Tag Archives: PA

COVID-19: PA to allow 50% indoor dining capability effective 9-21-2020

Earlier today on September 8, 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that restaurants in Pennsylvania will be allowed to increase their indoor seating capacity to 50%, effective Sept. 21.

The 25% indoor restriction has been in place since July, 2020.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it is not clear whether Philadelphia County will make the increase to 50% capacity considering it just beginning to reopen indoor dining at 25% on Tuesday following a nearly a six-month closure.

To qualify to be able to open at 50% occupancy, restaurants will be required to self-certify that they comply with all public safety guidelines. The self-certification process is an on line process and will appear in a special database available online. There will also be special branded material, including window clings and other signs, that show certification.

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 Residential Eviction Moratorium through March 15, 2021

As of 7-31-20, Philadelphia City officials have extended the City’s residential eviction moratorium in Philadelphia until March 15, 2021.

According to reporting from CBS 3, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) said it wants the city’s 80,000 low-income residents who have been “disproportionately impacted” by the pandemic to be assured their housing will not be a concern for the rest of the uncertainty.

“The federal eviction moratorium expires this week. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended it to the end of August, while the Congress and the Trump Administration debate another extension. I wanted to take bold action in this regard, to maintain housing stability for our residents,” PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah said.

According to Jeremiah, the moratorium applies only to “matters involving the nonpayment of rent and related fees,” but doesn’t apply to evictions related to health and safety.

The moratorium does not forgive nonpayment of rent and fees during the period, the PHA said, and tenants remain responsible for rent under the terms of their lease agreement.

Philadelphians who cannot pay their rent or have a financial hardship are urged to apply for a PHA Hardship Waiver or look into payment plans.

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

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA makes $50M available for Hazard Pay Grants to Life Sustaining Occupations

Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $50 million in grant funding to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hazard pay is intended to keep front-line employees working in vital industry sectors across Pennsylvania.

“In the fight against COVID-19, our front-line workers have put themselves at risk every day in order to continue to provide life-sustaining services to their fellow Pennsylvanians, and this funding will increase their pay in recognition of those sacrifices,” said Gov. Wolf. “These grants will help businesses retain employees, ensure that Pennsylvanians keep working and avoid disruption of critical goods and services.”

Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Businesses may apply for grants up to a maximum of $3 million.

The following applicants are eligible to apply:

• Businesses
• Healthcare Non-profits
• Public Transportation Agencies
• Certified Economic Development Organizations (CEDO)

Eligible Pennsylvania-based industries include:

• Healthcare and Social Assistance
• Ambulatory Health Care Services
• Hospitals
• Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
• Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
• Food Manufacturing
• Food Retail Facilities
• Security Services for eligible industries listed above and commercial industries that were not closed as a result of the Governor’s Business Closure Order
• Janitorial Services to Buildings and Dwellings

Grant funds may be used for hazard pay for direct, full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime for the 10-week period from August 16, 2020, to October 24, 2020. Applicants may apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. Employers may apply for a grant to provide hazard pay for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location.

Eligible applicants may apply for grants using the online DCED Electronic Single Application for Assistance located at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us from July 16, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Program inquiries may be directed to (717) 787-6245 or ra-dcedcbf@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-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, 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: PA issues Executive Order extending Residential Evictions and Foreclosures Moratorium until August 31, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf signed a new executive order earlier today, July 15, 2020, extending the moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures until Aug. 31.

This Order follows a previous moratorium extension, but now only applies if the renters or homeowners have not already received assistance from a new program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) or are not already receiving relief through one of several federal foreclosure moratorium programs or judicial orders.

Lenders and property owners that receive funds through the PHFA program must agree not pursue foreclosure or eviction actions as a condition of participation in the program. The governor signed legislation in May providing $150 million for rental assistance and $25 million for mortgage assistance through PHFA with CARES Act funds. PHFA began accepting applications July 6.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Housing Finance Agency, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have each extended eviction and foreclosure protections for housing under their authority to Aug. 31.

In terms of the applying of the Order, it states:

The provisions of this Order and the suspension of the Acts under this Order apply only to matters involving the nonpayment of monies as well as to those proceedings related to removal of any tenant solely because the tenant has held over or exceeded the term of a lease. The Order does not apply to suspend notice requirements relating to evictions for breaches of any other covenants.

This Order does not treat nonpayment of monies during this period as forgiven and individuals are still responsible for any rent or monies owed under the terms of the mortgage or lease agreement.

Therefore, in almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are still required to make monthly payments if they can. Also, importantly, the governor’s Order does not apply to proceedings regarding property damage or illegal activity.

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 Announces New Gathering Limitations – Effective July 16th

Earlier this afternoon, around 3:30 pm, on 7-15-20, PA Governor Wolf announced new gathering restrictions that will go into effect at 12:01AM on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

For a copy of the Governor’s order – 

Bars:

1. All bars are prohibited from conducting operations unless they offer sit-down, dine-in meals.

2. Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.

3. All service must be at a table or booth; bar service is prohibited.

4. Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.

For purposes of the order, occupancy requirements are:

1. Limited to 25% of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining.

2. A discrete indoor event or gathering in a business in the retail food services industry is limited to 25 persons.

Restaurants and private catered events:

For purposes of the order, occupancy requirements are:

1. Limited to 25% of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining.

2. A discrete indoor event or gathering in a business in the retail food services industry is limited to 25 persons.

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by the order, including:

1. Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.

2. Customers being served must be seated at a table.

3. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

4. Social distancing, masking, and other mitigation measures must be employed to protect workers and patrons.

5. Alcohol only can be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal. Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.

Nightclubs:

1. All nightclubs, as defined by the Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, are prohibited from conducting operations.

Other events and gatherings:

Events and gatherings other than those in businesses in the retail food services industry must adhere to these gathering limitations:

2. Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.

3. Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.

4. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.

Teleworking:

1. Unless not possible, all businesses are required to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business.

2. Where telework is not possible, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided that the businesses fully comply with all substantive aspects of the business safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.

Gyms and fitness facilities:

All gyms and fitness facilities, while permitted to continue indoor operations, are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. All activities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1 order, and must provide for social distancing requirements of persons being at least 6 feet apart, as well as being limited by any limitations related to.

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

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: Philadelphia Limits Public Gatherings of 50 or more on public property through February 28, 2021

As of late yesterday, July 14, 2020, Philadelphia issued a public gathering, large event moratorium notice. Per Mayor Kenney’s office, due to the ongoing public health crisis, the City’s Office of Special Events will not accept, review, process, or approve applications, issue permits, or enter into agreements for special events or public gatherings of 50 or more people on public property through February 28, 2021.

The City may further extend this timeline based on feedback from public health experts. Any pending applications will not be further reviewed, processed or approved.

The moratorium will apply to special events and public gatherings including, but not limited to:

•Festivals
•Parades
•Concerts
•Carnivals
•Fairs
•Flea markets

In addition, permit applications for residential block party permits will not be accepted until further notice. Any pending applications will not be further reviewed, processed or approved at this time. Further guidance regarding block party permits, including a timeline for when such activities may resume, will be communicated as soon as possible.

The moratorium does not apply to:

•Demonstrations and First Amendment-protected activities.
•Outdoor gatherings that are not publicly advertised—such as family picnics and outdoor weddings—with less than 50 pre-registered guests.
•Organized, outdoor group recreational and sports activities for youth and adults with less than 25 participants.
•Events and gatherings taking place on private property, including performance venues and stadiums.

Please note this is different than the rules that have been issued for dining that are still applicable in PA and in Philadelphia.

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

Be well and stay safe!

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!