President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law on Thursday, March 11—providing additional relief to individuals and businesses impacted by Covid-19. The historic $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan includes several provisions related to fashion and retail—as designers and brands look for ways to survive the year-long pandemic.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program
The American Rescue Plan Act provides $7.25 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—including first and second-round PPP loans to small businesses until the program’s expiration date on March 31, 2021.

Fashion News Sites
The American Rescue Plan Act modifies the PPP to include internet-only news publications that have 500 or fewer employees per physical location. This is particularly helpful for fashion news sites that keep students and industry professionals informed through breaking news, business articles, and well-researched investigative pieces.

Fashion Nonprofits
The legislation also adds nonprofit organizations (with 500 or fewer employees per physical location) to the Paycheck Protection Program. This may apply to fashion entities with nonprofits focused on social justice, sustainability or other areas. This provision does not cover nonprofit organizations engaged in lobbying activities, where the lobbying activities comprise more than 15% of the total activities of the organization.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance Grants
The American Rescue Plan Act provides $15 billion in new funding for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants. The legislation also sets aside $5 billion for a new round of $5,000 grants to small businesses that have suffered an economic loss of greater than 50 percent and have no more than 10 employees.

Health Insurance for Fashion Designers and Creative Entrepreneurs
Fashion designers fall into an awkward category when it comes to health insurance—as many are considered freelancers or independent contractors, and unlike artists in film and TV, they are not covered by a guild or union offering affordable health care plans. The legislation makes it easier for individuals to get more affordable health care insurance and plans on the government exchanges. Individuals interested in enrolling in health plans covered under the Affordable Care Act can sign up here. The deadline to enroll is May 15.

For industry professionals that have lost their jobs and previously received health insurance through their employers, they may be eligible for coverage through COBRA—allowing individuals to keep their same health plans that they had with their employers. Under the American Rescue Plan, the federal government would subsidize the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through September 30, 2021.

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