COVID-19's impact on business and everyday life for the foreseeable future will be significant. Partridge Snow & Hahn has assembled a team of attorneys with diverse practice areas who regularly advise companies on how to handle these impacts from both a legal and business perspective.
Alicia Samolis, Employment & Labor, Business, Litigation
Drew Colby, Construction, Litigation
David DiSegna, Public Finance & Governmental, Business, Commercial Finance, Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations
Jeffrey Gladstone, Litigation, Real Estate, Construction, Land Use & Environmental, Commercial Restructuring, Workouts & Asset Recovery
Andrea Jacobs, Business, Real Estate
Elizabeth Manchester, Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations
Howard Merten, Litigation, Intellectual Property & Technology, Insurance
Richard Nadeau, Commercial Finance, Real Estate, Commercial Restructuring, Workouts & Asset Recovery
John Ottaviani, Intellectual Property & Technology, Business, Cannabis, Cyberliability & Data Security
Brian Reilly, Business, Real Estate, Commercial Finance
Russell Stein, Tax, Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations, Business
Robert Taylor, Litigation, Intellectual Property & Technology, Land Use & Environmental, Commercial Restructuring, Workouts & Asset Recovery, Construction, Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations
David Wittmann, Business, Real Estate, Intellectual Property & Technology
Find information related to the CARES Act, Business, Cannabis, Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations, Construction, Cyberliability & Data Security, Employment & Labor, Environmental, Intellectual Property & Technology, Real Estate, and Tax.
Phase 2: Reopening Massachusetts
- June 6, 2020 - For detailed guidance for industries on Massachusetts' reopening plan as of June 6, 2020, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-when-can-my-business-reopen
- May 18, 2020 - The governor of Massachusetts is opening certain non-essential businesses starting today. See: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts. Non-essential construction and manufacturing businesses open 12:00am May 19th; hair salons and barbers are set for opening for hair-cutting services only on May 25th; Massachusetts offices outside of Boston are set for a May 25th and Boston offices are set to open June 1. Businesses reopening must comply with certain new safety guidelines applicable to all businesses (such as having a specific written plan and hanging certain posters). It is important to understand that essential businesses will also have to comply with the new general guidelines by May 25th.
Phase 3: Reopening Rhode Island
- June 30, 2020 - Phase III of Rhode Island’s reopening starts today. Under the new order, office capacity is increased to 66% of the workforce at one time. Venues open to the public will be allowed to open at 66% (keeping six feet distance) and have a limit of 125 people indoors (250 outdoors). Indoor places of public interaction (such as recreation, cultural institutions, movie theaters, bowling allies, and museums businesses) can operate at 1 person per 100 square feet (66% if seated) with 6 foot distancing. The travel restrictions are now greater, which of course will have some impact on employees and will likely increase FFCRA requests. The order requires individuals returning to RI from a state with a higher than 5% positive test result (as identified by the RIDOH ) to quarantine for 14 days or until the employee has a negative test result after their return. The restriction does not apply to work-related travel. Employers are reminded they can require employees to obtain the negative test rather than take off two weeks of work following their vacation.
- May 29, 2020 - The Rhode Island COVID19 Phase II opening order, 20-40 has been released and will be effective June 1st through June 29th. Highlights include:
- (a) The 14 day travel quarantine only applies where the travel is to a foreign country or domestic location with a shelter order (there are exceptions for travel into RI for work or travel outside of RI for medical care, grocery shopping/necessity, childcare and work on boats).
- (b) The much anticipated capacity limit that applies to offices works as follows:
- (i) Up to 33% of workers can work onsite at the same time. Unlike Massachusetts, the (often much greater) capacity limits in a permit cannot be used and this appears to require an employer to take the total number of staff, divide by 3, and use that as the max number of workers that can work at one time. The order does not require the calculation be done using the highest number of employees previously present at work and it is likely that it would be permissible to use the workforce number prior to the shutdown (if a substantial number of employees were laid off).
