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Businesses Temper Expectations Over Covid-19 Liability Shield

April 23, 2020, 5:49 PM

Here are the day’s top coronavirus stories from the team at Bloomberg Law:

  • TACKLING TORT: Businesses that reopen during the pandemic likely won’t be completely off the hook if workers and customers fall ill, even as the Trump administration looks at ways to ease employers’ liability concerns.
  • SHORT-TIME COMPENSATION: A little-used tool to avert layoffs called “work sharing” that lets employees tap into jobless benefits when their hours are reduced could gain traction when businesses reopen.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT WAVE CONTINUES: More than 4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the five-week total during the pandemic to 26.5 million in the steepest downturn for the U.S. labor market since the Great Depression. Filings might continue at an extraordinary pace for several more weeks, boosting an unemployment rate that may already be around 20%.

Live Today

David Lat, founding editor of Above the Law and a Covid-19 survivor, joins u/bloomberglaw on Reddit to answer questions about where the pandemic-caused recession leaves the legal industry. Lat, an attorney turned legal journalist and recruiter, spent 17 days in the hospital—including 6 days in critical condition in the ICU. Join our Reddit AMA on Thursday at 2 p.m. EST on r/law.

Editor’s Top Picks

Dave & Buster’s ‘Going Concern’ Warning Signals Wave to Come
Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc. warned investors this month that there was a substantial risk that the entertainment company wouldn’t survive the next 12 months. The company’s going concern notice, typically a red flag for investors, was among several filed since mid-March.

Air Purifiers Making Covid-19 Claims Face Legal, Financial Risks
Makers of air purifiers and other home health devices will face stiff financial penalties from the EPA if they make inflated or misleading marketing claims that their products can fend off the coronavirus, attorneys say.

Remote Court Arguments Pose Challenges, New Routines for Lawyers
In the midst of logistical challenges, attorneys are discovering new workarounds and other tricks to keep up with litigation demands that continue unabated. They are simulating courtroom settings and brainstorming to minimize little hiccups—like pixelated video and rustling paper sounds.

CDC Doles Out $631 Million for Tracking and Tracing Coronavirus
Although it’s ramped up across the country, some experts lament testing still isn’t accessible and accurate enough. Antibody tests are being rolled out to try and quantify how many people have encountered the virus and who might have some level of immunity. The latest funding will help with that.

Trump Signs Order Suspending Immigration to Curb Job Competition
President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily curbing the issuing of new green cards for would-be U.S. permanent residents in an attempt to limit competition for jobs as the U.S. takes steps toward reopening the economy. While the order only halts the issuing of green cards for the next 60 days, Trump indicated it could be expanded in the future.

EEOC Backs Employer Virus Testing to Combat ‘Direct Threat’
Businesses may test workers for Covid-19 before allowing them to enter the workplace, because an infected person “will pose a direct threat to the health of others,” the federal agency enforcing workplace civil rights laws said in updated guidance.

Treasury Toughens Guidance on Who Can Get Small-Business Funds
The U.S. Treasury Department released new guidance Thursday ahead of the next round of funding for a government coronavirus relief program to help small businesses that emphasizes companies must certify the request is necessary, in an effort to limit large firms with other funding options from applying.

PODCAST: Toxic Cleanup Slowdown Hits Low Income Areas Hardest
The EPA took action earlier this month to allow cleanup work at some toxic Superfund sites to slow down or even stop during the pandemic. The agency did this to protect the workers cleaning up these sites. But the move also negatively affects the neighborhoods near Superfund sites, many of which contain a disproportionate amount of public housing.

INSIGHT: Health-Care Transactions Will Pick Back Up After Virus
Although 2020 health-care transaction started off at the same fast pace as prior years, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down much of the deal activity. Epstein Becker & Green attorneys take a look at what to expect in 2020 after the dust settles and activity picks back up.

Click here for updates on how federal courts are operating during the pandemic.

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Editor’s Note: The Bloomberg Law news team has been closely covering the legal, regulatory, business, and tax implications of the coronavirus pandemic. This daily email highlights the top stories of the day, across practice areas. To unsubscribe, please adjust your Bloomberg Law newsletter settings. For assistance, contact our help desk at 888-560-2529 or help@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Ward in Washington at mward@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com