COVID-19: Philadelphia to lift certain COVID-19 bans on 1-15-21

Earlier today, January 12, 2021, the Kenney Administration announced that Philadelphia will lift its ban on theaters, indoor dining, and in-person college instruction on January 15, 2021.

Theaters will able to reopen, with a maximum audience of 5% of total capacity or 5 people per 1,000 square feet, including both attendees and staff. Food and drink will not be allowed, and all guests must wear masks.

Restaurants will be permitted to have indoor dining for 25% of their seating capacity.

Colleges and universities will now be allowed to resume in-person instruction.

Other indoor gatherings, indoor recreational sports, indoor catered events and senior day services will remain in restricted status for the moment.

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, Sharon Caffrey, Eve Klein or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

 

COVID-19: PA Adopts CDC 10 day Quaratine timing for Travel

Per PA Department of Health guidelines posted on Friday, December 5, 2020, PA is lowering the COVID-19 quarantine period that out-of-state travelers will need to observe. The new guidance, in line with CDC recommendations, reduces the number of quarantine days from 14 to 10 days.

Under the new guidance, travelers to PA should self-isolate for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19 or if testing is not available. They should also self-quarantine for 7 days after travel even if they test negative. Note that the self-quarantining is suggested rather than mandatory.

Recommended timing for tests per the CDC are to get a test between 1 and 3 days before the trip, and between 3 to 5 days after the trip.

In November, the Department of Health provided an updated travel order requiring anyone over the age of 11 who visits from another state to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in a travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering. Travel quarantine guidance was changed to 10 days last Friday, on Dec. 5 based on new CDC guidance.

The PA order does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment, those who left the state for less than 24 hours, and those complying with a court order, including child custody.

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, Linda B. Hollinshead, Elisabeth Bassani, Sharon Caffrey, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

 

COVID-19 – NJ adopts CDC guidelines for inbound travelers – reducing self-isolation quarantine timing to 10 day

Per NJ Department of Health guidelines posted on Friday, December 5, 2020, NJ is lowering the COVID-19 quarantine period that out-of-state travelers will need to observe. The new guidance, in line with CDC recommendations, reduces the number of quarantine days from 14 to 10 days.

Under the new guidance, travelers to NJ should self-isolate for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19, or if testing is not available. They should also self-quarantine for 7 days after travel even if they test negative. Note that the self-quarantining is suggested rather than mandatory.

Recommended timing for tests per the CDC are to get a test between 1 and 3 days before the trip, and between 3 to 5 days after the trip,

Given the recent numbers of new cases, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state and federal health officials have discouraged any non-essential travel, especially the family gatherings typical of the holiday season.

Per NJ Biz, “essential travel” over state lines is largely exempt, and that includes for going to work, medical reasons, military purposes or court orders such as child custody, according to the state health department.

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, Paul Josephson, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe. 

COVID-19: NJ Announces $60M of Additional Covid-Relief Small Business Grants

On November 11, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a commitment of at least $60 Million in additional relief grants under Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SBEAG).

This funding is in addition to $70 M of funds already allocated for the current phase of the SBEAG program and will enable the NJEDA to fulfill grants for the entire pipeline of eligible businesses that applied for Phase 3 funding prior to the application deadline.

Without this additional funding, approximately 13,000 of the nearly 22,000 businesses that applied for Phase 3 grants would have been denied a grant given the amount of interest in the program.

Per NJ Business Today, the NJEDA’s suite of COVID-19 relief programs provides a variety of resources for businesses of all sizes, including grants for small businesses, zero-interest loans, support for private-sector lenders and CDFIs, and funding for entrepreneurs.

One of NJEDA’s relief programs is the SBEAG, which provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

To attempt to achieve an equitable distribution of funds, the NJEDA set aside 1/3 of the funding for this program to support qualified businesses located in NJ Opportunity Zones. The goal of this new round of allocations is to help minority and women-owned businesses obtain some of the available grant funds.

According to NJ Business Today, more than 22,000 small businesses have been approved for grants worth more than $64.9 million through Phases 1 and 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The average grant award has been roughly $3,000, which indicates the average approved business has three full-time equivalent employees.

Phase 3 significantly expands eligibility for the Grant Program and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive.

Eligibility – Any business or non-profit located in New Jersey, including home-based businesses, with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) is eligible to receive grant funding during Phase 3, including businesses that received funding in previous phases of the program.

Opportunity Zone Set Asides – To ensure funding goes to businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, Phase 3 sets aside funding for restaurants, micro-businesses, and businesses based in the state’s 715 Opportunity Zone-eligible Census tracts.

To date over $250 M of funding from NJEDA has been allocated to support small businesses with a significant focus being on restaurants, micro-businesses, and minority- and women-owned firms.

In addition to the SBEAG Program, the NJEDA administers a variety of technical assistance and low-cost financing programs for small and mid-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19.

