Tag Archives: Covid-19

COVID-19: NJ HMFA provides Small Landlord Emergency Grant availability for COVID-19 Impact – Round 2 Funding

Earlier this morning on 9-29-20, the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency (NJHMFA) announced the expansion and reopening of its Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) Program to assist vulnerable renters across NJ by covering their missed rent from April through July 2020.

The program will reopen today, Monday, September 28th, at noon and will run until Tuesday, October 13th at 4:00 p.m.

NJHMFA developed the SLEG Program to reimburse small landlords for missed or reduced rent payments between April 2020 and July 2020 due to COVID-19. Landlords approved for a grant must forgive any back rent or late fees incurred by their tenants.

“Since April, New Jersey landlords have filed 30,000 eviction cases in Landlord-Tenant court. Although Governor Murphy has enacted an eviction moratorium to protect residents from being locked out of their homes for nonpayment of rent, this alarming number demonstrates that many New Jerseyans are struggling to pay rent,” said Charles A. Richman, Executive Director of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. “Our goal with the SLEG Program is to mitigate hardship for as many landlords and tenants as possible in the current economic crisis. To this end, we have made some small but significant adjustments to the program to increase both eligibility and accessibility. Not only will we reach more renters in need, but we have also removed some of the barriers for landlords to apply.”

To be eligible for the 2nd round of the SLEG Program:

1. Applicants must own a residential property in New Jersey with 3 to 30 rental units;

2. Applicants must be registered with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Bureau of Housing Inspection;

3. The property must not be a seasonal or vacation rental property;

4. The property must have at least one non-vacant rental unit impacted by COVID-19 between April and July 2020;

5. The property must have low-to-moderate income rent levels.

$15 million in CARES Act funding has been allocated to fund the first and second rounds of the SLEG Program.

All completed eligible applications will be randomly sorted by computer to give each applicant an equal chance of being funded. Grant funding will be allocated on a case-by-case basis, based on the number of COVID-impacted units and the amount of missed rent. A list of all successful landlord applicants will be posted to the NJHMFA website, and letters will be sent to all tenants of awarded landlords.

There are a range of tools available on NJHMFA’s website to assist property owners in preparing their applications. These include an application checklist, an annotated application with sample answers, and a Frequently Asked Questions list.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces reopening of Gyms and Indoor Amusement Facilities – 9-1-20

As of today, August 26, 2020, Governor Murphy announced the reopening of gyms and indoor amusement facilities effective as of September 1, 2020. Reopening will include a 25% of capacity limitation and typical safety protocols including masks, social distancing, one way traffic, etc.

Per a press release from Planet Fitness as reported in NJ Patch, “Fitness centers are critical to the mental, physical and financial health for New Jerseyans, and we are grateful that Governor Murphy has announced that we can reopen with safety protocols in place,” said Craig Benson, who operates 18 Planet Fitness locations in the state. “Throughout the reopening process, we will continue to collaborate with local, county and state health officials to ensure that our members can work out again in a safe, clean, and welcoming environment, and our staff can get back to work.”

With respect to gyms:

  • group fitness classes are to be limited to 1 person per 200 SF of space;
  • logs are to be maintained for members and staff;
  • 6′ of distance between pieces of equipment;
  • required sanitization of equipment; and
  • showers are NOT permitted to be open

Many gyms and eating establishments will look to include some or all of the following in their safety protocols:

◦Limited capacity to comply with social distancing;

◦Advanced air filtration systems with high-grade filters;

◦Masks required at all times;

◦Well-stocked cleaning stations with hand sanitizer;

◦Posters explaining best-health practices displayed throughout the facility or gym; 

◦High-tech electrostatic disinfecting sprayers for the tables and gyms as well as equipment;

◦One-way flow for foot traffic;

◦Temperature checks for staff members at the start of each shift in addition to health questionnaire;

◦Touchless check-in;

◦Cleaning of tables and/or machines before and after each use; and

◦ Having an ample supply of PPE equipment for staff and members including masks and gloves.

