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COVID-19 State Regulations for the Southern States

Emily Hartman /

[Updated 11/3/20]

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how to operate during the pandemic. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

We’ll keep this updated as much as we can, but double-check with the local governments to ensure you’ve got the latest information.

Alabama COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Alabama Responsibly Plan

Starting April 30, 2020 through May 15, 2020, Alabama is relaxing its previous restrictions by activating a Safer At Home Order, allowing individuals and employers to begin leaving their homes under certain precautions.

Public places and individuals must ensure social distancing of at least 6 feet and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Although greater detail is provided in the Order, employers should ensure that employees maintain 6 feet of social distance, hygiene, and sanitation practices consistent with CDC guidelines, encourage teleworking, and minimize travel. Retail stores should limit occupancy to 50% and maintain social distancing and sanitation requirements.

The government also issued a handy flyer for employers and individuals to quickly understand what has changed with the new Order and what has stayed in place.

Update 10/6/2020: The Governor issued the Order Of The State Health Officer Suspending Certain Public Gatherings Due To Risk Of Infection By COVID-19 on September 30, 2020, to include requirements for residential care facility caregivers and to extend previous Orders regarding face coverings, gatherings, and guidelines for bars and restaurants until November 8, 2020.

Update 10/6/20: Additionally, the Governor issued the 9-30-2020 Eighteenth Supplemental Emergency Proclamation to clarify previous definitions about liability protections and include guidance for the general election. The Safer At Home Info Sheet was updated.

Update 8/28/20: The State Health Office amended an Order on August 27, 2020 to require statewide face coverings (with certain exceptions) and extend the Safer At Home Order until October 2, 2020. The Alabama Safer at Home Flyer and a Safer at Home Info Sheet were updated.

Update 7/6/20: The State Health Office issued an Order to suspend certain public activities until July 31, 2020, although face coverings are now required throughout the state (with exceptions). The Alabama Safer at Home Flyer and a Safer at Home Info Sheet were published.

Update 5/23/20: The State Health Office issued an amended Order. Effective May 22, 2020, entertainment businesses may begin to reopen, provided they adhere to health and safety requirements and operate at 50% normal capacity. Employees should wear face coverings when interacting with customers or guests. Athletic activities may also begin reopening on May 22, 2020. Child care facilities and camps may begin reopening on May 23, 2020. The Governor also posted a new Safer At Home Info Sheet to clarify what is open and when it will open.

Update 5/8/20: The State Health Officer issued an Order, effective May 11, 2020, allowing businesses to reopen that could maintain social distance and health and safety requirements. Retail businesses can reopen at 50% normal capacity. Industry-specific guidance can be found starting on page 2 of the Order.

Update: The Safer At Home Order was amended on May 8, 2020, to allow close-contact businesses like hair/nail salons and massage therapy businesses to reopen beginning May 11, 2020, provided they adhere to safety requirements.

Additional Resources

Safer At Home Flyer

Press Release

Safer At Home Order

Alabama Public Health

Alabama COVID-19 Related Emergency Actions of State Agencies

Stay-At-Home Order Changes to Safer At Home

Who: Alabama employers and employees

When: March 28, 2020 through May 15, 2020

What: The new Safer At Home Order continues to place limits on gatherings of more than 10 people and asks individuals and vulnerable populations to continue staying at home.

Businesses that are operating should read the Order, starting on page 3, for specific health and safety requirements for their employees and customers.

The Original Stay-At-Home Order

Governor Kay Ivey issued an Executive Order for all state residents to stay home unless for an essential activity, like shopping for household goods and food. The list of essential activities can be found here, starting on page 2. The Order provides further detail on what businesses are deemed essential and non-essential. The list of essential businesses and operations can be found here, starting on page 4.

Essential businesses and operations must:

  • Ensure that customers and employees maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between persons and avoid gatherings in groups of 10 persons or more.
  • Essential retailers must enforce an emergency maximum occupancy limit, which should make up no more than 50% of the fire marshal approved occupancy.

Other businesses have been asked to close, including entertainment venues and businesses that require close contact. The full list can be found here, starting on page 7.

How:

  • Review the Executive Order and determine if your business may need to close or could remain open under the new requirements.
  • Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

Final Statewide Order from the State Health Officer
Governor Ivey Issues Stay-At-Home Order

Alabama Department of Labor COVID-19 Resources

Alabama Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) News & Resources

Public Health Order Suspending Certain Gatherings

Unemployment Benefits

Who: Alabama employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020

What: The Alabama Department of Labor has expanded unemployment benefits to include employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19. Employees are eligible to file a claim if they are:

  • Placed under quarantine by a medical care provider or government agency;
  • Laid off or sent home without pay because of concerns about COVID-19;
  • Diagnosed with COVID-19; or are
  • Caring for an immediate family member diagnosed with COVID-19

The ability of a worker to be ready and able to work will be altered based on the above concerns. Claimants won’t have to look for work during this time, but they will need to ensure they can return to work following an illness or quarantine.

Employees who work from home or receive sick or vacation time off aren’t eligible for unemployment.

Update 8/13/20: Starting July 10, 2020, employers are required to provide a notice about unemployment benefits upon separation. The required notice can be made by text message, flyer, or letter. The required language can be found on the Alabama Emergency Rule starting on Page 3. Additionally, the Alabama Department of Labor has new hire obligations for reporting returned furlough employees. Employers should review new hires and recalled employees for the past 12 months and ensure that they have met all reporting requirements for these workers.

How:

  • Review your current business practices and update your unemployment policies to reflect this new policy.
  • As your business responds to the coronavirus, educate and inform your employees about all of their available options, as appropriate.

Additional Resource:

Alabama Department of Labor

Arkansas COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Beginning May 4, 2020, the state began reopening certain non-essential businesses, like gyms and fitness centers, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued Executive Order 20-20 to form the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force to draft industry-specific recommendations for reopening the state.

Although Arkansas doesn’t have any type of stay-at-home order in place, the Arkansas Department of Health has issued guidance that all state residents must wear a cloth mask.

Update 11/3/20: The Arkansas Department of Health released a “Strategy for Preventing COVID-19 spread this winter.” The strategies include face coverings, tests, flu shots, social distancing, and being vigilant.

Update 10/14/2020: Executive Order Proclamation 20-28 issued to extend previous Executive Orders and the state of emergency for 60 days from October 13, 2020.

Update: Executive Order 20-25 was issued providing guidance for businesses. For example, restaurants may begin dine-in services beginning May 11, 2020, and personal care services beginning May 6, 2020.

Additionally, Arkansas Ready for Business was launched with news and resources for businesses to navigate reopening.

Update 6/19/20: Several Executive Orders were released on June 15, 2020. Executive Order 20-33 protects businesses that stay open during COVID-19 from civil liability if an individual is exposed to the virus. Executive Order 20-34 authorizes all health care professionals to be able to diagnose, treat, or curing COVID-19. Executive Order 20-35 clarifies workers’ compensation to receive benefits during the COVID-19 public health emergency, if employee was exposed to COVID-19 during the course of work, establishing COVID-19 as an “occupational disease.”

