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

Since the Governor made his initial reopening announcement, the State has published a slew of materials to assist businesses as they reopen. To further assist businesses, we have created a central location – i.e., this post – from which these materials can be accessed. Following, therefore, are links to, and details regarding, these important materials:

  • General information about Governor Cuomo’s “New York Forward” reopening plan can be found here. In conjunction with “New York Forward,” the Governor has also released this comprehensive reopening guide, which addresses business reopenings plus a host of other COVID-19-related issues.
  • To help businesses determine whether they can reopen within a particular region, the State has developed a business reopening lookup tool, which can be found here. The tool is intended to “help you determine whether or not your business is eligible to reopen, and the public health and safety standards with which your business must comply.”
  • Additionally, the State’s regional monitoring dashboard – available here (and with more detailed information here) – shows where each of the Empire State’s 10 regions stands with regard to satisfying the Governor’s seven metrics for reopening. Those metrics are (1) decline in total hospitalizations over a 14 day period; (2) decline in the 3 day rolling average of daily hospital deaths over a 14 day period; (3) fewer than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, measured on a three day rolling average; (4) 30% of hospital beds available; (5) 30% of ICU beds available; (6) average daily diagnostic testing over the past 7 days must be sufficient to conduct 30 tests per 1,000 residents per month; and (7) contact tracing capacity.

At present, seven of the State’s 10 regions have satisfied these metrics and therefore, reopened – Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York.

New York City and Long Island have, thus far, satisfied the fewest reopening criteria – four – of any region. The Mid-Huson region, which includes Westchester and Rockland counties, is also not yet eligible to reopen.

  • Guidance on which industries are able to reopen can be found here. This website reiterates that industries will be reopened in four staggered phases and that, currently, only “phase-one” industries are allowed to reopen and, only then, if they operate in a region that has satisfied the above metrics. The website also provides detailed guidelines for reopening each specific phase one industry – namely, construction, non-food related agriculture, forestry, fishing, retail trade, manufacturing, and wholesale trade.
  • As we previously discussed, every business and industry is required to develop a plan, as they reopen, to protect employees and consumers, make the physical workspace safer, and implement processes that lower the risk of infection in the business. New York has published a template business safety plan in this regard.

Businesses may fill out the template to satisfy the above requirement, or may develop their own written plan. Whatever option is chosen, the plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval, but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.

  • Finally, the Empire State Development Corporation has created this website with FAQs regarding businesses reopenings in New York. The website addresses common reopening questions, including how to determine whether and when your industry or region is permitted to reopen, and also includes a mechanism for employers to submit additional questions that have not yet been addressed.

This is not the final guidance Governor Cuomo will issue regarding business reopenings, and we will update this post as additional information is published. To that end, Reed Smith’s attorneys are monitoring New York’s responses 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.