- This guide is intended to be a resource for general information, and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have questions about your specific situation as it relates to your small business, your custody case, or your criminal case, please consult with an attorney.
Relief for Small-Business Owners
- UPDATE 4/17/2020 (PPP funds have reportedly all been allocated) Paycheck Protection Program Loans – These federally guaranteed loans are designed to help employers (including self-employed) to maintain their payroll, and then apply for forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll and other qualified expenses. You can apply for this program through a local lender starting April 3, 2020. For more details: https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/023595_comm_corona_virus_smallbiz_loan_final.pdf
- UPDATE 4/17/2020 (EIDL funds have reportedly all been allocated) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) – Small businesses and non-profits can get up to a $10,000 advance on an EIDL (total loan amount can be up to $200,000 without providing a personal guarantee). Sole proprietors and independent contractors are now eligible to apply for these loans. The application is available at: https://covid19relief.sba.gov
- Unemployment Compensation Benefits for Self-Employed – The new CARES Act allows many people who are self-employed to now qualify for unemployment compensation. In Pennsylvania, self-employed individuals should NOT apply through the regular Unemployment Compensation website, as the new application will be different and is not yet available. We will update here once the application is available (as of 4/17/2020, the application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is expected to be available by the end of April). To see if you are eligible for Pandemic Employment Assistance in Pennsylvania, see: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/CARES-Act/Pages/PUA-FAQs.aspx. For an overview of all of the changes to unemployment as a result of the CARES Act, view: https://tinyurl.com/v4sax3z
- Additional information and resources for small businesses are available through a guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/co/small-business-coronavirus
Responsibilities of Small Businesses
- UPDATE 4/17/2020 – MANDATORY MASKS: Beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, 2020, employers MUST provide masks for their EMPLOYEES to wear, and make it mandatory to wear the mask while at the work site. Require all CUSTOMERS to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks (unless business is providing medication or medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide an alternative method of pick-up or delivery of goods, EXCEPT individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years), who may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation. For more information and other requirements: https://bit.ly/2ygorEb
- UPDATE 4/17/2020 – As part of Pennsylvania’s worker safety order, if a business discovers that an employee has a probable or confirmed case of Covid-19, they must: 1) implement temperature screenings; 2) close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual; 3) wait a minimum of 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection; 4) clean and disinfect all spaces, especially commonly used rooms and shared equipment; 5) identify and notify employees who were in close contact with that individual; 6) ensure that the business has a sufficient number of employees to perform these protocols effectively and immediately. For more details: https://bit.ly/2ygorEb
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Certain employers are required to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to Covid-19. For more details: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave
- If you have questions about what is required of your business, please call us to schedule a consultation.
Impact on Custody Orders
- In Pennsylvania, your current custody order remains in effect, regardless of the Governor’s statewide stay-at-home order, which went into effect on April 1, 2020. You must continue to carry out custody exchanges as set forth in your order, unless you seek and obtain emergency relief from the court handling your custody case. If you believe you have an emergency situation that warrants modifying custody, please consult with an attorney. Our office is available for telephone and video consultations.
Impact on Pending Criminal Cases
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered that Rule 600 (the rule setting deadlines for the right to a speedy trial) is suspended during the judicial emergency, which began on March 19, 2020. The order is confusing, however, as it specifically states that it does not affect the constitutional right to a speedy trial — but it also states that the time during the judicial emergency will not count toward the speedy trial deadline. Applying Rule 600 always depends on the circumstances of the case, so you should consult an attorney about how it affects your case. Our office is available for telephone and video consultations.
- Like trials, the judicial emergency has caused most other hearings to be postponed. Certain hearings are still considered essential to hold, however, such as preliminary hearings for those in custody and “Gagnon I” detention hearings in probation/parole revocation cases. If you think that a hearing in your case should be held by video or telephone, call us for assistance.
Potential New Criminal Cases
- News reports from Pennsylvania and other states show that some law enforcement authorities are taking “stay at home” orders very seriously, sometimes stopping people who are outside their homes and issuing citations for violating the order. While the most likely offense to be charged in this circumstance is a summary offense, it may be punished by jail time. Depending on the specific circumstances, though, more serious charges are possible — some less likely to be upheld by a court than others. If you find yourself charged with a crime based on a violation of the “stay at home” order or otherwise related to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to get competent advice from an attorney. We are currently taking new clients and are available for consultations by telephone or video.
- Apart from charges for violating the “stay at home” order, it is possible that law enforcement agencies may file charges against those known to be infected with the novel coronavirus, or individuals reacting to people believed to be infected. If you are unsure whether you face criminal liability for a particular situation, please contact our office to schedule a consultation by telephone or video.
- Any new criminal cases filed during the Covid-19 pandemic will be affected by the various court orders in effect at the time. These orders may change the way cases are handled and taken to court. Basically, the most important distinction during this judicial emergency is between defendants held in custody while their cases are pending and those who are released on bail. People who are not in custody likely will have their cases delayed until the judicial emergency is over, while people who are in custody will probably have limited court appearances. If you are unsure whether your case is proceeding through the court as it should during the pandemic, consult an attorney. We are available to consult on such cases by telephone or video.