Featured Client Spotlights

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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        COVID-19 Advisory Group


        COVID-19's impact on business and everyday life is 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. 
         

        Find COVID-19 information related to:

        The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
        The 
        CARES Act 
        Business
        Cannabis 
        Charitable & Nonprofit Organizations 
        Construction 
        Cyberliability & Data Security 
        Employment & Labor 
        Environmental 
        Intellectual Property & Technology 
        Litigation
        Public Finance
         
        Real Estate
        Massachusetts COVID Updates
        Rhode Island COVID Updates
        Tax
        Vaccination Mandates
        Current Updates:
        • September 1, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-32 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through September 30, 2022.
        • August 11, 2022 - The CDC has updated its guidance concerning quarantine and isolation. Individuals (regardless of vaccination) are not recommended to quarantine after exposure. Such individuals are recommended to wear a mask for ten days and to take a test on day six. The recommendation for isolation for a COVID infection is five days for cases with no symptoms. For symptomatic cases, isolation may end after day five if the individual is fever free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving. A mask should be worn after an infection for ten days. The ten-day period may be shortened if the individual tests negative for COVID on two tests taken 48 hours apart).
        • August 4, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-31 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through September 2, 2022.
        • July 7, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-29 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through August 5, 2022.

        • June 12, 2022 - The EEOC updated its frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19. Under the new guidance, COVID-19 screening of the entire workforce, or segment thereof, is limited to situations where it is job-related and consistent with business necessity, determined by looking to relevant public health sources.
        • June 12, 2022 - The CDC rescinded its order requiring all airline passengers show a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States. Non-U.S. citizen nonimmigrants must still show proof of vaccination prior to entry into the United States.
        • June 7, 2022 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order No. 22-27 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through July 7, 2022.
        • May 10, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-26 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through June 8, 2022.
        • April 25, 2022 - The I-9 COVID-19 flexibilities, including the provision for remote inspection of work eligibility documentation for those still working remotely due to COVID, have been extended until October 31, 2022.
        • April 18, 2022 - A Florida federal court vacated the CDC transportation mask order. Given the ruling, the TSA will no longer be enforcing the mask mandate on planes, buses, ferries, subways and other public transportation.
        • April 12, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-24 extending the Rhode Island COVID State of Emergency order through May 11, 2022.
        • April 8, 2022 - The Fifth Circuit lifted the stay on Executive Order No. 14043, which directs federal agencies to require its employees to get vaccinated. Note: This order applies to government employees (not federal contractors). Click here to view.
        • March 18, 2022 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-23 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency through April 13, 2022. Governor McKee has not extended or created a new Quarantine/Isolation Order.
        • March 14, 2022 - The Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program ends tomorrow. Employers are not required to provide paid time off beyond the normal 5 days of sick time (if applicable) after March 15, 2022 to their Massachusetts employees and will not be eligible for reimbursement if additional paid time off is voluntarily provided. Applications for reimbursements for time previously paid must be submitted by April 29, 2022. For more information click here.
        • March 14, 2022 - The Rhode Island quarantine and isolation order expired March 12, 2022 and has not been extended. Currently there is no order in Rhode Island requiring quarantine or isolation in the event of a positive COVID case or COVID exposure.
        • March 11, 2022 - The Rhode Island Department of Health withdrew its vaccine mandate regulation relating to health care workers.
        • March 5, 2022 - Following its lifting of the requirement of proof of vaccination in Boston for most indoor businesses, Boston has also lifted its indoor mask mandate.
        • March 3, 2022 - The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended until April 1, 2022.
        • March 3, 2022 - State officials announced the Massachusetts COVID sick leave law will expire March 15, 2022, two weeks prior to the anticipated expiration date.
        • February 16, 2022 -  The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended until March 16, 2022.
        • February 11, 2022 -  The Rhode Island executive order concerning quarantining and isolation in the event of a positive test or exposure (Executive Order 22-06) has been extended until March 12, 2022 (Executive Order 22-15).
        • February 11, 2022 - As expected, the mask order in Rhode Island (Executive Order 21-116) was not renewed. Thus, public spaces and private employers no longer must require mask wearing (regardless of vaccination status or size).
        • February 3, 2022 - Pursuant to Executive Order 22-12, the state of emergency order in Rhode Island has been extended until March 4, 2022 and the Quarantine and Isolation Order has been extended until February 14, 2022.

