On May 13, 2021, the CDC once again updated its guidance (here and here), significantly relaxing its standards for fully vaccinated individuals. “Fully vaccinated individuals” means that two weeks or more have passed since the person received either the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Immunocompromised people, even if fully vaccinated, should consult their healthcare providers about the applicability of this new guidance.

The updated guidance provides that fully vaccinated individuals can:

  • Resume activities they engaged in prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.

The CDC provided an updated infographic to help explain activities that unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people may engage in with corresponding risk levels. Continue Reading CDC Significantly Relaxes Mask Requirement For Fully Vaccinated Individuals

The CDC updated its guidance (here and here) and relaxed its standards in some instances for individuals who are fully vaccinated. This is because certain activities present a low risk of contracting COVID-19 for such individuals. “Fully vaccinated individuals” means that two weeks or more have passed since the person received either the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Note, however, that immunocompromised people, even if fully vaccinated, should consult their healthcare provider about the applicability of this new guidance.

The updated guidance provides that the following regarding fully vaccinated people:

  • Mask Wearing
    • Do not need to wear masks or physically distance if they are visiting indoors with other fully vaccinated people or with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease
    • May participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
  • Travel
    • May travel domestically, do not need to test for COVID-19 before or after travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after travel
    • Do not need to be tested before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States (note that the fully vaccinated individual will still need a negative test to return to the United States and the CDC still recommends that the individual get a viral COVID-19 test three to five days after travel)
  • Testing and Quarantining
    • Do not need to be tested or quarantine following a known exposure to COVID-19 if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings, including employees of high-density workplaces (such as poultry processing plants), residents and employees of non-healthcare congregate settings, and dormitory residents
    • Do not need to participate in routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible

Continue Reading CDC Relaxes Some of Its Guidance For Fully Vaccinated Individuals

Chicago recently enacted an ordinance granting employees rights in connection with getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Employers should be aware of these key provisions:

  • An employer may not take adverse action against an employee who gets a vaccine during working hours.
  • Regardless of whether an employer mandates vaccination, it cannot mandate that employees receive the vaccine during nonworking hours.
  • If an employer requires vaccination and the vaccine is administered during the employee’s normal work hours, the employer (1) must compensate the employee for the time taken to get the vaccine, up to four hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay; and (2) cannot require that the employee use paid sick leave or paid time off (“PTO”) to get vaccinated.
  • If an employee wants to use any available paid sick leave or PTO to get a vaccine, the employer must allow the employee to use that time.

Violations may result in fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and may also subject employers to further legal action by the Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection or the Director of Labor Standards. Employees who experience retaliation may also file a civil action and may be entitled to reinstatement, damages of three times the full amount of wages that would have been owed absent the retaliatory action, costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Employers should review their current sick leave, PTO and other relevant policies to ensure they comply with the new requirements.

By Jill L. Ripke, Brittany Sachs and Lauren Kulpa

We have updated and added to our frequently asked questions (FAQs) for U.S. employers relating to COVID-19 and developments in employment law. The additional FAQs focus on transitioning employees who have been working remotely back to a physical office location. These new Q&As address topics such as how to transition employees back to work, whether employees are required to return, and concerns related to employees that relocated to a different city or state while working remotely.

These FAQs provide general guidance based on the current understanding of COVID-19 and federal law. Different conclusions may be reached based on different circumstances, changes to the pandemic, and/or variations in state or local law. Moreover, because the laws, regulations, and guidance pertaining to COVID-19 are constantly in flux and continue to evolve, there may be new or different information not addressed or referenced in these FAQs. Employers should contact experienced counsel for guidance specific to their business.