Indoor dining and movie theatres are expected to be reopened on or before September 14th.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program

On August 11, Governor Murphy announced the first phase of the NJ Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program (the “PPE Program”). The goal of the PPE Program is to provide small businesses and non-profits with access to the fairly priced personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to facilitate safe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the PPE Program’s first phase, the State will launch a new website that provides micro and small businesses with the information needed to make easier and better PPE sourcing decision. The website will also offer a vetted list of online retailers that have agreed to verify the quality of the PPE they are selling and offer at least a 10% discount to businesses who enter through the State’s website.

Online retailers will be vetted on a first-come, first serve basis by the NJEDA, and must agree to certain performance standards for their site (e.g., transparent pricing, high-quality products, etc.). Vetted online retailers will also be eligible to access an NJDEA grant pool of up to $3.5M to support the purchase of PPE that is manufactured in New Jersey or sourced from a small wholesaler based in a historically underserved community.

Applications to become one of the NJ PPE Access Program Designated Vendors are expected to open in the near future.

Guidelines for practically all sectors require businesses to provide PPE to their employees. This new NJEDA program is geared toward smaller-sized businesses that have few funds to spare for the new costs.

This first phase of $4 million in funding is meant to encourage wholesalers’ purchase of PPE made or assembled in New Jersey. They would be eligible for subsidies of up to 20 percent of what they spent to get the equipment if it’s sourced in New Jersey, or from wholesalers in “historically underserved communities.”

A second funding, of approximately $11 million, is meant to cover the costs for smaller-sized and microbusinesses to purchase the equipment. The NJEDA expects 50,000 separate New Jersey businesses to spend a combined $45 million on PPE, with support from the new state subsidy.

Interested parties can also reach out to NJEDA staff at:  www.SmallBusinessPPE@njeda.com.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA making $10.5M available for Career and Technical Education Centers

Governor Tom Wolf is dedicating approximately $10.5 million to Career and Technical Education Centers (CTC) to assist them in implementing public health and safety plans and help them to resume operations.

CTC Equity grants provide funding to support effective continuity of education programs such as summer and other expanded programming, and industry credential assessments for students enrolled in CTCs negatively impacted by

For more information about the program – check out – https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-10-5-million-to-help-career-and-technical-education-centers-resume-operations

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: Philadelphia Extends Indoor Dining Ban through 9-1-20

Philadelphia has extended its ban on indoor dining at restaurants to Sept. 1 after the city has seen another week Covid-19 cases on the rise. The previous ban was set to end Aug. 1.

Health officials noted that while they sympathize with restaurant owners, the risk of infection spread is increased with indoor dining.

Mayor Jim Kenney said his administration is working with restaurants to help with permits extending outdoor seating to sidewalks or “streeteries.” According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Philadelphia is allowed to offer indoor dining while limiting capacity under guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, but city officials have prohibited it as Covid-19 case rates still hover around more than 100 per day.

The Health Commissioner stated that he does NOT believe the city is near a point where it would shut down again, but that officials would regulate or educate in settings where the virus is spreading.For Further Information:

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Eve Klein, Jon Segal, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: OSHA issues Updated Guidance on wearing Masks in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

The new guidance provides answers to the frequently asked questions of:

  • 1.  What are the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators?
  •  
  • Cloth face coverings:

    • May be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade) garments, scarves, bandanas, or items made from t-shirts or other fabrics.
    • Are worn in public over the nose and mouth to contain the wearer’s potentially infectious respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), to others.
    • Are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.
    • Are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
    • May be used by almost any worker, although those who have trouble breathing or are otherwise unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance should not wear one.
    • May be disposable or reusable after proper washing.
    •  

    Surgical masks:

    • Are typically cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as medical devices (though not all devices that look like surgical masks are actually medical-grade, cleared devices).
    • Are used to protect workers against splashes and sprays (i.e., droplets) containing potentially infectious materials. In this capacity, surgical masks are considered PPE. Under OSHA’s PPE standard (29 CFR 1910.132), employers must provide any necessary PPE at no-cost to workers.1
    • May also be worn to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets (e.g., healthcare workers, such as surgeons, wear them to avoid contaminating surgical sites, and dentists and dental hygienists wear them to protect patients).
    • Should be placed on sick individuals to prevent the transmission of respiratory infections that spread by large droplets.
    • Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.
    • May be used by almost anyone.
    • Should be properly disposed of after use.
    •  

