As we previously detailed, last week New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined guidelines for when Empire State businesses can reopen and return to “in-person” operations.  Under the Governor’s plan, reopenings will be determined, first, on a region-by-region and then, once a region is eligible to reopen, on a phased industry-by-industry basis.

In the wake of Governor Cuomo’s announcement, New York businesses have been clamoring for additional information on the reopening requirements.  Yesterday, the Governor provided such information – specifically, he:

  • Unveiled a regional monitoring dashboard – available here – showing where each of the Empire State’s 10 regions stands with regard to satisfying the Governor’s criteria for reopening.

According to the dashboard, the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Mohawk Valley regions have each satisfied all seven of the Governor’s reopening criteria.  This means that, starting on May 15 (when the State’s “stay at home” order lifts), these three regions can likely reopen “phase one” businesses, which include construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail for curbside pickup only, agriculture, forestry, and fishing (a comprehensive list can be found here).

New York City has, thus far, satisfied the fewest reopening criteria – four – of any region.

  • Released a comprehensive, 51-page “New York Forward Reopening” plan –available here. The plan addresses business reopenings plus a host of other COVID-19-related issues.
  • Announced that certain low-risk businesses and recreational activities, including landscaping, gardening, tennis, and drive-in movie theaters, will reopen statewide on May 15.

Finally, the State issued additional guidance regarding the plans that every business and industry must have in place, as they reopen, to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer, and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.  In developing these plans, businesses will, according to State authorities, need to consider three main factors:

  • The first factor is protections for employees and customers. These include possible adjustments to workplace hours and shift design as necessary to reduce density in the workplace; enacting social distancing protocols; and restricting non-essential travel for employees.
  • The second factor is changes to the physical workspace, including requiring all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent close contact with others, and implementing strict cleaning and sanitation standards.
  • The last factor for businesses to consider is implementing processes that meet our changing public health obligations, such as screening individuals when they enter the workplace, or reporting confirmed positives to customers. (The State did acknowledge that these processes will vary from business to business.)

This is not the final guidance that Governor Cuomo will issue regarding business reopenings, and further details will likely be the forthcoming within the next few days and weeks.  Reed Smith’s attorneys are monitoring New York’s actions in response to COVID-19 and their related impact on employers.  If you have any questions on how to ensure compliance with the state’s many new regulations, our team is available to assist.