City of Lincoln and Lancaster County Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Resources

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Moderate Risk of COVID-19 Spread

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The dial's current week pointer is at 2 on a scale of 1-8 (1 is low risk; 8 is severe risk). The dial's previous week pointer is at 1.
Severe High Moderate Low

This COVID-19 Risk Dial provides a summary of current conditions in the Lincoln-Lancaster County community. Each color incorporates federal and national guidance published by public health experts and is coupled with specific guidance.

The Risk Dial was developed to help communicate the risk of spread and impact of COVID-19 in the community. Since its inception in May 2020, five primary metrics were used based on local data: Positivity Rate, Cases, Testing, Contact Tracing, and Health Care System Capacity. Two additional metrics were recently added - Vaccination Rate and Death Rate. Data on these two metrics were not available during development of the risk dial, but now we better understand local risk for COVID deaths and can track the progress of vaccinations.

This is only guidance and does not replace federal, state, or local directed health measures. At-risk and vulnerable populations should take stringent precautions.

COVID Yellow – Moderate Risk of COVID-19 Spread

Strategies surrounding adherence to physical distancing, while eased, must still be employed. Employers will still need modifications to prevent the spread of COVID. Monitoring of employees for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are still strongly encouraged.

Those with COVID symptoms should be separated from others, and excused from the workplace for medical follow-up. Focus should be to keep at-risk employees and customers safe. Telework and/or working from home is strongly encouraged for at-risk employees.

Business Guidance and Recommendations
COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Employers and Workplace Settings

This resource provides local business a starting point to develop strategies and implement measures to ensure a place of business is instituting practices commensurate with where our community is at in this pandemic.

The following four strategies are based on a modified hierarchy of controls developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

  • Physical Distancing

    Limiting close, prolonged contact with others is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Examples include staying 6 feet away from other people and not gathering in groups.

  • Engineering Controls

    Creating physical barriers between people and using technology to reduce close contact are proven strategies to reduce illness and injury.

  • Administrative Controls

    Administrative controls are training, procedures, policies, or shift designs that lessen the risk to individuals or an entire workforce. Examples include: enhanced sick leave policies, requiring sick staff to stay home, staggering shift change times, and training in disinfection and hygiene protocols.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    PPE is clothing or equipment designed to protect workers from infection, exposure or injury. This includes cloth face coverings, disposable gloves, respirators (i.e. N95, FFR), and face shields.

The most effective mitigation plan will incorporate strategies from all four of these areas.

Two other factors that should be considered are contact frequency and contact intensity. Think through your business operations in terms how frequently people interact and how long and close the contact is. Actions that reduce either contact frequency or intensity will reduce risk of exposure.

The COVID Risk Dial provides a context for where Lincoln and Lancaster County is in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a tool that can help businesses know what steps to take to protect the health of employees, customers and our community. Each color on the COVID Risk Dial provides specific guidance. Special guidance is included for people who are most at risk and vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. This tool will help you better understand our local situation and how it affects your workplace. The COVID Risk Dial is updated weekly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a set of General Business Frequently Asked Questions as well as Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 that provide more specific guidance for workplace settings.

General Workplace Guidance
Physical Distancing Control Type
  • Keep workers at least 6 feet apart while working through workspace/desk spacing
  • Install signage for distancing
  • Strongly recommend distancing at clock-in/check-in
  • Strongly recommend distancing in break rooms and smoking areas
Engineering Controls Control Type
  • Install physical barriers between workers where 6-foot distancing is not possible or practical
  • Utilize a ‘no-touch’ or ‘touchless’ clock-in/check-in
  • Reduce chairs in meeting rooms and break rooms to provide 6-foot distancing
  • Where possible, leave doors open to minimize touch
  • Provide sanitizing stations or portable handwashing stations in areas with high volume foot traffic or high touch surfaces
  • Increase air exchanges in the HVAC system to provide increased fresh air intake and air dilution
Administrative Controls Control Type
  • Screen employees upon arrival for COVID signs and symptoms and dismiss employees with the following symptoms. Refer sick employees for medical follow-up and direct them to follow CDC recommendations.
    • Fever >100.4°F, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell
  • Sick employees should not be allowed to return to work until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation
  • Where possible, provide paid leave for employees who test positive for COVID-19, or who display COVID symptoms (e.g. sick leave or emergency paid sick leave under FFCRA)
  • Reduce or limit the number of people in any single space (offices, common areas, elevators, etc.)
  • Prohibit employees from entering work areas where access is not necessary, and discourage intermingling in other work areas
  • Use of web- or phone-based platforms for meetings (e.g. Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, conference call, etc.)
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfection using products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2
  • Encourage frequent handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, and provide hand sanitizer if and where possible
  • Establish policies/protocols limiting non-essential visitors, and discouraging non-essential personal travel
  • Consider reductions in multiple-occupant travel in company vehicles, cautious non-essential work travel
  • Stagger breaks and lunch
  • If your business has an in-house cafeteria, provide food ‘to-go’
  • Close areas that cannot be modified for distancing
PPE Control Type
  • Face coverings recommended for all employees, customers, and visitors (personal or company provided)
  • Disinfectants provided and encouraged use for:
    • Mouse, keyboards, pens, other high contact surfaces; and
    • Meeting room tables, breakroom counters, greeting counters, etc.
Workplace Guidance Templates
At-Risk and Vulnerable Employees and Customers
At-Risk and
Vulnerable Employees and Customers

