On October 21st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on what constitutes “close contact” with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for purposes of isolation. “Close contact” had been within 6 feet for a 15 minute period. It has now been revised to be within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period which greatly expands what may qualify. The CDC also provides some examples of factors that should be considered when evaluating the length and extent of the contact. This updated guidance is outlined in the chart below which addresses return to work scenarios under the current CDC guidance.

Continue Reading CDC Updates Guidance on Return to Work

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, detailed arrangements, procedures, and protocols have been designed and implemented to help assure the health and well-being of seafarers and passengers, while maintaining day-to-day operations of marine and offshore assets.

In a recent Maritime Executive article, authors Martin Petricic and Gareth Burton of ABS worked with Rear Admiral Joyce Johnson DO MA U.S. Public Health Service (Ret’d) to provide practical guidance and insights for the mitigation of infectious disease outbreak risks onboard vessels. The full article can be found here.

Commercial enterprises doing business in Louisiana are beginning their recovery in the wake of Hurricane Laura. Many face catastrophic property losses, often accompanied by business income losses due to a complete cessation of business activities. Fortunately, many business owners have had the foresight to contract for business interruption insurance (also called “business income” insurance or time-element coverage). While having coverage offers some relief to affected businesses, the complexity of a business interruption claim coupled with a pressing need for operating capital creates a difficult scenario for business owners. Jones Walker is ready to assist clients in navigating this process, and we offer the following “golden rules” to provide some guidance in the preparation of business interruption insurance claims.

Continue Reading Golden Rules of Preparing a Business Interruption Claim

With kids going back to school, new questions regarding eligibility for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are cropping up. Thankfully, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently supplemented its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to answer some of the questions that have arisen thus far.

Continue Reading Return to School Raises FFCRA Leave Questions

As Tropical Storm Marco heads toward the coast of Louisiana, reports indicate Tropical Storm Laura is expected to strengthen to a hurricane before it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast late Wednesday or early Thursday.

The very rare event of back-to-back storms is forcing evacuations, and may cause widespread damage, business interruption, and travel stoppage for a large part of the gulf coast region for days and weeks to come.

Continue Reading Jones Walker Disaster Prep & Recovery Team Readies for Gulf Coast Storms

Over the weekend, President Trump signed an executive order purporting to defer the payment of the employee’s share of the Social Security portion of FICA (payroll) tax from September 1, 2020, until December 31, 2020. The order is limited to only the employee’s share of the Social Security portion of the payroll tax, which is currently set at 6.2%. The order does not affect the Medicare portion of the payroll tax (1.45%), nor does the order affect the employer portion of the payroll tax, so these will still have to be withheld (where applicable) and deposited on a timely basis. The order also limits deferrals to employees with biweekly, pretax income of less than $4,000, or a similar amount where a different pay period applies. This roughly equates to an annual salary of $104,000. Importantly, the order is not a suspension of the payroll tax (a “payroll tax holiday”), but merely a deferral. The president directed the Treasury to seek ways to implement a full suspension at a later date, including by legislative action.

Continue Reading Trump Signs Payroll Tax Deferral Executive Order

Shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, many states, counties, and cities issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place (collectively, SIP) orders to combat the spread of the virus. Please click here to review the early impacts of these sweeping orders.

In recent weeks, many authorities have issued executive orders to address rising COVID-19 cases as state and local businesses begin to reopen. This update focuses on these most recent orders and any impacts the orders could have on new and ongoing construction projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

As with all the effects of COVID-19, the issuance, interpretation, and enforcement of these orders are fast-breaking and in constant flux.

Continue Reading Executive Orders to Address Rising COVID-19 Cases in the Construction Industry

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey entered an amended order to her original Safer at Home order on July 15, 2020. It generally requires masks or face coverings to be worn when people are within six feet of someone from a different household in the following situations: (1) indoor spaces that are open to the public; (2) in vehicles operated by transportation services; and (3) in outdoor public spaces where 10 or more people are gathered. There are a number of exceptions to the requirement, however, and generally businesses are not legally obligated to exclude customers or employees who refuse to wear a mask when required.

This order specifically impacts the workplace. It goes into effect on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and runs through Friday, July 31, 2020. The following items relate particularly to employers and their employees:

Continue Reading Governor Ivey Imposes Statewide Mask Requirement for Alabama

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued COVID-19 guidance for workers and employers in the oil and gas industry. While this guidance is specifically geared to the oil and gas industry, the guidance is not unlike other best practices OSHA has recommended for other workers in general industry.

Continue Reading OSHA Issues COVID Related Guidance for the Oil & Gas Industry