response and insight

COVID-19: Coronavirus

Providing quick, up-to-date insight and resources regarding the affects of the Coronavirus on our community and beyond

First and foremost, as we all navigate the ongoing pandemic, we at GRB Law want to ensure you that even in this uncertain time, we are dedicated to providing you with the high quality legal services that you have come to expect from GRB Law. While working remotely, we are available and ready to provide the legal insight you need. Find your lawyer here.

Our COVID-19 resource center is intended to provide you with quick, up-to-date insight regarding the coronavirus and directives regarding this time.

Click through the accordion below for detailed information.
 

UPDATE: In response to The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a new DOL poster is required to be posted and/or shared with employees by April 1st. Find the poster here.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act puts into place a number of emergency provisions that will impact employees and employers, including changes to FMLA and creation of federally mandated paid sick time. Below please find summaries of these new laws which will be in effect from not later than April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Please call if you have an employee requesting leave, or if we can provide any further guidance.

Emergency Paid Leave Sick Act

Two weeks of paid leave is available if an employee is unable to work or telework for the following reasons:

(1)The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.

(2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.

(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).

(5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.

(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Two weeks is calculated as follows:

Full-time employees: 40 hours

Part-time employees: the average hours an employee works over a 2 week period. When a part-time employee has a schedule that varies from week to week, the employer is to look back over the last 6 months to determine the average for that employee.

Pay shall be employee’s actual rate unless the employee is taking leave to take care of a family member under (4)(5)(6) above.  

Employee taking leave to care for a family member pursuant to (4)(5)(6) above shall be paid at least 2/3 of the employee’s actual rate.
 
This paid leave is available to any employees, no matter how long he/she have worked for the employer.
 
An employer cannot require an employee to use other paid leave before taking leave under this act.
 
Health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded by the employer.
 
Employer tax credits are available for the mandated paid leave:

For employees taking leave for self-quarantine or seeking symptoms the credit will be up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, for up to 10 days.

For employees taking leave to care for a family member the credit will be up to $200 per day, and $2,000 in the aggregate, for up to 10 days.

There is an additional credit for the cost to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

Important changes regarding FMLA with the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act:

Allows for paid and unpaid leave for child care during a public health emergency, as declared by the Federal, State or Local Government, with respect to COVID-19. We are in such a public health emergency so this provision applies to employees and employers in Pennsylvania.

Leave is allowed for the care of a child when an employee cannot work or telework because the employee needs to care for a child who would otherwise be in school or daycare, but such care is not available due to the public health emergency.

This public health emergency leave is not available for other reasons, including care for other family members or quarantine.

Changes the definition of eligible employee so that an employee is eligible for leave due to the public health emergency after being employed for at least 30 calendar days. Please note the standard length of employment to qualify for FMLA is 12 months.

Changes the definition of eligible employer to employer with fewer than 500 employees. This is a significant change as It was previously an employer with 50 or more employees.

Changes requirements for paying employees on leave.

Employer can provide the first 10 days of leave as unpaid, unless the employee qualifies for sick leave as outlined above well. In that instance, all leave, from the first day of leave, is to be paid. The employee can elect to use previously accrued paid leave during that time of upaid leave, but cannot be forced to do so.

After the first 10 days where an employee does not also qualitfy for paid sick leave, the employer is to provide paid leave.

Pay should be “not less than two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay” for the hours an employee would normally be schedule to work.

If an employee had varying hours then there should be a calculation of the average hours worked over 6 months.
 
There are exceptions for restoring employees to the position held when leave commenced for employers with fewer than 25 employees.

Employer tax credits for mandated paid leave:

Credit is available for up to two-thirds of employee’s regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate.

Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the credit.


NEW DOL poster required to be posted by APRIL 1, 2020. Download it here. 
1. Where do I post this notice? Since most of my workforce is teleworking, where do I electronically “post” this notice? 
Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

2. Do I have to post this notice in other languages that my employees speak? Where can I get the notice in other languages? 
You are not required to post this notice in multiple languages, but the Department of Labor (Department) is working to translate it into other languages.

3. Do I have to share this notice with recently laid-off individuals? 
No, the FFCRA requirements explained on this notice apply only to current employees.

4. Do I have to share this notice with new job applicants? 
No, the FFRCA requirements apply only to current employees. Employers are under no obligation to provide the notice of those requirements to prospective employees.

