Combined Federal, VA and NC Government Resources for COVID-19 - May #2

Williams Mullen

Virginia Resources Updated: April 23, 2021
North Carolina Resources Updated: May 19, 2021

COVID-19 Key Resource List (Virginia):

Commonwealth of Virginia Official COVID-19 Website

This website is a comprehensive resource that provides information pertaining to official actions, guidance, updates, and information about the novel coronavirus. The Department of Social Services has recently launched a website to streamline access to resources and guidance for citizens.

Recent Updates

During the week of April 19, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam issued two announcements regarding key changes to his next steps in the “Forward Virginia” plan on easing restrictions in the Commonwealth. Every Virginian must continue to practice safety measures that have been proven to keep everyone safe: maintain proper physical distancing, avoid gatherings with individuals outside of your household, practice hand sanitation, and wear masks while indoors and in public.

The key changes in the Fifth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two, which went into effect on April 21, 2021 include:

  • All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbrewers, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms may allow patrons to be seated at the bar for service, provided there is a minimum of six feet between parties.
  • Outdoor races or marathons where physical distancing of runners can be maintained, may include no more than 100 runners per grouping.
  • Individuals may gather in the following educational settings:
    • Instructional setting that includes, any assemblage of students, teachers, and administrators or other school staff for the purposes of educational instructions and conducting activities that are related to educational instructions. Provided they adhere to guidelines set by the relevant governing body.
    • School performances where the performers and participants are students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff. School performance must follow the guidelines found here.

The following measures in the Sixth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two will go into effect on May 15, 2021:

  • All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 100 individuals indoors and 250 individuals outdoors are prohibited.
  • Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people. Outdoor venues will be allowed to operate at 50 percent, with no specific cap on the number of individuals.
  • Indoor recreational sporting events will be allowed to have up to 250 spectators or exceed the lesser of 50 percent of the occupancy capacity for the venue. Outdoor recreational sporting events will be allowed to have the lesser of $1,000 spectators per field or 50 percent of the occupancy capacity of the venue.
  • All restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight and dining rooms will no longer be required to close between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
  • Here is a link to the Governor’s Forward Virginia guidelines for all business sectors on best practices.

Here is a link to all of the Governor’s Executive Orders and Directives.

If you have business or industry specific questions, please feel free to reach out to our Government Relations team.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (Virginia):

Virginia Employment Commission http://www.vec.virginia.gov/

  • Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period for benefit payments.
  • Information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for businesses and benefits for workers previously not covered by traditional unemployment insurance.
  • Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if their employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from his or her employer, he or she may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, a worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits if he or she must stay home to care for an ill family member and is not receiving paid family medical leave from his or her employer.
  • Virginia Employment Commission will give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

Department of Health: www.vdh.virginia.gov

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 information.
  • Share the Facts about COVID-19 resource.
  • A daily update of the number of Virginians tested and the number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Department of Medical Assistance Services (Medicaid): www.dmas.virginia.gov

  • Eliminating all co-payments for services covered by Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), including COVID-19-related treatment as well as other medical care.
  • Ensuring current Medicaid recipients do not inadvertently lose coverage due to lapses in paperwork or a change in circumstances.
  • Permitting Medicaid recipients to obtain a 90-day supply of many routine prescriptions, an increase from the 30-day supply under previous rules.
  • Waiving pre-approval requirements for many critical medical services and enacting automatic extensions for approvals that already are in place.
  • Expanding access to telehealth services, including allowing Medicaid reimbursement for providers who use telehealth with patients in the home.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/covid-19/

  • Resources for Virginia businesses impacted by COVID-19 including federal loan and tax relief programs for small and large businesses.
  • State Agencies resources for businesses.
  • The ReBuild Virginia grant fund is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity and provides support to small business and non-profits who were impacted by COVD-19. Funds can be used to meet financial obligations and operating expenses as well as offset additional costs of operating as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Additional information and the application can be fund here.

COVID-19 KEY RESOURCE LIST (North Carolina):

North Carolina Official COVID-19 Website

This website is a comprehensive resource concerning North Carolina’s response to COVID-19.

State Regulation

On Friday, May 14th, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 215 lifting capacity restrictions, mass gathering limits, and social distancing requirements that have been in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last March. The order also lifted the statewide mask mandate for most locations. Face coverings will still be required at schools, childcare centers, camps, certain health care facilities, prisons and public transportation.

Executive Order 215 went into effect on Friday, May 14th, and runs through June 11, 2021.

A link to the Governor’s Office’s guidance document on Executive Order 215 can be found here.

Where Masks are Required

A face covering is defined as “a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears and fits snugly against the side of a person’s face.”

