Tag Archives: PA

COVID-19: Philadelphia follows PA lead and Begins Re-Opening Process for Restaurants effective May 26, 2020; Lifts Stay at Home Order effective June 5th

As of May 26, 2020, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney amended his earlier business closure and stay-at-home orders and will now permit up to 10 people to line up to order at restaurants and food establishments. Dine-in service is still prohibited, and face coverings and social distancing guidelines are required.

The amendment follows Gov. Tom Wolf’s announced plans last week to move all Pennsylvania counties, including the five-county Philadelphia region, to the yellow phase of reopening and lift stay-at-home orders by June 5.

The yellow phase calls for telework to continue where possible, but allows for businesses to reopen with social distancing and other health and safety guidelines in place. Schools remain closed for in-person instruction, as does indoor recreation, gyms, health and fitness centers and entertainment venues. The yellow phase also allows for the reopening of in-person retail.

A copy of Mayor Kenney’s Order can be found here – Business closure revision 5-26

Philadelphia has begun to relax restrictions on restaurants and food vendors, recently permitting the sale of to-go cocktails.

The City of Philadelphia will release guidance and planning for business re-openings later this week.

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, David Augustin, and Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA permits reopening of Real Estate Businesses per Published Guidelines

On May 19th, Governor Tom Wolf announced that businesses and employees in the real estate industry may conduct limited business-related activities statewide and provided guidance for this industry to operate in red phase and yellow phase counties.

Previously, businesses and employees in the real estate industry were permitted to conduct limited in-person activities in counties in the yellow phase of the commonwealth’s phased reopening plan.

The real estate guidance https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200519-Real-Estate-Guidance.pdf requires businesses and employees to follow all applicable provisions of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, which includes provisions requiring that every person present at a work site, business location, or property offered for sale, wear masks/face coverings, and provisions requiring the establishment of protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All in-person activities are supposed to be scheduled and limited to no more than the real estate professional and 2 people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing.

When conducting settlements/closings the guidance suggests utilizing remote notary, powers of attorney or the exchange of contract documents electronically or by mail wherever possible. Where it is not possible to conduct settlement/ closing via remote notary or POA, attendance in-person is required to be limited to required signatories and their legal counsel or real estate professional only, and steps to preserve social distancing must be followed to the maximum extent possible.

Businesses and employees are also encouraged to provide sellers with relevant safety information and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing properties; utilize electronic marketing as much as possible; provide all individuals at an in-person activity with a verbal health screening; stagger scheduling of property showings; avoid physical contact with the property by staging in advance to prevent the need for interaction with items like lights, interior doors, drapes and blinds; and minimize time spent in the property by having discussions away from the property via remote means.

The Governor also vetoed House Bill 2412, stating that the Bill did not provide enough safety protocols for the COVID-19 public health crisis. Further, the legislation would have placed restrictions on municipalities related to property transfers; specifically, it would have eliminated a municipality’s ability to issue use and occupancy permits and conduct safety inspections, which are conditions of a property transfer.

To read the Governor’s Order – https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200519-TWW-Business-Closure-Amendment.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.

For Further Information:

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

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA Insurance Department Warns of Risks, Increased Liability and Lack of Insurance Coverage due to Non-Compliance of Business Closure Orders

Earlier today on May 11th, PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman reminded businesses of the importance of complying with Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s orders – for counties in both the red and yellow phases.

In addition to the critical public health objectives, Commissioner Altman warned non-compliant businesses defying the governor and secretary’s business closure orders that many insurance policies contain provisions that exclude coverage for businesses or individuals engaging in illegal acts or conduct. These exclusions may apply to property coverage, liability coverage, advertising injury coverage, and a host of other essential coverages.

“Businesses and residents rely on insurance coverage to protect them from liability, pay for covered losses, and compensate those who may be injured or harmed,” said Altman. “It is the duty of every business and resident in Pennsylvania to ensure that they and the public at large are provided with the maximum level of protection afforded by insurance. Any actions that could potentially create coverage gaps are the antitheses of the civil duty required of all residents during these times of emergency.”

This reminder was offered to all Pennsylvania businesses and residents, regardless of in what county they reside.

Comments were also directed at restaurants and their liquor licenses – reminding PA restaurant owners that restaurants that reopen for dine-in service in counties that have not been authorized to reopen will be at risk of losing their liquor license.

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, Dominica Anderson, Eve Klein, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA announces Emergency Assistance Program (“EAP”) for lower income families

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced on May 8, 2020, an Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to help low-income families who lost wages experiencing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families who qualify will be eligible for a one-time payment to assist them in meeting basic needs and help them secure more stable financial footing in the future.

The program will use existing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide support to low-income families who qualify. The program will be open to families with a child under the age of 18 or a woman who is currently pregnant.

In order to qualify, families must have at least one person in the household who was employed as of March 11, 2020 and experienced an hour or wage reduction of at least 50 percent for two weeks or more or lost employment entirely due to the public health crisis.