More information about NJEDA’s programs and other State support is available at https://covid19.nj.gov.

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, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe. 

 

COVID-19: NJ revises COVID Guidance for Public Gatherings – Self Service Food, Indoor Malls, Athletic Events and Private Tutoring Facilities

On October 31, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy and the head of the New Jersey State Police modified certain restrictions on businesses and public gatherings in New Jersey. The modifications are set forth in Administrative Order 2020-22 (the “AO”).

Key topics include the prohibition of self service food such as buffets and salad bars ; the allowance of indoor shopping mall vending machine and stroller rentals but prohibiting valet and play areas; the loosing of how we count maximum gatherings for athletic competition; and the allowance of private tutoring facilities to reopen for students and clients.

1.  Self-service FoodSelf service food such as buffets and salad bars are prohibited at retail businesses, like grocery stores, under the AO.  Note that self-service drinks are still permitted, but only if they are routinely and effectively cleaned and sanitized.

2.  Indoor Shopping Malls:

  • Vending machines and stroller rentals are now permitted to be operated at malls as long as they are sanitized, but playgrounds and valet parking must remain closed.
  • Valet Parking and communal play areas are NOT permitted at indoor malls

3.  Athletic events (including those for professional sports and collegiate athletic competitions) are still subject to Executive Orders 161 and 183 but, the AO confirms that athletes, coaches, referees, trainers and other individuals necessary to the performance of a competitive sporting event are NOT included in the number of individuals for gathering limits purposes.

For indoor athletic competitions, the amount of people permitted in such venues is capped at 150 people or 25% of the room’s capacity, whichever is lower.

Masks are required to be worn by spectators and non-athletes at both indoor and outdoor venues (except if under 2 years of age, where it is impracticable for an individual to wear a masks (such as when eating or drinking) or when doing so would violate Federal or State law.

4.  Private Tutoring Facilities: Private tutoring facilities may reopen for students and other clients.

For a copy of the Administrative Order No. 2020-22 –  please see https://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20201031/63/af/39/ad/30c4bf2e846cbe2de8b48b61/AO_2020-22.pdf

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, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces COVID centric private employer work safety rules effective November 6, 2020

Pursuant to a new executive order, the Murphy administration is setting up statewide COVID-19 safety standards for private sector employers, and a means to enforce those rules.

Under the order Gov. Phil Murphy signed earlier today, 10-28-2020, which goes into effect at 6:00 a.m. on Nov. 6th, the state has set up will set up a compliance regime with a collection of mandatory COVID-19 reopening protocols, and the means to go after non-compliant employers.

Per NJBIZ, at a minimum, workers have to undergo health screenings at the start of every shift, while everyone present at the workplace has to remain socially distanced. Employees must be made aware if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 at the workplace.

Employees have to wear a mask, provided at the expense of the business owner, who would also supply sanitizing materials to customers and workers at their own expense. High-touch areas must be routinely cleaned and disinfected, while employees must be provided hand-washing breaks throughout the day.

The Murphy administration included similar rules for large-scale business re-openings, like sanitization, face mask usage, 6-foot physical distancing, staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding, protocols for quarantining COVID-positive workers, and how to screen potentially infected employees.

But without a state-level system of private sector enforcement, it has been reported that many workers continued to feel at risk.

To date, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has only put out voluntary guidance for individual states, rather than strict mandates.

Under the Executive Order, the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will be required to create a system to investigate a lack of compliance and pursue enforcement actions.

The rules are expected to include a system where employees can submit complaints.

State health and labor officials will be authorized to perform workplace inspections, issue subpoenas and interview both workers and their employers.

The two departments would jointly create a system to aid business owners in complying with the rules. Moreover, the labor department would create worksite notices and materials for both workers and business owners.

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, Caroline Austin, Danielle Dyer, Elizabeth Mincer, Kathy O’Malley, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ updates its Moratorium on Residential Utilities and their ability to pursue Non-Payment

Last week, NJ updated its guidance on COVID-19 related charges for most utilities in Executive Order 190.

Water, Gas, and Electricity:

No household may have its electricity, gas service, or water service shut off for nonpayment. This moratorium on utility shutoffs is extended to at least March 15, 2021 and applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities, both public and private.

If there is any customer whose service has been disconnected since March 16, 2020, their service must be reconnected.

In addition, utilities will not be charging late fees nor fees to reconnect services that have been disconnected.

Although utility service shutoffs are still suspended, customers are still encouraged to set up payment plans with their utilities so they can begin paying their bills, if they are able, over a period of time.

According to NJ State published information on line, if you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your utility company about assistance programs and payment plans, or visit BPU’s “Assistance Programs” page for information about programs that can help.

Note: For any questions about your service, first contact your utility company. A list of public gas and electricity utility company phone numbers is available here.

If you are unable to resolve an issue with your utility company, you should contact BPU’s Customer Assistance team by filling out this online form, or by calling (800) 624-0241 and leaving a voicemail.