5. Do I have to give notice of the FFCRA requirements to new hires? 
Yes, if you hire a job applicant, you must convey this notice to them, either by email, direct mail, or by posting this notice on the premises or on an employee information internal or external website.

6. If my state provides greater protections than the FFCRA, do I still have to post this notice? 
Yes, all covered employers must post this notice regardless of whether their state requires greater protections. The employer must comply with both federal and state law.

7. I am a small business owner. Do I have to post this notice? 
Yes. All employers covered by the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA (i.e., certain public sector employers and private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required to post this notice.

8. How do I know if I have the most up-to-date notice? Will there be updates to this notice in the future? 
The most recent version of this notice was issued on March 25, 2020. Check the Wage and Hour Division’s website or sign up for Key News Alerts to ensure that you remain current with all notice requirements: www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

9. Our employees must report to our main office headquarters each morning and then go off to work at our different worksite locations. Do we have to post this notice at all of our different worksite locations? 
The notice needs to be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees can see it. If they are able to see it at the main office, it is not necessary to display the notice at your different worksite locations.

10. Do I have to pay for notices?
No. To obtain notices free of charge, contact the Department’s Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). Alternatively, you may download and print the notice yourself from https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/posters
 
11. I am running out of wall space. Can I put the required notices in a binder that I put on the wall? 
No, you cannot put federal notices in a binder. Generally, employers must display federal notices in a conspicuous place where they are easily visible to all employees—the intended audience.

12. We have break rooms on each floor in our building. Do I have to post notices in each break room on each floor or can I just post them in the lunchroom? 
If all of your employees regularly visit the lunchroom, then you can post all required notices there. If not, then you can post the notices in the break rooms on each floor or in another location where they can easily be seen by employees on each floor.

13. Our company has many buildings. Our employees report directly to the building where they work, and there is no requirement that they first report to our main office or headquarters prior to commencing work. Do I have to post this notice in each of our buildings?
Yes. Where an employer has employees reporting directly to work in several different buildings, the employer must post all required federal notices in each building, even if the buildings are located in the same general vicinity (e.g., in an industrial park or on a campus).
 
14. By when do I have to post the notice?
April 1, 2020. Download it here. 
This summary is provided by GRB Law for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice.  

Paycheck Protection Program (“Program”) Summary

Generally.  The Program provides small business loans to eligible businesses to cover payroll, health care costs, mortgage interest payments, rent and utility payments, and interest on pre-existing debt obligations.  Loans under the Program are fully guaranteed by the federal government.  The loans are nonrecourse so businesses are not required to pledge collateral and shareholders, members and partners (i.e., owners) of businesses are not required to provide personal guarantees.  Additionally, the standard SBA loan guarantee fees are waived (typically these fees are 2-3.75% of the loan amount) and the SBA’s “credit elsewhere” test (the ability to obtaining financing from other sources without undue hardship) is waived.  

Who is eligible for the loan?  A small business with no more than 500 employees, which can certify that the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes it necessary for the business to request a loan to support its ongoing operations.  It also includes tribal businesses, nonprofits, veteran organizations, religious organizations and franchises listed on the SBA Franchise Directory.  Further, sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers and self-employed individuals are eligible for a loan under the Program.  But, the business must have been in operation on February 15, 2020 and have paid employee salaries and payroll taxes.  An otherwise eligible business will not be eligible to receive a loan if it receives an economic injury disaster loan for the same purpose.

What Is the maximum amount you can borrow?  The loan amount cannot exceed the sum 2.5 times the average monthly payroll expenses during the year prior to the loan up to a total $10 million.  This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses and any additional amounts for making payments towards other debt obligations listed in Generally above.

How long are the loans available under the Program?  Loans are available under the Program through June 30, 2020.

Where can we apply for a loan?  Application can be made with any lending institute that is approved to participate in the Program through the SBA 7(a) lending program and any additional lenders approved by the US Treasury Department.  The SBA and Treasury Department are in the process of issuing regulations to implement the Program, which may delay loan approval and disbursements.  These regulations may also modify loan requirements.  