- (ii) Regardless of (i), employers are always permitted to have at least 15 staff members onsite (good news for companies with less than 45 employees).
- (iii) Visitors, clients and others are not counted. However, because the word “workers” was chosen, it appears staffing firm employees or regular 1099 contractors do count.
- (iv) Interestingly, for those offices who had a higher number of workers work during Phase I than would now be permissible, these employers are grandfathered and can continue to have the number of workers present without reduction. However, these employers appear to be unable to increase the number of workers in Phase II. This is a very significant and positive exception for many businesses operating beyond the new 1/3 capacity limit.
- (c) Office based business, like personal services businesses and gyms (but not all businesses), must follow the requirements and guidelines on the reopening website. This is similar to how the order in Massachusetts incorporates guidance and will require diligent monitoring of the website. Of note are the current office guidelines apply the restaurant rules to workplace cafeterias, limit conference rooms – regardless of size/spacing – to 15 people, and require spacing out desks by 6 feet or having barriers.
- (d) Groups of 15 are now allowed, salons will open with some restrictions, restaurants are allowed to have indoor dining at 50% capacity, religious services are allowed with capacity limits and indoor entertainment is still closed (like movie theaters).
- May 8, 2020 - The Rhode Island governor has issued several new orders that affect Rhode Island businesses. Importantly, all Rhode Island businesses are now subject to regulations promulgated by the Rhode Island department of health pursuant to Executive Order 20-32. Click here for details.
- May 7, 2020 - Rhode Island is entering into Phase 1 of the plan to slowly reopen the state. We are ready to help you understand and implement the new COVID-19 requirements. Our experienced lawyers can help you develop the written COVID-19 Control Plan that you are required to have in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. Further guidance is available at https://www.reopeningri.com.
- May 7, 2020 - The East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) have opened two COVID-19 testing sites in East Providence and Newport, which are open to any Rhode Island Resident by appointment. The testing is for people with symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. A telehealth visit with an EBCAP provider is required prior to making an appointment. All are welcome to call, regardless of insurance or immigration status. EBCAP has the capacity to translate into multiple languages including sign language. Click here for details.
- June 15, 2020 - The Federal Reserve Board has expanded the number and type of governmental entities eligible to utilize the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) that was established to help state and local governments manage cash flow pressures caused by the coronavirus. Click here for details.
- June 3, 2020 - The Senate has passed legislation providing more flexibility to recipients of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Read more.
- May 14, 2020 - The SBA has extended the deadline to "return" PPP loans to May 18th. Question: An SBA interim final rule posted on May 8, 2020 provided that any borrower who applied for a PPP loan and repays the loan in full by May 14, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith. Is it possible for a borrower to obtain an extension of the May 14, 2020 repayment date? Answer: Yes, SBA is extending the repayment date for this safe harbor to May 18, 2020, to give borrowers an opportunity to review and consider FAQ #46. Borrowers do not need to apply for this extension. This extension will be promptly implemented through a revision to the SBA’s interim final rule providing the safe harbor. View full version of the Paycheck Protection Plan Loans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- May 13, 2020 - The SBA revised its frequently asked questions and added question #46 – “How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?” SBA Issues Additional Guidance on PPP Loan Certification Requirements PS&H Client Alert published May 13, 2020.
- May 5, 2020 - On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration released a supplemental Interim Final Rule that answered some of the questions being asked by many Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applicants and stakeholders. New Interim Final Rule Answers Some Questions Concerning the Paycheck Protection Program PS&H Client Alert published May 5, 2020.
- April 30, 2020 - There has been recent attention, both in the media and by the Small Business Administration (SBA), on the good faith certification required by applicants for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. PS&H attorneys David DiSegna and Brian Reilly explain the importance of taking it seriously: What Businesses Should Know About The PPP Good Faith Certification PS&H Client Alert published April 30, 2020.