          In addition, the RIDOH has once again revised its Isolation and Quarantine requirements, which are incorporated into the Executive Order. The only change is to reduce the time immunocompromised COVID-positive individuals must isolate. Under the new Guidance, these individuals must isolate 10 days (down from 20 days) since the positive test (if asymptomatic) or symptoms first appeared (if symptoms have improved, they have not had a fever in 24 hours and have consulted with their health care provider).

          The Guidance references the CDC’s definition of immunocompromised, which it says includes the following:

          • Currently getting chemotherapy for cancer
          • Being within one year out from receiving a hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant
          • Untreated HIV infection with CD4 T lymphocyte count lower than 200
          • Primary immunodeficiency
          • Taking immunosuppressive medications (e.g., drugs to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions such as mycophenolate and rituximab)
          • Taking more than 20 mg a day of prednisone, for more than 14 days
          • Other condition(s) as determined by the treating healthcare provider

        • January 26, 2022 - The Rhode Island Department of Health updated their guidance regarding isolation last week and again on January 26, 2022 (click here to view guidance). The portion of the guidance regarding isolation for COVID-19 cases and quarantine for close contact is incorporated into Executive Order 22-06 (currently set to expire February 5, 2022).
        The revisions appear to make two significant changes for both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons recovering from COVID. While non-immunocompromised individuals can still stop full isolation after five days (subject to the same standard regarding symptom improvement if applicable), under the new guidance such individuals are prohibited on days 5-10 of the recovery from traveling on public transportation or airplanes, visiting immunocompromised people and visiting places where the employee is unable to wear a mask, such as a restaurant. The prior January 7, 2022 guidance did not contain that outright prohibition and only asked individuals to “avoid” those situations. While businesses are not required to ensure employees comply with the order, employers now cannot require employees to travel for work on day 5-10 of the recovery period and should allow employees to eat in a socially distanced setting. In addition, employers should be prepared for further staffing disruptions given that employees would no longer be allowed to go to work via bus, train or ride share. The guidance does not provide an exception to the restriction even if a negative test is procured in the 5-10 day period.

        Finally, the new guidance requires individuals wear a “high-quality mask” during the 5-10 day recovery period, which appears from the link in the guidance to mean a surgical or KN95 level (or above) mask.

        In the case of close contact with someone with COVID-19, any adult who has not completed the recommended vaccine doses (including a booster after 6 months for primary Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations and 2 months for Johnson and Johnson) and also has not tested positive for COVID in the last 90 days through a lab based PCR or antigen test (not a home based test) must quarantine for 5 days (with additional precautions on days 5-10). Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, as well as those who have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, must follow the precautions for 10 days after close contact but can work and do not have to quarantine. The precautions include a prohibition on travel by plane or public transportation and visiting immunocompromised individuals. In addition, the precautions require the individual wear a high quality mask.
         
        • January 24, 2022 - The federal contractor vaccine mandate remains on hold per the prior nationwide preliminary injunction. However, on January 24, 2022, the court clarified that covered contractors still had to follow the rest of the order (which requires specific mask rules, notices, and future safety guidance issued by the Safter Federal Worker Taskforce, whatever that may be). The Court refused to rule on the motion as to whether federal contractors and the government could voluntarily continue to include such provisions in their contracts and enforce vaccine requirements outside of the mandate. The Safter Federal Worker Taskforce thereafter issued guidance stating such provisions could be voluntarily included in contracts.
        • January 18, 2022 - The guidance regarding section 6001 of the FFCRA has been updated, which requires health care plans and self-insured employers to pay for COVID tests taken for diagnostic or treatment purposes (but not employer-mandated testing unrelated to diagnosis or treatment).
        Under the new guidance, plans and self-insured employers must cover up to 8 over-the-counter tests per person per 30 day period obtained for diagnosis/treatment after January 15, 2022. Click here to view updated guidance.