Arkansas Ready for Business was released to help businesses navigate reopening. On June 15, 2020, The Department of Health issued several Directives for business limitations to begin Phase II of reopening as well as industry-specific guidance for businesses like casinos, gyms, personal care services, and more.

Update 9/24/20: Executive Order 20-45 was issued to renew the public health emergency.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Guidance for Employers

Arkansas Ready for Business

Arkansas Directives

Arkansas Reopening Dates

Executive Order 20-20

Everyone Should Wear a Face Covering, Or Mask, In Public

Directive on Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations

Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 Guides & PPE

Arkansas Executive Orders

Face Covering Mandate

Update 8/28/20: The Face Covering Directive was updated to ban valves on face coverings and discourage the use of single-layered bandanas and gaiters, see Page 2.

In Executive Order 20-43, Governor Asa Hutchinson declared that as of July 20, 2020, everyone in the state is required to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose in all indoor and outdoor situations where they are interacting with people outside of their household and can’t maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

There are several exceptions to this rule that can be found towards the end of page 2 of the Executive Order 20-43. The Arkansas Department of Health also issued a Face Coverings Directive with information about the exemptions.

Previously, Executive Order 20-41 allowed local jurisdictions to mandate face coverings.

Additional Resources

Arkansas Department of Health Face Mask Directive

Executive Order 20-43

Executive Order 20-41

Florida COVID-19 State Regulations

Florida COVID-19 regulations can be found here >>

Georgia COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Starting April 24, 2020, non-essential businesses like dentists, optometrists, gyms, and hair salons, may begin to open provided they use all measures to reduce the exposure and spread of COVID-19 (outlined on page 2 of Executive Order 04.20.20.01) and adhere to Minimum Basic Operation requirements, starting on page 3 of the Executive Order. Executive Order 04.27.20.01 addresses theaters, bowling alleys, and restaurants. Executive Order 05.12.20.02 provided additional guidance on safety requirements for restaurants, critical and non-critical infrastructure commerce and industry, gyms/fitness centers, tattoo parlors, theaters, and bowling alleys.

In addition to Minimum Basic Operations and minimizing COVID-19 risk, businesses must:

  • Be sure to maintain social distancing requirements of at least 6 feet.
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.

Restaurants, theaters, and private social clubs can open on Monday, April 27, 2020, so long as they follow social distancing and sanitation requirements.

Update 11/1/2020: Executive Order 10.30.20.01 Renewal of Public Health Emergency was issued to extend the public health emergency until December 9, 2020. Executive Order 10.30.20.02 Renews COVID-19 Restrictions continues to encourage social distancing and face coverings and extends previous guidance for health and safety requirements for restaurants and dining services with guidelines (page 13), critical infrastructure (page 16), non-critical businesses (page 17), and fitness centers (page 19) for the healthcare and government effective November 1, 2020 to November 15, 2020.

Update 10/19/2020: Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 10.15.20.01 to extend restrictions until October 31, 2020.

Update 10/6/20: Governor Kemp renewed the public health state of emergency until November 9, 2020 via Executive Order 9.30.20.01. Empowering a Healthy Georgia was issued and effective between October 1, 2020, to October 15, 2020. It also provides industry-specific guidance to restaurants (starting page 14), critical infrastructure (starting page 16), and non-critical infrastructure businesses (starting page 17).

Update 9/21/20: Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 9.15.20.01 Empowering a Healthy Georgia to extend current restrictions for an additional two weeks until September 30, 2020.

Update 8/21/20: Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 8.15.20.01, for Empowering a Healthy Georgia, extending previous requirements for large group gatherings as well as business protocols until August 31, 2020. Local jurisdictions may implement face covering mandates if they reach 100 cases per 1000,00 people.

Update 6/15/20: Executive Order 06.11.20.01 Empowering a Healthy Georgia was issued and will take effect June 16, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Beginning June 16, 2020, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited unless social distancing requirements are met. Restaurants and theaters no longer have party maximums to sit together. Walk-ins are now acceptable at personal care services like hair and nail salons and barbershops.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 04.20.20.01

Executive Order 04.23.20.02

Executive Order 04.27.20.01

Georgia Department of Health

Liability Law Effective

Who: Georgia businesses

When: Effective August 7, 2020 and applies to claims until July 14, 2021

What: SB 359,known as the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act, took effect on August 7, 2020 to protect businesses from employee and customer liability claims related to COVID-19, as long as there wasn’t gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, or reckless or intentional harm.

There are additional steps that businesses can take to protect their liability. One option is to use specific language on receipt, proof of purchase, wristband, ticket, etc. that states, in at least 10-point Arial font away from other text:

Any person entering the premises waives all civil liability against this premises owner and operator for any injuries caused by the inherent risk associated with contracting COVID-19 at public gatherings, except for gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, by the individual or entity of the premises.

A business, including health care facilities and providers, can also post at the point of entry a sign that uses at least a one-inch Arial font placed apart from other text that says:

Warning

Under Georgia law, there is no liability for an injury or death for an individual entering these premises, if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19. You are assuming this risk by entering these premises.

Additional Resource

SB 359

Face Coverings and Masks

When: Starting April 27, 2020

What: The Governor released Executive Order 04.23.20.02 and Executive Order 04.13.20.02 which encourages residents to wear face coverings or masks when they leave homes.

Employees at restaurants and clubs must wear face coverings and ensure they are clean and replaced every day.

Shelter-In-Place Order

Who: Georgia businesses and employees

When: April 3, 2020 through April 13, 2020 (updated to April 30, 2020 under Executive Order 04.0820.02)

What: Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order to supersede all other local shelter-in-place orders and ordering all Georgia residents to stay home unless they must travel for Essential Services (like gathering food and supplies or seeking medical care), Critical Infrastructure, or to maintain Minimum Basic Operations at a business. Further details about essential activities can be found in the Executive Order, starting on page 3.

The Order uses the definition of Critical Infrastructure from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as those businesses that should remain open. It also includes other services like residential care, legal services, and some mental health and food services. Minimum Basic Operations are still allowed for those businesses that must close.

Minimum Basic Operations include supporting employees’ teleworking, maintaining inventory and the physical location’s sanitation and safety, and when work is done in outdoor spaces where employees do not come in close contact with other people.

Under this Order, employers can use CDC recommendations for checking employees for signs of COVID-19, as well as observing handwashing and social distancing guidance, to mitigate the exposure and spread of the disease.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework or maintain Minimum Basic Operations.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 04.08.20.02

Executive Order 04.02.20.01

Governor Kemp’s Statewide Shelter-In-Place FAQs

Georgia Department of Health

Emergency Unemployment Changes

Who: Georgia employers

When: Effective Immediately for the next 120 days or until the current rule changes or a new one proposed.

What:

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has closed to the public, but online access is available for unemployment and reemployment services. GDOL passed emergency rules for employers who file partial unemployment claims on behalf of their full-time employees:

  • All partial claims must be filed by employers online in the Employer Portal;
  • All employers must file partial claims bearing in mind any week the employee works less than full-time due to the partial or complete shutdown of the company because of a COVID-19 public health emergency; and
  • Any employer in violation of this rule must pay the Commissioner the full amount of benefits paid to the employee.

