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Below is a quick roundup of updated state guidance regarding COVID-19 regulations and executive orders.
New York and Maryland
Requiring face masks for employees.
New York issued an executive order that requires employers who are still operating as essential businesses to provide protective face coverings for their employees who are present in the workplace amid the emergency. The coverings are to be provided at the employer's expense. New York's executive order is here.
Maryland issued a similar executive order, except the Maryland order seems to be limited in scope to retail establishments. The order's definition of "retail establishment" seems to be limited to businesses that are physically customer-facing.
Prohibiting the garnishment of stimulus checks.
The new trend in town is regulators blocking CARES Act stimulus checks from involuntary collections, such as garnishments and attachments. Massachusetts' Attorney General issued such guidance last week, and it seems that the domino effect is beginning. Oregon has now issued an executive order forbidding the garnishment of stimulus check money.
The executive order states that during the pendency of the COVID-19 emergency period, financial institutions that receive deposits of stimulus money must treat such money "in the same manner as federal benefit payments" unless the garnishment states that it is an award of restitution for a civil judgment based on a criminal offense.
The order goes into effect immediately, and Oregon's Attorney General and Department of Justice are to provide further guidance regarding these directives.
Tightening restrictions on open essential businesses.
New Jersey's governor issued a new executive order on April 10 that places tighter restrictions on businesses that remain open as essential businesses. While many of the restrictions apply to retail and construction businesses, there is a section (section 5) that discusses the obligations of owners of buildings used for essential businesses, such as office parks and residential buildings. The requirements include frequent cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas on top of maintaining normal cleaning procedures, and ensuring that the facility has sufficient workers to perform cleaning protocol.
Prohibiting evictions and foreclosures.
On April 16, Washingon's governor extended the state's prohibitions against evictions and other measures—it now goes through June 4, 2020. The extension also issues strict prohibitions for landlords, property owners, and property managers, including the prohibition of treating unpaid rent as an enforceable debt that is collectible where the non-payment was a result of COVID-19. Other prohibitions include issuing notices to vacate, seeking evictions, and assessing late fees or other charges for non-payments or late payments.