Families must meet income limits of 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and have no more than $1,000 in a savings or checking account.

Household               Monthly Income                Annual Income Limit
1                                           $1,595                                            $19,140
2                                           $2,155                                            $25,860
3                                           $2,715                                            $32,580
4                                           $3,275                                            $39,300
5                                           $3,835                                            $46,020
6                                           $4,395                                            $52,740
7                                           $4,955                                            $59,460
8                                           $5,515                                            $66,180
9                                          $6,075                                             $72,900
10                                        $6,635                                             $79,620
Each + Person                    $560                                               $6,720

Qualifying families will be issued a one-time grant equal to two months of TANF benefits. The average monthly TANF grant for a family of three is $403, so a qualifying family of three would receive a one-time grant of $806 through the program. Information on monthly grants by household size and county is available online here. Funds will be issued through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.

The emergency assistance application is available online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Families should be prepared to submit all necessary documentation with their application to expedite processing and avoid having to apply again. Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, May 11 through June 12 or until all funds are expended.

Secretary Miller also provided an update on the number of public assistance applications received by DHS. Applications are generally down from where they were before County Assistance Offices began to close in Pennsylvania. Applications did begin to increase to pre-closure levels towards the second half of April but are declining again.

Pennsylvanians can apply for Medicaid, the EAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other public assistance programs at any time through DHS’ online COMPASS application at www.compass.state.pa.us.

Those who prefer to submit paper applications can mail documents to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or leave documents in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. CAOs are still closed to the public, but mail and drop boxes are being monitored so applications can be processed.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

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

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA Plan now allows re-opening of Construction, Vehicle Dealerships and Real Estate Industry per recent Executive Orders

While Governor Wolf extended the “Stay at Home” order until June 4, 2020 by Amendment to his earlier order, he also updated guidance on opening businesses in PA.  As you are likely aware, PA is employing a regional and industry-specific approach to reopening “non-life-sustaining” businesses.

In counties that have been designated as in the Red Phase, businesses permitted to conduct in-person operations are:

1) those listed as life sustaining according to the Governor’s and Secretary’s Non-Life Sustaining Business Closure Orders (as amended),
2) those that received an exemption from those Orders from the Department of Community and Economic Development, or
3) those permitted to conduct in-person operations pursuant to a subsequent applicable Order or amendment to those Orders from the Governor and Secretary including:

a. Construction Industry;
b. Vehicle Dealerships; and
c. Real Estate Industry.

In counties that have been designated as in the Yellow Phase, all businesses, except those categories specifically excluded in the Governor’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania and the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s orders, are permitted to conduct in-person operations, so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of this guidance.

In counties that have been designated as in the Green Phase, all businesses (including those restricted or prohibited in the Yellow Phase) are authorized to conduct unrestricted in-person operations as long as the businesses follow CDC and Department of Health guidelines.

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, David Augustin, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA Extends Eviction and Moratorium Protections through July 10th for Residential Transactions

Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Attorney General Josh Shapiro to announce that he signed an executive order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures or evictions through July 10. The action builds on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11 and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.

“At a time when people need to stay home to protect their heath, they should not have to worry about losing their homes,” said Governor Wolf. “Ensuring that people can remain in their homes will help them to better protect their loved ones. It gives families the comfort of knowing they will have a place to live while all of us work together to fight COVID-19 and prepare to move Pennsylvania forward.”

In almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are required to continue making monthly payments.

The Wolf Administration provided recommendations last week to stem foreclosures, evictions and help people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Human Services activated the Commonwealth’s Sheltering Taskforce and is working with local and state partners to coordinate resources for people without housing. The Department of Community and Economic Development is also accepting applications for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist with the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness, street outreach, homelessness prevention, and emergency shelter activities.

PHFA is also taking action to help homeowners and renters. The agency has stopped foreclosures and evictions and is offering forbearances with late fee waivers to homeowners with a PHFA mortgage who are experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19. PHFA also developed a list of renters’ rights and responsibilities to clarify the situation for apartment residents and is working with landlords and property managers to distribute it to renters. PHFA is also encouraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credit building managers to be flexible on rent payments and to waive late fees for tenants whose employment has been affected by the crisis. 

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, David Augustin or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA Outlines Plans to Create a Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps (“CCCC”)

As Pennsylvania plans to safely reopen the economy and recover from COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf announced the creation of the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps (“CCCC”), a public service initiative that will support efforts this fall to increase testing and contact tracing and provide critical new job opportunities in the public health sector.

Per Governor Wolf, “the CCCC will serve as a public service program that will expand our ability to conduct contact tracing and testing and mobilize Pennsylvanians to contain COVID-19.”

The Wolf Administration’s continued efforts to reopen Pennsylvania will, in its own words, depend on its ability to expand the availability of COVID-19 testing and develop a robust infrastructure to conduct surveillance and contact tracing. This work will allow Pennsylvanians to effectively monitor and respond to new cases and quantify mitigation efforts.