There are several scenarios when employers shouldn’t file a partial claim, including when employees:

  • Will be paid for a temporary layoff period (paid sick, paid vacation, etc.);
  • Were on previously scheduled leave before the layoff period (leave of absence or medical leave);
  • Are employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business;
  • Were employed in another state the last 18 months (employees can apply online themselves);
  • Were employed by the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months (employees can apply online themselves).

When submitting a claim, employers are reminded to:

  • Report the employee’s name, social security number, date of birth that matches with the Social Security Administration’s records.
  • Ensure there are 7 days between payment week ending dates.
  • Don’t submit claims until after the week end date on the claim.
  • Report vacation pay, holiday pay, earnings, etc. for the week it was earned and not the week it was paid.
  • Report any additional income that employees are receiving, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, or pay for weekend military reserve duty.

How:

  • Identify any employees that you may need to file the partial claim.
  • Gather all relevant information from the employee to file the partial claim, as well as the necessary employer information.
  • Be sure to follow the correct steps when logging into the Employer Portal.

Additional Resources

GDOL Rules

Employer Portal

Georgia Department of Labor

Kentucky COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Kentucky Healthy at Work

Governor Andy Beshear began slowly reopening the state on April 27, 2020 by restarting certain health care industry operations, like outpatient services and optometry.

Governor Beshear also issued 10 Rules for Reopening Businesses under the state initiative, Healthy At Work, which includes steps like teleworking where possible, phasing in onsite workers, temperature/health checks, and masks and PPE, among several others.

Phase I has several dates businesses should review as they plan for reopening, including May 11, May 20, and May 25.

Update 9/21/2020: On September 15, 2020, restaurants and bars may stay open longer, last call is at 11:00 p.m. and they must close by Midnight.

Update 7/28/20: The Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued an Order to close in-person operations for on-site services at bars for 14 days.

Update 6/24/20: Guidance was issued regarding the additional requirements (on top of the minimum requirements) that restaurants and bars must meet. Additional guidance was issued allowing gatherings of up to 50 people starting June 29, 2020, provided they adhere to social distancing and meet additional health and safety requirements.

Update: Governor Beshear released guidance from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services detailing minimum requirements for all entities that are reopening or have remained open. Please see COVID-19 Directed Health Measures for state and county guidance.

Additional Resources

NEW: 10 Steps to Fight COVID-19

Kentucky Healthy At Work

Kentucky 10 Rules to Reopening

Kentucky Public Health

Kentucky Minimum Requirements for All Businesses

COVID-19 Directed Health Measures

Face Covering Mandate

Beginning July 10, 2020, all residents must wear a face covering whenever social distancing requirements can’t be met, regardless of whether inside and outside. Page 5 of Executive Order 2020-586 lists those people who are exempt from the requirement. On August 6, 2020, Governor Beshear announced that the face mask mandate will last another 30 days.

Update 10/12/2020: Executive Order 2020-856 issued on October 6, 2020, to extend the face mask requirement for 30 days

Update 9/8/20: Executive Order 2020-750 was issued to extend the face mask mandate for another 30 days.

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Kentucky businesses and employees

When: March 26, 2020

What: Governor Andy Beshear issued an Executive Order for all non-essential business workers to stay at home. Only “life-sustaining businesses” may remain open, including those businesses listed on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) list and other businesses like hardware stores and agricultural supplies and retailers. The full list of businesses can be found on the Executive Order, page 2.

Non-life sustaining businesses may use telework options for employees to maintain their Minimum Basic Operations, such as conducting inventory upkeep, physical maintenance and security, perform payroll, help employees telework, and any other related function.

The order also directs social distancing requirements for businesses, like mandating 6-foot distances between customers and workers and proper personal and workplace hygiene, and permitting teleworking. Further details about these requirements are found on the Executive Order, page 5.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-257

Kycovid19.ky.gov

Emergency Bill with Business Provisions

Who: Kentucky businesses and employees

When: March 30, 2020

What: SB 150 provides the following support to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Grants an additional 30 days to pay fees or follow normal requirements for licenses that expire before the state of emergency ends. Additionally, any licensing entities may waive any administrative or licensing fees during this time.

Unemployment insurance: The time period before unemployment benefits start has been waived and the base period has expanded to include additional employees who otherwise might not have qualified, like the self-insured and self-employed. SB 150 specifically states that it applies to employees whose hours have been reduced by “more than 10% and less than 60%.”

Telehealth: Healthcare providers may provide telehealth services provided unless specifically prohibited by federal or state law or state medical governing bodies.

How:

  • Review your current unemployment practices and update them according to the new requirements.
  • As you make employment decisions, be sure to provide the proper support and options to your employees.
  • Review any upcoming or past licenses and grants and determine if the administering agency or entity has provided any leniency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Be prepared to pay fees, file paperwork, or any other necessary requirements once the state of emergency lifts and regular operations resume.

Additional Resources

SB 150

Kcc.ky.gov

All Non-Life Sustaining In-Person Retail Suspended

Who: Kentucky employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020 until the state of emergency ends or the order is ended by law

What: Governor Andy Beshear issued an Executive Order that all “in-person retail businesses that aren’t life-sustaining” must be closed.

Certain life-sustaining businesses can remain open but must abide by all government hygiene and health guidelines. These businesses include:

  • Grocery stores and liquor stores;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Automotive parts, repairs, and tire stores, as well as vehicle rental stores;
  • Gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Banks and financial service institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Supply stores for buildings, gardens, and supply dealers;
  • Warehouse clubs and supercenters;
  • Pet and pet supply stores.

Although the Executive Order does not list gun stores as a life-sustaining business, it makes clear that the state will not interfere with the legal sale of firearms during this time.

Businesses that must close:

  • Automobile and other vehicle dealers (dealers can continue providing parts, repairs, and service as noted above, but their showrooms must close);
  • Department, cosmetics, beauty supply, perfume, clothing, shoes, jewelry, luggage and other leather goods stores, used merchandise stores;
  • Optical goods stores;
  • Other health and personal health care stores;
  • Sporting goods stores;
  • Music and musical instruments;
  • Book stores;
  • Electronics and appliance stores;
  • Florists;
  • Office supplies, stationery and gift stores.

However, businesses that are deemed non-life sustaining can receive online and telephone orders so long as they can arrange local delivery or curbside pickup.

How:

Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.

When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules. If you’re considering layoffs or furloughs, bear in mind the WARN Act.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Executive Order

Louisiana COVID-19 State Regulations

Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana

Update 10/11/2020: Proclamation Number 134 JBE 2020 Renewal of Phase III was issued to keep the state in Phase III until November 6, 2020. Phase III includes, but isn’t limited to, restrictions like bars closing 11 pm, keeping occupancy to 75% capacity at malls, retails, and hair salons. Proclamation Number 135-JBE-2020 was also issued to renew the state of emergency to November 6, 2020.