        In addition, the Biden administration has also announced that starting on January 19, 2022, each household can directly order (free of cost) four self-tests from the government at: https://www.covidtests.gov/.  Click here to view FAQ sheet.
         
        • January 14, 2022 - Good news for employers everywhere – the Supreme Court (view Decision here) has re-instituted the stay on the OSHA Rule while the litigation is pending in the lower courts. This means that OSHA will not enforce the Rule pending resolution of the merits by the Sixth Circuit. While technically the matter is not yet resolved, and the Sixth Circuit could decide to uphold the Rule down the line, it is highly likely the Sixth Circuit will strike down the Rule given the Supreme Court’s clear reasoning.
        The Supreme Court greenlighted the health care worker mandate, issuing a stay of the temporary injunction which previously stopped the rule. That mandate requires health care workers working at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding get vaccinated absent a religious or disability accommodation.
         
        • January 7, 2022 - The Rhode Island Department of Health has updated its Quarantine and Isolation Guidance (view here). Like the previous guidance, the guidance only is incorporated into the Rhode Island Order (and thus is a legal mandate) with respect to isolation after having a COVID case for people who have been diagnosed with COVID or have tested positive (not those individuals who think they have COVID or individuals in close contact). Under the new guidance, individuals are only eligible to leave quarantine after 5 days if (in addition to the prior requirements) the individual did not have a severe or “moderate” case of COVID. There is no definition of what is a “moderate” case of COVID.
        • January 7, 2022 - Rhode Island Executive Order 22-02 issued extending the Rhode Island emergency order until February 4, 2022.
        • January 4, 2022 - Effective January 15, 2022 in the City of Boston, indoor restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments and gyms must require proof of partial vaccination to enter the premises of all customers and employees over 12 (view Boston Public Health Commission Order). Full vaccination is required February 15, 2022 and vaccination of children over the age of 5 is required thereafter.
        • January 4, 2022 - The Rhode Island Department of Health has updated the guidance (view here) which is incorporated in the Rhode Island quarantine order. As expected, individuals who have tested positive for COVID only must quarantine for five days following a positive test if the individual does not have a fever, followed by a five day mask recommendation (not requirement). The guidance was also updated to allow unvaccinated close contacts to only quarantine for five days and now requires the five day quarantine for close contacts who are vaccinated but have not received a booster if the original vaccines were received over 6 months ago for Moderna and Pfizer and 2 months ago for Johnson & Johnson. However, the guidance has no effect (yet) as to the close contact piece because the executive order does not incorporate that piece of the guidance into the order and the order itself has yet to be updated. An update may be expected soon.
        • January 4, 2022 - The guidance interpreting the large-employer OSHA rule requiring testing for unvaccinated employees now allows for self-read, over the counter covid tests taken by the employee without observation if and only if the tests produce a date and time stamped result (view Question 6 here). These tests are not widely available at this time and would likely be more expensive than the currently available non-digital tests.
        • December 27, 2021 - The CDC has reduced their recommended isolation timeframe for those who recover from COVID. While this may influence decisions in states without a quarantine order – such as Massachusetts – this has no effect in states with a quarantine order that sets out its own standards. For example, in Rhode Island, the quarantine order cites the Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines as to positive cases, which have not been updated to reflect the change and still requires a 10 day quarantine period.
        • December 22, 2021 - Governor McKee has extended the Rhode Island quarantine and isolation order (Executive Order 21-105) without revision until January 20, 2022.
        • December 17, 2021 - On the evening of December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of OSHA’s Vaccination or Test Rule. The good news is that in order to provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for any requirements (such as the notice/policy requirements) of the Rule before January 10, 2022 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, 2022, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.
        Several emergency appeals have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

        • December 17, 2021 - Rhode Island passed a new mask order (Executive Order 21-116), which is effective December 20, 2021 and has a current expiration date of January 18, 2022.
        All employers, including but not limited to offices and manufacturers, must require masking indoors of all individuals unless proof of vaccination is provided by an individual. Proof of vaccination includes showing a vaccination card, printed copy or photo of vaccination card, digital or printed copy of vaccination record through the department of health and soon-to be released app or SMART Health Cards issued outside of Rhode Island.

