Click Here for Updates on Blowing Rock Businesses

Click Here for a Guide to:Navigating Your Business Through COVID-19

Your Contact in Western NC for the SBA is:

Sharon Harvey



Planning For Reopening

Smart Restart-CACCE-BR

Start planning now for your return to work/reopening

Guidance for the Restaurant Industry

Strategies for Retail Stores For Reopening and Safe Shopping

Click here for a list of resources from the State

Independent Contractor Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Planning Now for The Return to Occupancy


Important Local Information  

AppHealthCare - AppHealthCare will provide updates on the status of COVID-19 in the High Country. 

Watuga County State of Emergency


Governor's Announcements and Covid 19 Update

  • Friday, May 8, 2020

    As Phase 1 begins, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is focused on testing, tracing and trends. North Carolina ranks 15th in the nation regarding total number of tests completed, and eight out of the 10 past days, has reached the goal of 5,000 to 7,000 tests completed per day. While testing is on right track, it needs to increase, especially for North Carolina’s underserved communities. Securing sample collection supplies from the federal government, additional testing sites and expanded lab capacity will help meet testing goals.
    Wednesday, May 6, 2020

    Many health care facilities seeking to urgently hire staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles.
    North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services participants can now use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to buy groceries online at authorized online EBT retailers.

  • Tuesday, May 5, 2020

    Gov. Roy Cooper has signed Executive Order No. 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home order and transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions, effective Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m.
    View: FAQs | What's New in Phase 1 (English | Spanish)
    People should remember the three Ws when they leave home: wear a face covering; wait 6 feet apart from others; and wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds.
    Just over half of North Carolina adults are at risk of severe COVID-19 disease because they are age 65 and over and/or have an underlying health condition.

  • Monday, May 4, 2020

    Joined by leaders of the N.C. General Assembly, Gov. Roy Cooper, on May 4, 2020, signed two bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills providing more than $1.5 billion in in emergency funding for critical expenditures related to public health and safety, educational needs, small business assistance and continuity of state government operations.


North Carolina's Three Phase Approach to Reopening 

In the first phase, the Stay At Home order will stay in place, but it will be modified to allow more reasons to leave home, including commercial activities at any business allowed to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops and other kinds of retailers.
Those retailers and services will still need to implement social distancing for their employees and their customers, plus enhanced hygiene and cleaning, and to screen employees for symptoms.
Mass gatherings will stay limited to 10 people or less. Our parks can re-open if they follow the mass gathering limitation. Face coverings will still be recommended when social distancing isn’t possible. The same restrictions will remain in place for congregate living settings.
After a minimum of 2-3 weeks has passed & we continue to hit our marks, we can enter Phase 2. Here, the Stay At Home order can be lifted, but we will still encourage vulnerable populations to continue to stay at home.
Houses of worship, restaurants, bars and other businesses can open their doors for people as long as they operate at reduced capacity. The number of people allowed in a mass gathering will be increased.
After a minimum of 4-6 weeks has passed & we continue to hit our marks, we can enter Phase 3. Vulnerable population guidance will continue to loosen. There'll be increased capacity at bars, restaurants, other businesses & houses of worship. The mass gathering ban will increase.
If infections spike or our benchmark trends start to move in the wrong direction, we may move to move back to a previous phase to protect our public health. North Carolina is taking a responsible and calculated approach to reopening and will continue using the best science & data available consulting with business leaders to make informed decisions.

COVID-19 Helpful Information for Business Owners

Keep everyone healthy:

  • Have respiratory hygiene supplies available for employees and patrons throughout the facility, including hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, tissues, and lined trash cans
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces with a cleaning agent that is effective against coronaviruses throughout the day and at close of business
  • Post signs encouraging patrons to leave immediately if they begin to show symptoms of illness, COVID-19 or otherwise.
  • Urge people at higher risk for severe illness to stay home. Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
  • Review absenteeism policies to make sure employees are not being encouraged to come to work if they are sick.

Continue to Plan

Make a plan for what you will do if large numbers of employees are unable to attend work,

which may occur if schools are closed or their family members are sick. Identify key positions

and cross-train staff to ensure all essential functions will be covered.

  • Cross-training employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences.