Update 9/1/20: Proclamation 110-JBE-2020 was issued to extend Phase II for 2 more weeks to September 11, 2020. Proclamation 111-JBE-2020 was also issued to extend the state of emergency to September 11, 2020.

Update 7/24/20: Proclamation 96-JBE-2020 was issued to extend Phase II to August 7, 2020 and maintain face covering requirements. Proclamation Number 97 JBE 2020 was issued to extend the state of emergency to August 7, 2020.

Update 7/15/20: Proclamation 89-JBE 2020 mandates face coverings for certain residents (see below the Face Covering Mandate information below) but also closes bars’ onsite services, although they can continue to provide take out. Gatherings are limited to 50 people inside and outside.

Update 6/24/20: As of June 22, 2020, Governor Bel Edwards announced that the state will remain in Phase II for an additional 28 days, maintaining occupancy limits and all other restrictions from Phase II.

Update 6/5/20: Proclamation 74 JBE 2020 was released to coincide with the Phase II opening press release (mentioned below in our update from 6/4/20).

Update 6/4/20: Beginning on June 5, 2020, Louisiana will move to Phase II of reopening for at least 21 days. In Phase II, religious services and businesses like, gyms, hair salons/personal care, bars/breweries, museums, and events, will be able to open at 50% capacity. Louisiana continues to strongly recommend that businesses offer temperature checks before people enter and posting the symptoms of COVID-19 outside with a request that symptomatic individuals not enter. See the press release for additional businesses that can reopen.

Starting May 15, 2020, the state will enter Phase One of the Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana, which aligns with the White House COVID-19 Reopening America plan. Certain non-essential businesses like casinos, gyms, museums, hair/nail salons may reopen at 25% capacity and as long as they adhere to safety and social distancing requirements (see page 15 of the Roadmap).

All businesses must require employees that interact with the public wear a face mask. Everyone is encouraged to wear cloth face coverings.

Additional Resources

New: Let Us Help You Reopen Safely

Proclamation Number 58 JBE 2020 for Phase I Reopening

Governors Proclamation Number 52 JBE 2020 Extension

Can This Business Open?

Guidance for Restaurants

Louisiana Proclamations

Louisiana Department of Health

Face Covering Mandate

Proclamation Number 89 JBE 2020 was issued and effective on July 13, 2020, mandating all state residents ages 8 years or older to wear a face covering in public spaces, regardless of whether they’re indoors or outdoors. Exemptions from this mandate can be found on page 3 of the Proclamation.

Businesses must require all people who enter their facilities to wear a face covering, unless the business is located in a parish that has exempted itself from the Proclamation or if the individual is exempt from the mandate.

The Order is effective to July 24, 2020 and could be extended.

Liability Protections Legislation to Help Businesses

Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 826 into law, providing businesses with liability protections from customers and employees who file claims related to COVID-19 exposure. The bill is retroactive to March 11, 2020, the date Louisiana declared a state of emergency.

The new law provides that:

  • Businesses aren’t liable for injuries or deaths related to actual or possible exposure of COVID-19, unless the business failed to substantially comply with federal, state, or local COVID-19-related requirements and the injury or death was a result of the business’s “gross negligence…or reckless misconduct.”
  • Event planners aren’t liable for injury or death related to actual or possible exposure of COVID-19 when hosting or organizing and event, such as an exhibition or sporting event, unless a result of “gross negligence…or reckless misconduct.”
  • Employees who contract COVID-19 in the workplace have no tort remedy unless the exposure was intentional.
  • Businesses that manufacture, distribute, or are involved in the business of Personal Protective Equipment in response to COVID-19 aren’t liable for injury or death caused by COVID-19, unless a result of “gross negligence…or reckless misconduct.”

Although the new law provides businesses with protection, it is still important to ensure that all Louisiana organizations are upholding federal, state, and local COVID-19-related requirements.

Additional Resource

HB 826

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Louisiana employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020 until April 30, 2020 (Extended to May 15, 2020, see Proclamation 52-JBE-2020 for further details and for some business reopening specifications)

What:

Governor John Bel Edwards issued an Executive Proclamation (41-JBE-2020) requiring all state residents to stay in their homes. The Proclamation also closes all state government offices and certain non-essential businesses. Employees for non-essential businesses will still be allowed to work from home or to perform critical business activities such as payroll, maintenance, and cleaning.

Non-essential businesses include:

  • Public amusement locations like carnivals, amusement parks, zoos, arcades, playgrounds, theaters, etc.;
  • Personal care businesses like barbers, hail and nail salons, spas, tattoos parlors, etc.;
  • Shopping malls;
  • Casinos, movie theaters, bars, gyms, bowling alleys (from a previous state order).

Essential businesses may stay open. The Proclamation does not expressly define what businesses are essential but references the March 19, 2020, Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum for guidance. Thereafter, the Governor published guidance that identified additional categories of businesses exempt from the stay-at-home order. These include:

  • Health care workers and caregivers;
  • Social service workers;
  • Pharmacy employees;
  • Grocery store and food and beverage products employees;
  • Farmworkers;
  • Restaurants offering carry out and delivery;
  • Electricity and utility industry employees;
  • Critical manufacturing like medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals;
  • Petroleum, Natural, and Propane gas employees;
  • Transportation and logistics employees;
  • Communications and information technology workers;
  • Essential infrastructure like food production, distribution and sales, housing construction, construction engineers, building management and operations, airport operations, utility operations related to water, sewer, and gas, electrical generation, distribution, production of raw materials for electricity, distribution centers, oil and biofuel refining, public transportation, ports, cybersecurity, flood control, solid waste and recycling, telecommunications;
  • Charitable organizations;
  • Critical trades like HVAC, painting, plumbers, electricians, cleaning, security, moving services, and exterminators;
  • Hardware and supply stores;
  • Business operations supplies like computers, office supplies, household appliances;
  • Residential facilities;
  • Manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains for critical industries like pharmaceuticals, technology, biotechnology, health care, chemicals, sanitization, waste pickup, agriculture, transportation, food and beverage, steel and steel products, construction, communications, national defense; and
  • Hotels and motels.

Businesses that were not designated as “essential,” but were not explicitly prohibited from opening can remain open but must reduce operations only to essential staff while using proper social distancing practices and minimizing public contact. These businesses must also never allow 10 or more people to congregate in the same place. Please see the resources below for more details regarding what businesses are considered “essential.”

Businesses must require any employees or owners interacting with the public, must wear masks or face coverings (page 3 of Proclamation 52-JBE-2020).

Restaurants and coffee shops may remain open if they are conducting only carry out or delivery service. Proclamation 52-JBE-2020 states (page 3) that outdoor dining is acceptable only at 25% occupancy.

How:

Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.

When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Proclamation Order 41-JBE-2020

Governor’s Statewide Order

Louisiana Response to Coronavirus

Louisiana Office of the Governor Coronavirus Information

CISA Memorandum

Mississippi COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Starting April 27, 2020, most Mississippi retail businesses may reopen at 50% capacity provided they adhere to social distancing and sanitation protocols. Businesses like salons, gyms, and other personal care services should remain closed for the time being, except for minimum operations. Further details can be found in Governor’s Executive Order No. 1478.

