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Focus on Regulation

The Business and Human Rights landscape is shifting – be part of the conversation

The European Commission has opened an important new consultation. It asks about the possibility of introducing a mandatory duty for all companies operating in the EU to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence across their supply and/or value chains. The duty would be enforced either by national governments or through national courts.

A new legal duty of this kind could have significant implications for businesses. It could require companies to put in place and maintain processes to prevent, mitigate and account for adverse environmental and human rights impacts, including regarding labour rights and working conditions. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the proposed duty could apply:

  • throughout companies’ supply chains, encompassing the entire network established to produce and distribute a product, including companies’ subsidiaries, suppliers and even subcontractors;
  • throughout companies’ value chains, encompassing entities involved across the full range of activities that add value to raw materials in designing, producing and delivering a product to a customer; and
  • not only to companies established in EU Member States, but also to third-country companies carrying on business activities in the EU.

Companies have a lot to gain in terms of managing sustainability-related risks, increased legal certainty and a level playing field in the sphere of sustainable corporate governance. However, a due diligence duty along the lines proposed would create a new and potentially very wide field of regulatory compliance risk. It would also potentially create liabilities to anyone facing human rights or environmental harms arising out of companies’ operations and broader value chains.

Hogan Lovells is currently setting up a roundtable discussion with clients before the end of January to talk about the Commission’s consultation. Businesses’ input will feed into a response to the consultation. Please get in touch with your usual Hogan Lovells contact or a member of Hogan Lovells’ Business and Human Rights practice if you are interested in attending.

Key questions we intend to discuss include:

  1. What are the benefits and disadvantages for companies of a new human rights-based due diligence duty? (Consultation Question 3)
  2. What should the content of a new due diligence duty be? (Consultation Question 15)
  3. How could companies’ – in particular SMEs’ – due diligence burden be reduced? (Consultation Question 16)
  4. Should new due diligence rules apply to non-EU companies operating within the EU?  If so, what link should be required to make these companies subject to the rules? (Consultation Question 17)
  5. How should a new due diligence duty be enforced? (Consultation Question 19)

We would also be glad to assist any businesses in preparing their own responses to the consultation. Anyone interested in doing so is invited to get in touch with their usual Hogan Lovells contacts or a member of Hogan Lovells’ Business and Human Rights practice.

EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime

On 7 December 2020, the EU adopted a global human rights sanctions regime. No individuals have been designated yet. Going forward, this means that companies should ensure that they conduct sanctions screening on all counterparties and business partners against the EU asset freeze list, even if those third parties are not located in a country specifically targeted by an EU sanctions programme.

On 7 December 2020, the EU adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanctions regime. The new regime is inspired by the 2012 Magnitsky Act in the U.S., named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died of mistreatment in a Russian prison. Similarly the UK introduced the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations in July 2020.

In contrast to the U.S. and UK, the EU did not previously have a non-country-based sanctions programme to address human rights violations.

Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 sets out key policy and principles binding on the EU Member States and Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 sets out more detailed provisions that are directly binding on any person subject to EU jurisdiction. The accompanying Council press release states: “For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that will allow it to target individuals, entities and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.”

According to the Council press release, the decision to establish an EU global human rights sanctions regime “emphasises that the promotion and protection of human rights remain a cornerstone and priority of EU external action and reflects the EU’s determination to address serious human rights violations and abuses”.

The regime covers serious human rights violations and abuses, including:

  • genocide;
  • crimes against humanity;
  • torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • slavery; and
  • extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings.

The sanctions consist of:

  • an asset freeze for listed individuals/entities;
  • a prohibition to make funds or economic resources available to listed individuals and entities; and
  • a travel ban for listed individuals.

The regime targets:

  • individuals and entities responsible for or involved in serious human rights violations or abuses worldwide. It can also target individuals and entities associated with the perpetrators; and
  • it can target both state and non-state actors, regardless of where they are, and regardless of whether they commit violations and abuses in their own state, in other states or across borders.

