COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

Articles Posted in Small Business

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Drop the Mask in your business?

After a year of employee and customer mask requirements being a no-brainer for small businesses, the CDC’s recent change in guidance that those who have become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 need not wear masks in many public settings has required business owners to put on their thinking caps again with regard to this issue, for the first time in more than a year.

Major retailers like Costco, Kroger, Walmart, Target, Walgreens and CVS have revised their guidance to match that of the CDC, although individual store locations in more highly populated areas like Chicagoland have not necessarily followed suit.

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COVID Rules for Residential Evictions

UPDATED May 10, 2021

The largest landlords in the US received letters from the  Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) reminding the landlords that the COVID-19-related eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has been exttended until June 30, 2021, and that the CFPB has issued an interim final rule establishing new notice requirements under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).

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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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Pandemic Relief for Restaurants

Smaller restaurants and bars soon will have a new opportunity for pandemic-related relief when the U.S. Small Business Administration posts the application for the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program created as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed by President Biden on March 11.

As of this posting, the application had not been made available; however, those eligible should keep checking this page or watching out for announcements and be ready to pounce.

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How to Determine Your Workplace Vaccination Policy

As COVID-19 vaccines begin to become available for working-age people—first for those in healthcare, then those in other “frontline” occupations, then for those at risk due to medical conditions, and finally for the general 18-to-64 population—can employers implement mandatory vaccination policies?

In general, the answer is yes, according to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, although employers need to be careful on a number of fronts, starting with ensuring that the way they craft their policy does not run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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CTA – Federal Reporting Requirements for Small Business

The paper work for many small businesses will be increasing.

Many small businesses with 20 or fewer employees and $5 million or less in gross receipts or sales will be subject to new federal reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), a section of the National Defense Authorization Act enacted on January 1. This will include both those formed in the U.S., whether through a state or an Indian nation, as well as those formed outside the U.S. but registered to do business here.

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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.

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

Employees can be required to vaccinate.

The federal government has stated that workers can be barred from work if they refuse the vaccine.  Employers can make a COVID vaccination a condition of employment.  But, employers must also consider exemptions for employees with disabilities or religious objections.

After a long delay in getting guidance to employers, on December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) – this is the agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination – provided the answer to whether employers can require employees to provide proof of vaccination and how employers should respond to employees who indicate that they cannot get vaccinated because of a disability.

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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Are virtual business transactions the new reality?

Once consummated in title company conference rooms amid seemingly bottomless stacks of paper, real estate transactions—like seemingly every other aspect of our lives—have gone virtual during the pandemic.

While some home buyers opt to continue in-person closings where possible, others are either giving their attorneys the power to ink final documents for them, or turning to software like DocuSign, with which increasing numbers of customers have become comfortable.