        Retail and services operations, recreational establishments, bars, restaurants, historical establishments, cultural establishments, venues of assembly and religious organizations (“public places”) must require masking indoors regardless of vaccination if the capacity of the operation is 250 people or more. Public places with a capacity of less than 250 people may provide exceptions to the masking mandate for people who provide proof of vaccination. A seated establishment/venue calculates the 250 capacity threshold by counting seats. An establishment that is not seated may estimate capacity by assuming one person per 60 square feet (so an establishment with 15,000 square feet is presumed to have a 250 person capacity).

        Catered events have similar rules, with the distinction that the vaccination exception to the mask requirement applies if there is less than 250 at the event (verses an estimated capacity).

        There are various situation exceptions to the mask requirement, such as eating and drinking and working alone in an office or job site where the worker is not expected to be approached by others.

        The Rhode Island Department of Health ("RIDOH") is authorized to make rules, regulations and enforce the order. The RIDOH published an FAQ on December 17, 2021 which states that establishments will need to post signage at entrances regarding their policy. View FAQ sheet. Model posters can be found at https://covid.ri.gov/public/workplaces.
         
        • December 10, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Rhode Island Executive Order 21-115, which extends Executive Order 21-109 (declaring a state of emergency in Rhode Island) through January 8, 2022.
        • December 7, 2021 - A Georgia Federal Court has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the federal contractor vaccine mandate on a nationwide basis pending a further order from the court.  View Georgia Order.
        • December 6, 2021 - Effective December 6, 2021, under the amended CDC travel order, all travelers to the United States – including U.S. Citizens – must obtain negative COVID test taken on the prior calendar day or same day the flight departs to the United States. The prior order accepted tests taken 72 hours prior to departure. The order still allows for an exception for travelers who have recovered from COVID in the last 90 days and recognizes antigen tests, as well as NAAT tests (such as PCR tests). View Amended Global Testing Order.
        • November 24, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order #21-112, which extends Executive Orders #20-02 (State of Emergency Order) and #21-105 (prior quarantine order, available here) through December 23, 2021.
        • November 22, 2021 - The appeal of the stay of the OSHA Rule mandating COVID testing for unvaccinated workers will be heard by Sixth Circuit. As anticipated, OSHA has indicated that it does not intend to prosecute the OSHA Rule during the stay. Interesting, states are again (apparently in reaction to the OSHA Rule) passing anti-vaccine passport laws. Specifically:
        Florida. Under new Florida laws, private employers who mandate vaccines must exempt employees from the mandate who agree to test weekly, agree to wear PPE or have previously recovered from COVID within a certain timeframe. The testing exemption in the law requires employers to pay for the cost of testing. It is a developing issue, as the law can be read not to apply to a test-or-vaccine policies (potentially thus not requiring payment for testing as long as there was a testing option to begin with verses an exemption the employee had to invoke). View Florida law. 
         
        - Tennessee. As of November 12, 2021, Tennessee now prohibits employers from requiring proof of vaccination or taking action against anyone to compel proof of vaccination if the person objects to the vaccination for any reason. View Tennessee law. 

        - Arkansas. A bill has passed requiring employers to provide a testing exemption to vaccine mandates (the insurer or employee has to pay for the testing, not the employer), as well recognize recovery from prior infection as an exemption. The governor has indicated he would not sign or veto the legislations, which will mean the bill would become law January 13, 2022.  View Arkansas law.   

        - Iowa. In Iowa, employers must waive a vaccine mandate if the employee submits a statement that the vaccine would be injurious to the employee’s health and wellbeing or to the health and wellbeing of a family member:  View Iowa law.