    Respirators (e.g., filtering facepieces):

    • Are used to prevent workers from inhaling small particles, including airborne transmissible or aerosolized infectious agents.
    • Must be provided and used in accordance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • 2.  Are employers required to provide cloth face masks to workers?  NO.  Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. As such, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.
  • 3.  Should workers wear cloth face masks while at work?  YES
  • 4.  If workers wear cloth face masks at work, should employers still look to ensure some level of social distancing?  YES
  • 5.  How am I supposed to keep my cloth mask clean? see attached suggested procedures from the CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
  • 6.  Are surgical masks or cloth face masks acceptable respiratory protection in the construction industry when respirators would be need but are not available? 

    NO. Employers should not be using  surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

    In general, employers should always rely on a hierarchy of controls that first includes efforts to eliminate or substitute out workplace hazards and then uses engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, wet methods), administrative controls (e.g., written procedures, modification of task duration), and safe work practices to prevent worker exposures to respiratory hazards, before relying on personal protective equipment, such as respirators. When respirators are needed, OSHA’s guidance describes enforcement discretion around use of respirators, including in situations in which it may be necessary to extend the use of or reuse certain respirators, use respirators beyond their manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, and/or use respirators certified under the standards of other countries or jurisdictions.

  • For more information on this topic and the actual FAQs please go to https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.  Note that the OSHA guidance is NOT a standard or a regulation, rather it is advisory in nature and is intended to provide direction from OSHA.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Delphine O’Rourke, Sharon Caffey, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: NJ Continues Moves to Re-Open, increasing Permitted Gathering Numbers

On June 9th, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy lifted New Jersey’s stay-at-home order and will allow for bigger social gatherings.

– Indoor Gatherings – the limit on indoor gatherings was raised to 25% of capacity or 50 people total; people are required to wear face coverings for these indoor gatherings

– Outdoor Gatherings – the limit on outdoor gatherings was raised from 25 to 100; furthermore, the limit on outdoor gatherings will rise to 250 on June 22nd and 500 on July 3rd

The increase to 500 on July 3rd is intended to permit outdoor graduations to resume in July, as long as fewer than 500 people are gathered together outside.

Exceptions will be granted for outdoor religious services and First Amendment activities, such as protests.

All outdoor recreational and entertainment may resume except for amusement parks, water parks and arcades.

Governor Murphy also announced on the 8th that pools will be permitted to reopen per announced schedules.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, Elizabeth Mincer, Jimmy Greenberg or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: CDC Releases Guidance for Building Owners – Shared Office Space Alignments May Be A Thing of the Past

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released guidance to building owners that would eliminate much of the shared office space alignments we have seen over recent years in many buildings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

Among other steps, the CDC suggested that:

1. Desks – should be placed 6 feet apart if possible, and if not, employers ought to use plastic shields to separate desks.

2. Common Areas – there should be no seating in the common areas of the building and the tenant suits and amenities such as refrigerators, microwaves, multiple-serve coffee pots and water coolers, should be eliminated to enable better social distancing and less high touch areas. Multi Serve Coffee service should be replaced by single-serve items.

3. Air Flow – Open windows are recommended for fresh air, but if that is not possible, office building management should consider increasing air filtration or having the HVAC systems draw in as much outdoor air as possible, as much as 100%. MERV 13 filters or HEPA filters provide a means to capture up to 99% of air borne viruses.

4. Office Interiors – Cleaning frequently touched surfaces, including keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs (the CDC lists cleaning products that are good for inactivating viruses). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

5. Workers – the CDC suggests that workers should also undergo temperature checks, wear masks and wash their hands often. The agency stresses the importance of letting all workers affected by the changes know what is going on, including management and other staff, but also relief employees, janitorial staff and maintenance crews.

Additional information can be found in the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) guide entitled “Getting Back to Work-Preparing Buildings for Reentry,” https://boma.informz.net/BOMA/data/images/Getting%20Back%20To%20Work%20Preparing%20Buildings%20for%20Re%20Entry.pdf

Note that many State governments (e.g., New York) have issued their own office reopening guidelines that are similar to the CDC guidance so be sure to check there as well.

