses. Shuttered arts and cultural venues received targeted relief in the most recent COVID-19 relief bill enacted into law and the American Rescue Plan Act currently includes a provision authorizing targeted relief for restaurants. We believe fitness and wellness facilities, including yoga studios and schools, deserve similar assistance from our federal government.
You can encourage your representatives to support the legislation that implements the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 by using our automated email tool. Given the disproportionate impact on the primarily small, independent businesses that make up the yoga community, our voices should be among the many to be heard as Congress considers President Biden’s proposal.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has immeasurably impacted our community, and we are proud to stand with you and all those who want assistance. Reach out to us with feedback, questions, or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for the work that you do for your communities—always, and especially in these difficult times. Please be sure to visit YourYA.org for further information.
Your Yoga Alliance