Will the loan be forgiven such that you will not be required to repay the amounts borrowed?  Loans provided through the Program are eligible for forgiveness up to the total amount of payments made for payroll, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities made during the eight week period following the loan origination date.  Payroll includes employee salaries (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), hourly wages and tips, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums.  If, during the Covered Period, you keep all your employees and maintain your employees’ salaries (and only use the loan proceeds toward qualified payments), the entirety of your loan will be forgiven.  The Covered Period lasts from February 15, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  If you fail to do so, then the amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in the number of employees retained as compared to the prior year.  Furthermore, the amount forgiven is also decreased by reductions in the pay of any employee exceeding 25% of the employee’s prior year compensation.  If you have already laid off employees, you will not be penalized for these layoffs so long as the employees are rehired by June 30, 2020.

Will you need to pay interest on the amount of the loan forgiven?  No.  As long as all of the principal amount borrowed is forgiven, then you are not responsible for the interest accruing during the 8 week loan term.  Interest will only be owed for amounts of principal not forgiven.

Will you owe taxes for loan amounts that are forgiven?  No.  Any amounts forgiven are not considered taxable income to you.

When is the loan forgiven?  The loan is forgiven at the end of the 8 week period following the loan origination date (the date you took out the loan) subject to the lender verifying that the funds were used for eligible purposes.  You will be required to apply with the lender to have the loan forgiven and provide any required supporting documentation.

Can you use loan amounts for other business expenses?  Yes.  You can use the loan proceeds for other business expenses, such as purchasing inventory, but that portion of the loan will not be forgiven.

What about using loan proceeds to pay employees who have salaries that exceed $100,000?  If you use the loan proceeds to pay for salaries of employees that exceed $100,000, then that portion of the loan will not be forgiven.  An employee’s salary can be reduced to $100,000 without the amount of your loan forgiveness being reduced.

If the loan amount is not forgiven, what are the interest rate and terms of the loan?  The terms of the loan not forgiven will vary based on the terms offered by your lender.  However, the maximum interest rate allowed to be charged is 4% with a maximum term of 10 years.  Loan payments will be deferred for at least 6 months and up to one-year from the loan origination date. 

Are there any other conditions imposed on you by taking the loan?  Yes.  As part of the loan, during the Restricted Period, you will need to agree to certain conditions related to employee compensation, employment levels and conditions.  The Restricted Period commences on the date that the company enters into the loan agreement and ending on the one year anniversary of the date that the loan was paid in full. 

With regard to employee compensation, during the Restricted Period, no officer or employee of your business whose total compensation exceeded $425,000 in 2019 will receive (1) total compensation during any 12 consecutive months that exceeds his or her total compensation from 2019 or (2) severance pay or other benefits if his or her employment is terminated that exceeds twice the maximum total compensation received by the employee in 2019.  Moreover, during the Restricted Period, any employee whose total compensation exceeded $3,000,000 in 2019 may not receive total compensation during any 12 consecutive month period in excess of (a) $3,000,000 and (b) 50% of any amount of total compensation, which includes salary, bonuses, stock awards and other financial benefits, over $3,000,000 of the total compensation received by the employee in 2019.

With regard to employment level and conditions, you will (i) use the funds to retain at least 90% of your workforce until September 30, 2020, (ii) certify your intention to  restore at least 90% of your workforce that existed as of February 1, 2020 and restore all compensation and benefits no later than four months after the termination of the COVID-19 public emergency, (iii) certify your intention not to outsource or offshore jobs for the term of the loan  and for 2 years thereafter, (iv) certify you will not abrogate your existing collective bargaining agreements for the term of the loan and for 2 years thereafter, and (v) certify you will remain neutral in any union organizing effort for the term of the loan. 

Also, please note that the SBA and Department of Treasury are still in the process of issuing their regulations, which could add to or further refine these conditions.

If you take a loan through the Program, will you still be able to take a payroll tax credit?  No.  If you receive a loan through the Program, the payroll tax credit is not available.  Under the CARES Act, which is the law that created the Program, an eligible employer is entitled to a refundable payroll tax credit of 50% of qualified wages (up to $10,000) paid to its employees.  An employer is eligible for this tax credit if its operations were fully or partially suspended due to a governmental order related to COVID-19 (such as Governor Wolf’s executive order closing non-life sustaining businesses) or its revenues declined by more than 50% compared to the same quarter of 2019.  For employers with 100 or fewer full time employees, qualified wages includes all wages paid to all employees during any quarter in which the COVID-19 pandemic.  For employers with more than 100 full time employees, qualified wages includes only those wages paid to employees that are not providing services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Thus, as you are considering taking a loan under the Program, you should also consider the value of this credit that you will be foregoing if you do so.