        - Alabama & Texas. In both Alabama and Texas, the employer cannot mandate vaccination of an employee who has recovered from COVID previously within a particular period of time.  In addition, in Texas an employer cannot compel an employee to receive the vaccine who objects to the vaccine for “reason of personal conscience” (which could be read as a stand alone exemption or an exemption tied to religious belief). View Texas Order.

        Additional states are expected to pass similar vaccine mandate restrictions that will apply to private employers.
         
        • November 12, 2021 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-109, which extends the state of emergency through December 11, 2021.   View Executive Order 21-109.
        • November 12, 2021 - The fifth circuit affirmed its stay of the OSHA rule mandating COVID testing of unvaccinated employees working for large employers.
        • November 10, 2021 - Over the weekend, the fifth circuit court of appeals issued a nationwide stay of the OSHA large employer testing mandate. In addition, the deadline for compliance with the federal contractor vaccine mandate (applying to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors working on certain new and renewal contracts entered into after October 15, 2021) has been delayed until January 4, 2022.
        • November 4, 2021 - OSHA has released its over 400-page rule for private employers with more than 100 employees to test their unvaccinated workers (click here for summary). The compliance date for the major part of the rule is January 4, 2022, with some other components effective December 5, 2021. The rule does not require employers pay for the tests. However, it also does not pre-empt other laws that may require payment.
        • October 15, 2021 - The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended through November 13, 2021. View Executive Order 21-103.  The order suspending charges to employer unemployment accounts for benefits collected for COVID-19 reasons has expired and will not be renewed.
        • October 6, 2021 - The Rhode Island Department of Health ("the RIDOH") has allowed health care facilities to submit attestations of noncompliance which essentially will allow them to have until October 31st to meet the vaccine requirement if required for patient care. So far one individual health care worker has received a compliance order from the RIDOH in response to his statements to the press that he planned to continue to provide health care despite in violation of the regulations. View recent actions/orders here.
        • October 5, 2021 - Massachusetts released the new poster relating to the extended Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave law. View the poster here. 
        • September 30, 2021 - A Rhode Island Federal Court denied healthcare workers' request for a TRO against the enforcement of Rhode Island's vaccine mandate. View here
        • September 30, 2021 - Rhode island Executive Order 21-99 was issued extending the State of Emergency and allows employees to collect unemployment benefits for COVID-19 reasons without it counting against employer accounts through October 30, 2021.
        • September 30, 2021 - Rhode Island Executive Order 21-100 was issued extending the quarantine order until October 30, 2021.
        • September 30, 2021 - A Rhode Island Superior Court denied a firefighter union's TRO request seeking that the Court invalidate a vaccine mandate. 
        • September 29, 2021The Rhode Island Department of Revenue’s Emergency Regulations published in May 2020 regarding withholding of state income taxes for employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic expired and have not been renewed. The Regulations had provided that the income of employees who are nonresidents temporarily working outside of Rhode Island solely due to the pandemic would continue to be treated as Rhode Island-source income for Rhode Island withholding tax purposes.
        • September 29, 2021 - Governor Baker extended the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Provisions (MA EPSL) until April 1, 2022 or until the fund is exhausted. The extension does not provide for additional time off, it just allows employees who have not used the 40 hours to continue to use the time and also expands the use of the leave to include time off to help a family member get vaccinated and recover from any illness or disability related to the immunization.
