Coronavirus/COVID-19

Distressed retail: The new landscape

The retail sector has been badly affected by temporary covid closures. But with this coming on top of major structural changes in the sector, the damage is extreme. We have seen mass closures and the disappearance from our high streets of many well known names. Some have been rescued but often by transforming them into businesses much more orientated to online sales and with less (or no) ongoing high street units. And we fear that there is more to come, particularly for  medium sized and smaller chains as they emerge from government temporary protections against creditor actions, supported loans and the furlough scheme.

This is a threat to many but an opportunity for others.

In the articles below our experts look into a variety of topics to be borne in mind by retailers or their prospective rescuers to navigate through this new environment.

We hope you find it useful.

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OSHA Launches New COVID-19 Initiatives: With More to Come

President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order (EO) on COVID-19 tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to: launch a national enforcement program, review and correct any shortcomings in their prior enforcement strategies and to determine whether any Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) were necessary and, if so, to issue an ETS by March 15, 2021.  The prior Administration had not issued an ETS, and was severely criticized by the Congress and labor unions.

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Building Compliance Programs for AI Tools

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applications are powerful tools that already have been deployed by companies to improve business performance across the health care, manufacturing, retail, and banking industries, among many others. From largescale AI initiatives to smaller AI vendors, AI tools quickly are becoming a mainstream fixture in many industries and will likely infiltrate many more in the near future.

But are these companies also prepared to defend the use of AI tools should there be compliance issues at a later time? What should companies do before launching AI tools and what should companies do to continue to feel confident about compliance while the AI tools simplify and hopefully improve processes? The improper application of AI tools or the improper operation or outcomes from the AI tools can create new types of enterprise risks. While the use of AI in health care presents many opportunities, the enterprise risks that might arise need to be effectively assessed and managed.

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Illinois Coalition Backs Telehealth Bill Supporting Payment Parity Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic

The Illinois Coalition to Protect Telehealth, a coalition of more than thirty Illinois healthcare providers and patient advocates, announced its support for a bill that would, among other things, establish payment parity for telehealth services and permanently eliminate geographic and facility restrictions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many states, Illinois issued an executive order at the outset of the pandemic temporarily lifting longstanding barriers to consumer access to telehealth via commercial health plans and Medicaid.[1]  The executive order expanded the definition of telehealth services, loosened geographical restrictions on physician licensing requirements, and barred private insurers from charging copays and deductibles for in-network telehealth visits.

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COBRA Changes under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) into law on March 11, 2021. While direct payments to certain taxpayers and extending unemployment benefits have received most of the attention in the media, the Act also provides for the federal government to pay 100% of the cost of COBRA premiums for the period beginning April 1 through September 30 (the Subsidy Period). The federal government will pay for the cost of the COBRA subsidies by providing certain tax credits to the employer in the case of self-insured medical plans or the insurer in the case of fully-insured medical plans. Read more…

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Kommersant-2021: Lidings Strengthens its Position as Leading Legal Advisor in Russia in Key Practice Areas

Lidings demonstrates new achievements and takes advanced positions in the rating of the leading legal advisors in Russia based on the analytical research held annually by the “Kommersant” newspaper. Results of the new research published in a special supplement to Kommersant as of March 17, 2021.

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Congress passes the American Rescue Plan after multiple delays

Following the Senate’s passage of the American Rescue Plan by a razor-thin margin on Saturday, March 6, 2021, the House of Representatives approved the final version of the new stimulus package on March 10, 2021, despite multiple attempts to delay. The economic relief package has been highly contested since its introduction and highlights the continued divide between the political parties. President Joe Biden praised the Senate’s passage of the legislation as a “giant step forward” while other Republican leaders criticized the $1.9 trillion package, including Senator Ron Johnson, who called it a “boondoggle for Democrats.” In any case, the stimulus package will provide, what many people believe to be, long overdue and much needed assistance to the American people and businesses. The following provides a summary of various relevant provisions of the new legislation and what individuals, educational entities, and state and local governments can expect. Read more…

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Relief ahead for multi-employer pension plans in the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act

The recently re-introduced Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (Butch Lewis Act), originally passed by the House in 2019 and re-introduced in February 2021, is Congress’ most recent effort to direct funds to assist troubled multi-employer pension plans. Unlike previous legislative efforts in 2019 and 2020 which never made it through the Senate, with the recent change in the administration and control of the Senate, the Butch Lewis Act progressed rapidly through Congress. On March 1, the Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden released a statement confirming that the provisions of the Butch Lewis Act had the necessary budget impact to be included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (the latest proposal for a COVID-19 relief plan). Senator Wyden noted that “the economic crisis has hit already struggling pension plans like a wrecking ball, and the retirement security of millions of American workers depends on getting this package across the finish line.” As a result, the multi-employer pension plan relief provided in the Butch Lewis Act was included in the final relief bill passed by the Senate, and the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan on March 10, 2021. President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11, 2021.  Read more…

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American Rescue Plan provides tax relief to families and extends enhanced unemployment benefits

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion U.S. coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The ARPA contains several tax provisions, the majority of which focus on providing relief to families earning less than $150,000 per year, and also extends enhanced unemployment benefits that were set to expire on March 14, 2021. Read more…

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Congress approves $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on March 6, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the final version of the new stimulus package on March 10. President Biden signed the stimulus package into law on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress approved a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which will provide federal grants to eligible foodservice and drinking establishments like restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries, taprooms, and tasting rooms. The RRF will be administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference with members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and high-profile restaurant owners on March 10, in which the Democratic senator from New York stated he will “urge the SBA to stand up for relief and set up the program as soon as the bill is signed into law,” and that first they have to confirm President Biden’s nominee for Deputy Administrator of the SBA, Dilawar Syed. Read more…

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