If you take a loan through the Program, will you still be able to defer your employer payroll taxes?  No.  If you receive a loan through the Program, you will not be permitted to defer your employer payroll taxes.  Under the CARES Act, all employers and self-employed individuals may defer payment of the employer’s share of payroll taxes owed on wages through the end of 2020, i.e., December 31, 2020.  These deferred payroll taxes are due in 2 installment payments: (1) 50% by December 31, 2021 and (2) 50% by December 31, 2022.  You should also consider the value of deferring these payroll taxes as you are evaluating whether you should take a loan through the Program.

If you have any questions regarding the Program feel free to contact Brian T. LindauerJeffrey R. Hunt, & Mandi L. Culhane
PERSONAL INCOME RETURNS

The Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. This means taxpayers will have an additional 90 days to file from the original deadline of April 15. The Internal Revenue Service also extended the federal filing deadline to July 15, 2020.

The Department of Revenue will also waive penalties and interest on 2019 personal income tax payments through the new deadline of July 15, 2020. This extension applies to both final 2019 tax returns and payments, and estimated payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Locally, all four (4) Allegheny County Tax Collection Districts (Central, North, Southeast & Southwest) has also extended the individual filing deadlines for Local Earned Income Taxes to July 15, 2020. This extended deadline applies to both the 2019 Earned Income Tax Final Returns and 1st Quarter 2020 estimates. Penalty and Interest on Tax Year 2019 Final Return payments of 1st Quarter estimates will not be applied until after July 15, 2020. For more information, contact any of the attorneys in the firm's Municipal Creditors' Rights Group.


CITY AND COUNTY REAL ESTATE TAX DEADLINES EXTENDED

Due to COVID-19, Allegheny County has extended the following real estate tax deadlines:
 
April 30 – End of 2% discount payment period.
May 31 – End of Gross (Face) payment period.
June 1 – Delinquent tax period begins. One time penalty is 5% of gross tax due. Interest is 1% of gross tax per month for each month taxes are delinquent.

The City of Pittsburgh’s Finance Department will continue real estate billings on behalf of the City and School District of Pittsburgh, but will stop all real estate delinquent billings and late fee charges. 

Many municipalities have similarly extended their real estate tax deadlines.  Contact your local real estate tax collector for more information.  If you have any questions, contact any of the attorneys in the firm’s Municipal Creditors Rights Group


GIFT TAX RETURN EXTENSION

On March 27, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-20, which extended the April 15, 2020 filing and payment deadline for any person with a federal gift tax or generation skipping transfer tax payment due or the requirement to file your gift tax return (IRS Form 709) on April 15, 2020.  As a result, gift taxes and generation skipping transfer taxes now have the same extended deadline as for filing and paying personal income taxes.

Pursuant to Notice 2020-20, the extension is automatic and no filing is required to obtain the benefit of the extension to July 15, 2020.  If you do file for an extension to file your gift tax return by July 15, 2020, then you will obtain an extension until October 15, 2020 to file it; however, there will be no further extension given to pay any tax due. 

Additionally, pursuant to IRS Notice 2020-20, the IRS will disregard any interest and penalties so long as you pay any taxes due on or before July 15, 20202 and timely file your return.  Otherwise, interest and penalties will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.

If you have any questions, contact Jeffrey R. Hunt.
HARRISBURG – The Senate convened remotely today to pass several bills to keep Pennsylvania moving forward during the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency, according to Senate Republican leaders.   They said the first-ever remote gathering of the Senate was necessary to pass timely legislation related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

The coronavirus response measures included:

Senate Bill 422, which postpones Pennsylvania’s primary election from April 28 to June 2.
   
Senate Bill 751, which updates Pennsylvania’s School Code to waive a number of mandates on schools that cannot be fulfilled under the current circumstances.
   
House Bill 68, which provides for emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation law in response to COVID-19.
   
House Bill 1232, which provides additional funding to healthcare facilities to purchase medical supplies and equipment and extends the deadline for certain state and local income tax payments and filings.
 
Senate Bill 422 would push back the primary election date to help the state limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The bill would also give county election officials authority to close, relocate or consolidate polling places due to the potential shortage of available volunteers and venues. Volunteers could also be drawn from anywhere in the county; previous law mandated that volunteers had to be from the same election district.

