Coronavirus/COVID-19

EXTENSION OF THE CANADA EMERGENCY RENT SUBSIDY AND RELATED MORATORIUM

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (“CECRA“) program expired on January 31, 2021,1 and the moratorium on eviction and distress rights of landlords against commercial tenants under the program along with it. However, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (“CERS“) program, enacted under Bill 229 on December 17, 2020, O Reg 763/202 also includes such a moratorium. A summary of CERS and the current moratorium is contained below:

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NLRB’s Division of Advice Concludes That Employee’s COVID-19 Policy Complaints Are Not Protected Concerted Activity

On June 15, 2021, the Office of General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) released an Advice Memorandum, explaining that an Illinois pub did not commit an unfair labor practice when it fired an employee who had previously complained about the pub’s COVID-19 safety policies, because the employee’s complaints did not constitute “protected concerted activity,” as defined under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The NLRA protects employees engaged in concerted activity, including participating in union activities and union organizing and other activities that the Board considers to be for their mutual aid and protection. Peter Sung Ohr, since his appointment as the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel following the discharge of his predecessor, Peter Robb, by President Joseph Biden, has taken a far broader view than his predecessors as to the types of subjects to which Section 7 of the NLRA’s protections apply. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, what constitutes concerted activity remains uncertain. The Advice Memorandum sheds light on how the Board may define concerted activity moving forward in the context of employee responses to COVID-19 workplace policies.

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OUTDOOR DRINKING IS HERE TO STAY!

Most of Scotland is now in Level 1 or 2, meaning that up to 8 (Level 2) or 12 (Level 1) people from separate households can meet outdoors at hospitality venues. With this in mind, and summer in full swing, outdoor drinking areas are more important to licensed premises than ever before.

While many premises will have permanently licensed outside spaces, or arrangements in place through Occasional Licences (temporary 2 week licences that allow alcohol to be sold in an unlicensed space), there is still time for those that do not. Read more…

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Federal Court Affirms Hospital’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

On June 12, 2021, a federal District Court in Texas soundly rejected an attempt by Houston medical workers to challenge the legality of their employer’s decision to require that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In the lawsuit, Bridges, et al. v. Houston Methodist Hospital et al., 117 hospital workers sued for an injunction to block the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy as well as the termination of any employee unwilling to comply with the employer’s mandate that all employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. More specifically, the employees asserted that the vaccine mandate would result in wrongful termination in violation of the public policy of the state of Texas and federal law.

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Interoperability and Its Impact on Payors

Only a few days remain before the enforcement delay that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) exercised due to COVID-19 will end and the agency will require certain payors to publish a Patient Access application programming interface (“API”) and a Provider Directory API under the requirements of the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule. Starting on July 1, 2021, all health plans that offer Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and most Qualified Health Plans offered through the Federally-facilitated Exchange will be required to make enrollee electronic health information held by the payor and the health plan’s Provider Directory (QHP Issuers on the FFEs are required to make a Provider Directory under a different CMS rule, not under this rule) available through application programming interfaces (“Open APIs”). CMS is also hopeful that when these payors see the benefit of offering easy access for their federally subsidized health care program enrollees to use and exchange their electronic protected health information, the payors will offer the same opportunity for enrollees in their commercial and Employer Sponsored plans.

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Health Cos. Must Prepare For Growing Ransomware Threat

Our colleagues Alaap Shah and Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green have written an Expert Analysis on Law360 that will be of interest to our readers: “Health Cos. Must Prepare for Growing Ransomware Threat.”

The following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

Ransomware attacks have become big business, and they are on the rise. And entities in the health care and life sciences space have become primary targets of opportunity for attackers.

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Cal/OSHA Has Approved Revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards Related to COVID-19 Which Are Now in Effect

As we previously reported, on June 9, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) Standards Board (“the Board”) withdrew its prior proposed revisions to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”), effectively returning to the original ETS approved in November 2020.  A week later, however, on June 17, 2021, the Board approved revisions to the ETS (“Revised ETS”) which, among other things, align with current guidance from the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) with respect to physical distancing and the use of face coverings for vaccinated individuals.

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Information Blocking – How Did I Become an “Actor”?

The roll out of the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC) 21st Century Cures Act Interoperability and Information Blocking Rules is reminiscent of the way HIPAA has rolled out over the course of the past 25 years. As of May 1, 2021, Actors have been required to comply with the Information Blocking rules. However, it will take some time before all Actors know who they are and for complaints of Information Blocking to be determined to be actual instances of Information Blocking, by which time the penalties that have not yet been finalized may also need to be adjusted.

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New York Reaches 70 Percent: What Does That Mean for NY Employers?

On June 15, 2021, New York State celebrated reaching 70 percent of its adult population having received at least one vaccination dose. As a result, the State lifted most of its New York Forward industry-specific COVID-19 guidelines—including social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and gathering contact information for tracing—making them optional for most employers. The State has archived its industry-specific reopening guidance, which employers may, but are not required to, continue to follow[1].

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Video: States Adjust COVID-19 Regulations and OSHA ETS Released – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  This week, we look at the ways in which states are relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and discuss the much-anticipated Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) emergency temporary standard.

States Adjust COVID-19 Regulations to Align with CDC Guidance

States are relaxing or lifting COVID-19 regulations in different ways to align with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), causing confusion for many employers. The CDC’s guidance does not provide a recommended mechanism for confirming vaccine status, which is also leading to different regulations in different states. Read more about changes in CaliforniaIllinois, and New York.

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