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.”
  • Updated as of June 3: 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, nine of the State’s 10 regions have satisfied these metrics and, therefore, reopened. New York City is the only region that is not yet eligible to reopen.

Just recently, however, the State announced that “phase two” industries are permitted to reopen in seven of the State’s 10 regions (Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York). As with the “phase one” businesses, the State has published a general “phase two” website, as well as detailed reopening guidelines for each specific phase two industry – certain offices, real estate, essential and phase 2 in-store retail businesses, auto dealerships, retail rental, repair, and cleaning, commercial building management, and hair salons and barbershops.

Additionally, the State’s general phase one and two websites now appear to require that businesses electronically affirm that they have read and will adhere to the guidelines specific to their industry (here, for instance, is a link to the required affirmation for construction industry companies).

  • As we previously discussed, every business and industry is required to develop a written 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.

  • Updated as of June 3: 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.

In recent days, the State has virtually doubled the number of FAQs. We therefore recommend that businesses regularly check the FAQ site for updates.

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.