On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom approved SB 95, which requires COVID-19 supplemental sick leave through September 30, 2021 and creates new COVID-19 vaccine–related paid sick leave obligations for covered employers. The new law, which adds Sections 248.2 and 248.3 to California’s Labor Code, is effective immediately, but the employer obligation to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave does not take effect until March 29 (10 days after the date of enactment). It is important to note that the obligation to provide supplemental paid sick leave is retroactive to January 1, 2021, which means employers may owe back pay to employees who took covered leave on a previously unpaid basis, following the December 31, 2020 expiration of California’s previous supplemental sick leave legislation, discussed here.

The requirement is in addition to California’s mandated paid sick leave and may be used by covered employees upon oral or written request. An employee cannot be required to use any other paid or unpaid leave, time off, or vacation before the supplemental sick leave. The Labor Commissioner has developed a poster that employers are required to display or disseminate regarding the new requirements.

Continue Reading California Requires COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Through September 30, 2021

On March 12, 2021, New York passed a new law requiring all New York employers to provide up to four (4) hours of paid leave for the purposes of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. New York is the first state to implement paid leave specifically limited to time spent getting vaccinated. The law is effective as of March 12, 2021, and the law’s leave entitlement is set to expire on December 31, 2022. In addition to paid leave, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request or take vaccination leave, or otherwise exercise their rights under the new law. Continue Reading New York Implements Targeted Paid Vaccination Leave

By: Jessica Cohen

This is a summary of current Washington State and Seattle governmental orders affecting commercial tenancies at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residential tenancies are not addressed in this article.

Washington State: Under Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-19.6, commercial landlords in Washington State are prohibited from increasing (or threatening to increase) rent or the amount of any deposit on commercial rental property if the commercial tenant has been materially impacted by COVID-19, whether the tenant (i) is personally impacted and unable to work, (ii) the business was deemed a “non-essential” business pursuant to the Stay Home – Stay Healthy Proclamation 20-25, or (iii) the business lost staff or customers due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The prohibition on increasing rents does not apply if rent increases were in a lease agreement executed prior to February 29, 2020. These protections are in effect until June 30, 2021.

King County: The King County’s Sheriff’s Office announced on March 17, 2020, that it is “temporarily suspending the service and enforcement of evictions until further notice.” The sheriff’s letter implies that it applies to commercial, residential, and post-foreclosure evictions.

City of Seattle: Continue Reading Summary of Washington State, King County, and Seattle Eviction Moratoria Regarding Commercial Leases

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released long-awaited Guidance this morning regarding permissible activities and relaxed precautions for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second shot of a two-dose vaccine (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after receiving the single-dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson).

Specifically, today’s CDC Guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals may:

  • Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask;
  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19; and
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure to COVID-19 if asymptomatic.

Continue Reading CDC Releases Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons

The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) unveiled a new website for companies operating in California that contains consolidated resources regarding COVID-19.  The website includes a variety of resources for employers to “learn about COVID-19 workplace requirements such as safety procedures, training for employees on infection prevention, and what to do in case of an infection or outbreak.”  The new website also includes a COVID-19 employer portal where employers can generate customized guidance relevant to the employer’s business industry as well as online trainings and links to additional helpful resources.

On February 10, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance to reflect that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 if the vaccinated person:

  • Is fully vaccinated (meaning it has been more than two weeks after receipt of the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that has a two-dose series, or it has been more than two weeks after receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • Is within three months following receipt of the last dose of the vaccine in a series; and
  • Remains asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Individuals who meet these criteria should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following exposure to COVID-19 and seek medical care if they experience symptoms of COVID-19. If individuals do not meet these criteria, they should follow current guidance on quarantining after exposure to COVID-19.

However, the CDC recommends that vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings still should follow preexisting quarantine recommendations (rather than the new standards above). The CDC has noted that while it is “not preferred,” healthcare facilities could consider waiving the quarantine requirements for vaccinated patients and residents to prevent critical issues such as lack of space, staff shortages, and shortages of PPE.

The CDC explained that these quarantine recommendations for vaccinated persons, including the criteria for timing since receipt of the last dose in the vaccination series, will be updated when more data become available and additional COVID-19 vaccines are authorized.