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Georgia employers are now required to electronically file partial claims on the behalf of their employees whenever they must lay workers off. (Photo/ Landon Trust)

Georgia workers hurt by the economic wake of COVID-19 can now receive state unemployment benefits faster while small businesses can apply for loans from the federal government.

The U.S. Small Business Administration gave Georgia a statewide disaster declaration to provide long-term, low-interest loans that can be used to repair and replace land, machinery and business assets to businesses affected by COVID-19, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The disease caused by the new coronavirus has caused Athens-Clarke County to prohibit public gatherings and require restaurants to only serve food by delivery or take-out. Local businesses such as Creature Comforts and Five Points Bottle Shop have shifted to online and drive-thru orders.

Small business owners in Georgia can visit the federal Disaster Loan Assistance website for information about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans program and to apply for the program.

Loans are available for small business and non-profit organizations, according to the release. Terms for the loan will be established on a case-by-case basis, however, repayment terms will not exceed 30 years, and the first payments may not be due for up to 12 months. Businesses should expect to provide a tax transcript, financial statements and a profit and loss statement, and interest rates will range from 2.75% to 3.75%.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Labor addressed the increase in partial claims filed due to the effects of COVID-19 on businesses by an emergency ruling by Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler, according to a press release from the governor’s office Wednesday. Due to this emergency ruling, employers are now required to electronically file partial claims on the behalf of their employees whenever they must lay workers off.

“We are partnering with the Governor’s office and our federal and state authorities to make sure we are able to get the citizens of Georgia paid,” Butler said in the release. “We are working as an agency to provide innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers, even when information is changing every day.”

By filing partial claims, employees can receive unemployment insurance benefits faster, usually within 48 hours for electronically-filed claims. These employees are not required to report to a GDOL career center, register for employment services or seek other work. According to the release, the cost of unemployment benefits to employees affected by COVID-19 will be shared by all Georgia employers.

“This is great news for Georgia small business owners,” Kemp said in the release. “As we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy, small business owners can apply for much-needed funding to continue operation and pay their employees.”

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