- April 21, 2020 - The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would amend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) by providing approximately $480 billion in additional funding to combat COVID-19. For details, read Senate Approves Additional Funding for CARES Act Programs PS&H Client Alert published April 22, 2020.
- April 16, 2020 - With a lapse in appropriations, the SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. For more information and to review other assistance options, click here.
- April 5, 2020 - Understanding the concept of "affiliation" related to the Paycheck Protection Program is critical in determining if your business meets the 500-employee threshold or qualifies under another SBA size standard, to be eligible for a loan. PS&H attorneys Dave Wittmann and Patrick Niebauer explain recent guidance: Guidance Issued On Paycheck Protection Program "Affiliation" Rules PS&H Client Alert published April 5, 2020.
- April 2, 2020 - Calculating your business’s payroll for the purpose of taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program within the CARES Act is complicated. PS&H attorney Brian Reilly details specific items to include and to exclude in your calculations: How Do You Calculate Payroll for Your Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application? PS&H COVID-Advisory published April 2, 2020
- March 31, 2020 - The CARES Act benefits nonprofit organizations. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester summarizes highlights of several applicable provisions: How Nonprofits Can Benefit From The CARES Act - Summary of Provisions PS&H Client Alert published March 31, 2020
- March 30, 2020 - Since being signed into law on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act") has raised many questions from business owners and nonprofit organizations seeking aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of Partridge Snow & Hahn attorneys has developed this comprehensive guide to provide a valuable tool for businesses and nonprofits to find answers to common questions concerning the CARES Act. The reference guide can be viewed here.
- March 29, 2020 - On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act"). The CARES Act included provisions enhancing the opportunities for individuals and corporations to make charitable contributions. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester explains the importance of developing comprehensive charitable giving opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic: 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organizations Update: CARES Act PS&H Client Alert published March 29, 2020
- May 6, 2020 - The Rhode Island governor issued an order requiring individuals to wear masks when they cannot maintain 6 feet from others (inside and outside) and while in grocery stores, retain stores, pharmacies and utilizing transportation (including public transportation, taxis and ride sharing). The order is effective on Friday, May 8th and will expire on June 4, 2020.
- May 4, 2020 - Effective May 6th, individuals in Massachusetts are required to wear a face covering while in public if unable to remain 6 feet from others. This specifically applies regardless of social distancing in stores and while using transportation services. The full order is available here.
- April 20, 2020 - The U.S. Chamber Foundation is teaming up with corporate and philanthropic partners to establish the Save Small Business Fund to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as possible. The grant-making initiative is to offer short-term relief for small employers in the U.S. and its territories. To qualify you must employ between 3 and 20 people, be located in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information visit https://savesmallbusiness.com.
- March 20, 2020 - We are fielding a lot of inquiries from business owners, large and small, asking if their business interruption coverage will respond to losses caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. PS&H Managing Partner, Howard Merten, provides practical advice for businesses in need of guidance now: Will Business Interruption Insurance Be Available To Respond To COVID-19 Losses? PS&H Client Alert published March 20, 2020.
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- May 18, 2020 – Governor Baker of Massachusetts announced that licensed recreational marijuana retailers will be allowed to reopen on May 25, 2020, on a limited basis. The retailers will be limited to walk-up and curb-side sales only, with no customers allowed inside. Retailers that reopen must comply with mandated safety guidelines.
- May 18, 2020 – The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission announced that, effective immediately, licensees can reopen their businesses to conduct licensed cultivation, product manufacturing, transportation and testing operations. The operations are subject to mandated safety guidelines. A copy of the Commission’s order can be found here.
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- April 28, 2020 - Nonprofit organizations with traditional reliance on event fundraising are now in a position to solicit donors in an alternate manner because of the COVID-19 pandemic. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester defines methods of giving to be considered: Replacing Lost Revenues for Charities: Ways to Consider Charitable Giving Diversification PS&H Client Alert published April 28, 2020.