        • September 24, 2021 - Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce issued COVID-19 Workforce Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors. The guidance provides additional details as to how the mandate will work, as follows:
          • New covered contracts of the type identified in our September 10th Client Alert entered into after November 14th and renewals entered into by October 15th (“Covered Contracts”) must contain the vaccine mandate that all employees performing work in connection with a Covered Contract (“Covered Employee”) and all employees working at a worksite where a Covered Employee works (“Covered Worksite”) are fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. “Fully vaccinated” includes all recommended doses of the usual FDA approved vaccines, as well as the WHO approved vaccines (like AstraZeneca). An employee is considered to work at a Covered Worksite if they work in the same facility/property as a Covered Employee unless the employer can demonstrate there is no interaction between the Covered Employee and other employee(s), including potential contact in areas common areas like stairwells. The definition of what employees work in connection with a Covered Contract is very broad and includes indirect work (such as Human Resources, legal review, billing, etc.). An employee who works fully in a remote capacity in connection with a Covered Contract is still required to be vaccinated. However, their remote location is not considered a “worksite” if no other employees work there, meaning the members of the Covered Employee’s household do not have to be vaccinated.
          • There are flow down requirements making primary contractors on Covered Contracts responsible for including the mandate in their subcontracts, which flows all the way down the contracting chain (so subcontractors would be required to include the clause in their contracts with subcontractors). This flow down requirement does not apply to subcontractors only providing products.
          • Contractors/subcontractors are required to review the vaccine card, pharmacy/health record or the local health agency record (or a photo/scan) to verify vaccination. There are exceptions for religious and medical accommodations. For mission critical positions, agencies may allow a contractor 60 days after starting work to comply with the mandate. There is no exception for prior infection. The guidance states the order supersedes the state anti-vaccine passport orders/regulations to the contrary.
          • All individuals (even visitors) at a Covered Worksite must be required to wear masks if unvaccinated or if vaccinated and in a high area of transmission with a narrow exception when working in an office and for medical/religious accommodations. There is a general requirement that the worksites follow CDC requirements on masking and distancing and track the transmission rate on a weekly basis. Contractors/subcontractors must designate a person who is responsible for compliance.
        • September 17, 2021 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-97 extending : (1) The State of Emergency over the Delta variant (Order 21-86); and (2) The Executive Order requiring Masks in Schools (Order 21-87) through October 16, 2021.
        • September 9, 2021 -  The President announced a COVID-19 Action Plan (the "Plan") and released two orders that contain surprisingly broad measures. The Plan will impact many businesses and organizations across the nation. Read more.
        • September 2, 2021 - Governor McKee signed a new and revised Isolation and Quarantine Order. The order now requires:
        (1) Fully vaccinated people who were in close contact with someone with COVID (within 6 feet for 15 minutes within a 24 hour period or if the RIDOH contacts the person to inform them they were in close contact) must wear a mask in public indoor settings until either (a) they receive a negative test taken 3-5 days after the exposure; or (b) for 14 days if no test is done.

