By David Sutta

HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The response to the coronavirus is severely limiting businesses. And now with some city and state governments mandating businesses close, it could make a bad situation even worse. That said, some business owners are hoping to make the best of it.

Jeff Condon, the owner of Flippers Cinema, has been in Hollywood since 2002.

He survived the recession, and thrived in the years that followed.

This weekend, however, he saw his traffic drop by two-thirds.

Now he’s trying to figure out his next move.

He’s essentially anticipating a government mandate any minute now that shuts his community entertainment complex down.

“We are a cash flow business. So my business survives on my ability to generate revenue week to week. So pretty much what I’m doing right now is trying to figure out what kind of cash it’s going to take for me to close and pay my employees,” Condon said.

The fallout is exactly what you would expect – layoffs and uncertainty.  But in this moment where most businesses owners would panic, he’s not.

Condon is looking at possibly taking advantage of being closed to do an expansion he’s been contemplating for a while.

“If I don’t make a bold move and expand, it’s ‘How do I come out of it and still be strong?’ There is no question we are going to come out of it,” he said.

He’s considering taking advantage of programs Congress is rolling out to help him and employees.

Over the weekend the House passed the Coronavirus Relief Act, which provides:

  • Free coronavirus testing: Federal health providers such as Medicare and Medicaid, and private health insurers, are required to provide free testing.
  • Expanded funding for food security programs: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Senior Nutrition Program will receive supplemental funding to assist Americans affected by the virus. The package also provides funding for state waivers to pay for meals for children who normally receive them at school.
  • Emergency family and sick leave: Employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees and government staffers may take up to 12 weeks of protected family and medical leave, including two weeks at full pay, with any additional weeks taken with no less than two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, to either quarantine or seek preventative care. Small and mid-sized businesses would receive tax credits to pay for medical and family leave of up to 100% of the wages they pay out. Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide two weeks of sick leave at full pay for employees who are seeking treatment for the virus. Self-employed individuals would also receive tax credits to receive paid leave. Workers would be eligible for paid sick leave if they have a child whose school or childcare facility is closed due to the coronavirus. These employees are required to receive not less than two-thirds of their regular pay.
  • Unemployment insurance: States will receive additional funding to provide unemployment insurance should there be an increase in uninsured people.
  • Medicaid funding: The bill would strip employment requirements for Medicaid, and increase Medicaid funding through 2021.

All of this is paid by the employer up front, but the government will reimburse companies with tax credits.

Florida International University Professor Marc Weinstein said these provisions apply to even independent workers, such as Uber drivers.

“Under the proposed legislation, individuals could show documents that they have been an Uber driver, documenting past income and they also have to document that they are indeed out of work because they are sick, or because of a self-quarantine, or caring from somebody.  And they too would receive sick pay,” he explained.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House are still hammering out details before the legislation heads to the Senate for a vote. This is slowing the timing on when Americans may start getting relief.

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