20 Tips for U.S. Virgin Islands Employers in 2020: Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, and Nightclubs; Travel Requirements; and Reinstatement of Plant Closing Act

Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part seven of this series addresses several provisions of  U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.’s July 1, 2020, ninth supplemental executive order extending the state of emergency due to COVID-19 that he initially declared on March 13, 2020.

IRS Continues to Provide Relief for Nonresident Aliens in the Wake of COVID-19

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently posted a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website to provide additional information on Revenue Procedure 2020-20. The IRS published this revenue procedure on May 11, 2020, to provide relief for certain nonresident aliens stranded in the United States due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. The new FAQs provide relief for certain nonresident aliens who may be forced to remain in the United States longer than anticipated because of a medical condition. As indicated in our prior article on Revenue Procedure 2020-20, an extended stay could adversely affect a nonresident alien’s classification for federal income tax purposes.

ICE Announces Plans to Update Online Study Policies for Nonimmigrant Students for Fall 2020 Semester

On July 6, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced plans to update its online study policies for F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant students for the fall 2020 semester. According to the proposed policies, SEVP intends to prohibit F-1 and M-1 students from taking a fully online course load while in the United States during the fall 2020 semester.

Colorado Expands Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act to Require Virtually All Private Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave Benefits

Colorado Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), Senate Bill 20-205, which will immediately make all Colorado employers, excluding the federal government, subject to the provisions of the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Colorado Governor Expected to Sign Bill Providing New Whistleblower Protections Related to Public Health Emergencies

The Colorado General Assembly recently passed legislation intended to protect employees and certain independent contractors from discrimination and/or retaliation if they raise health and safety concerns related to a public health emergency. House Bill (HB) 20-1415, which Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign, appears to be in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, although it will ultimately apply to health and safety concerns unrelated to COVID-19.

Guidance Clarifies COVID-19 Testing Coverage Requirements for Employer Health Plans

Employers have more clarity on COVID-19 testing coverage requirements—including new details on at-home tests, return-to-work testing, and out-of-network pricing—under new guidance that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury jointly prepared.

Workforces Stranded Abroad Due to COVID-19 and Presidential Proclamation? Implications of Remote Work When Employees Cannot Enter the United States

COVID-19 has had significant implications on how employers engage a workforce—particularly with respect to U.S. immigration. The employment changes caused by the pandemic, combined with President Donald Trump’s recent proclamation prohibiting certain H1-B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visa beneficiaries from entering the United States, may forever change how U.S. employers engage non-U.S. nationals. In particular, without the opportunity to resume or start the employment of foreign nationals in the United States, employers are forced to consider remote cross-border engagements, including hiring foreign nationals in their home countries or, in cases where individuals are stranded away from home due to COVID-19-related restrictions, in other countries. The European Union’s recent announcement easing entry restrictions on some countries—but not the United States—signals that this phenomenon is relevant elsewhere as well.

CDC Issues COVID-19 Testing Strategy Guidance for Workplaces

On July 3, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance entitled “SARS-CoV-2 Testing Strategy: Considerations for Non-Healthcare Workplaces.” The new guidance recommends incorporating COVID-19 testing in five scenarios: (1) testing individuals with COVID-19-related symptoms; (2) testing asymptomatic individuals with a recent known or suspected exposure in order to control transmission; (3) testing asymptomatic individuals without a recent known or suspected exposure for early identification in special settings; (4) testing to determine when an individual may discontinue home isolation; and (5) testing for public health surveillance.

San Francisco’s COVID-19 Response: Emergency Back-to-Work Ordinance Requires Reemployment of Laid-Off Workers

On June 23, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the “Back to Work” emergency ordinance. The ordinance requires certain San Francisco employers to offer reemployment to covered employees who were subjected to qualifying layoffs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida Restricts Sale of Alcohol Due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases Among Young Adults

On June 26, 2020, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued Emergency Order 2020-09 suspending the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption at all businesses that “derive more than 50 [percent] of gross revenue from such sales.” The DBPR issued the order due in part to a spike in the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020, especially among younger people who may have been visiting bars, pubs, and nightclubs where alcohol is served and such establishments failing to comply with orders on occupancy restrictions.

California Judge Grants TRO Related to COVID-19 Risks at Fast-Food Restaurant

On June 16, 2020, several employees at a McDonald’s franchise in Oakland, California filed a lawsuit against their employer, in a matter entitled Hernandez v. VES McDonald’s (No. RG20064825, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda). The lawsuit consists of five plaintiffs, three of whom are employees who allege that they became sick with COVID-19 while working at the restaurant and “unknowingly” spread the disease to family and other members in their communities.

New York State Imposes Restrictions on Travelers Due to COVID-19 Resurgence

On June 24, 2020, in response to the ongoing risk posed by a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in some states, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 205 directing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to issue a travel advisory for all persons entering New York from states with significant rates of transmission of COVID-19. The travel advisory became effective at 12:01 a.m. on June 25, 2020.

Tampa Bay’s New Face-Covering Requirements—We’ve Got You Covered

COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, particularly in the Tampa Bay area. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties have enacted ordinances requiring face coverings in most indoor settings where social distancing (of at least six feet between persons) cannot be maintained.

Idaho Offers Cash Bonuses Program for Employees Who Return to Work

Idaho is offering cash bonuses to employees who return to work as the state lifts COVID-19–related restrictions and businesses reopen. In an effort to incentivize employees who are now earning more money due to the additional benefits provided through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Idaho has implemented a Return to Work Bonuses program.

Texas Businesses Across the State Face Fines for Failing to Comply With Newly-Issued Face Covering Mandates

As Texas has gradually reopened, the number of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations has dramatically increased. In response to local conditions, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff recently issued Executive Order NW-10, under which all businesses operating in the county must adopt a health and safety policy that requires both employees and customers to wear face coverings.

Puerto Rico Extends Due Date for Coronavirus-Related Distributions From Qualified Retirement Plans

On June 23, 2020, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (commonly known by its Spanish-language name, Departamento de Hacienda de Puerto Rico, or Hacienda) issued Circular Letter of Internal Revenue No. 20-29 (CL 20-29), which extends the due date from June 30, 2020, to December 31, 2020, for the completion of coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs) from retirement plans qualified in Puerto Rico.

Global Solutions Episode 2: What’s up, Doc? Designated Occupational Medical Providers’ Roles in Reopening During COVID-19

In preparing global strategies for monitoring employee health, employers with international workforces may want to be aware that occupational medicine plays a key role for employers in many countries outside the United States—whether in the hiring and termination process, in developing and implementing health and safety plans, or in evaluating work-related illnesses and injuries.