Make sure you are getting reliable, up-to-date information from sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NCDHHS. More business specific information is located here: 

Employers should not ask for a negative COVID-19 test or a note from a medical provider for employees to return to work.

Restrictions are often issued at the state and county levels as well as at the Federal level. You should always follow the more stringent instructions to combat this virus.


You may file an attached claim for your employees.

  • An attached claim is a claim filed by an employer on behalf of an employee who has been temporarily laid off or who has worked less than 60% of their customary scheduled full-time hours. Employers who wish to file attached claims for employees must meet the requirements of employment security law.

Employers who wish to file for their employees must:

  • Have a positive DES Employer Account balance
  • Pre-pay for all weeks filed on behalf of employees
  • Only file an Attached Claim one time per year
  • Only file for six weeks, and then employees must file UI Claims for themselves


Best Practices for Business Employees

Keep everyone healthy: Follow CDC guidelines

  • Keep respiratory hygiene supplies stocked and available for employees and patrons throughout the facility, including hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, tissues, and lined trash cans
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces with a cleaning agent that is effective against coronaviruses throughout the day and at close of business
  • Post signs encouraging patrons to leave immediately if they begin to show symptoms of illness, COVID-19 or otherwise.

If you have been laid off or had your hours cut

If you are laid off work temporarily or if your hours are reduced due to a business slowdown or a lack of demand as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. In order to determine eligibility, you must first apply for unemployment. If you’re temporarily out of work or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, select one of those two separation reasons when filing your claim.

File for unemployment insurance:

The fastest and most efficient way to file a new claim is to file online at If you don't have access to a computer or need assistance, you may file over the phone by calling the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259. However, due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, you may experience a long wait time. DES will ensure that claimants do not miss out on any weeks of eligibility due to the high call volume.  DES will begin the week when they initially attempted to file.

How to Apply for Unemployment Insurance

  1. Create an Online Account:
  2. File a claim for unemployment 
  3. Complete your Weekly Certifications
  4. Check your claim status

To file your Claim. You will need:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Information about your most recent employment and pay
  • Work history for the last two years
  • Bank routing and account numbers for Direct Deposit


TIP: If you are filing due to COVID-19, select ‘coronavirus’ as your reason for separation.

Complete your Weekly Certification. A Weekly Certification is a series of yes/no questions that helps determine your eligibility for benefits each week. If you do not complete a Weekly Certification, you will not be considered for payment.

Log in to your Online Account to complete your weekly certification. If you do not have online access, call 888-372-3453 (Weekly Certifications only).

After filing a claim, it will take about 14 days to receive first payment. An additional $600, as part of the CARES Act, (more information below) in federal benefits will be for weeks ending April 4 – July 31. Benefits owed will be paid retroactively.


Everyone who makes under $75,000 per year (double for couples) will receive $1200 as part of a stimulus plan. If you make over $75,000, you will receive less money. If you make over 99,000 you will not receive the $1200 stimulus money.

Funds and Other Available Assistance

Restaurant Worker Relief Fund

Facebook is committing to supporting 10,000 U.S. small businesses with a $40 million fund. The fund is available in 34 locations.

Google is offering $340 million in advertising grants for small- and medium-size businesses, a credit that will be added automatically to Google Ads accounts.

GoFundMe has partnered with Intuit QuickBooks, Yelp, GoDaddy, and to give small businesses a $500 grant if they raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.

In partnership with Verizon, the digital fundraising and advocacy platform Hello Alice is offering emergency grants of up to $10,000 for companies impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The application period ends on July 16.

Salesforce is offering $10,000 grants for businesses with between two and 50 employees, annual revenue between $250 thousand and $2 million, and have been in business for at least two years as of March, among other requirements.

Verizon and other partners have allocated funds to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to distribute via grants to small businesses. Applications open again May 14.




The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce seeks to provide access to recommendations, regulations, services and expertise to its members.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, this mission remains constant.  Prior to acting, members should consult their own professional advisors for information and counsel specific to the individual and unique situations faced by organizations, individuals and corporations.  The opinions, interpretations and recommendations of the Blowing Rock Chamber are informational only and should not be relied upon by the recipient as legal or professional advice.  The Blowing Rock Chamber makes no representations as to the accuracy or reliability of the content contained herein.  Users of this information accept any and all risks associated with the use of such information and agree that the Blowing Rock Chamber has no liability to user.