This order is in effect until May 11, 2020, unless otherwise changed. Update: This date has been extended to May 25, 2020. See Executive Order 1480 for more details.

Update 10/6/20: Executive Order No. 1525 was issued to repeal or rescind Executive Order Nos. 1492 and 1517 and to provide guidance on the Safe Recovery Order that is effective September 30, 2020 to November 11, 2020. Although further guidance and detail is included in the Order, it does clarify that face coverings must be worn on indoor and outdoor school grounds, and all businesses should continue to make good faith effort to follow the CDC’s guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Industry-specific information can be found starting on page 3 of the Order.

Update 9/21/2020: Executive Order No. 1522 was issued to extend the Safe Return Phase until September 30, 2020. Restaurants, Retail, and Gyms may operate at 75% capacity. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and 50 people outdoors, if social distancing requirements can’t be met. If social distancing requirements can be met, indoor gatherings can increase to 20 people or to 100 people at an outdoor gathering.

Update 9/2/20: Executive Order No. 1520 was issued to extend the face covering requirement to September 14, 2020.

Update 8/19/20: Executive Order No. 1518 was issued to extend Safe Return for indoor and outdoor K-12 school activities. The Order is effective August 17, 2020, to August 31, 2020.

Update 6/4/20: Safe Return FAQs were released to clarify general questions as well as inquiries about business operations and industry-specific guidance.

Update 6/1/20: Executive Order No. 1492 Safe Return Order was issued and effective on June 1, 2020 through June 15, 2020. Under this order, movie theaters, museums, ballparks, and libraries may begin to reopen with health and safety requirements for employees and customers. See page 5 of the Order for further details for indoor recreation/amusement businesses. All businesses and nonprofits may begin to reopen, provided they all make good faith efforts to comply with the Mississippi Department of Health and CDC requirements.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 1480

Executive Order No. 1477

Mississippi Safer At Home FAQs

Mississippi Department of Health

Mississippi Executive Orders

Legislation Provides Liability Protection to Businesses

Effective July 8, 2020 retroactively effective back to March 14, 2020

What: Legislation SB 3049 was signed into law by Governor Tate Reeve to provide civil lawsuit protections for COVID-19-related activities. People and organizations aren’t liable for injuries or death resulting from actual or possible exposure to COVID-19 as long as the person or organization can show a good faith effort to adhere to public health guidelines and didn’t willfully or intentionally violate requirements.

Under this new law, people are defined as individuals, for-profit and non-profit organizations, associations, charitable organizations, religious entities, the state and political subdivisions, and health care organizations and professionals.

Health care professionals and organizations are also extended immunity in instances where they have provided from the start date of the declaration of emergency and up to one year following the emergency. Health care activities that are covered by the law include:

  • Services for screening, diagnosing, assessing, or treating people retroactively;
  • Delaying or canceling elective or unurgent services;
  • Diagnosing or treating people or using equipment or supplies that fall outside the normal scope of the professional’s license or practice;
  • Off label use of prescriptions that are related to the COVID-19 emergency;
  • Testing performed outside of a health care facility; and
  • Acts that are a result of the lack of staffing, facilities, equipment, supplies, or other resources.

The law, under section 5, also provides immunity to businesses that manufactures, sells, distributes, labels, donates, etc. products that are part of the pandemic response. These products could be anything from PPE, medical devices, or supplies and also includes the off-label use of medications and the use of diagnosis tests that are approved by or submitted to the FDA. It also covers people who supply PPE and sanitizing products to outside of their regular course of business.

Additional Resource

SB 3049

Shelter-In-Place Order

Who: Mississippi employers and employees

When: April 3, 2020 to April 20, 2020 (Update: Extended to April 27, 2020, see Executive Order 1473)

What:

Update: Along with the date extension, Governor Tate Reeves eased restrictions on certain non-essential retail businesses to provide curbside, delivery, or drive thru sales. See further details in Executive Order 1473.

Because of the need for additional measures to disrupt the spread of COVID-19, Governor Tate Reeves issued an Executive Order declaring a statewide shelter-in-place for all residents.

The guidelines state that residents must:

  • Stay home, except for approved activities listed in the Executive Order.
  • Stop all Non-Essential Businesses activities, except for maintaining minimum operations like payroll, security, and benefits, and also ensuring employees can telework.
  • Cancel or reschedule all social events, whether formal or informal, of more than 10 people.
  • Only leave the house to perform essential activities like caring for a vulnerable person, getting food and supplies, engaging in outdoor recreation, engaging in Essential Travel, or working for an Essential Business. When outside the house, one must maintain social distancing requirements by staying at least 6 feet apart from other people and avoid groups of more than 10 people.

Additionally, all evictions have been suspended, but residents are responsible for their mortgages and rents. Also, restaurants and bars may only be open for drive-thru, carry out, and delivery services.

Essential Businesses categories include the following (the full list can be found here):

  • Government functions like public safety and emergency responders, courts, military;
  • Health care operations;
  • Infrastructure like utilities, fuel and transmission, suppliers and distributors, supply chain companies, telecommunications, electronic security and life safety, communications sales and customer support, cybersecurity services, automotive repair and sales, transportation, public water and wastewater, hazardous waste disposal, lodging services;
  • Manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, chemical products, telecommunications products, automotive production and suppliers, energy, steel and steel products, engine oils, mining;
  • Agriculture and farm operations;
  • Essential retail like grocery stores, hardware stores, building materials;
  • Essential services like trash collection, mail, shipping and delivery services, home repair, automotive sales and repair, warehouse and distribution, laundry services;
  • Media;
  • Education institutions;
  • Financial institutions;
  • Professional services like legal and accounting;
  • Social and human services for vulnerable population;
  • Construction and related services;
  • Essential services for maintaining safety and sanitation for businesses and residential locations;
  • Defense;
  • Essential services like logistics, technology, child care, waste disposal;
  • Religious;
  • Workers and industries that fall under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum; and
  • Other categories that may be identified by the Mississippi Department of Health, Emergency Management Agency or another state agency.

How:

  • Determine if your business must close or whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Preparing to Shelter In Place

Mississippi Department of Health

Executive Order No. 1466

CISA Memorandum

North Carolina COVID-19 State Regulations

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Update 10/23/2020: Executive Order No. 170 Extension of Phase 3 was issued to pause Phase 3 through November 13, 2020.

Update 10/6/20: On September 30, 2020, Executive Order No. 169 was issued to expand the state to Phase 3 effective October 2, 2020 to October 23, 2020. Under Phase III, for example, residents must still wear face coverings in public settings, unless exempted. Employers must make a good faith effort to provide employees with a one-week supply of reusable face coverings or daily disposable coverings at work. Refer to page 11 of the Executive Order for restrictions and expansion of services for certain businesses. Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) for Executive Order No. 169 was issued to help guide residents and businesses. Staying Ahead of the Curve one-pager was issued as a resource.