In addition, the bill would allow county election officials to begin processing absentee ballots earlier to ensure election results can be reported earlier, so long as the results are not published or officially recorded. Counties could also continue to use previously printed ballots with the April 28 primary date.


Senate Bill 751 would waive the requirement that all public schools must be open at least 180 days per school year. The bill gives the Secretary of Education the authority to waive similar restrictions for career and technical schools and pre-kindergarten instruction.

The bill would also give the Secretary of Education authorization to increase the number of flexible instruction days that may be used by a school district and waive other requirements for educator preparation programs and assessment exams for career and technical students. It also guarantees that teachers will receive the same compensation they would have received if the pandemic had not occurred.


House Bill 68 would ease eligibility requirements and access to unemployment compensation for workers who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus, including waiving the one-week waiting period for all claimants during the governor’s disaster declaration. Job search and registration requirements for claimants would also be waived under the bill.

The bill also provides automatic relief from benefit charges for any employer whose account would otherwise be charged for weeks of unemployment occurring during the duration of a disaster emergency.


House Bill 1232 would provide up to $50 million of additional funding to healthcare facilities for the sole purpose of buying medical equipment and supplies to address the increased demands that COVID-19 could place on the entire healthcare system. The new money will help ensure healthcare facilities can better meet the needs of patients and staff.

Additionally, House Bill 1232 extends the deadline for individuals who are required to declare and pay estimated Personal Income Tax as well as delays the filing of informational returns for Pennsylvania S corporations and partnerships, estates and trusts.  The legislation also authorizes the Department of Community and Economic Development to coordinate with local political subdivisions to extend filing and payment deadlines for the local Earned Income Tax.  These deadlines have been extended to July 15, 2020.

In addition, the bill would extend temporary regulations related to Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis industry until November 2021.
1. How can I determine whether my business is considered a life-sustaining business and is allowed to continue in-person operations?

Businesses should first refer to the Governor’s Order and the list of life-sustaining businesses which is available here. The categories in the list were drawn from the classifications of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Your industry sector (drawn from the NAICS classifications) appears on the life-sustaining business list. You may have used your business’ NAICS code to buy insurance, manage employee benefits, pay taxes or interact with other governmental entities. If you do not know your NAICS classification, you should review documents relating to those activities for help identifying what classification you fall within. More information about NAICS classifications can be found here.

If your business’ NAICS classification falls within a category that is listed as “life-sustaining” on the list of life-sustaining businesses you are not required to seek a waiver and may remain open provided that you adhere to social distancing restrictions and taking other mitigation measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and patrons.

If your business’ NAICS classification does not fall within a category listed as “life-sustaining” you may qualify for a waiver if your business provides goods or services necessary to maintain operations of a business on the life-sustaining list.

In making waiver determinations, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) is maintaining consistency with an advisory issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA Advisory”) entitled “Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19".

The CISA Advisory broadly authorizes in-person activity by businesses and workers necessary for production, operation and maintenance of supply chains of the following critical infrastructure categories:
- materials and products needed for medical supply chains,
- essential transportation,
- energy,
- essential communications,
- food and agriculture,
- chemical manufacturing
- nuclear facilities,
- the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment,
- emergency services, and
- the defense industrial base.

Please note that waivers for these activities will only be granted to the extent that they are providing a good or service directly to a critical infrastructure category, as opposed to non-critical operations that may broadly fit within these categories.

2. Who may want a waiver?
Any business that does not fall within a category listed as “life-sustaining” on the list of life-sustaining businesses, but which provides goods or services necessary to maintain operations at a business on the life-sustaining list or in one of the critical infrastructure categories outlined in the CISA Advisory should request a waiver.

3. Are businesses allowed to continue in-person operations while requesting a waiver?
Businesses that have requested a waiver should comply with the Governor’s Order and suspend in-person operations until a waiver is approved and provided.

4. How does a business request a waiver?
The easiest and quickest way to submit a waiver is to request a waiver via the online portal available at the Department of Community and Economic Development website.

5. What should be included in the waiver request?
Waiver requests submitted pursuant to the CISA Advisory should demonstrate that the manufacturing, construction and services businesses activity is part of the supply chain as detailed in the Life-Sustaining Business List and critical infrastructure categories contained in the CISA Advisory.