Face coverings are required in the following facilities:

  • Schools
  • Childcare facilities
  • Children’s day or overnight camps
  • Certain health care settings (hospitals, outpatient healthcare settings, long term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities).
  • Public or private transportation regulated by the state (including airports, bus and train stations and stops)
  • State and local correctional and detention facilities and homeless service providers

It is worth noting that the order does not limit local governments from enacting ordinances or issuing state of emergency declarations which impose greater restrictions or prohibitions. In addition, private businesses may choose to require face coverings if they desire. The face covering requirement is not appliable to workers, customers, or patrons who:

  • Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability
  • Are under five years of age
  • Are actively drinking or eating
  • Are trying to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired
  • Are giving a speech for a broadcast or other audience
  • Are working from home or in a personal vehicle
  • Are removing their face covering to secure government or medical services for identification purposes
  • Would be at risk from wearing a face mask at work, as deemed by government regulations or workplace safety guidelines
  • Have determined that their face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle
  • Are children whose parent or guardian has been unable to place a face covering on the child’s face safely

Enforcement of Face Covering Requirements

Law enforcement officers may cite individuals who fail to wear face coverings as required. Law enforcement officers may cite a business or organization that fails to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings.

Mixed Drinks To Go

On December 21st, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 183 which authorizes the Chair of the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to allow the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages. Permitted sellers allowed to serve mixed beverages to-go or via delivery include restaurants, hotels, private clubs, private bars, and holders of distillery permits. This order was extended by Executive Order 210 and now is effective until June 1st.

As defined under NC General Statute 18B-101(10), a "mixed beverage" means either of the following:

  • A drink composed in whole or in part of spirituous liquor and served in a quantity less than the quantity contained in a closed package.
  • A premixed cocktail served from a closed package containing only one serving.

Highlights:

  • Individuals over the age of 21 may order one mixed beverage drink per person.
  • The mixed beverage must be in a sealed container and must be kept in the passenger area of a motor vehicle at all times during transport.
  • Mixed beverages shall not be larger than the permitted seller’s standard size of a mixed beverage drink for on-premises consumption.
  • Third-party deliverers may deliver mixed beverages and must have a signed contract with the permitted seller.
  • Deliverers may not deliver after the permitted seller ceases alcoholic beverage sales.
  • Contactless delivery is permissible, but only where the delivering person can verify the age and sobriety of each individual receiving the mixed beverage.
  • No delivery is permitted to higher education residence halls, to a place where sales are not approved by alcohol vote, or where possession of fortified wine and spirituous liquor is otherwise prohibited.
  • Labeling of the mixed beverages is required.
  • Mini bottles are not permitted.

Eviction Moratorium

Executive Order 206 extends the moratorium on evictions (Executive Order 171) until June 30, 2021. In general, this order is the state equivalent to the CDC order which stops evictions for nonpayment of rent if the tenant qualifies and gives his or her landlord a signed declaration form attesting that they qualify. A tenant qualifies if he or she meets all of the following:

  • Have used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing.
  • Are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss in income.
  • Are making their best efforts to make timely partial payments of rent.
  • Would become homeless or have to move into a shared living space if evicted.
  • Meet one of the following financial requirements:
    • An individual who earns $99,000 or less, or joint filers who earn $198,000 or less;
    • An individual who received a stimulus check, or
    • An individual who was not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019.

Applicants eligible for the North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (“HOPE”) Program are also specifically protected from eviction under the order.

If an eviction action is filed, landlords are required to provide tenants with a blank copy of the CDC declaration form.

A link to the Governor’s Office updated guidance document for Executive Order 191 can be found here.

Immunity Provisions

Section 4.14 of SB 704 provides immunity to essential businesses with respect to claims from a customer or employee for any injuries or death alleged to have been caused as a result of the customer or employee contracting COVID-19 while doing business with or while employed by the essential business, so long as there was no act or omission of the essential business constituting gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm.

And as referenced above, this provision is applied to restaurants (even though they originally were not open as “essential businesses”).

Section 3D.7.(a) of SB 704 includes an immunity provision for health care providers that is almost identical to the essential business immunity provision.

Later in the legislative session, HB 118 was approved by the General Assembly. This legislation provides immunity for individuals, governmental entities, corporations, nonprofit corporations and other legal entities (collectively “person”) from legal claims alleging that the person’s act or omission resulted in a third party’s contraction of COVID-19. Any act or omission that constitutes gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing is not covered. The immunity applies to claims arising on or after July 2nd and continues in effect as to claims arising no later than 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116 (the executive order issued by the Governor declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19).

The immunity provision in this legislation has a few attributes of note that are not present in the immunity provision included in SB 704. First, it applies to a universe of entities beyond just essential businesses. Second, it is not limited to claims from customers or employees. And, lastly, it is effective for a longer period of time (claims arising no later than 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116 vs the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116).