Update 9/2/20: Executive Order No. 163 was issued on September 1, 2020, to move the state into Stage 2.5 on September 4, 2020. Although there are further details in the Order, Stage 2.5 will include expanding mass gatherings to 25 people indoors and 50 people outside, opening playgrounds, operating museums and aquariums at 50% capacity, gyms and indoor fitness facilities may open at 30% capacity. Bars, clubs, theaters, and other entertainment businesses remain closed. Outdoor visitation to nursing homes and residential care facilities will be allowed. FAQs about Stage 2.5 can be found here.

Update 8/7/20: Executive Order No. 155 was issued on August 5, 2020, to extend Phase II for 5 weeks through September 11, 2020.

Update 7/15/20: Executive Order 147 was effective on June 26, 2020, to extend Phase II of reopening through July 17, 2020.

Update 5/22/20: Under Executive Order No. 141 and beginning May 22, 2020, North Carolina will enter Phase II of reopening. Phase II will last at least through June 26, 2020, and allows businesses to operate at 50% customer capacity and restaurants may begin limited inside dining. There are further industry-specific details in the Executive Order.

The governor issued the staying ahead of the curve reopening plan that consists of 3 phases to start easing restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and travel. Phase 1 is effective on May 8, 2020 on the modified stay at home order 138. See the executive order 138 page 6 and the North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Plan for specific details. All businesses recommend employers wear cloth face coverings. North Carolina residents are encouraged to wear cloth face coverings out in public.

Additional Resources

North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Plan

North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Website

What’s new in Phase One?

Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 138

Frequently Asked Questions on Cloth Face Coverings

Business Guidance

North Carolina Executive Orders

Business Operations Restricted

Who: North Carolina employers and employees

When: March 27, 2020

What: Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order 121 with key actions to combat the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Stay at home or place of residence order.
  • All COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations are directed, to the maximum extent possible, to direct employees to work from home or telework.
  • Essential Retail Businesses may continue to operate.
  • Mass gatherings of more than 10 people in a single room or single space are prohibited and certain businesses should stop operations
  • Schools are closed through May 15, 2020.

The executive order references “Essential Businesses” as those defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency:

  • Health care and public health;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, emergency responders;
  • Food and agriculture;
  • Energy;
  • Water and wastewater;
  • Transportation and logistics, including automotive repair and automotive maintenance facilities;
  • Public works;
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions;
  • Critical manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supply chains, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing;
  • Hazardous materials;
  • Financial Services;
  • Chemical; and
  • Defense industries.

“Essential Retail Businesses” are electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology; lawn and garden equipment retailers; book stores that sell educational material; beer, wine, and liquor stores’ retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores; retail located within healthcare facilities; and pet and feed stores.

To the extent possible, all COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations (including Essential Retail Business) shall maintain the Social Distancing Requirements, which is to maintain 6 feet distancing from other individuals, washing hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.

The limit on mass gatherings doesn’t apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers. It also does not include any COVID-19 Essential Business or Operation as defined in the Executive Order.

Businesses that are not “Essential Businesses and Operations” are required to cease all activities and reduce to Minimum Basic Operations. Minimum Basic Operations include the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or related functions. Note that the businesses that were ordered closed by Executive Orders 118 and 120, the latter noted below, shall remain closed.

In Executive Order 120, Governor Roy Cooper ordered entertainment facilities without any retail or food services, as well as personal care businesses, to close on March 25, 2020. Examples of these entertainment facilities include bingo parlors, bowling alleys, indoor exercise facilitates, health clubs, pools, performance venues, movie theaters, skating rinks, spas, and gaming facilities. Examples of personal care businesses include barber shops, beauty salons, hair salons, nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors.

How:

Review your current telework and leave policies and procedures to help accommodate employees’ childcare needs.

Determine if your business is impacted by these restrictions and if you need to plan a response to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 120

Executive Order No. 121

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Materials and Resources

COVID-19 Response in North Carolina

Unemployment Claims

Who: North Carolina employers and employees

When: March 18, 2020 until the State of Emergency ends

What: Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order with two main actions: restrict the operations of restaurants and bars and expand the availability of unemployment benefits for workers affected by COVID-19. The latter is what will be discussed here.

Unemployment Expansion

Under the Order, the state Department of Commerce has the authority to ensure that workers who, as a result of COVID-19, are unemployed, have reduced hours, or are prevented from working due to a medical condition caused by COVID-19 are eligible for maximum unemployment benefits permitted by federal law.

Employers’ accounts won’t be charged for benefits paid to COVID-19 related claims.

Using quarantine and isolation orders as control methods, the Department can interpret flexibly or waive, as appropriate, the following:

  • The 1-week waiting period for benefits;
  • The ability to work and available to work requirements;
  • The actively seeking work requirements; and
  • The “lack of work” requirement

The Order delays all in-person contact usually required for unemployment benefits. It also allows applications and weekly certifications to be filed remotely, via phone or internet.

How:

Consult with your legal counsel as you make decisions regarding employment.

As you make employment changes, provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Executive Order 118

Oklahoma COVID-19 State Regulations

Open Up and Recover Safely Plan

Update 8/28/20: Fourth Amendment to Executive Order 2020-20 was issued to extend the Emergency Order for 30 days.

Update 8/19/20: A statewide health advisory was issued to enforce COVID-19 prevention efforts across the state including face coverings for individuals older than 11 years of age, increased testing efforts, face coverings and distancing for all restaurants and for any travelers coming into the state.

Beginning April 24, 2020, Oklahoma began its 3-phased approach to reopening, with retail businesses, state parks, and grocery stores may open.

Beginning May 1, 2020, businesses like gyms, personal care services, and religious worship may reopen, provided safety requirements are met. Phase 2 began May 13, 2020 and phase III began on June 1, 2020.

Check for complete details, including industry-specific guidance and safety requirements, with the Open Up and Recover Safely plan and website.

Additional Resources

Executive Department Fifth Amended Executive Order 2020-13

Oklahoma Open Up and Recover Safely Plan (pdf)

Oklahoma Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) Plan (website)

Oklahoma Executive Orders

Safer-At-Home Order

Who: Oklahoma employers and employees

When: March 25, 2020 through April 30, 2020 (Updated: Extended to May 6, 2020, please see amended Executive Order)

What: Governor Kevin Stitt ordered all people over the age of 65 and people with compromised immune systems to stay home and has banned any gatherings of more than 10 people. All medical providers shall postpone all elective surgeries. Additionally, all non-essential businesses in 19 counties with COVID-19 cases must close.

The executive order references “Essential Businesses” as those defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency:

  • Health care and public health;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, emergency responders;
  • Food and agriculture;
  • Energy;
  • Water and wastewater;
  • Transportation and logistics, including automotive repair and automotive maintenance facilities;
  • Public works;
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions;
  • Critical manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supply chains, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing;
  • Hazardous materials;
  • Financial Services;
  • Chemical; and
  • Defense industries.

Additionally, all bars and salons in those 19 counties are closed, while restaurants may only provide carry out and delivery options and all bars are closed. A list of affected counties can be found here.

