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COVID-19 Task Force

We recognize that many clients have growing concerns as they continue to operate their businesses in an increasingly challenging environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In an effort to keep our clients and friends of the firm as up-to-date as possible on developments that affect them and their businesses, we are compiling all of our news and information, as well as important links to additional state and federal resources, on this page. 

Our commitment to our clients is to continue to provide quality legal services during this challenging situation. Our lawyers will continue to keep clients and friends of the firm abreast of current information and provide guidance as we work together to combat COVID-19. We are addressing client issues involving insurance, real estate, wage and hour, employment, and general contract review.

All of our client alerts can be emailed directly to your inbox as they are posted.  If you would like to join our email list, please contact us at connect@ccj.com to register.

Thank you for putting your trust in us and know that we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out for information and support.


Business and Corporate

Governor DeWine Extends and Expands Stay at Home Order

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday, April 2, that Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, would sign an Amended Stay at Home Order to extend through 11:59 p.m. on May 1. The amended Order, which is effective immediately after its predecessor’s expiration, is largely the same as the state's previous stay-at-home order but is slightly expanded. All individuals currently living within Ohio are still ordered to stay at home or their place of residence, except as allowed in the Order. Leaving home for Essential Travel and Essential Activities as set forth in the Order is acceptable. Only Essential Businesses continue to be permitted to stay open. The CISA Guidance on Essential Infrastructure Workers’ definition of which workers are essential changed on March 28, 2020. 

CARES Act Offers Businesses Incentives to Prevent Layoffs

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (often referred to as the stimulus package). Included in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package are provisions aimed at incentivizing businesses to retain workers despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we discuss two of those provisions, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

Questions Persist Regarding “Essential Businesses” Under Stay at Home Order

Ohio's Stay at Home Order continues to raise questions as to the types of businesses that may remain open and the rules under which they must operate during the Ohio Order. It has become clear that authorities in different jurisdictions are taking differing approaches in responding to the Ohio Order. Our advice to businesses has three parts.

Can My Plant Stay Open? Is it Essential or Not?

Can my manufacturing plant stay open in light of the Director of the Department of Health’s Stay at Home Order (“Ohio Order”)? A Manufacturer can stay open in at least two ways. First, if it meets the definition of an Essential Business. Second, if it produces products used by “Other Essential Businesses and Operations.”

Ohio Governor Announces Temporary Shut-Down of Non-Essential Businesses in an Effort to Combat the Spread of Coronavirus

On Sunday afternoon, March 22, 2020, Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton signed a state-wide stay-at-home order (Order) for all Ohioans. According to Governor Mike DeWine, the Order does permit exceptions to staying home.

SBA Disaster Loans Available to Small Businesses and Non-Profits in Ohio

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) is offering designated states and territories low-interest disaster loans to provide working capital to small businesses suffering economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio Offers Liquor Buyback Program in Support of Distressed Bars and Restaurants

In conjunction with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's announcement that the Ohio Department of Health issued a Director's Order to close all Ohio bars and restaurants to in-person guests on Sunday, March 15, 2020, the Ohio Department of Commerce began offering a one-time liquor buyback program to lessen the financial blow caused by the closures.

Construction

Coronavirus and Construction

The coronavirus crisis is just beginning to affect the construction industry and should impact the industry for many months, if not longer. To help navigate these treacherous times, we here at Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston want to assist you by providing some helpful guidance on issues you may face.  

Elder Law

COVID-19 and Nursing Homes

Early on, the current pandemic crisis hit many of America’s nursing homes and long-term care communities hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has issued a preparedness checklist for all such facilities.

Employment Law and Employee Benefits

Employers with Solely Remote Workforces due to COVID-19 are Afforded Temporary Flexibility of Form I-9 Requirements

On March 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. The new provisions apply only to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.

DOL Issues Poster and FAQs on Employee Rights under Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Labor has issued additional guidance, including a poster and FAQs, to assist both employers and employees in understanding the requirements of the Act.

CARES Act Offers Assistance to Individuals

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes several elements intended to keep Americans engaged in the economy. It provides cash payments directly to individuals, expands unemployment benefits and changes the rules for student loans. A summary of those elements is set out in detail in the alert.

