COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

Articles Posted in COVID-19 Pandemic

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Business interruption insurance & COVID

Should business interruption insurance cover losses due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, even if said insurance policy contains a virus exclusion?

A bar and restaurant based in Park Ridge and a former jewelry store in Chicago have gone to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that their policies with West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. should cover such losses, which they say are due to the Illinois state government orders, not the virus itself. (Mashallah Inc. et al. v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., U.S. Seventh Circuit, 21-1507)

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the City of Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) have each announced separate Emergency Rental Assistance Programs.  Both programs will be funded using the federal COVID-19 relief funds.   Owners with non-paying residents in Chicago can apply to both agencies for assistance, but will only be allowed to receive funds from one of the programs.

Landlords can apply for the Illinois House Development Authority assistance at:  https://ilrpp.ihda.org/

The Chicago Emergency Rental Relief Assistance Program will begin taking applications on May 24.   This program is open for both Tenants and Landlords.  For more information about this program, click HERE.

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SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Eligible restaurants and other dining establishments are entitled to apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for a $28.6 billion grant program under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, as established in section 5003 of the legislation.

The SBA recently released a Program Guide that lays out the details of the grant eligibility under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that foodservice outlets might want to review before applying. Among the key points of consideration promulgated in that publication are:

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What Can Small Businesses Do About the Maskless?

As more states lift requirements that people wear COVID-19 masks indoors when in public, what can small businesses do to protect their employees—and other customers who still prefer to wear masks?

As of April 5, more than one-third of states (18) lacked mask requirements, some of which never had them in the first place, according to the Associated Press. But business owners are certainly legally entitled to require them if they so choose, given that their public-facing spaces are still private property that they either rent or own, as long as they don’t discriminate. Customers who refuse to wear a mask, are asked to leave and stubbornly do not are therefore trespassing, and business owners could involve police if they so choose.

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How to Prepare for 2021

Wow, 2020 was a year to forget! I hesitate to say it was interesting because it was not. It was more like a nightmare as we coped with a public health crisis, an economic crisis, a political crisis, and a civil rights crisis. Let’s put 2020 in a lead box and drop it in the deepest part of the ocean!

Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced a number of businesses to close. Some businesses have actually thrived and others have adapted and are working diligently to succeed. Mostly, it has altered how businesses operate and tested our resilience. Some people have learned that working remotely is a viable alternative, while others have found themselves struggling to survive in a world which places demands on the use of technology to survive.

Chicago Business Lawyer George Bellas answers questions for business owners.
Updated December 7

The Chicago area and Illinois business owners are facing a number of challenges and the CoronaVirus pandemic is threatening the continued viability of their business.   Here are some of the more frequently questions asked by business owners.

  • Residential Evictions can proceed under certain conditions

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Tenant Evictions

Updated October 19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order on October 16 extending the statewide moratorium on residential evictions for another 30 days. Pritzker first put a hold on residential evictions through an executive order on March 20, the same day he issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Chicago Small Business Lawyer

The Key to Surviving as a Small Business

How can your business – and you – survive the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s a tall order.   But small business owners have means of surviving.   The corollary shutdowns have impacted 20% of small businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and restrictions have affected a far greater number. A study by the University of Illinois, University of Chicago and Harvard University and its business school estimates more than 100,000 small businesses are permanently shuttered. Not a surprise since many small firms don’t generally have more than a few months’ cash reserve.

George Bellas Chicago Business Lawyer George Bellas answers questions for business owners.

Workman’s Comp for Essential Workers

An emergency rule promulgated in April by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission gave certain classes of “essential” workers the ability to claim COVID-19 as an occupational disease vis-à-vis the ability to collect workers compensation.  This is a change that every Illinois business should be aware of.

The commission withdrew the rule after a court challenge, but last month Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation amending the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310, codified as Public Act 0633) to say that a “COVID-19 first responder or front-line worker” has the rebuttable presumption of having contracted the disease due to hazards and exposures in the workplace.

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Evictions Due to Pandemic Issues

The moratorium is scheduled to end on July 31, 2020, it may very well be extended again. Once the moratorium period ends, Illinois landlords can file eviction suits due to the non-payment of rent.

NOTICE TO LANDLORDS:  Chicago residential tenants, who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, can respond to their landlords within five days of receiving an eviction notice under a Chicago Ordinance.  The notice must be in writing, whether in the form of a letter, email or text message. The notice can be as simple as, “I have been unable to pay rent because I have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” For a more formal template, go to: www.chicago.gov/eviction