How:

  • Assess your business is considered essential and if you need to send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

Executive Orders

Executive Orders 2020-13

Executive Order 2020-07

Oklahoma Department of Health

South Carolina COVID-19 State Regulations

Accelerate South Carolina

Update 10/20/20: Two new guidelines were released: South Carolina Guidelines for Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events and South Carolina Guidelines for Indoor Activities.

Update 10/9/20: Executive Order No. 2020-65 was issued to extend the state of emergency for 15 days.

Update 10/5/20: Executive Order 20-63 was issued to lift occupancy limits in restaurants starting October 2, 2020. Last call is still 11:00 p.m. and health and safety requirements must stay in place.

Update 7/28/20: Executive Order 20-48 was issued to extend the state of emergency for 15 days.

Update 6/24/20: Executive Order 2020-40 was issued on June 11, 2020 declaring the state of emergency, limiting gatherings of 50 or more people, and modifying the non-essential business closures, like retail stores with limited occupancy and bowling alleys.

Update 6/5/20: Accelerate SC Final Report and Recommendations was released.

Update: Executive Order 2020-36 was issued to allow businesses like fitness centers/gyms, personal care services to reopen starting on May 18, 2020.

Starting April 20, 2020, Governor Henry McMaster began allowing retail businesses, like bookshops and clothing stores, to reopen as long as they adhered to social distancing, sanitation, and 20% occupancy (or 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less) restrictions. Executive Order 2020-28 outlines details about which employers may open and what guidelines they should adhere to, starting on page 5.

Additional Resources

New: Accelerate South Carolina

Executive Order 2020-28

Executive Order 2020-18

South Carolina Department of Health

South Carolina Executive Orders

Temporary Outdoor Seating Guidelines

Unemployment Benefits Expanded 6 Weeks

In July, Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 20-25 to add six weeks to the Extended Benefits program for unemployment. This additional time is on top of the 10 weeks of extended benefits announced earlier in the month.

Extended Benefits are available only to those individuals that have used their 20 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program benefits. The Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) is the same as the person received for standard unemployment insurance.

Additionally, Executive Order 2020-22 was issued to allow furloughed employees to still qualify for unemployment benefits if they receive “COVID-19 Support Payments” from their employers.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 20-25

South Carolina Department of Health

South Carolina Executive Orders

Executive Order 20-22 COVID-19 Support Payments by Employers

Employment and Workfore Federal Programs

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: South Carolina employers and employees

When: April 7, 2020 until the state of emergency is lifted

What: Governor Henry McCaster issued an Executive Order to mandate all state residents to stay home unless they are conducting essential activities like visiting/caring for family or buying groceries. Update: On May 3, 2020, he issued Executive Order 2020-31 to amend the Stay-At-Home Order, allowing restaurants to open for outdoor dining.

Essential businesses and Critical Infrastructure Operations can remain open.  They include those named on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum as well as employees who operate commercial vehicles that transport essential products, livestock, poultry, crops, and people employed by airlines.

Non-essential businesses that are named in the Executive Order, starting on page 7, must close to public access.

All retail stores not directly named in the order that decides to remain open must limit occupancy to 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, or 20% of the business’s occupancy limit (declared by the fire marshal), whichever number is less. Stores must enforce social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet apart and adhere to federal sanitation guidelines.

How:

  • Assess your business is considered essential and if you need to send employees home to telework.
  • Determine your occupancy limits and how your business should comply and enforce the limit.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-31

South Carolina Department of Health

Executive Order 2020-17

South Carolina Department of Commerce Form

Executive Order 2020-21

South Carolina Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Tennessee COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Update 10/21/2020: Tennessee’s Find COVID-19 Information In Your Area was added to the state COVID-19 webpage.

Update 10/2/20: Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group updated the Tennessee Pledge to align with recent Executive Orders and with federal guidance. Full guidance can be found on the updated Pledge and website.

Update 9/29/20: Executive Order 63 was issued to extended previous Executive Orders from September 30, 2020 through October 30, 2020.

Update 9/1/20: Executive Order 59 was issued to extend local governments’ authority to require face coverings and for businesses to continue following Economic Recovery Guidelines through September 30, 2020.

Update 6/2/20: Executive Order No. 38 was issued and includes guidance for returning to work and monitoring employees for symptoms. Everyone is encouraged to wear face masks, including cloth face coverings, in public. There is additional guidance for restaurants and bars.

Update: The Tennessee Pledge Guidelines have been released, providing employers and employees with guidelines by industry.

Titled the Tennessee Pledge, Governor Bill Lee announced the state’s reopening guidance and best practices. Although the Stay at Home Order is set to expire on April 30, 2020, on April 27, 2020, certain businesses like restaurants and retail stores can reopen to a 50% occupancy; employees should wear cloth face covering and follow distancing, hygiene, and sanitation guidelines. Note that this announcement does not necessarily apply to all counties in Tennessee, including those with the largest cities in the state.

Social gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned. Employers may return to work as long as they continue to follow the Health Guidelines and Economic Recovery Guidelines outlined on page 4 of Executive Order No. 30 and support employees teleworking.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 30

Tennessee Pledge

Press Release: Gov. Lee Issues Guidelines for Restaurants, Retail Stores to Reopen

Liability Law Passes

Who: Tennessee businesses, healthcare providers, schools, nonprofits, and other individuals and entities

When: August 17, 2020. The law ends July 1, 2022, and applies to COVID-19 claims, except those filed before August 3, 2020.

What:

Governor Bill Lee signed the COVID-19 Liability Shield Law to expand the protection of businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits brought by employees, customers, and the public. Individuals who file a claim against a business must provide clear and convincing evidence that the organization exhibited gross negligence or willful misconduct that resulted in death, damage, injury, or loss.

Claimants must:

  • File a verified complaint against the organization that details the negligence or misconduct
  • Provide a certificate of good faith that the individual has consulted with a physician licensed in Tennessee or a bordering state,
  • A physician’s written statement of competency to state that the damage caused was a result of the business.

Additional Resource

SB8002

Safer-At-Home Order

Who: Tennessee businesses and employees

When: Effective March 30, 2020 through April 30, 2020

What: Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 22 and Executive Order No. 23 mandating state residents stay home, unless for an essential activity or service, like buying household/food items and caring for family members or themselves. The full list of essential activities can be found on the Executive Order, starting on page 4. All social gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less (this was issued in Executive Order No. 17).

Essential businesses may remain open. The list of essential businesses aligns with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum and includes organizations like critical infrastructure, healthcare, and manufacturing. The list can also be found in Attachment A to Executive Order No. 22.

