On 28 May 2020, England and Scotland introduced contact tracing systems known as “Test and Trace” and “Test and Protect,” respectively. Northern Ireland has been operating a contact tracing system since 27 April 2020, and Wales introduced the “Test, Trace, Protect” system on 1 June 2020.
On May 29, 2020, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs issued further updates setting out the future of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education, outlining recommendations and guidance on ways universities and colleges can safely open while helping to protect their students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members. The CDC cautions that “[t]he more an individual interacts with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”
On May 27, 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order No. 2020-067, implementing phase one of a three-stage reopening plan in the District of Columbia. Beginning on May 29, 2020, D.C. residents and visitors will no longer be required to stay at home and certain businesses will be permitted to resume normal operations, so long as they comply with applicable health and safety guidelines.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will resume premium processing via Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in phases during the month of June.
On May 26, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation expanding the list of “Covered Services” permitted to reopen in Texas. The proclamation is consistent with Executive Order GA-23, which “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
On 18 May 2020, at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, the UK government’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) published “Coronavirus and mental health at work,” a guide to how individuals can look after their mental health and how employers can “support employees’ health, safety, and well-being” while managing workplace mental health issues. The overriding message from the guidance is that good communication is key during this challenging time. The guidance also emphasises that employers should be aware of the signs of mental health concerns in the workplace and encourage openness between colleagues to support those who may be suffering.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reopen some domestic offices to resume non-emergency services on June 4, 2020. USCIS suspended routine in-person services on March 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of their “COVID-secure” return to work plans, some employers in the United Kingdom are implementing temperature screenings for their employees.
Parts of the country have begun the process of returning to work, in places where COVID-19 infection rates have flattened or shown a decline. But the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 remains, and some employers may be faced with parts of their workforces refusing to return to work or to perform certain assignments, citing the health risk. What are employers’ options with respect to such employees? There are both legal and practical considerations.
On May 17, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a 60-page document entitled CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again. In the document, the CDC (1) explains and expands upon the gating criteria articulated in President Donald Trump’s Opening Up America Again guidelines; (2) outlines the CDC’s various COVID-19 activities and initiatives, including monitoring the continued progression of COVID-19, support of increased contact tracing capacity, and other activities; and (3) provides testing guidance.
With only 404 total positive test results, 44 hospitalizations, and 10 deaths statewide during the pandemic as of May 22, 2020, Alaska took a big step forward in reopening its economy and lifting restrictions on social interaction. Accordingly, during a recent press conference, Governor Mike Dunleavy announced that phase III of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan would begin on May 22.
In his Emergency Executive Order 20-56 issued on May 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signaled plans for a broad reopening of Minnesota businesses. Governor Walz expanded on earlier Executive Orders 20-40 and 20-48 (which reopened some non-critical businesses) by allowing additional non-critical businesses (such as malls and retail stores) to open on May 18, 2020, provided that these businesses have a “preparedness plan” in place.
On May 18, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-23 as part of his three-phase plan to reopen the economy in Texas. The three-phase plan is outlined in a report entitled “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Executive Order GA-23 is Phase II of the plan and follows Executive Order GA-18 (issued April 27, 2020) and Executive Order GA-21 (issued May 5, 2020). Executive Order GA-23 “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC.”
Following the UK government’s recent announcement of a COVID-19 recovery strategy, the government has published guidelines for working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that are designed to help UK businesses get back on their feet while maintaining safe work environments.
Despite recently extending a state of emergency due to COVID-19 through June 11, 2020, Maine Governor Janet Mills gave the green light for more businesses to open in all counties on June 1, 2020, as part of the second stage of the governor’s Restarting Maine’s Economy plan.
On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced details of the Baker-Polito administration’s four-phase approach to reopening Massachusetts and released guidelines and requirements for businesses resuming operations. The process will be data-driven and fluid with the expectation that there will be at least three weeks before the start of each phase.
On April 30, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) issued guidance identifying the circumstances in which an employee may remain eligible for the receipt of unemployment benefits despite the employee’s refusal of an offer to return to work. These circumstances included, for example, an individual being considered high risk due to his or her age (65 or older) or being diagnosed with COVID-19 and not having recovered.
On May 12, 2020, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA, issued its COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Office Workspaces, which provides detailed guidance for operating in office workspaces to “support a safe, clean environment for employees” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 14, 2020, the Washington State Department of Health, in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, created new emergency COVID-19-related safety rules that farms must implement if they provide temporary farmworker housing.
On May 4, 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed two new ordinances governing employee right of recall and worker retention in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinances provide certain rights and preferences to various workers whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The State of California, through the Department of Public Health, Department of Social Services, and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), has released COVID-19 guidance and checklists for 20 different industries as employers prepare to reopen and employees head back to work.
Employees—particularly healthcare employees—are increasingly refusing to work because of safety concerns and the need for accommodations related to COVID-19. In certain circumstances, these refusals may trigger protections afforded by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), among others.
On May 14, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine announced an order to continue Ohio’s phased reopening of the state’s economy, adding daycare centers, summer camps, gyms, campgrounds, and pools to the list of businesses that may now reopen. Combined with the state’s prior Stay Safe Ohio and Responsible Restart Ohio orders, here is the most updated calendar for Ohio’s reopening
The UK government has released its roadmap, “Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy,” as it looks to ease the lockdown over the coming months.
Two weeks after announcing “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health” plan, New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 142 on May 13, 2020, permitting non-essential construction projects and non-essential retail businesses to reopen effective 6:00 a.m. on May 18, 2020. This is Governor Murphy’s first step in restarting New Jersey’s economy since he issued the stay-at-home mandate in EO No. 107on March 21, 2020.
The “Show Me” state largely sheltered in place on April 6, 2020, when Governor Michael L. Parson and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued their initial “Stay Home Missouri” order. This came on the heels of Governor Parson’s March 13 Executive Order 20-02 declaring a state of emergency and followed other Missouri counties’ and cities’ own stay-at-home declarations.
On May 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its decision in Wisconsin Legislature v. Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm, et al. and declared the state’s Safer at Home Order unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable, creating a rush by local jurisdictions to issue orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, resulting in uncertainty for businesses as to how to operate.
On the evening of May 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-56, “Safely Reopening Minnesota’s Economy and Ensuring Safe Non-Work Activities during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency.” Executive Order 20-56 provides a loosening of both business restrictions and social restrictions in Minnesota.