The new regime will not replace existing geographic sanctions regimes, some of which already address human rights violations, but will enable the EU to target with greater flexibility and efficiency specific individuals responsible for human rights violations and abuses anywhere in the world.

As a result of these new measures, all funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by the targeted individuals and entities must be frozen, and no funds or economic resources can be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of these individuals and entities. The measures can extend to non-designated entities that are more than 50% “owned” or “controlled” by the sanctions targets, and can also target individuals and entities “associated” with the sanctions targets. Going forward, this means that EU companies should ensure that they conduct sanctions screening on all counterparties and business partners against the EU asset freeze list, even if those third parties are not located in a country specifically targeted by an EU sanctions programme.

Next steps

Moving forward, it will be for the Council, acting upon a proposal from an EU Member State or from the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to establish, review and amend the sanctions list. At this stage, no individuals or entities have been designated or publicly identified for potential listing under the new EU sanctions programme.

Please get in touch if you have any questions in respect of the EU global human rights sanctions regime.

You can read about the UK’s first sanctions designations under new global human rights sanctions regime here.

Switzerland: Responsible business initiative narrowly rejected despite gaining 50.7% of popular vote

The public referendum which took place on 29 November 2020 in Switzerland (see here  for further background information) rejected the proposed Responsible Business Initiative despite gaining 50.7% of the popular vote on 29 November 2020.

Due diligence obligation and liability for Swiss-based companies

Launched in April 2015 by a coalition of Swiss civil society organisations, the Responsible Business Initiative suggested the modification of the Swiss Federal Constitution to hold Swiss-based companies to account for human rights abuses committed abroad. Swiss-based companies would have been legally obliged to take into account respect for human rights in all their business activities, including activities conducted outside Switzerland, and may have faced associated liability and litigation risks attached to non-compliance with the obligation to carry out “appropriate due diligence”.

Under Swiss Law, a counter-proposal may be prepared by the Federal Council (i.e. Swiss Government) or the Swiss Parliament. The counter-proposal will eventually enter into force if accepted by the supporters of the initial proposal.

The Council of States (i.e. the Swiss Parliament’s upper house) and the National Council (i.e. the Swiss Parliament’s lower house) thus prepared diverging counter-proposals and the Swiss Parliament eventually issued a counter-proposal on 2 June 2020 which stood for a limited set of obligations concerning reporting and specific due diligence: the counter-proposal limits due diligence obligation to child labour and mining conflicts, with only public interest corporations being required to make a report.

Although the counter-proposal does not contain any liability rules for Swiss-based companies operating abroad, it foresees imposing a fine of up to 100,000 Swiss francs on any company violating the UN guidelines on business and human rights (UNGPs).

As the organisers of the Responsible Business Initiative did not withdraw their proposal, the Swiss due diligence initiative was set for public referendum on 29 November 2020.

Swiss public initiative rejected at ballot box

In Switzerland, a majority of both popular and cantonal vote is required for an initiative to pass. On 29 November, the RBI was narrowly rejected. While it reached 50.7% of the popular vote, it only received 8.5 of the required 12 regional majorities across the Swiss cantons.

As a result, the counter-proposal adopted by the Parliament will automatically enter into force in 2021. Civil society actors expressed their disappointment but recognised that the counter-proposal does at least support the responsibility of businesses and the respect of human rights and the environment.

Switzerland has now joined the ever-expanding list of countries that have enacted specific rules governing human rights due diligence, even if this obligation is strictly limited to certain topics. We will follow with great interest how the counter-proposal will be applied when it comes to the criminal sanctions for non-compliance with the UNGPs.

Christelle Coslin & Margaux Renard

Switzerland: a public referendum on human rights due diligence for Swiss-based companies

As expected, a public referendum as regards the Responsible Business Initiative (“RBI”) – i.e. a proposal launched in April 2015 by a coalition of Swiss civil society organisations on mandatory human rights due diligence for Swiss-based companies – will take place on 29 November 2020.