As PA plans to ramp up these efforts in the coming months, the CCCC would help bring these efforts to fruition by:

• Partnering with local public health agencies, community organizations, and the nonprofit community to expand Pennsylvania’s existing testing and contract tracing initiatives;

• Leveraging additional resources to fund testing and contact tracing initiatives;

• Exploring creative ways to recruit experienced Pennsylvanians with health care and public health experience to support this initiative; and

• Coordinating existing resources deployed by the commonwealth, including community health nurses and county health departments who are currently conducting testing and contact tracing throughout the state.

The CCCC is also hoped to provide for a unique opportunity for PA to recruit and train COVID-19-impacted dislocated and unemployed workers into public service for contact tracing roles, which would address Pennsylvania’s health and economic needs.

To foster this new workforce, the CCCC would:

• Engage partners in the workforce development system, existing allied health training programs, and AmeriCorps programs to build and strengthen a public health workforce across the commonwealth;

• Leverage existing workforce development resources to recruit, train, and connect the public health workforce with employment opportunities; and

• Engage public health and health care employers to connect trained workers with long-term career opportunities.

According to Governor Wolf said. “Through this public service initiative, Pennsylvanians will have opportunities in the months ahead to join a collective effort to ensure that we emerge from this pandemic a stronger Commonwealth.”

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

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA – $324 Million Dollars awarded to 31 hospitals under the HELP Program

PA Governor Tom Wolf announced that nearly $324 Million in funding has been awarded to 31 hospitals across the Commonwealth through the “Hospital Emergency Loan Program” or HELP, which provides short-term financial relief as hospitals combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in their area.

“As Pennsylvania continues to practice social distancing, we have successfully flattened the curve, but we know that our fight against COVID-19 is far from over,” said Gov. Wolf. “This funding will allow our hospitals to hold steady in that fight with the peace of mind that they have access to the resources they need to provide critical care to their communities.”

The loan package was made available to the Commonwealth’s hospitals to provide immediate financial support for working capital to ensure that these facilities have sufficient personnel, equipment, and personal protective equipment.

The funding was dispersed by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) and is being administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) through the Pennsylvania First Program (PA First).

Pennsylvania health care facilities licensed as hospitals by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under the Health Care Facilities Act of 1979 that are eligible to receive federal grant funding through the CARES Act are eligible for HELP.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

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 Caffrey or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA Announces Methodology for Phased Re-Opening Approach (50 new cases per 100,000 of population for 14 days)

Governor Wolf elaborated on the PA Department of Health metrics for Re-Opening and included an example to aid in calculation.

A target goal for reopening has been set at having fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported to the department in the previous 14 days. So, for example, an area with a population of 800,000 people would need to have fewer than 400 new confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days to meet the target. An assessment will determine if the target goal has been met. The administration will work closely with county and local governments to enable the communities to reopen and transition back to work.

The target data goal is not the only metric to be met before reopening a region. Additionally, the Commonwealth is also focusing on ensuring that there is:

• Testing – Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations such as those at high risk, health care personnel and first responders.

• Case Investigation – Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure in place to facilitate early identification of cluster outbreaks and to issue proper isolation and quarantine orders.

• Safeguards – Identification of an area’s high-risk settings including correctional institutions, personal care homes, skilled nursing facilities and other congregate care settings, and assurance that facilities have adequate safeguards in place such as staff training, employee screening, visitor procedures and screening and adequate supplies of PPE to support continued operations.

PA will be relying on a modeling dashboard under development and evaluation by Carnegie Mellon University to take a regional and sector-based approach to re-openings, the easing of restrictions and public health response.

The full PA plan is available here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/process-to-reopen-pennsylvania

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, Eve Klein, Elizabeth Mincer, Matt LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: PA defers payment obligations and maturity dates by 3 months on loans from various Commonwealth Agencies (NOT a reduction in amount owed)!

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA), and Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) are deferring loans and that the maturity dates and amortization schedules of all applicable loans are extended by three additional calendar months.

“As we look to the future for a phased reopening of Pennsylvania’s economy, it is imperative that we provide relief to businesses affected by the administration’s stay-at-home order,” said Sec. Davin. “Businesses statewide have been cooperative and made sacrifices for the health and safety of their communities, and we are committed to supporting them through the next steps ahead.”

PIDA borrowers with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020 are deferred. All other terms and conditions of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

PMBDA borrowers with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020, including principal, interest, and any associated feeds are deferred. Accrual of interest that would be included with deferred payments is suspended. All other terms and conditions of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

CFA borrowers except for PENNWORKS loans, with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020, including principal, interest, and any associated fees are deferred. Accrual of interest that would be included with deferred payments is suspended. All other terms of all applicable loans remain unchanged.
DCED continues to update its website with financial and other resources.

Businesses seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.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.

For Further Information:

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