City offers modest assistance to COVID-impacted businesses

The city, at press time, reported 67,025 confirmed coronavirus cases.

An interactive map of cases broken down by ZIP code can be found at phila.gov.

There have been a total of 1,985 deaths in the city. Of those deaths, 930 have been in nursing homes.

To find testing sites, go to https://www.phila.gov/covid-testing-sites/#/.

Mask wearing remains required in all businesses, and the state has issued an order requiring masks while out in public.

Statewide, there are 367,140 cases in all 67 counties, with 10,563 confirmed deaths, including 6,507 in nursing homes or personal care facilities.

The city Department of Revenue on Tuesday announced three changes aimed at providing Philadelphia businesses with additional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TIMES FILE PHOTO

“I recognize that none of these changes will be enough to fully overcome the impact of an economic downturn that has hit certain sectors — including restaurants — tremendously,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “But rest assured that within the constraints of the city’s own budget challenges, we are looking for new ways to provide relief. At the same time, we have been advocating endlessly for additional funding from the state and federal governments to provide you with more support, and we’ll continue to do so.”

The changes are as follows:

• Amending U&O guidance to exempt the portion of restaurants and bars used for indoor dining from Use & Occupancy Tax: This initiative will exempt restaurants and bars from Use & Occupancy tax on the square footage of the business used for indoor dining (dining room space) during the period when indoor dining is prohibited. This exemption is for this most recent “Safer at Home” phase and would be effective from Nov. 20 through Jan. 1.

• Businesses can amend BIRT returns and receive a refund: Under this initiative, the Revenue Department will provide guidance and instructions to businesses that if they feel they overestimated their 2020 BIRT estimated payment, they can amend the return and provide a new, more realistic, estimated payment and have the difference refunded. It would take six to eight weeks for businesses to receive refunds.

• Extending Refuse Fee due dates: Under this measure, the full $500 refuse fee is now due by June 30, 2021. Previously, half of the annual fee was due Dec. 31.

Kenney encouraged those who are able to make monetary donations to consider contributing to local nonprofits and other organizations focused on food access.

“While our communities face a number of very real issues as a result of this pandemic, one area where we know donations can have an immediate impact is food access,” he said.

The city has partnered with several nonprofits to provide free food to those in need throughout the pandemic, including: Step Up to the Plate, Share Food Program and Philabundance. Individuals and families who need food can visit phila.gov/food or call 311 to find a pickup location.

The Philadelphia Water Department and Water Revenue Bureau will not shut off customers unable to pay water bills through April 1, 2021. This extends a pause on shutoffs that began in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and overlaps with a long-established Dec. 1 to March 31 moratorium to protect customers during cold-weather months. Customers who cannot pay their water bill should apply for help at 215-685-6300 or www.phila.gov/waterbillhelp.

Philadelphians looking for the latest local information on the coronavirus can visit phila.gov/COVID-19.

Residents with questions can call a 24-hour helpline at 800-722-7112.

Or, text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. ••