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- March 31, 2020 - Gov. Baker revised the list of “essential” services in Massachusetts. The revised list can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services. PS&H partner Drew Colby explains in this timely construction client alert: Most Commercial Construction Is No Longer "Essential" And Must Shut Down PS&H Client Alert published April 1, 2020.
- March 31, 2020 - Many people in the construction industry believe the force majeure clause waives the requirement for making a claim for an extension of time. PS&H partner Drew Colby explains how this believe is incorrect under A201: A Force Majeure Trap Within Construction Contracts PS&H Client Alert published March 31, 2020.
- March 18, 2020 - The coronavirus has the potential to disrupt project schedules. It is imperative to understand your rights should such a disruption occur. PS&H partner Drew Colby addresses suspension and termination issues and the contract provisions triggered by their use: Rights Arising From Coronavirus-Related Project Shutdown PS&H Client Alert published March 18, 2020
- March 27, 2020 - With many companies adjusting to fully remote operations, it is important to be aware of possible cyberattacks that companies are especially vulnerable to. For information on specific coronavirus scams to watch out for, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
- June 16, 2020 - As we move into summer and businesses are reopening, many employers are being confronted with a new, challenging question — whether employees are eligible for leave under the FFCRA based upon a lack of summer child care options despite some child care facilities re-opening and despite school being out for the summer. PS&H attorneys Sheridan King and Michael Gamboli explain here.
- June 11, 2020 - Employers may need to re-issue restrictive covenant agreements to employees returning to work following a COVID-19 lay-off, furlough, or job modification. PS&H attorneys Josh Xavier and Michael Gamboli explain why this is crucial. Click here.
- May 12, 2020 - The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has once again updated its guidance for employers on the implementation of emergency FMLA and emergency sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Click here for current information.
- April 14, 2020 - Governors are continuing to pass orders requiring essential businesses and other businesses which still have employees onsite to take certain safety precautions. In Rhode Island, the governor ordered that employers must provide and require employees in customer facing businesses, office based businesses, nonprofits and other businesses identified by the DBR to wear masks in common areas or other areas where 6 foot social distancing cannot be maintained. The full order can be viewed here. In Pennsylvania, a local order requires essential businesses to establish increased security measures and in New Jersey, a local order requires many essential businesses to provide and require both gloves and masks to be worn by their workers.
- April 10, 2020 - Two orders from the Rhode Island governor on Friday positively impacted employers. First, Executive Order 20-19 indicates that unemployment claims filed for COVID-19 reasons will not be counted against employers’ accounts (meaning their rates will not go up as they usually do when an employee files for unemployment). Second, Executive Order 20-20 created certain quarantine restrictions but exempted employees in the public health, public safety, social services or healthcare industries.
- April 8, 2020 - The CDC updated their guidance regarding critical employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 (such as those identified by an employee with positive contact as having direct contact). The CDC now says the employees may return to the workplace if they are asymptomatic, wear a face mask and practice social distancing (rather than keeping the exposed worker home for 14 days). The CDC also now says that "close contact" includes the 48 hour period prior to the employee being symptomatic. Employers should be careful to also check local orders and regulations to ensure their action does not violate the same prior to following the CDC guidance. The CDC also published a pamphlet for employer use regarding the new guidance. The updated CDC guidance can be found here.
- April 6, 2020 - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA has issued a temporary policiy of enforcement discretion toward noncompliance issues. PS&H counsel Christian Capizzo summarizes what is and what is not included in the temporary policy. Click here to view.
- April 28, 2020 - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office extended filings deadlines, for a second time, for COVID-19 related delays. The new announcement extends to June 1, 2020, the due date for certain filings due between March 27, 2020 and May 31, 2020. The list of patent filing can be found here. The list of trademark filings which have been extended can be found here. PS&H partner John Ottaviani details how a qu