Law360 (May 4, 2021, 3:48 PM EDT) -- In major pandemic reopening announcements, New Jersey and New York this week unveiled plans to completely lift capacity limits for businesses as COVID-19 cases trend downward and the states progress toward vaccination goals.
Immunization developments also include walk-in vaccinations at public clinics in Delaware and an effort by California firefighters to encourage residents to get the shot. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis made a statement against government "overreach" by prohibiting businesses and schools from requiring vaccination as a condition of services.
Pandemic relief efforts will also deliver tax relief for small California businesses and more food assistance in Delaware.
Here's a breakdown of some of the COVID-19-related state measures from the past week.
Click for state-by-state data on COVID-19 legislation and executive orders, powered by LexisNexis.
The state has partnered with the California Fire Foundation to encourage individuals to get vaccinated, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday. The foundation has produced two videos, viewable on YouTube, featuring the voices of firefighters talking about how coronavirus has impacted communities.
Newsom on April 29 signed legislation authorizing a $6.2 billion tax cut over the next six years for small businesses struggling financially due to the pandemic. Under the new law, forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans won't be counted as taxable income, and these businesses can also write off the expenses that were covered by the loans.
Health officials on Monday announced that households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will get additional food assistance through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program for children younger than 6.
Residents seeking vaccinations without an appointment can do so at five public health clinics in Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford and Wilmington, health officials announced April 28. Walk-in hours are 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 1:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The clinics are offering the Pfizer vaccine.
Flanked by small business owners and local lawmakers, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation that bans vaccine "passports" that would condition the receipt of business services or attendance at school on showing proof of vaccination. Officials said the purpose of the bill is to stem the tide of "local and state government overreach."
Gov. Charlie Baker announced April 29 that $8.8 million in federal funding is available to community-based organizations as part of the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative to help the state's 20 hardest-hit municipalities.
Citing the coronavirus "numbers trending decisively in the right direction" and the state's progress toward its adult-vaccination goals, Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday announced additional scalebacks of restrictions.
As of May 7, the outdoor gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 individuals, the indoor capacity limit for catered events will increase from 35% to 50%, up to a maximum of 250 people, and the prohibition on buffets and indoor bar seating will be lifted. As of May 19, the attendance limits for outdoor gatherings and for indoor and outdoor businesses, including houses of worship, will be completely lifted, although both will still be subject to the 6-foot social distancing rule. The indoor capacity limit for large venues will increase from 20% to 30%.
On April 28, Murphy signed an executive order allowing summer youth overnight and day camps to operate for the 2021 season, subject to coronavirus health and safety protocols.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday unveiled a slew of planned coronavirus restriction scalebacks. As of May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will rise from 200 to 500 people. As of May 19, capacity limits on businesses will be completely removed, although businesses will still be subject to the 6-foot social distancing rule. The indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 individuals and the indoor residential gathering limit will rise from 10 to 50 people, and the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will rise to 500. Any event gatherings may exceed gathering limits if all attendees have proof of full vaccination status or a recent negative coronavirus test result.
Also on Monday, Cuomo announced that the New York City subway will resume its regular 24-hour service schedule May 17.
On April 29, Cuomo said the state planned to provide 1,000 vaccine doses to a new pop-up site for 16- to 25-year-olds in Buffalo that was slated to operate April 30 and May 1.
As part of the state's Governor's Awards for Excellence program highlighting accomplishments in 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday recognized five Department of Community and Economic Development employees for ensuring residents have had access to critical funding resources throughout the pandemic. Over the past week, Wolf also acknowledged the state's long-term care ombudsman, two Department of Labor & Industry employees and three Department of Corrections workers for their efforts to help communities battle the coronavirus.
--Editing by Kelly Duncan.
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