Due diligence obligation and liability for Swiss-based companies

The RBI takes the form of a suggested amendment to the Swiss Federal Constitution, which would result in the introduction of a new Article 101a “Responsibility of business” in the Constitution. Under the amendment, Swiss-based companies would be legally obliged to take into account respect for human rights in all their business activities, including activities conducted abroad, and may face the associated liability and litigation risks attached to non-compliance with the obligation to carry out “appropriate due diligence”.

Scope of due diligence obligation and liability for Swiss-based companies

Under Swiss Law, a counter-proposal may be prepared by the Federal Council (i.e. Swiss Government) or the Swiss Parliament. The counter-proposal eventually enters into force if accepted by the supporters of the initial proposal.

The Council of States (i.e. the Swiss Parliament’s upper house) and the National Council (i.e. the Swiss Parliament’s lower house) prepared diverging counter-proposals. While the Council of States’ counterproposal stood for a limited set of obligations concerning reporting and specific due diligence and contained no liability rules, the National Council’ counter-proposal focused on general parent company liability rules and broad due diligence obligations.

Although the organisers of the RBI stated they would withdraw their initiative if the stricter counter-proposal – with parent company liability rules and broad mandatory due diligence – were adopted, the Swiss Parliament voted on 2 June 2020 for the softer approach with due diligence obligations limited to child labor and mining conflicts and which does not contain any liability rules.

Swiss due diligence initiative set for a public referendum

As a result, the organisers of the RBI did not withdraw their proposal. Swiss voters will thus have to go to the polls this Sunday (29 November 2020) to decide whether the RBI should be accepted or rejected. If the RBI is dismissed by the Swiss population, the counter-proposal adopted by the Swiss Parliament would enter into force.

This means that, regardless of which of the proposal or counter-proposal prevails in the vote, Switzerland will definitely join the countries having enacted a body of rules regulating human rights due diligence next week.


The EU Commission’s study on options to regulate directors’ duties and corporate governance

The EU Commission recently published a study on options to regulate directors’ duties and corporate governance which argues that short-termism reduces long-term sustainability of European businesses. The purpose of such study is to contribute in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) adopted in 2015 and the objectives defined by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In that regard, while communicating the European Green Deal, the EU Commission highlighted the fact that corporate governance should address the issue of sustainability in the decision‑making process.

Study on sustainability in EU corporate governance

In that context, the EU Commission recently published the study on options to regulate directors’ duties and corporate governance which argues that short-termism reduces long-term sustainability of European businesses.

According to the EU Commission’s study there is not any defined threshold above which one can state that the focus on short term is excessive. Short-termism is evaluated in relative terms by (i) assessing the evolution over the time span of the amount of net corporate funds being used for pay-outs to shareholders (in the form of dividends or shares buybacks) compared with the evolution of the amount used for the creation of value over the life cycle of the firm and (ii) comparing between different companies, sectors or countries

This study thus aims at (i) identifying the causes of short-termism in corporate governance and (ii) assessing their relationship with current market practices and/or regulatory frameworks as well as (iii) finding potential EU solutions, including through common EU rules.

As for the root causes of short-termism, the study points out seven “key problem drivers” which are grounded in EU regulatory frameworks and market practices. The first problem would be that directors’ duties and company interests are interpreted narrowly and tend to favour short-term maximisation of shareholder value. Moreover, the study identifies a growing pressure from investors to focus on short-term benefits rather than long-term investments. It also appears that companies lack strategic perspective over sustainability and their current practices do not address sustainability risks and impacts. The actual board remuneration structures and the current board composition would incentivise short-term financial returns and would not fully support a shift towards sustainability. In addition, corporate governance frameworks and practices would not take into account the long-term interests of stakeholders in the decision-making process, and there is an alleged lack of enforcement of directors’ duties regarding the long-term interests of the company.

EU intervention

The study thus identifies three specific objectives that should be pursued by any future EU intervention to tackle the issue of short-termism and its cross-border effects such as climate change and pollution: (1) strengthening the role of directors in pursuing their company’s long-term interest, (2) improving directors’ accountability for their business conduct and the sustainability of their corporate governance and (3) promoting corporate governance practices contributing in the sustainability of companies.

