COVID-19 Update July 27, 2021

Just as we were starting to come out of the pandemic, we now have the Delta variant to deal with. If you have not been vaccinated, please consider it as a way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. This new variant is much more dangerous, especially for the unvaccinated. Employers may want to reinstitute mask requirements in light of new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they are in locations with high COVID-19 transmission rates.

In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that any person entering a state building will be required to wear a mask. It is recommended that Louisianans begin wearing masks in other indoor settings to help control the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the updated mask guidance, the Governor encouraged all businesses to review accommodations and urged testing after potential exposure. The city of New Orleans has also put in some new mask-wearing guidelines for public places. To read more about the Governor’s announcement, please click here.

Federal legislation was introduced this week to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The ENTRÉE Act would provide additional funding to restart the program, which provided $28 billion to more than 100,000 restaurants, bars, and other food establishments nationwide.  More than 278,000 applications were submitted, seeking more than $72 billion.  You can read more on the latest proposal here.

In his first few months in office, President Biden has already implemented significant labor-related changes ranging from change in leadership, reversal of former administration guidance, the passage of legislation, and creation of agencies — with many more on the horizon that will likely directly impact the transportation industry. Moreover, employers should review non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants in light of a new executive order that aims to curb the use of these contracts in the workplace.

Small businesses are facing unique challenges to attract and retain talent during the pandemic, lacking resources, staff, and/or experience to compete with larger organizations. Enhanced unemployment benefits under a federal COVID-19 relief program are set to expire in September. About half the states have opted to end the program early, but courts have ordered some governors to continue providing these unemployment benefits in light of ongoing litigation.

Earlier this month, the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury, along with the Office of Personnel Management, published in the Federal Register an interim final rule, Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I, as the first in a series of regulations to implement the CAA’s provisions on surprise billing. This rule aims to curb unscheduled out-of-network healthcare charges.

Lastly, a federal judge in Texas recently ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is illegal, but the program’s current beneficiaries still have employment authorization and are protected from deportation as the issue moves through the courts.

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