As we start to focus on getting back into the office, my sense is the configurations we have seen over the last 5-10 years are about to undergo some serious modifications.  Some will be temporary and others, likely will be here to stay.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post or real estate related questions, please contact Brad A. Molotsky or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: NJ Issues Additional Re-Opening Guidance – Child Care, Horse Racing, Youth Sports, Summer Camps, Non-Essential Retail, Salons and Restaurants – Executive Order 149

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 149 that has eased restrictions on child-care centers, horse racing, organized youth and other non-professional sports, and summer camps for kids.

Child Care:

o Detailed guidance for licensed child-care centers was issued.
o Child-care centers can reopen their doors to the children of non-essential workers on June 15.
o Centers that planned to open needed to alert the state and file an attestation that they would follow the state guidelines for safety and social distancing.
o Inspectors from the department will be visiting centers that reopen.

• Gov. Murphy also announced the administrative order allowing horse racing in New Jersey will resume on Monday, June 1.

o The grandstands at the state tracks will remain closed.
o Betting will take place online only.

Youth day camps (including municipal summer recreation programs) can open July 6.

o Similar safety and social distancing requirements are being formulated by state officials and will be in place in coming weeks.
o Sleep-away and residential camps remain prohibited under the new order.

Organized youth-sport practices can resume June 22.

o The order extends to high school and college sports programs.
o Activities must be conducted outside and for now must be limited to non-contact drills.
o Murphy said no-contact rules and other restrictions will be revisited on an ongoing basis.

• The Governor said that the 10-person limit on people who can gather inside a house of worship in New Jersey will be raised in advance of services conducted on June 12.
o He did not, however, specify what the revised limit would be.
o Murphy said state officials were working with faith leaders to establish guidance to insure congregant safety.

On Monday, June 1st, the Governor followed up EO 149  saying that he will allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining and “non-essential” retail to allow indoor customers, starting on June 15.

Personal care operations, such as salons and barbershops, can reopen on June 22, while gyms and health clubs will be able to reopen at some point in the coming weeks on a limited basis.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, Elizabeth Mincer, Jimmy Greenberg or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: New PPP Flexibility Act passed in the House of Representatives which focuses on Small Businesses, Hospitality and Restaurants

The new Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) which focuses on small businesses and restaurants in particular has passed the House of Representatives.

The bipartisan Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, was introduced last week by Reps. Dean Phillips, D-Minnesota and Chip Roy, R-Texas, and, is designed to extend the 8-week period under which loan recipients could spend the PPP money to 24 weeks while helping correct other provisions that would provide more flexibility to small businesses in the hospitality realm.

Many hospitality businesses have high overhead costs and low worker salaries, and, as such, will likely struggle to rehire their employees as their businesses have not reopened yet or, if they have reopened, have reopened with a smaller staff due to social distancing requirements for their customers. Additional challenges are presented as some former employees are seeing more income from enhanced unemployment benefits which will also make it difficult to rehire them.

A bipartisan group has already introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Its backers include Sens. Cory Gardner, R- Colorado, Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Angus King, I-Maine, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act would:

• Extend the “covered period” under which small businesses can spend the loan proceeds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks or until Dec. 31, 2020.

Expand the 25% cap to use PPP funds on non-payroll expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest and utilities, to 40% of the total loan. Currently, small businesses must use at least 75% of the loan for payroll expenses to get maximum forgiveness, but under the bill that would change to 60% to get maximum forgiveness.

• Give small businesses more time to rehire employees or to obtain forgiveness for the loan if social distancing guidelines and health-related actions from the CDC or other agencies prevented the business from operating at the same capacity as it had before March 1.

• Allow small businesses to take a PPP loan and also qualify for a separate, recently enacted tax credit to defer payroll taxes, currently prohibited to prevent “double dipping.”

Remove the limits on loan forgiveness for small businesses that were unable to rehire employees, hire new employees or return to the same level of business activity as before the virus.

Extend the loan terms for any unforgiven portions that need to be repaid from 2 years to 5 years, at 1% interest.

Extend the period for when a business can apply for loan forgiveness, from within 6 months to within 10 months of the last day of the covered period, before it must start making interest and principal payments. Under the new bill, PPP loan interest and payment of principal and fees will be deferred until the loan is forgiven by the lender.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Sandra Stoneman and Nanette Heide or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!