For these measures to be taken, the study favours a “hard legislative” option, that is to institute a minimum of common rules that would promote the creation of long-term value. These rules could be adopted on the basis of Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which allows the EU to coordinate safeguards to protect the interests of companies’ members and other stakeholders to reach freedom of establishment. EU intervention could also be based on Article 114 of the TFEU, which gives the EU the competence to adopt measures to harmonise regulations to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.

Likely positive impacts of EU intervention

The EU Commission foresees a number of positive impacts resulting from its new propositions. EU intervention would create more legal certainty and level playing fields as to the necessary measures that should be taken to achieve sustainability in corporate governance. It would also give more leverage to business partners to comply with human rights commitments at all stages of the supply chain. Moreover, the Commission maintains that reaching sustainable objectives in corporate governance would improve the productivity, the profitability and the attractiveness of EU companies. Framing long-term decisions could also make EU businesses less vulnerable to short-term economic and social changes and to sudden crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, this would also benefit to the economy and to the society as a whole, as increasing investments for innovation, research and technological development would generate macro-economic growth and help the transition to sustainability.

A public consultation on sustainability and corporate governance should be held in the coming months to inform on the EU Commission’s legislative proposal in this regard. Businesses should keep an eye out for the potential enactment of new EU rules increasing directors’ duties which will likely impact the enforcement of businesses’ policies to prevent any adverse human rights impacts that may be associated with their activities.


Ongoing discussions at UN level on a draft international treaty binding businesses on Human Rights related due diligence and obligations: Major changes introduced by the Second Revised Draft

The Second Revised Draft of the legally binding instrument on business and human rights was released in August 2020 by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights (OEIGWG). It is a step forward before the adoption of a UN Legally Binding Instrument in the field of business and human rights. Please see our previous reports on these discussions at the bottom of this post.

A broader scope

The Second Revised Draft includes State-owned enterprises in the definition of legal entities undertaking business activities which clarifies that domestic business activity is covered by the Draft Treaty. It also refers to “business relationship” instead of “contractual relationship”, a term formerly used in the Revised Draft which was perceived as a limitation to the multiple ways in which companies relate to one-another. Continue Reading

Parts of our blog are moving!

We have moved parts of our blog to the new technology platform EngageEngage will give you the legal and regulatory insight and analysis you need, from across our global network, when you need it.

If you are signed up to receive emails from us, you’ll soon receive an email with details on how to use Engage to continue to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in regulation, as well as on different topics published by the firm if you’d like.

We are gradually moving all other blog content to Engage as well, but while we are making this transition, you will continue to be able to find content related to Aviation and Energy and on this website.

We value your loyal readership and look forward to seeing you on Engage!

Consumer IoT – European Commission initiates inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things sector

The European Commission (“Commission”) has launched an antitrust sector inquiry into the Internet of Things (“IoT”) sector for consumer-related products and services within the European Union. The Commission is looking to develop a better understanding of how this fast-moving sector works and some of the potential issues that may arise from a competition law perspective.  The regulator intends imminently to send requests for information to a range of players in this sector and already plans to publish a preliminary report on its findings in the spring of 2021. As such, the inquiry offers companies in the IoT sector an opportunity to steer the Commission’s approach to competition in this area.

Continue Reading

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – July 15, 2020

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines provided by the Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs team.

In Washington:

  • The White House denies that it is trying to undermine the nation’s top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Today the President’s trade advisor, Peter Navarro blasted Dr. Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus in a scathing USA Today op-ed entitled, “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on” and says he listens to Fauci with “skepticism and caution.” White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tried distancing the White House from the op-ed claiming in a tweet that the op-ed didn’t go through “normal White House clearance processes” and only Navarro’s opinion. Later, President Trump told reporters he had a good relationship with Dr. Fauci and Navarro’s comments were his own adding “shouldn’t be doing that.”  This afternoon, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that Navarro “violated” instructions by him and other staff to “de-escalate” the situation between the White House and Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci called the White House’s efforts to discredit him “bizarre” and responded that it ultimately harms President Trump.
  • Chairs from five House Committees wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, seeking answers as to why the Administration has not used funding in the CARES Act for the Defense Production Act to boost production of critical medical supplies and equipment needed to combat COVID-19, such as personal protection equipment and diagnostic testing.
  • Retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, the former chair of the joint chiefs of staff, has withdrawn himself from consideration to chair a coronavirus oversight panel tasked with managing the implementation of the US$500 million coronavirus relief fund.
  • A White House campaign released Tuesday is advocating for new “pathways” to jobs as the coronavirus pandemic has left many Americans out of work. The campaign entitled “Find Something New” encourages Americans who are unemployed or unhappy in their jobs or careers to seek new opportunities and promote vocational training rather than two-or-four year college programs. 
  • In a sudden reversal of his previous comments and opinion on masks, President Trump urged Americans to wear masks to prevent coronavirus spread. When asked about mandates on wearing masks during a CBS News interview on July 14,  Trump responded that governors should go by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, but stopped short of saying there should be a federal mandate.  Despite yesterday’s comments, the President did not wear a mask as he landed and greeted officials today in Georgia. 
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield warned that this fall and winter will be “one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced in American public health” and urged young people to wear face coverings in a tweet saying, “I believe if everyone, including #Millenials and #GenZ, wear a cloth face covering for the next 4 to 6 weeks, we can get the #COVID19 epidemic under control.”
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added three more hand sanitizers to its rolling list of products recalled because of possible contamination with a toxic chemical.  In total, over 65 of the cleansers have now tested positive for methanol, which can be poisonous if absorbed through the skin or ingested, according to the FDA’s latest update. The items have been introduced into the market at a time of heightened risk, with more consumers relying on sanitizers to help insulate themselves from infection with COVID-19.

In the News:

  • Republicans are looking for ways to ensure participants at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida are safe, as the state remains one of the major COVID-19 hotspots.  Officials are exploring alternative outdoor venues around the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for the evening programs.  Many Republican elected officials have already announced that they will not be attending the event that is scheduled from August 25-27 and it is still unknown how many people will be allowed to attend.   
  • Walmart and Sam’s Club will require customers at all of its US stores to wear masks beginning next week, becoming the largest retailer to mandate facial coverings as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
  • Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first U.S. governor known to have the virus. Stitt had pushed an aggressive reopening plan and rarely wears a mask.  The Governor also attended the President’s Tulsa campaign rally.  Stitt says that he feels “fine,” other than being a “little bit achy.” He said he’ll be quarantining and working from home.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced a state-wide mask order beginning Thursday that will be in effect until July 31. The order will replace all local rulings on masks for the two weeks it is in effect. 
  • JC Penny says it will close an additional 152 stores and cut 1,000 jobs as it tries to fight its way out from under bankruptcy protection.  The retailer said Wednesday that the jobs to be eliminated will include corporate, field management, and international positions.

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – July 14, 2020

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines provided by the Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs team.

