As part of dealing with coronavirus, the Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01
In general, a 401(k) plan is required to provide 30 days’ advance notice to participants whose rights under the plan will be temporarily suspended, limited, or restricted by a blackout period of more than three consecutive business days on a participant’s ability to direct investments. The regulations that require a blackout notice, do provide an exception to the advance notice requirement when the inability to provide the notice is due to events beyond the reasonable control of the plan administrator and a fiduciary so determines in writing. So there is relief for plan sponsors for not providing blackout notices that are required to be provided under the regulation that must be furnished between March 1, 2020, and 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency.
The Department of Labor will not require the written determination by a fiduciary according to the regulation for blackout notices covered by this notice, as pandemics are by definition beyond a plan administrator’s control.