May 2021: CDC Updates Outdoor Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People

Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the details?
This update loosens the CDC’s mask-wearing recommendations for those fully vaccinated, allowing many outdoor activities without a mask.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose vaccine series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The new guidance says that people fully vaccinated can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues. Fully vaccinated people can participate in the following activities without a mask:

  • Walking, running, or biking outdoors with members of the same household
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households

For those fully vaccinated, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask in indoor settings.

According to the agency, it is also safe for unvaccinated people to walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of their household or attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends without wearing a mask. However, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated people continue to wear a mask when around unvaccinated people, including at both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The CDC guidance can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
No action is required of employers.

May 2021: $29 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund Accepting Applications Beginning May 3, 2021

Update Applicable to:
Establishments eligible to apply for the grant program include restaurants (including franchises), bars, food trucks, breweries, bakeries, and caterers, among others. Ineligible establishments include those that are permanently closed, publicly traded companies, and businesses that own over 20 locations.

What happened?
Beginning May 3, 2021, restaurants may begin submitting applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a grant program geared toward combating the economic impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry.

What are the details?
The grant program—the Restaurant Revitalization Fund—was allocated $29 billion from the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill passed earlier this year.

Through the fund, eligible restaurants can receive up to $10 million per business or up to $5 million for a single physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible expenses no later than March 11, 2023.

Funds may be used for specific expenses, including:

  • Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation
  • Business rent payments (this does not include prepayment of rent)
  • Business debt service, both principal and interest (this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
  • Business utility payments
  • Business maintenance expenses
  • Construction of outdoor seating
  • Business supplies, including protective equipment and cleaning materials
  • Business food and beverage expenses, including raw materials
  • Covered supplier costs
  • Business operating expenses

Employers can read more about this on the SBA’s website, here.

What do employers need to do?
The program is optional, employers who qualify may read how to apply on the SBA’s website at the link above.

May 2021: President Biden Issues Executive Order Raising the Federal Contractor Minimum Wage to $15

Update Applicable to:
All federal contractors.

What happened?
On April 27, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order raising the minimum wage of federal contractors to $15 per hour.

What are the details?
Beginning January 30, 2022, agencies must incorporate the new rate into contract solicitations, implementing the wage into new contracts by March 30, 2022, according to the order.

Organizations must also implement the $15 per hour wage into existing contracts if they are extended.

This increase builds upon a previous executive order from former President Obama that raised federal contractor minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

According to the White House fact sheet, the following measures are included in the executive order:     

  • Increase the hourly minimum wage for federal contractors to $15. The rate will be indexed for inflation every year after 2022.
  • Eliminate the tipped minimum wage for federal contractors by 2024. Currently, tipped employees can receive sub-minimum wages if they receive tips that make up the difference. By 2024, tipped employees will receive the same rate as other federal contract workers.
  • Ensure a $15 minimum wage for federal contract workers with disabilities. This provision was included to ensure equity among workers.
  • Restore minimum wage protections to outfitters and guides operating on federal lands. This reverses an executive order issued by the previous administration.

The White House fact sheet can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Applicable employers should update their payroll practices to reflect the increase in the minimum wage.