On September 9, 2021, the White House released a memorandum titled “Path Out of the Pandemic,” which detailed President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan.  The memorandum contains six priorities for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, including a requirement that all employers with 100 or more employees must implement a vaccine mandate and/or require weekly testing of unvaccinated workers.

Continue Reading President Biden and OSHA to Require Vaccine Mandate or Weekly Testing for Employers with 100+ Employees

On September 6, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that COVID-19 has been designated as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act (“HERO Act” or the “Act”). At the time of the publication of this article, the Commissioner of Health’s designation is only effective until September 30, 2021. On September 30, the Commissioner will review the level of COVID-19 transmission in the state and make a further determination.

Continue Reading NY HERO Act Plans Must Be Activated as COVID-19 Designated a Highly Contagious Communicable Disease

The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) requires the full cost of COBRA premiums to be subsidized for COBRA continuation coverage during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (“Subsidy Period”) of certain assistance-eligible individuals (“AEI“) whose COBRA qualifying event was due to an involuntary termination or reduction in hours. Our prior blog post, COBRA Premium Assistance Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – What Employers Should Know, provides information about the ARPA COBRA subsidy and associated notice requirements. ARPA also required employers to comply with certain notice obligations, first at the outset of the Subsidy Period to make the AEIs aware of the subsidy, and now to inform AEIs that the subsidy is nearing expiration through what is known as the Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance (“Expiration Notice”).

Continue Reading Reminder: ARPA COBRA Subsidy Expiration Notice Due by September 15

On Thursday, August 12, 2021, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) published an order strengthening the COVID-19 safety requirements applicable to many business establishments and event spaces in the City and County of San Francisco (the “Order”).  As outlined below, the Order requires significant new vaccine mandates for San Francisco businesses operating (1) Indoor Food and Drink and Fitness Facilities; (2) Large Outdoor and Indoor Events; and (3) High Risk Care or Living Settings and Other Health Care Facilities.

Continue Reading San Francisco Mandates Proof of Full Vaccination for Entry Into Many Establishments

On August 3, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the “Key to NYC” program (“Key to NYC” or the “Program”), which implemented new mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees and patrons of certain indoor establishments in New York City.  Effective August 17, 2021, business entities covered under Key to NYC must require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees, patrons and most other individuals entering the premises, with certain limited exceptions (outlined below).  On August 17, 2021 (the Program’s effective date), the City simultaneously released new guidance and Frequently Asked Questions regarding how covered businesses may comply with Key to NYC, which are summarized below.  Because enforcement of the Program begins on September 13, 2021, New York employers covered by the Program should be aware of its implications and take necessary steps towards compliance.

Continue Reading Picking Up the “Key to NYC”: New Vaccination Regulations Now Effective for New York City Employers

On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) updated its “Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”  The updated guidance, which does not apply to healthcare workplace settings covered by OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, reflects recent changes to the guidance for fully vaccinated individuals published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on July 27, 2021.  Among the updates discussed below, the most notable changes are the modified recommendations for fully vaccinated employees.  OSHA advises that employers should use the guidance to ensure they protect unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.

Continue Reading OSHA Updates COVID-19 Guidance to Align With Recently Updated CDC Guidance

What a difference three months makes.  In May 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced that fully vaccinated individuals could forgo masks and social distancing requirements in most indoor and outdoor locations.  At that time, the Alpha variant was not all that transmissible in the fully vaccinated, and millions of vaccine shots were doled out each day.  But now, with the increasing spread of the transmissible Delta variant, the CDC has updated its guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.

Continue Reading Return of the Mask: CDC Issues New Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

On July 6, 2021 the U.S. State Department publicly announced that the travel ban waivers related to the world-wide pandemic will now be good for 1 year and multiple entry.  The effective date of this new decision is June 29, 2021.  Previously they were only good for 30 days and a single entry.  In addition, those that have received a waiver in the past may now use it for 12 months if it was granted after June 29, 2020.  See: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/extension-validity-for-nies-for-china-iran-brazil-south-africa-schengen-uk-ireland-india.html

Continue Reading NIE’s Now Good for 1 Year, More on Navigating the Travel Ban Jungle: National Interest Exception Checklist for the U.S. COVID Travel Bans

In January 2020, Illinois legalized the use of recreational marijuana through the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (“the Act”).  Two months later, many employees began working remotely because of the pandemic.  Today, work-from-home continues to blur the lines between “work” and “home” in countless ways, and employee drug policies are no exception.  The new world of remote work has left many employers wondering what to do with their drug policies now that cannabis is legal and their employees are remote or hybrid.  Can an employer lawfully prevent their employees from using cannabis while working from home?

Continue Reading What Do I Do With My Workplace Drug Policy Now That Cannabis Is Legal in Illinois and My Employees Are Remote?

As we previously reported, on May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO Act” or the “Act”) into law.  On July 6, 2021 the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) published its Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (the “Standard”), a General Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and several Industry Specific Model Exposure Prevention Plans (“Model Plan” or Model Plans”) as required by the HERO Act.

Continue Reading New Health and Safety Obligations Established as NYSDOL Publishes Its Standard and Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Plan Required by NY HERO Act

On June 21, 2021, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) new COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) went into effect.
Continue Reading New U.S. DOL Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Workers