For employees and customers over the age of 65 and anyone with underlying health conditions (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, etc.), employers should consider the following protections for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, in addition to the General Guidelines and any Workplace-Specific Guidance:

Physical Distancing Control Type
  • Provide options to work from home or telework
  • Offer a temporary workspace with greater distancing from customers and other employees
  • Offer curb side, drive-up, or no-contact delivery service for vulnerable customers
  • Consider options to reduce contact frequency or intensity
Engineering Controls Control Type
  • Offer to install physical barriers between vulnerable workers and others, even if 6-foot distancing is provided
  • Establish designated points of ingress/egress for vulnerable workers and customers
Administrative Controls Control Type
  • Offer duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees
  • Discourage vulnerable workers, customers, and visitors from sharing elevators
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Control Type
  • If medically approved, supply vulnerable workers with higher level PPE (such as N95 mask)

Mayor's Economic Recovery Task Force

The Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force has issued a report with recommended strategies for supporting Lincoln’s economic recovery and resilience. These recommendations serve as a call to action to residents, employers, and public and private sector leaders. Check out the full Task Force Report, Executive Summary, and Appendix (see summaries in Arabic, Spanish, and Vietnamese).

Task force updates:

Check back periodically for other updates on events and actions related to the work of the task force.

  • Task force co-chairs: Angie Muhleisen, Ava Thomas
  • Subcommittee co-chairs: Jasmine Kingsley, Cori Sampson Vokoun, Maribel Cruz
  • Task force members: Marco Barker, Matt Bavougian, Wendy Birdsall, Quentin Brown, William Cintani, John Croghan, Shannon Harner, José Lemus, Susan Martin, Dan Marvin, Kim Russel, Nader Sepahpur, and Bud Synhorst

Dine Out Lincoln

Dine Out Lincoln streamlines the permit review process to allow restaurants and other establishments the opportunity to temporarily expand their business footprint into private and public spaces.

For more information, visit

Buy Local

Protect your customers and employees while supporting Lincoln businesses by purchasing PPE (face coverings, hand sanitizer, etc.) locally: For more on supporting local businesses, visit our How to Help page.

Buy Local City Policy

Local purchasing can leverage as much as a 1.5 times economic impact. In other words, purchasing locally adds value, because jobs, capitol, and supply purchases all stay right here in Lincoln. This can be done by implementing a micropurchasing policy, encouraging city agencies to “buy local.” See Lincoln’s “buy local” policies:

COVID-19 Related Guidance for Employers and Employees

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued workplace guidance for employers to plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19), including tips related to telework/telecommuting, business continuity planning, leave policies, and other workplace measures.

The CDC has also issued workplace guidance for employees on healthy workplace habits, including commonsense hygiene practices. Other business-related guidance can be found at the CDC.

Other resources along these lines can be found at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Federal Resources
Resources for Small Businesses

Resources are available for small businesses managing the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Paycheck Protection Program loans are low interest loans for small businesses that will be forgiven if businesses use the funds for eligible purposes. Economic injury disaster loans and small business lending and debt relief are available through the Small Business Administration. Tax credits are available for employers covering sick and family leave, and the employee retention tax credit has been extended.

Paycheck Protection Program

Paycheck Protection Program loans are low interest loans for small businesses that will be forgiven if businesses use the funds for eligible purposes.