In Washington:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday told reporters that when the Senate returns next week Republicans will start discussions on the next coronavirus stimulus package with their Democratic counterparts.  “I think you can anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks,” he said.  But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told Democrats on a caucus call on Monday that the House might be in session an extra week on the first of August to finish up coronavirus negotiations.  The expanded unemployment benefits are due to expire by the end of this month.  McConnell reiterated that no bill will pass the Senate without liability protection “for everyone related to the coronavirus.”
  • The Trump Administration is changing a new data reporting protocol and ordering hospitals to bypass the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and instead send critical COVID-19 information to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The CDC normally collects information on patients, available beds and additional data and would no longer become a data recipient.  Critics fear the administration’s moves could lead to the data being distorted for political gain.  The White House is also asking governors to consider sending its National Guard to its hospitals to help improve data collection about the virus.
  • The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a policy that would have stripped visas from international students whose courses moved exclusively online amid the coronavirus pandemic.  The move comes after the policy announcement last week sparked a flurry of litigation, beginning with a suit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by California’s public colleges and later a coalition of 17 states, among others. The development marks one of the few times the Trump Administration has backed down from implementing a major immigration-related policy without first being ordered by a judge to do so.  
  • Schools should bring students back to class, but local leaders will need to watch local infection rates, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. “Let’s try and get them open to the extent that we can, but let’s take a look at the dynamics of the infection in the area that you’re in,” Fauci said during a Georgetown University Global Health Initiative webinar. “We should try as best as possible to keep the children in school for the reasons that the unintended downstream ripple effect consequences of keeping the kids out of school and the impact on working families, and on other aspects of society can be profound,” Fauci said.  President Trump during an interview with CBS News said it would be a “terrible decision” if schools don’t open on time in the fall, ignoring possible concerns from those who view it as unsafe.
  • The executives of four private companies running immigration detention centers told lawmakers that about 900 of their employees have tested positive for COVID-19.   The companies — GEO Group, CoreCivic, Management & Training Corporation (MTC), and LaSalle Corrections — all contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 
  • POLITICO is reporting that some Republicans are breaking from President Trump’s coronavirus talking points on testing, wearing masks, and reopening schools.  The lack of timely testing caused staunch ally Sen. Lindsey Graham to suggest it was time for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce testing supplies or incentivize pool testing.  Even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking a more “somber tone” as he gives his daily reports and started acknowledging the need for faster testing.
  • Four former CDC directors wrote a Washington Post op-ed accusing the Trump administration of politicizing public health information. The former directors said that the Trump administration’s undermining of the public health officials and casting public doubt has resulted in the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. “As the debate last week around reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk,” wrote the former CDC health officials Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher and Richard Besser.


In the News:

  • A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 study. Moderna’s is considered the leading vaccine prototype in the US, was the first to enter human trials and is the first to complete phase 1 in the country If the next phase of testing in more people goes well, the company will be on track to make 500 million a year, with the goal of 1 billion by the end of 2021.
  • Across the U.S., states are seeing record-breaking spikes in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.  Oklahoma reported 993 cases of the virus on Tuesday, a single-day record for the state.  Florida, Utah and Alabama all broke their records for most deaths in a single day.
  • Some retailers are ending the pay raises or “hero pay” they started when the pandemic began, despite recent COVID-19 surges in many states.  Stop & Shop is the latest retailer to make such a move, ending a 10 percent pay raise it gave its 56,000 employees this spring.  Amazon, Kroger and Albertsons have also ended pandemic hourly pay raises, though some of them continue to give out bonuses.  ShopRite said it planned to end its $2-an-hour raise early next month.
  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) announced Tuesday that schools will reopen this fall with students splitting time between classroom and remote learning. The plan also includes increased social distancing with schools operating at no more than 50 percent and buses at no more than 33 percent capacity.
  • An estimated 5.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance between February and May according to a new study by Families USA. The nonpartisan consumer advocacy group found that the estimated increase in uninsured workers was nearly 40 percent higher than the highest previous increase, during the recession of 2008.
  • Starting Wednesday, Best Buy will require shoppers to wear masks in an effort to keep customers, communities and employees safe, the company said in a news release.  
  • Vox Media is preparing layoffs after furloughing about 100 employees in April as part of virus-related cost cutting, according to people familiar with the matter.  Vox’s revenue fell 40 percent short of internal forecasts for the second-quarter and is on pace to fall 25 percent below forecast for the year. 
  • Mall owners are finding creative ways to use their parking lots during the coronavirus pandemic, even setting up the empty expanses as sources of revenue.  Brookfield Properties is working on a deal with entertainment company Kilburn Live to turn parking lots at a number of its U.S. malls into drive-in theaters, hosting movies and virtual concerts. 

The US-Canada border is expected to remain closed until at least August 21, CNN reports citing two Canadian government sources. There will be stepped-up enforcement and surveillance at most Canadian land borders in the coming weeks, the sources add. By mutual agreement, the US-Canada border has been closed to all non-essential traffic since March. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to formally announce the decision later this week