On April 27, 2020, the Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG) published an updated Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief. This update reflects program changes and additions signed into law on April 24, 2020 to provide further economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the programs discussed in the Guide are the product of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This guide, and any of its updated successors, is available at http://www.flaginc.org/covid-19-guide/. For free legal services and support, farmers can call the FLAG national toll-free hotline at 877-860-4349.
The Land Connection has been working with the City of Urbana, the Urbana Business Association, and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District to put together safe and comprehensive guidelines for the local farmers' markets to follow for their upcoming seasons. The guidelines were developed with local needs in mind and utilized resources and suggested guidelines put forth by the Illinois Farmers Market Association and University of Illinois Extension. Both the Urbana Market at the Square and the Champaign Farmers Market will open as planned with Urbana opening on May 2 and Champaign opening on May 19. The Champaign Farmers Market is coordinating online pre-ordering and curbside pick-up for customers, including LINK/SNAP customers who will be able to pay on-site. Click here to read and download the full guidelines.
During the past several weeks, families and businesses around the country have endured tragic loss of human life, modified their way of life, and lost vital economic resources. Many of us stay at home “doing our part” not to risk exposure and illness that might further burden our hospitals, as others work to save lives and provide needed food and products. Jennifer Russell, University of Illinois Extension, advises business owners to consider how to welcome customers back when restrictions have been lifted. On the Extension blog, Russell says, “Consider the range of customers: people afraid to leave home, those who think there is no danger in getting out, and those who choose to clean extensively, wear masks, and check their temperature regularly. You may need a uniquely tailored message to regain their business.” Russell advises business owners to consider how they have remained in contact with their customers. “Have you called or emailed your customers? Have you provided them a way to connect with you and encouraged that contact? Have you started new policies to open up your business? Are your policies clearly detailed so all customers feel safe and welcomed? Many customers are looking for businesses who not only have extensive cleaning protocols, but have minimized potential health hazards, such as contact with products, exchange of currency, and entry points in and out of the store. Customers value stores where staff are adequately trained and clearly communicate how customers will be safe.”
Local officials are challenged to get things done while staying compliant with current social distancing recommendations and the Open Meetings Act, which has been amended temporarily by Governor Pritzker’s executive order. Christopher Boggs, supervising attorney at the Illinois Office of the Attorney General, will provide information and strategies to avoid violations, as well as an update on the Open Meetings Act considering recent COVID-19 mandates as part of University of Illinois Extension's Local Government Education webinar series. Register online prior to the noon May 7 webinar.