Learn more here:

Question: What changes have been made?
Answer: Loans are available to additional organizations, such as membership organizations like housing cooperatives and specific resources are available for live venues, movie theatres, and cultural institutions. Second loans are available to businesses still experiencing decreased revenues. Eligibility is now expanded to additional loan purposes, such as operating expenses and expenses related to protecting workers.

Question: How quickly do businesses need to act?
Answer: Resources for the PPP program are not unlimited and demand is high. Businesses should act as quickly as possible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Small Business Lending and Debt Relief

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. The Small Business Administration has many resources available to small businesses.

Question: What are economic injury disaster loans?
Answer: If you are a small businesses, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can apply for the COVID-19 EIDL. You can use these loans for working capital and normal operating expenses (i.e. continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments).

Question: What lending and debt relief opportunities are available?
Answer: The SBA will pay 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for qualifying current SBA loans and microloans. Learn more at

Tax Credits

Tax credits for paid sick and family leave and for employee retention have been extended through March 31, 2021.

IRS Information on Tax Credits

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program

The purpose of this grant program is to provide economic relief to live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives that have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. There is $16 billion in total program funding. Each applicant may apply for an award equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue, up to $10 million.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, beginning April 8, 2021. Sign up here to be informed when the application opens:

The Office of the Mayor may be able to further assist you regarding your application. For additional assistance contact Kate Bolz, Mayoral Aide for Economic Development,

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is awarding funding through the Restaurant Revitalization Program to restaurants, bars, and other similar places of business that serve food or drink. The purpose of this funding is to provide support to eligible entities that suffered revenue losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBA is accepting applications via the application portal. The application portal will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

Resources are available for applicants, including a sample application, program guide and cross-program eligibility chart on SBA COVID-19 relief options.

For more information, visit

For additional assistance contact Kate Bolz, Mayoral Aide for Economic Development,

State Resources

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development has compiled a list of state resources including CDBG business loans, banking resources, manufacturing resources, export/import resources, and other resources.

Short Time Compensation - the Nebraska Department of Labor offers a short-time compensation program that is designed to prevent layoffs by allowing employers to reduce employees' hours by 10 to 60 percent while permitting the employees to receive a prorated unemployment benefit, thus offsetting the loss of income to employees. Employees participating in short-time compensation plans are eligible for $600 per week in federal benefits in addition to their partial unemployment benefits. Application information can be found at the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Unemployment Compensation - unemployment benefits are typically paid with contributions from employers. The Nebraska Department of Labor is temporarily waiving employer contributions for unemployment claims related to COVID-19. For more information on unemployment compensation in light of COVID-19, see Unemployment Assistance on the Resident Resources page.

Employment and Hiring

EmployLNK is a mechanism whereby job seekers can be matched up with employment opportunities. It enables the sharing of hiring information between businesses and workforce-related agencies. Participants on the workforce side include 20+ agencies representing 5,000 job seekers, with participation from the Nebraska Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance, ResCare/American Job Center, Lutheran Family Services, Catholic Social Services, the New Americans Task Force, and many more.

Hiring information is specifically shared with 900+ case managers and human service workers to ensure that it reaches job seekers and those assisting them. If your organization is still hiring, contact Bryan Seck,, to share your organization's information.

  • Through the Partner America Program, small businesses can receive free one-on-one assistance with increasing sales, profits, cash flow, and ease of operations. Call a representative at 855-876-5561 for assistance.
  • Inc. has curated a list of tools, resources, and financial help for businesses.
  • GrantWatch is a search engine that connects nonprofits and small businesses with grant opportunities.
  • Facebook announced $100 million in cash grants for small businesses. Details have yet to be announced on what businesses are eligible for the grants. There is a link you can use to sign up for updates and information when it becomes available.
  • Google is supporting small and medium-sized businesses by offering free ad credits, so you can stay in touch with your customers during this challenging time.
  • If you're a bar or restaurant owner, Uber Eats is waiving the delivery fee for many businesses.
  • The Zoom Basic Plan allows you to host up to 100 participants in a meeting and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings with the video-conference provider's complimentary plan. Note that there is a 40-minute limit on group meetings, though you're not limited to the number of meetings.
  • The Main Street Initiative is offering eligible businesses zero-interest $2,000 loans.
  • Read this legal analysis to understand how "force majeure" or the concept of "act of God" applies to contracts affected by the coronavirus.
  • The Insurance Federation of Minnesota put together a Frequently Asked Questions document on business interruption insurance.
  • Finimpact has put together a helpful COVID-19 survival guide for small businesses.