In this issue:

Announcements:

Legal Updates:

Economy:

National Housing News:

Past Announcements:

 

Announcements:

Executive Order 63 – Face Covering Requirements/Workplace Safety Regulations

On Tuesday, May 26, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 63 requiring Virginians to wear face coverings while in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This requirement becomes effective Friday, May 29.  The Governor also directed the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19. Click here to read to full text of Executive Order 63.For more information on how to wear, make, or clean face coverings, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website here.

HBAV will be seeking additional guidance and recommendations from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on how this requirement impacts in the housing industry – and as mentioned above, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry will be released temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.  We will provide you that information as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, we are urging HBAV members to practice common-sense and to err on the side of caution.  The following are recommendations from HBAV:

  • Continue maintaining social distancing on job sites and in offices if teleworking is not feasible
  • Utilize virtual/electronic meetings with customers and employees to the greatest extent possible
  • Wash hands, job site tools, and workspace surfaces frequently
  • By-appointment only for model homes and open houses; have employees utilize face coverings during appointments
    • While scheduling appointments, have employees suggest that the customer bring a face covering to the appointment
  • During local building department inspections:
    • Bring face covering in there is a chance that you will interact directly with the inspector
    • Plan ahead with the local building inspector – minimize the number of individuals inside the home; if feasible, allow inspector to conduct his or her review while builder/contractors are outside or in a car.

The following information is directly from Governor Northam’s Executive Order 63:

Face Coverings Required: Patrons

All patrons in the Commonwealth aged ten and over shall when entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time inside the settings listed below cover their mouth and nose with a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC.

  • Personal care and grooming businesses
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail including home improvement, hardware. Building material, and building supply retailers, grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food and beverage establishments, including but not limited to, restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets, when permitted to reopen for indoor dining.
  • Entertainment or recreation businesses, including but not limited to, racetracks, historic horse racing facilities, theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement, once permitted to reopen to the public. Face coverings shall also be required when patrons are outdoors at these businesses if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.
  • Train stations, bus stations, and intrastate public transportation, including buses, rideshares, trains, taxis, and cars for hire, as well as any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation. This requirement shall not apply in any area under federal jurisdiction or control.
  • State or local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services, with the exception of students in daycare centers or participating in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes. This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another.

Face Coverings Required: Employees of Essential Retail Businesses

All employees of essential retail businesses as listed in Amended Executive Order 61 and Amended Order of Public Health Emergency Three (section c, paragraph 1) shall wear a fac covering whenever working in customer facing areas. This includes employees of:

  1. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  2. Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  3. Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  4. Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  5. Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  6. Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  7. Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  8. Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  9. Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  10. Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  11. Pet and feed stores; l. Printing and office supply stores; and m. Laundromats and dry cleaners.

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana. Medical-grade masks and personal protective equipment should be reserved for health care professionals.

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to following:

  1. While eating or drinking;
  2. Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
  3. Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
  4. Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
  5. When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services; and
  6. Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.

Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.

The Governor is also directing the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards for occupational safety that will protect employees from the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces. These occupational safety standards will require the approval by vote of the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board and must address personal protective equipment, sanitation, record-keeping of incidents, and hazard communication. Upon approval, the Department of Labor and Industry will be able to enforce the standards through civil penalties and business closures. Click here to read to full text of Executive Order 63.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond should reopen Friday while easing all Phase One restrictions

Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday rebuffed a call from Mayor Levar Stoney to maintain some COVID-19 restrictions as Richmond begins reopening Friday. In a letter to Northam dated Monday and released Tuesday, Stoney said the city’s phased reopening should maintain restrictions on gatherings at churches and places of worship, as well as those shuttering barbershops, salons and other grooming services.

Northam, however, said “the capital city should operate under the same provisions that will apply to all 138 Virginia localities starting Friday.”

“This forces no business or house of worship to take any action it does not want to take,” Northam said. Click here to read more.

Washington Post: Northam says Northern Virginia can begin reopening on Friday

Communities in Northern Virginia can begin easing their pandemic-related shutdowns on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam said, arguing that the region is seeing a decline in hospitalizations and the percentage of positive tests for the novel coronavirus even as the rate and overall number of infections remain far higher than in the rest of the state.