Miscellaneous

HB 118 requires businesses, non-profits and government offices to provide reasonable notice at each premises of the actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to individuals present on the premises.

EO 181, and the previous orders, provides that it does not create a private right of action by any party against the “State of North Carolina, its agencies, departments, political subdivisions, or other entities, or any officers, employees, or agents thereof, or any emergency management worker (as defined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-l 9.60) or any other person.”

Local Government Regulation

Governor Cooper and his administration have developed a COVID-19 County Alert System (System). The System categorizes all 100 counties into give tiers using criteria that measure the level of viral spread. The Governor has also announced recommended actions for public officials, individuals, businesses and community organizations to decrease the spread of the virus that are specific to the tiers.

The three tiers of counties are as follows:

  • Green: Low Community Spread
  • Light Yellow: Moderate Community Spread
  • Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  • Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  • Red: Critical Community Spread

The System uses a combination of three metrics: case rate, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospital impact within the county.

As of May 13th, there are no red counties, 19 orange counties, 56 yellow counties, 24 light yellow counties, and 1 green count. DHHS publishes an updated System report the 2nd week of every month.

A document outlining the System, along with the initial classifications, can be found here.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (North Carolina):

NC Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/

  • COVID-19 case count.
  • Numbers to call or text for COVID-19 assistance.
  • COVID-19 symptoms and health tips.
  • Past COVID-19 briefings.
  • COVID-19 overview page can be found here.
  • Information on the testing and treatment of COVID-19 can be found here.

NC Department of Commerce: https://www.nccommerce.com/

  • North Carolina Employment Security Division is publishing instructions and guidance to help employers and employees understand the new changes to the state’s unemployment system related to COVID-19, which can be found here.
  • The changes to the state’s unemployment system were ordered by Governor Cooper on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in his Executive Order 118.
  • The Department of Commerce recommends the fastest and most efficient way to file for assistance is online here.

NC Judicial Branch: https://www.nccourts.gov/

  • Effective April 2nd, court proceedings can be conducted by remote audio and video transmission and service of court documents can be effected by email.
  • Also effective April 2nd, the deadline for payment of most fines and fees is extended by 90 days, and clerks are not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.
  • To find local announcements, changes, and administrative orders by county, please see the COVID-19 Updates page.

NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv

  • Some NC DMV drivers license offices closed starting Wednesday, March 18.
  • See if an office is closed here.
  • Find what services can be conducted online here.

NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services: http://www.ncagr.gov/

  • Information on food safety can be found here.
  • FAQ’s about COVID-19 and agriculture, essential businesses and critical infrastructure, and facility updates can be found here.

Department of Insurance https://www.ncdoi.gov/

  • Guidance for insurers regarding coverage and cost sharing requirements related to COVID-19 can be found here.

Golden LEAF Foundation - Rapid Recovery Loan Program https://ncrapidrecovery.org/

  • Funding will provide loans to help small businesses suffering economic losses related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Businesses are eligible for bridge loans of up to $50,000 with six months of no interest and no payments. These loans are intended to support businesses until they are able to secure an SBA loan or other long-term assistance.
  • If not repaid in six months, the loans will automatically convert to a term loan.
  • Applicants must be small businesses affected by COVID-19 and have at least one employee.
  • Nonprofit organizations are not currently eligible.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (Federal):

Department of Homeland Security:

FDIC and Other Bank/Lending Regulators:

  • All federal agencies that regulate all U.S. financial institutions issued a written statement on Sunday, March 22, 2020: https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2020/fil20022.html
  • In it, these agencies provided the following sweeping guidance to all financial institutions nationwide:
    • The agencies encourage financial institutions to work prudently with borrowers who are or may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations because of the effects of COVID-19.
    • The agencies view loan modification programs as positive actions that can mitigate adverse effects on borrowers due to COVID-19.
    • The agencies will not criticize institutions for working with borrowers and will not direct supervised institutions to automatically categorize all COVID-19 related loan modifications as troubled debt restructurings (TDRs).
    • Citing bank-related accounting methodology from both GAAP and FASB perspectives, the agencies explain that short-term modifications made on a good faith basis in response to COVID-19 to borrowers who were current prior to any relief will not automatically be characterized as TDRs. This has the historic impact of freeing up banks to temporarily defer monthly payments or extend maturity dates with the fear of hobbling a banks’ loan portfolio or requiring additional capital reserves with TDR designations.
    • Note that the agencies provide an example of “short term modifications” as being six-month deferrals.
    • Note also the agencies suggest that such modifications should be available only to borrowers who are “current” which they defined as “less than 30 days past due” before the implementation of a modification.

US Small Business Administration:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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