The CARES Act Brings Changes to Retirement and Other Benefit Plans

This afternoon, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed the House of Representatives by voice vote, with a formal signature by the President expected imminently. We address some of the key takeaways regarding retirement and health and welfare plans below. The most urgent item added by the CARES Act is likely to be the $100,000 distribution option from retirement plans.

Status of Federal Stimulus Bill - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, often referred to colloquially as the stimulus bill or package, is a record-setting $2 trillion deal. The Federal government has been promising assistance over the last couple weeks, and now that passage of the CARES Act seems to be imminent, many are starting to ask, “how will this help my family?” and “how will this help my business?” A few of the major features of the Act are covered here.

DOL Clarifies that Paid Sick Leave is Inapplicable to Employees Out of Work Because their Workplace has Shut Down

Updated April 2, 2020

On March 22, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health issued a Stay at Home Order (Order), ordering the closure of non-essential businesses in Ohio for a two-week period starting at 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 23. Businesses that are required by the Order to shut-down are wondering if the Order will trigger their obligation to provide affected employees with paid leave under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act).  

The Coronavirus Pandemic: A Resource for Employers

This article is updated regularly.  Last update on April 1, 2020.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has raised complex and unprecedented issues for employers to consider. Advice from federal health officials changes daily. Some of the key employment issues are discussed below. We will update this article, as needed, as new developments with the Coronavirus and the government’s response to the virus continue to unfold. 

Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides two significant benefits for employees and a corresponding tax credit for employers. The law will go into effect April 1, 2020, and will remain in place until December 31, 2020. Both bills cover all employers having fewer than 500 employees.

Bob Gorman and Kim Hall are Guests of Wooster Chamber in COVID-19 Q&A for Area Businesses

Critchfield attorneys Bob Gorman and Kim Hall partnered with the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce for a roundtable discussion of the issues faced by employers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Estate Planning

COVID-19 and Estate Planning: The Importance of Having an Updated Plan in Place

COVID-19 has us all thinking differently. Last month, we were going about our day-to-day lives focusing on our work, projects, community involvement, parties, gatherings, and vacation-planning, to name a few. Now, the focus has completely shifted to our health, financial, and mental well-being. One question that comes to mind-if I or my family member gets sick, do we have a good estate plan in place to protect our family? Unfortunately, setting up an estate plan is one of those items that we tend to put off. It’s been on the yearly to-do list for years and years but we just haven’t gotten around to it. Well, now is the time to get around to it.

Fraud and Cybersecurity

Scammers Exploiting COVID-19 Pandemic

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Justice warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in Coronavirus-related scams. We highlight some of the fraudulent activity as well as provide some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.

Insurance

Health Insurance Update: Flexibility for Ohio Employees and Employers During COVID-19

On March 20, 2020, the Superintendent of Insurance ordered and directed all insurers to comply with the following requirements until the expiration of the state of emergency declared by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Real Estate

Ohio Real Estate Closings Continue During COVID-19

Ohio will pass a law today that mandates local county government offices necessary for the transfer of real property to remain open at least to real estate professionals during the COVID-19 emergency. This is an important step to keeping Ohio’s banking, lending, real estate, and general economy functioning. Counties may limit access and limit hours of operation, but they must keep these real estate services, deemed essential by the new law, open.

State Aid - Multiple Topics

Ohio Passes Bill to Address Problems Caused by the Coronavirus

Ohio recently passed HB 197 to address the situation caused by the Coronavirus. We have provided a brief overview of ways the bill tried to provide help in a variety of areas of our lives that have been affected, including unemployment, health care, education, and taxation.

Taxation

IRS Extends Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines

On March 20, 2020, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the IRS will extend the national income tax filing deadline by three months, to July 15, 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Transportation

FMCSA and PUCO Suspend Hours of Service Guidelines in Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

In an unprecedented action, both the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (“PUCO”) provided hours of service regulatory relief to commercial motor carriers engaged in the transportation of goods vital to relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers' Compensation

Ohio BWC Provides COVID-19 Relief

In the wake of the great economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) has announced that it will permit employers to defer their installment payments for March, April, and May until June 1, 2020. BWC has also made or is in the process of exploring, other adjustments to its processes and procedures as events dictate.