Massachusetts Enacts Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law

On May 28, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law “An Act providing for Massachusetts COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave,” which requires employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to employees who are unable to work for a qualifying reason related to COVID-19. The act establishes an Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund from which qualifying employers can receive reimbursement for covered leave, subject to certain restrictions.

The act went into effect immediately and will remain in effect until September 30, 2021 (or until the exhaustion of the $75 million in program funds, whichever occurs first).

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Force Majeure and COVID-19: Massachusetts Court Excuses Cafe from Rent Payments During Shutdown Order

On February 8, 2021, the Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court held that the doctrine of frustration of purpose excused a commercial food service tenant from paying rent for a four-month period during which indoor dining was prohibited. The decision comes from an influential court in Massachusetts and therefore could affect the outcome of other cases in which tenants seek concessions related to COVID-19 restrictions. However, some of the facts of the case are unique and the reasoning of the decision will not apply in all circumstances.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Reimbursement Rate for Out-of-Network Emergency Services: Executive Order Potentially Sets Precedent

On April 9, 2020, Governor Baker issued an emergency order, mandating that insurers cover all medically necessary emergency department and inpatient services costs of COVID-19 treatment at both out-of-network and in-network hospitals and other medical facilities, without any cost to the patient, setting the OON reimbursement rate at 135% of Medicare, and prohibiting providers from balance billing. The Governor appears to have relied on § 7 of the Massachusetts emergency preparedness and response law in issuing the Order.  Section 7 gives the Governor broad powers during a state of emergency, including “[r]egulation of the business of insurance and protection of the interests of the holders of insurance policies and contracts and of beneficiaries thereunder and of the interest of the public in connection therewith.”

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Emmy Monahan, please visit the Duane Morris Health Law Blog.

“Reopen Massachusetts” Permits Construction, Manufacturing and Places of Worship to Reopen

On May 18th, the Governor of Massachusetts released Reopening Massachusetts, which provides for a 4-phased strategy to reopen businesses and activities in Massachusetts. The Administration also released a new “Safer At Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging in these newly opened activities. Starting May 18, 2020, Massachusetts will begin Phase 1 of reopening, and workplaces that are permitted to open are required to follow new safety protocols and guidance.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris partner Brad Molotsky, please visit the Duane Morris Project Development/Infrastructure/P3 Blog.

Massachusetts Attorney General Enjoined from Enforcing Regulations Prohibiting Debt Collection Activities During COVID-19 Emergency

By Charles Ognibene

We previously posted about the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Emergency Regulations limiting debt collection activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Federal District Court enjoined the Massachusetts Attorney General from enforcing those regulations to the extent they prohibit debt collectors from making telephone calls or initiating court actions. The court’s order is based largely on constitutional protection of free speech and does not address the provisions of the emergency regulation prohibiting repossessions. While repossessions were not before the court, note that a ban on repossessions could be supported by public health interests and the need to avoid personal interactions.  Note also that the order applies to debt collectors, collecting debts of others, as that is the constituency of the plaintiff. It does not address whether the regulations should be struck as to creditors collecting their own debts in their own names, but one would expect that if a debt collector is permitted to do an act, a creditor should be so permitted as well.

For more information concerning the impact of COVID-19 on Massachusetts consumer financing regulations, contact Charles A. OgnibeneMike Garcia or Mike Grant, all in Duane Morris’ Boston office.

Duane Morris Joins Massachusetts COVID Relief Coalition for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Duane Morris LLP has joined the COVID Relief Coalition for Small Businesses and Nonprofits, a Massachusetts coalition of law firms, nonprofits and government agencies providing pro bono legal support, access to emergency loans and other sources of relief to small businesses and nonprofits impacted the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read the full text of this press release, please visit the firm website.

Update to Various State Construction Closure Orders Related to COVID-19

This list is current as of April 14, 2020 (4:00 p.m. EST) and is and Update to an earlier Alert we posted on April 3rd. Please note that these closure orders are changing almost daily so please make sure you are checking the applicable state in question when considering a closure question.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris partner Brad Molotsky, please visit the Duane Morris Project Development/Infrastructure/P3 Blog.

Cannabis Industry and State Regulators Forced by COVID-19 to Evaluate and Improve Methods of Cannabis Delivery and Access

Cannabis operators, like all other businesses, are searching for new ways to reach their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis businesses have been generally treated as “essential” under the various state orders that have otherwise closed businesses and ordered people to stay at home. Even though they have been permitted to operate, it is not business-as-usual for these operators as they grapple with CDC workplace restrictions and guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

As a result of these restrictions, state regulators and cannabis business have begun implementing new policies and procedures such as curbside pick-up, expanded delivery zones and increased use of contactless payment methods. While these changes are viewed as temporary, if properly implemented, cannabis businesses may be able to show regulators that these expanded policies should continue after the crisis has passed. This difficult time presents an opportunity for cannabis retailers to expand their reach and help bolster support for more online ordering, home delivery and other delivery methods.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorneys Justin A. SantarosaArletta BussiereJoe Pangaro and Justin Stern, which contains a summary of how several states have handled the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the operations of cannabis businesses during the stay-at-home orders, please visit the Duane Morris Cannabis Industry Blog.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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