        (2) Those who are not fully vaccinated and are in close contact with someone with COVID (as defined in (1)) must: (a) quarantine for 10 days or 7 days if a negative test is obtained 5-7 days after the last exposure unless an exemption applies and (b) must get tested immediately after being notified of being a close contact and, if negative, get tested again 5-7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine. Exemptions include certain exposures in school settings, certain health care works where there is a staffing shortage and individuals who have recently recovered from COVID.

        Executive Order 21-94 expires October 1, 2021 and still provides for quarantine for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with COVID and provides for a 14 day quarantine period for unvaccinated persons with close contact exposure living in a congregate setting.
         
        • September 1, 2021 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-92 providing that changes to employers' accounts for individuals who are paid unemployment benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 continue to be suspended. This Order takes effect immediately and expires on October 1, 2021. 
        • September 1, 2021 - The town of New Shoreham (Block Island) passed an Emergency Ordinance, effective immediately, requiring masks in indoor public places where 6 feet distance cannot be easily and continuously maintained.
        • August 31, 2021 - The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2021-39, which allows issuers of tax-exempt private activity bonds to continue to hold TEFRA hearings via teleconference through March 31, 2022. Read more.
        • August 20, 2021 - Cities and towns in Massachusetts have issued mask mandates or announced the mandates were or will be passed. The common theme among all of the mandates is directed at public spaces (spaces open to the general public) not private, employee-only businesses. Most are individual mask mandates, but some are directed at the business themselves and some require business postings. None have exceptions for vaccinations. Click here to view specific city and town mandates.
        • August 19, 2021 - Governor McKee signed a new state of emergency order due to the Delta variant, set to expire September 18, 2021, as well as an order mandating K-12 schools to require individuals to wear masks as dictated by protocol developed by the Rhode Island Department of Health (also set to expire the 18th).
        • August 18, 2021 - Rhode Island Department of Health has issued the final rule relating to mandatory vaccines for health care providers. The group of people impacted by the vaccine mandate is very broad. Essentially, there are two groups affected by the rule.
        One group are “health care facilities”, which takes the same definition as 23-17-2(8): http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE23/23-17/23-17-2.HTM. This includes facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers, surgical centers and more but excludes, amongst other things, practitioner’s offices, such as dentist offices or a group of physicians. For true “health care facilities”, there is the requirement that the facility (a) deny entrance of any employee that is a “health care provider” (defined below) by October 1, 2021 if the worker is not vaccinated; (b) implement procedures in the next 7 days to ensure workers compliance with the rules, including ensuring those who are not vaccinated get tested twice a week until October 1st (or longer if a medical exemption applies); and (c) have an adequate supply of procedure or higher grade masks. Offices that do not fit within the definition of a health care facility essentially do not have to do anything but may be impacted indirectly by the individual mandate.

        The individual mandate extends to both unvaccinated:
         

        (a) “health care workers”, meaning anyone who is employed by or works at a health care facility and has direct contact with patients and health care providers, regardless of whether they are directly involved in patient care (so it also includes clerical/housekeeping/security/maintenance personnel); and

        (b) “health care providers” meaning anyone – including those who do not work at a health care facility - directly involved in patient care or potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted from person to person and who either is licensed to or otherwise lawfully provides health care services (there is no definition of health care services). It is important to note: (a) licensing does not matter and (b) in the non-health care facility context, if someone is licensed to provide health care services but does not actually provide health care services, the mandate does not apply.

        Both groups of individual unvaccinated workers are required to (a) be vaccinated by October 1, 2021 (absent a medical exception), meaning all doses have been received of one of the authorized vaccines by the FDA, WHO or DOH (so if someone got the J&J by October 1st, they are compliant, there is no requirement any immunity is obtained before the 1st); and (b) if the vaccine was obtained out of state, email a form showing vaccination status. Oddly, there is no deadline for (b)(the DOH already has everyone’s vaccine records who got the vaccine in the state, which is why the mandate only applies to out-of-state vaccines). Unvaccinated health care workers also have the mandate to do the twice a week testing and unvaccinated health care providers have the requirement to wear a procedure or higher grade mask.

        Someone is medically exempt from the vaccine if a physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse signs a “medical exemption” stating the provider is exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine because of a medical reason in accordance with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines. Also oddly, once the person gets the exemption that does not work for the health care facility, it appears they just keep it, as there is no requirement it be emailed or provided to the DOH. There is no religious exemption or exemption for individuals who have recently recovered from COVID.

        Penalties are discretionary and are not automatic. So the person’s license is not automatically suspended and a fine does not automatically issue unless the DOH decides to take action. However, the DOH has the authority to take action against the person’s license (if applicable) and to impose penalties under 23-1-25. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE23/23-1/23-1-25.HTM. This statute allows the DOH to impose up to a $100 fine and/or imprisonment of not more than 30 days for violating the Rule without further notice. The DOH could also issue a compliance order to a specific individual, which if then is still not complied with, could result for each day of the violation a $300 fine and/or 90 days imprisonment.