The order also includes additional guidance for employers including:

  • Essential businesses should follow all health guidelines from the CDC to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Non-essential businesses must close to public or employee access.
  • Employers can’t require or allow employees to work if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Governor’s Executive Order No. 27 extends the date of the stay-at-home and social distancing order through April 30, 2020.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Tennessee Executive Orders

Tennessee Office of the Governor Coronavirus Resources

Tennessee Economic Recovery

Tennessee Department of Health

Texas COVID-19 State Regulations

Texas-specific COVID-19 regulations can be found here >>

Virginia COVID-19 State Regulations

Forward Virginia Reopening Plan

Beginning May 15, 2020, Virginia will start Phase I of its 3-phased reopening plan, Forward Virginia. Each phase may last from 2 to 4 weeks. As part of the reopening plan, the current Stay-At-Home Order will be replaced with a Safer At Home Order.

Update 6/24/20: Governor Northam announced that Phase III will begin on July 1, 2020 and released Phase III guidelines for all business sectors to adhere to. On June 18, the Governor released an outline of what Phase III will look like in a press release.

Update 6/4/20: Virginia will begin Phase II on June 5, 2020, allowing businesses like fitness centers, farmers markets, retail, and more to reopen under industry-specific requirements for social distancing, hygiene, and sanitation. See Executive Order 3rd Amended No. 61 and Safer At Home: Phase Two Guidelines For All Business Sectors. See Executive Order 2nd Amended No. 61 for the expansion of activities at public beaches and racetracks.

Update 5/29/20: Executive Order No. 63 requires face masks for all employees of essential retail business employees. State residents are also required to wear face masks in public.

Update 5/20/20: The Forward Virginia Reopening Plan was updated to include additional information on what Phase I and Phase II look like for businesses.

Update 5/18/20: Under Executive Order EO-62, Northern Virginia counties won’t begin Phase I until May 28, 2020. Be sure to check your local orders to ensure your business is in compliance with all regulations.

Phase I will continue to require social distancing, teleworking, and limited gatherings of less than 10 people, and provide the recommendation that everyone in public wear face coverings. For businesses, Phase I will include developing and enforcing policies to keep employees and customers separate, allowing for handwashing breaks, and limited capacity for gyms, restaurants, and retail stores.

Update: See additional guidance in the Phase I Guidelines for All Business Sectors and Forward Virginia Guidelines.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 61

Forward Virginia Guidelines

Safer At Home: Phase I Guidelines for All Business Sectors

Amended Number 53 (2020) Executive Order

Forward Virginia

Virginia Department of Health

Virginia Executive Orders

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standard: Emergency Temporary Standard

Who: Virginia employers

When: Effective July 27, 2020 with deadlines to comply at 30 days and 60 days.

What: The Virginia legislature adopted statewide COVID-19 workplace safety standards. The final language states that all businesses must ensure the following:

  • Workers practice social distancing.
  • Workers wear face coverings.
  • Employers provide access to hand washing or hand sanitizer.
  • High-contact surfaces are sanitized frequently.
  • All employees are notified within 24 hours if a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Any employee who is “known or suspected” to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days, or until that person receives 2 consecutive negative test results.
  • Employers complete a hazard assessment by job category for potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Governor Northam also included in his announcement that there will be mandatory “infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications.”

The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program is enforcing the standards. Penalties could range from $13,000 to $130,000.

The emergency standards will expire in 6 months, or when Virginia’s State of Emergency ends, or if a permanent standard is implemented.

But there are other certain effective dates you need to know. You have:

  • 60 days from July 27, 2020, to respond with a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan, if required for your facility (September 25, 2020).
  • 30 days from July 27, 2020, to make sure all of your employees have been trained and you have written certification records for those employees (August 26, 2020).
  • To evaluate your workplace and conduct a hazard assessment by job description for the likelihood of contact with COVID-19 (due upon release of the final rule on July 27, 2020).

How:

  • Conduct a Hazards Assessment. Review and audit your current practices, identify areas for improvement, and additional protocols you may need to implement.
  • Review the final language with your legal counsel to ensure you have a clear understanding of what is required of employers. 
  • Work and communicate with your employees about the importance of a safe work environment. Train them on the proper procedures you’ve put in place and any required training courses.

Additional Resources

§16VAC25-220, Emergency Final Standard

§16VAC25-220, Emergency Temporary Standard

Outreach, Education And Training For The COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, 16VAC25-220

Business and Gathering Restrictions

Who: Virginia employers, employees, and residents

When: March 24, 2020 through April 23, 2020 (Updated to May 8, 2020, through an extension of Executive Order No. 53)

What:

Governor Ralph Northam issued an Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more individuals, closing K–12 schools for the remainder of the 2019–2020 school year, closing recreational and entertainment businesses, limiting patronage at certain retail establishments, and closing dining areas in food and beverage establishments. Delivery and take-out food and beverages from these restaurants are still available.

Childcare facilities may remain open within previously stated guidelines. Families that can keep their children at home are asked to do so.

Essential retail businesses may remain open during normal business hours. Those businesses are:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers, automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Brick-and-mortar businesses not listed above may remain open if they are able to limit in-person patrons to no more than 10 at a time and maintain proper social distancing of six feet. If you cannot meet those requirements, you must close the business. If your business provides professional services, arrange for employees to work from home if at all possible. If telework is not possible, these businesses should maintain social distancing recommendations and enhanced sanitizing practices.

Other services that are considered essential and may remain open are:

  • Health care and medical services;
  • Essential services for low-income residents;
  • Media operations;
  • Law enforcement; and
  • Government operations.

How:

  • Determine if your business is defined as essential and may remain open during normal business hours.
  • Arrange for employees to work from home whenever possible. If telework is not possible, create policies to the ensure safety of all employees reporting to work, including but not limited to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitization practices, and limiting physical touch with customers and other employees.
  • If your business is not essential, and it is not a recreational or entertainment business, develop a strategy for adhering to the requirement for no more than 10 patrons at a time in your establishment, while adhering to social distancing recommendations.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 53 (2020)

Frequently Asked Questions (re: Executive Order 53)

Coronavirus VOSH Hazard Alert

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

West Virginia COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

West Virginia will begin a 6-week phased approach to reopening starting on April 30, 2020. Called “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback,” the plan will begin easing restrictions each Monday. Businesses are encouraged but not required to reopen.

Businesses will want to focus on the start of Week 2, starting May 4, where reopening may occur as long as social distancing, sanitation, and face covering requirements are met. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees could reopen, but businesses with larger numbers should await further guidance (see the recent guidance and The Comeback plan for small businesses and restaurants).

Update: 6/9/20: Starting June 8, 2020, all remaining sports facilities may reopen as well as additional low-contact youth sports, youth athletics and band summer camps, and little league. Beginning June 10, 2020, private campgrounds and state-run campgrounds may begin reopening to out-of-state guests. Movie theaters and casinos may begin reopening.

Update 6/4/20: Executive Order No. 41-20 was issued to reopen businesses like pools, spas/message services, indoor amusement, zoos, and bars under proper social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Update 5/18/20: Executive Order 37-20 was issued allowing recreation centers, fitness centers, gyms, and recreational activites to reopen/resume beginning May 18, 2020.

Additional Resources

New: West Virginia Press Releases and Executive Orders

West Virginia Strong – The Comeback

West Virginia Strong – The Comeback Guide

Public Health Standard Emergency Rule

West Virginia Department of Health

Executive Order 32-20

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