Businesses seeking a waiver as part of the supply chain or as necessary to support life-sustaining business should include a detailed narrative of their role in the supply chain of goods or services, including the category of critical infrastructure or life-sustaining business to which they provide goods or services, the extent of their activity which this category comprises, and specific examples of critical or life sustaining infrastructure businesses or sectors with which the applicant business has contracts, etc. The waiver request form is available here and contains further detail on the information to be submitted in the waiver request.

6. How long will it take to get a decision on a submitted waiver?
DCED has received a high volume of waiver requests and is processing waivers as rapidly as possible.

7. My business is in a category allowed to maintain in-person operations, or I was granted a waiver, what should I do to keep employees safe?
All businesses which are maintaining in-person operations must follow social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the PA Department of Health and CDC and ensure that there are no gatherings larger than 10 people as recommended by the CDC.

8. If a business is classified as non-life-sustaining, but has the ability to operate remotely, must the business close down?
Non-life-sustaining businesses may continue to operate remotely virtually or by telework (i.e. working from home) conducted individually, and in doing so must follow the social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC.

9. Local political units were absent from the list. Should municipalities suspend in-person operations?
Local political units are not required to suspend in-person operations but should curtail in-person operations to the extent practicable and follow COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC. All decisions should appropriately balance public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions.



COMMON ENFORCEMENT QUESTIONS:

10. If a business has been granted a waiver, how can the business demonstrate that fact to an enforcement agency?
Businesses approved for a waiver will receive written confirmation, which they may share with an enforcement agency to confirm authorization to maintain operations.

11. How will this order be enforced? Will there be warnings before fines or other enforcement actions?
The closure of non-life sustaining businesses is a measure that has been taken to control the spread of a communicable disease, COVID-19, and has been ordered by the Governor and the Secretary of Health. The closures are enforceable through criminal penalties, under the Disease Control and Prevention Law of 1955 and the Administrative Code of 1929.

While other criminal penalties in those laws, as well as under the Crimes Code and the Liquor Code, may apply, the following are the most directly applicable provisions for enforcement of the Orders: 71 P. S. § 1409 and 35 P.S. § 521.20(a). We strive to ensure enforcement of the orders will be consistent throughout the Commonwealth. We also expect that any discipline for violation of the orders will be progressive discipline that begins with a warning to any suspected violator. Furthermore, enforcement should be prioritized to focus on businesses where people congregate.

12. How should municipalities and local governments exercise their enforcement authority in supporting the Governor’s order?
State and local officials should use best judgment in exercising their authorities and issuing implementation directives and guidance. Similarly, critical infrastructure industry partners must use best judgment, informed by the list and CISA Advisory to ensure continued operations of critical infrastructure services and functions. All such decisions should appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions.



COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT GENERAL BUSINESS CATEGORIES

13. May non-life sustaining business which are required to suspend in-person operations retain essential personnel to process payroll and insurance claims, maintain security, and engage in similar limited measures on an occasional basis?
Yes, but telework (i.e. working from home) should be employed whenever possible, and social distancing must be observed.

14. I requested a waiver, and specifically referenced the portion of my business that supports the health care industry. Does my waiver apply to all my activities?
No. If you received a waiver in response to a request in which you specifically identified a particular element of your business as essential to health care or another life-sustaining operation, that waiver only relates to those activities that you specifically identified.

15. May businesses continue fulfilling mail orders/online orders?
In-person public facing locations must be suspend in-person operations. Mail order and online fulfilment may continue with essential staff but telework should be employed whenever possible, and social distancing must be observed.

16. I am a contractor engaging in emergency repairs who received a waiver or was told that I do not require a waiver. May I perform non-essential work?
Your waiver, or general authority to conduct emergency repairs, is limited to performing those tasks necessary to provide repair services to customers. No new construction or elective rehabilitation or remodeling may be performed.

17. I have a “one person” operation that operates out of my home, with no customer access or physical facility. Must I seek a waiver?
No. You may continue to work as you have no physical location. In-home businesses should suspend any in-person elements in which customers must come to the home business.

18. If a manufacturing business is in a classification that is not to maintain in-person operations, but is in the process of converting to a manufacturing process that is authorized to maintain in-person operations in order to address COVID-19, what should they do?

Businesses not clearly in a category authorized to maintain in-person operations according to the list and CISA Advisory should request a waiver. In this particular circumstance, please note in the waiver request that the facility is transferring operations to a life-sustaining function and the Department of Community and Economic Development will communicate with you about next steps. Please note that you may be denied a waiver until DCED can confirm your desire and ability to transfer to a life-sustaining function.



COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT SPECIFIC BUSINESS CATEGORIES

19. May I complete my customer’s residential construction project?1
Residential construction projects that are substantially complete may continue to completion. For all other residential construction projects limited activities may continue to the extent necessary to stabilize the site, temporarily prevent weather damage, or make emergency repairs only Projects that are “substantially completed” are those projects that have been issued a final occupancy permit. No new residential construction projects may be started.

20. May businesses which are required to suspend in-person operations maintain limited in-person essential personnel for security, maintaining good repair, processing of essential functions, or to maintain compliance with federal, state or local regulatory requirements?

Businesses suspending in-person operations must limit on-site personnel to maintain critical functions, and in all cases follow social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the PA Department of Health and CDC. Such building services do not require a waiver.

21. May childcare facilities maintain in-person operations?
The following categories of childcare facilities may maintain in-person operations limited to serving employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open:
- Child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process;
- Group and family child care operating in a residence;
- Part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.

22. May hotels and motels maintain in-person operations?
Hotels and motels are not required to suspend in-person operations. Hotels may not operate any dine-in food services; all food services must be a takeout or delivery only option.

23. May restaurants, bars, breweries, distillers and wineries continue to provide to-go sales of alcohol?
All restaurants, bars, breweries, distillers and wineries should continue to adhere to PLCB guidance. Currently to-go sales are authorized but licensees may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises. PLCB licensees should check the PLCB website for further updates.

24. May notary and title services maintain in-person operations?
Notary and title offices may maintain in-person operations only as required to allow notaries and title service providers to participate in court functions deemed essential by a president judge per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order of March 18, 2020, or similar federal court directive, and notaries and title service providers may access their offices to effectuate such functions and directives; or for healthcare-related matters.

25. May law offices maintain in-person operations?
Law offices may maintain in-person operations only as required to allow attorneys to participate in court functions deemed essential by a president judge per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order of March 18, 2020, or similar federal court directive, and lawyers may access their offices to effectuate such functions and directives.

26. May bail bondsmen maintain in-person operations?
Bail bond offices may maintain in-person operations only as required to allow bail bondsman to participate in court functions deemed essential by a president judge per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order of March 18, 2020, or similar federal court directive, and bail bondsmen may access their offices to effectuate such functions and directives.

27. May pet stores offer in-person ancillary services, such as grooming or training?
No, pet stores may remain open solely to sell pet supplies or provide veterinary services. Pet stores with kennels and pet boarding operations may maintain in-person operations related to these services.

28. May appliance stores maintain in-person operations?
Appliance stores may not maintain in-person sales operations either at their physical locations or off-site, but in-home emergency repairs may continue.

29. I operate a golf course, what in-person operations may continue?
Golf courses and similar outdoor businesses are permitted to have the course mowed and conduct other essential maintenance and upkeep but golfers are not permitted on site.

30. May sporting goods, hunting, fishing and tackle stores maintain in-person operations?
Sporting goods stores, hunting fishing and tackle stores may not maintain in-person operations, but may maintain self-service operations.

31. May bicycle sale and repair shops maintain in-person operations?
Bike shops may not maintain in-person sales but repair work may continue.

32. May firearm dealers maintain in-person operations?
Firearms dealers may operate physical businesses on a limited basis to complete only the portions of a sale/transfer that must be conducted in-person under the law, subject to the following restrictions: 1) all such sale/transfers will be conducted by individual appointment during limited hours only so as to minimize social interactions and congregating of persons; 2) the dealer will comply with social distancing, sanitization of applicable area between appointments, and other mitigation measures to protect its employees and the public.

33. May cell phone sale and repair stores maintain in-person operations?
Cell phone repair stores may continue to repair cell phones and similar household goods. Electronic appliance store and sales kiosks must suspend in-person operations per the Governor’s and Secretary’s orders.

1 Amended 3/26/2020
Pursuant to the March 18, 2020 Order of Court issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, all courts are closed throughout the Commonwealth until April 3, 2020, with the exception of essential functions. Certain counties have expanded upon the Supreme Court’s Order and have issued Orders permitting certain proceedings via telephone.

The process is evolving on a daily basis during this time. A comprehensive list of these Orders are available on the Supreme Court’s website. If you have a court proceeding scheduled during this time, please contact your attorney to discuss how it will be handled.

http://www.pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information

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