        • August 16, 2021 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-85, which extends Executive Order 20-19 (the order suspending charges to employers’ unemployment accounts for benefits collected relating to COVID-19 reasons) to September 1, 2021.
        • August 12, 2021 - Rhode Island has announced its plan to mandate vaccines for all health care providers licensed in the state effective October 1, 2021 (allegedly there will also be testing requirements for non-vaccinated health care providers starting September 1, 2021). While the initial announcement appeared extremely broad, to date no orders, regulations or proposed regulations have been released and thus the actual mandate may look very different than the announcements.
        • August 12, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-84, which again extends the order requiring quarantine for (a) those diagnosed with COVID-19 and (b) for unvaccinated individuals who have had known close contact to with someone with COVID-19 until September 1, 2021.
        • August 4, 2021 - Massachusetts mandated certain nursing homes require their workers to be vaccinated by October 10, 2021. Those facilities that fail to keep documentation showing that 75% or more of their workers are vaccinated by that date could receive an order to stop accepting new admissions until the 75% threshold is reached. Click to view COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-4
        • July 28, 2021 - The CDC has updated its guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors while in locations of substantial or high transmission: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html. No areas of RI fall within the CDC’s substantial or high transmission designation and the following counties in Massachusetts fall within the designation: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Suffolk.
        As always, the CDC guidance has absolutely no legal effect. On some occasions, state officials have been influenced by the guidance in passing their own orders or recommendations, although on many occasions, local officials make their own, differing mandates and recommendations. Rhode Island and Massachusetts have yet to update their recommendations for vaccinated individuals.

        • July 26, 2021 - The Town of Provincetown, Massachusetts has announced that a mask mandate was enacted in the emergency meeting of the Provincetown Board of Health, Select Board and Barnstable County last night. View mandate details here. No information has been released as to the penalties or enforcement mechanisms of the mandate. According to the press release, the mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors at restaurants, venues, bars, fitness centers, lodgings, shops, offices and spaces open to the public, as well as to unvaccinated individuals outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.
        St. Louis County’s new mask mandate (applying to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals indoors) also begins today and LA County, California issued a mask order at the end of last week with similar provisions.

        • July 23, 2021 - COVID-19 has made remote work more prevalent. Employers considering making these work-from-home arrangements permanent need to be prepared for the compliance issues that arise when the remote work crosses state lines. PS&H attorneys Russell Stein and Alicia Samolis were recently interviewed by Providence Business News to discuss some of these concerns. Read more.
        • July 16, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-79, which extends the order that allows individuals who are paid unemployment benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 to collect against the general fund (meaning employers are not penalized). The order now expires August 14, 2021 unless otherwise extended.
        • July 14, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-78, which extends the order requiring quarantine for (a) those diagnosed with COVID-19 and (b) for unvaccinated individuals who have had known close contact to with someone with COVID-19 until August 12, 2021.
        • July 6, 2021 - Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-76, which terminates several previous Executive Orders and essentially ends the Rhode Island COVID safety requirements for businesses. The Executive Order terminates Executive Order 21-68, which (a) imposed requirements regarding quarantining after travel, (b) mandated that businesses comply with RIDOH Regulations (which required employer screening, adoption of COVID safety plans and several other safety measures) and (c) gave RIDOH the authority to promulgate Regulations. It also terminates Executive Order 21-69 (the mask order) which among other things required unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors and businesses to remind those individuals of this requirement.
        The order requiring quarantine for those with COVID and for unvaccinated individuals with close contact with those with COVID still remains.

        • June 18, 2021 - Rhode Island has extended its mask order (with a slight modification relating to indoor live performances) and its quarantine/business restriction order (eliminating the capacity limits to nightclubs). Both orders now expire July 17, 2021. Surprisingly, the travel quarantine for unvaccinated individuals entering Rhode Island from international trips or states deemed to be high risk still remains in effect (despite most states dropping their travel orders). Finally, the order providing employers’ unemployment accounts will not be charged for COVID related claims has also been extended to July 17, 2021. View Executive Order 21-69, Executive Order 21-68 and Executive Order 21-70.
        • June 15, 2021 - Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-66, which extends the Quarantine Order without change to July 14, 2021. This order requires quarantine for individuals who have COVID-19 or who are not vaccinated/recently recovered from COVID-19 and have a close contact with someone with COVID-19.
        • June 7, 2021 - The new Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave law requires employers of all sizes provide paid time off for COVID-19 related reasons to Massachusetts employees, and mandates a new notice be distributed. Read client alert, Massachusetts Mandatory Emergency Paid Sick Leave Starts Now, where PS&H partners Michael Gamboli and Alicia Samolis explain the law's requirements.

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