Phone and Internet:

No cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents shall terminate these services due to nonpayment before November 15.

After November 15, cable and telecommunications providers are required to enroll customers with an already existing account in an interest free payment plan of at least 12 equal monthly installments, including the balance already due, prior to disconnecting the customers service.

For households with school-age children who need Internet connectivity for remote-learning, Internet shutoffs will not be permitted through March 15, 2021. If a household experiences a change of circumstances where school age children will be using their home Internet service for school, the cable and telecommunications company will be required to reconnect that Internet service.

Source: Executive Order No. 190

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, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces updated COVID era Sports rules and regulations

As of last week, NJ organized sports activities can resume.

As of October 12, no-contact practices, contact practices, and competitions for sports defined as “Low Risk”, “Medium Risk”, and “High Risk” are permitted in both outdoor and indoor settingsLow-risk, non-contact sports include golf and tennis. Medium- and high-risk sports include baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football hockey, judo, boxing, karate, wrestling, rugby, and group dance.

All indoor practices and competitions are limited to 25% of the room capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, exceeds 25, the practice or competition may proceed if no unnecessary individuals such as spectators are present.

Even if this exception applies, the number of individuals at the practice or competition cannot exceed 25% of the capacity of the room, and such limit cannot exceed 150 persons.

Outdoor competitions or tournaments must abide by the limit on outdoor gatherings, which is currently limited to 500 people.

Facilities and participants must also abide by a number of health and safety protocols outlined in the Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities,” such as screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff; limitations on equipment sharing; and requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and equipment.

Staff, parents, guardians, and visitors are required to wear face coverings at practices and games. Athletes are encouraged to wear masks during downtime, but not during physical activity.

The Department of Health’s guidance also includes further details on which sports are defined in which category, how to create a sports program preparation plan, how to prepare a facility for sports practices, how to conduct sports practices, and how to prepare for games and tournaments.

Fall School Sports Season

Sports under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) must also abide by those associations’ rules.

The final determination on the fall high school sports seasons will be made by the NJSIAA, and school districts will make the ultimate decision on whether teams will resume competition.

Under the NJSIAA’s current plan, competition may start September 28 for girls tennis and on October 1 for all other sports except football, which will kick off its season on October 2.

Regular seasons will conclude on October 23 for girl’s tennis, November 7 for football, and November 12 for all other fall sports. Limited postseason play will run from October 24 through October 31 for girls tennis, and November 13 through November 22 for all other sports.

Schools that do not participate in the postseason may continue to play until November 22, with the exception being Thanksgiving football games. These are permissible after November 22, at each school’s discretion. No other fall sports competition will be allowed after November 22.

For additional information and updates, refer to theNJSIAA’s COVID-19 alert page.

NOTE: A student-athlete’s ability to participate with their team will not be altered in any way – regardless of whether they participate in remote-learning or in-person instruction.

A new law waives the requirement to complete an annual pre-participation physical examination for any student-athlete enrolled in grade six to 12 who either completed a physical examination during the 2019-2020 school year or completed a physical examination that allowed the student to participate on a school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic team or squad during the 2019-2020 school year.

A student-athlete who has not completed a physical examination within 365 days prior to the first day of official practice in the athletic season is permitted to participate on a school-sponsored athletic team provided they complete the physical examination before the end of the athletic season.

Professional Sports

Professional sports teams which train or play in New Jersey can practice and engage in games or matches, if their leagues resume competition.

The State has been in constant discussions with these teams about the protocols they will have in place to protect the health and safety of the players, coaches, and team personnel – including facilities where proper sanitation and hygiene practices can be readily maintained.

Source: Executive Order No. 148Executive Order No. 149Guidance for Sports ActivitiesExecutive Order No. 161Executive Order No. 163https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200812b.shtmlExecutive Order No. 187

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, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces $112M of grant funds for small businesses, restaurants and families under the CARES Act

Earlier today, October 13, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to distribute $112 Million of the state’s CARES Act money via grants to small businesses and struggling families.

$70 million will be distributed by the state’s Economic Development Authority Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program:

$35 million to the food service industry (places defined as “food services and drinking places”);

$15 million to microbusinesses (those with five employees or fewer);

$20 million to replenish the EDA’s existing Small Business Emergency Grant program;

Other grants include:

$10 million to add to the EDA’s PPE program, which helps small business owners purchase PPE;

$15 million to support renters in the Department of Community Affairs Rental Assistance Program;

$5 million to food banks and other hunger relief efforts to help families battling food insecurity;

$12 million for the Department of Human Services’ new Housing Assistance Program, which provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship.

The source of funds is the $2.4 Billion the state received in money from the CARES Act.

By way of background, the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, over 19,000 small businesses have benefited from the program. Phase 3 of the Grant Program expands eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive.

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 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.