In a joint letter to Northam on Monday, the elected leaders of 10 Northern Virginia counties, cities and towns said four out of six critical metrics for entering into a phase one reopening have been met: increased testing, adequate hospital capacity, and 14 days of consistent declines in positivity and new hospitalizations. Click here to read more.

Legal Updates:

Virginia Multifamily Landlord Lease Enforcement During COVID-19 Pandemic

Multifamily landlords looking to enforce lease provisions during the COVID-19 pandemic face a complicated framework of quickly enacted emergency federal, state and local laws and uncertainty over a shifting regulatory landscape. This article seeks to clarify what multifamily landlords in Virginia can and cannot do under the current federal, state and local regulations. Click here to read more.

IRS Issues Proposed Regs on Rehabilitation Credit

The IRS has released 26 CFR Part 1, resolving questions regarding the five-year period to claim rehabilitation credits for qualified rehabilitation buildings (QRBs).  Prior to the proposed regulation, practitioners were unclear on the special rules of Internal Revenue Code (the Code) sections 47 and 50, relating to recapture, basis adjustment and leased property.  Practitioners also were unclear on whether rehabilitation credits are allocated ratably over the five-year period or whether five different rehabilitation credits are determined in each year of the five-year period.  Rehabilitation credits are no longer fully allowed in the taxable year the QRB is placed into service but must be claimed ratably over the five-year period beginning in the year the QRB is placed into service.  The rehabilitation credit is determined in the year the QRB is placed into service (consistent with prior law). Click here to read more.

Economy:

Wells Fargo Economics Group: Sharp Slide in Consumer Confidence Stopped in May

After back-to-back monthly declines in March and April, consumer confidence edged slightly higher in May and while consumers’ take on the present situation worsened, expectations for the future are brightening slightly. Click here to read more.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond: The Effects of Expiring Stay-at-Home Orders and the Shape of the Recovery

Does the expiration of state stay-at-home orders — issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — facilitate economic recovery in a substantial way? What is the likely shape of the recovery? Are we seeing any indication of a sharp, quick rebound in economic activity (a so-called V-shaped recovery)? Click here to read more.

National Housing News:

Wells Fargo Economics Group: New Home Sales Rise Modestly in April

New home sales blew past expectations in April, rising 0.6% to a 623,000-unit pace, 143,000 above consensus. Builders had said business was solid in April, in sharp contrast to most other activities. Click here to read more.

NAHB: New Home Sales Overperform in April

After weakening in March, the volume of new home sales came in much better than expected in April. Due to economic challenges associated with COVID-19, NAHB was forecasting an additional sales decline in April. However, new home sales estimates from the Census Bureau reveal relatively flat conditions compared to March. Click here to read more.

Existing Home Sales See Largest Drop in Nearly 10 Years

Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), fell for the second straight month in April as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country’s economic activity and hit the labor market. Click here to read more.

CNBC: Bidding wars in a pandemic?  Housing is heating up fast.

States are loosening social distancing restrictions and homebuyers are rushing to open houses again. The trouble is, they’re not finding much to buy. The coronavirus pandemic caused a historic drop in the supply of homes for sale that was already pretty meager. New listings had dropped by half during the second weak of April, compared with a year ago, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Weak supply and growing demand is now causing a surge in bidding wars, especially for homes priced below $1 million. Click here to read more.

Past Announcements:

Governor Northam launches COVID-19 Housing Issues Website

Governor Northam announced that his administration has launched a website of resources, ”Stay Home Virginia”, in partnership with the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The website is a consolidation of many useful tools, helpful information, and resources for renters, homeowners, landlords, and those experiencing homelessness. Summaries of both the federal and state protections are also outlined. Click here for the Governor’s press release on the current state of housing security efforts.

Governor Northam Executive Order 61

On May 14, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 61 which established a framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. Governor Northam also issued “exemptions” for Northern Virginia, the City of Richmond, and Accomack County to allow them to delay moving to Phase 1.  Although the Governor’s new Executive Order does not place any additional restrictions on our industry, we wanted to provide you an overview of the recommendations and guidelines for Phase One. Click here for more information.