Post Based on Article Originally Prepared for Southampton Business Alliance, updated as of May 29, 2020
Reopening for Business in New York— “NY Forward”
New York has begun the process of gradually reopening for business. A summary of how the reopening process will be implemented statewide and locally, along with how individual businesses should prepare for reopening, is set forth below.
- Statewide Process
Beginning on May 15, Phase 1 industries began reopening in five regions (Central NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier) of New York State. Since then, four other regions — including Long Island — entered Phase 1, bringing the total to nine out of ten (with only New York City remaining). These nine regions have met the seven metrics required for reopening businesses, which relate to having a sufficiently low COVID-19 infection rate (declines in total hospitalizations, deaths and new hospitalizations), capacity in the health care system to absorb a potential resurgence in COVID-19 cases (30% of hospital beds and 30% of ICU beds available and 90 days of personal protective equipment stockpiled for each hospital), sufficiently high capacity for COVID-19 testing (30 tests per 1,000 people per month) and a robust contact-tracing program in place (region-specific thresholds for number of contact tracers required).
Once a region has met the seven metrics, businesses in that region will re-open in four phases based upon industry, with at least two weeks between each phase of reopening. Each region must appoint an oversight institution referred to as a “control room”, comprised of local elected officials, hospital, and state representatives, to monitor and oversee the reopening.
The industries identified in each phase are as follows:
Phase 1: construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, select retail for curbside or in-store pickup or drop off only, agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting
Phase 2: professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate, rental and leasing, hair salons & barber shops
Phase 3: restaurants and food services
Phase 4: arts, entertainment, recreation, education
For more information regarding what types of businesses comprise each industry and for industry-specific guidance, go to https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase
- Reopening on the East End
The East End is part of the Long Island region, which encompasses all of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. As of May 27th, the Long Island region had met all seven metrics for re-opening and entered Phase 1. It will be up to the Long Island Regional Control Room (comprised of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, President of the Empire State Development Corporation Eric Gertler, President of the L.I. Federation of Labor John Durso, L.I. Regional Director of the NAACP Tracey Gertler and Chief Executive of the Long Island Association Kevin Law), and local officials to enforce social distancing and other state-mandated protocols throughout the region. Now that Long Island is reopened, the Regional Control Room is required to meet every morning to review and monitor infection, testing and hospitalization in the region and determine whether to slow down the reopening process. They are also looking to the regions that have already reopened for guidance on how to proceed and what measures may or may not be effective.
East End residents should be mindful that local municipalities will be issuing their own guidelines and regulations to supplement State- and County-level regulations. For example, State beaches re-opened on Friday, May 22 with certain State-mandated guidelines in place. The beaches must be below 50% capacity, group activities and sports will be prohibited, concession stands, playgrounds and other gathering areas will be closed, and beachgoers will be required to maintain social distancing. Attendants will be present to enforce social distancing requirements. It is up to local municipalities to decide whether to open their own beaches. If they do decide to open, they must at a minimum adopt the State’s guidelines and requirements, and they may also impose additional regulations. As with the beaches, local municipalities may implement their own measures to guide and facilitate business reopenings in addition to those imposed by the State.
- Process for Individual Businesses
Each business must develop a written safety plan, outlining how they will prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their workplace. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency, but must be maintained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of inspection. A business may develop its own safety plan or use the template found at:
In addition to the industry-specific required guidelines set forth at https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase (which each business must review for their specific industry before reopening- some are mandatory guidelines and some are recommended best practices), the template safety plan includes the following measures:
- Physical distancing:
– ensure 6 foot distance between personnel;
-require face coverings to be worn when personnel are within 6 feet of one another or there is more than one individual in a tightly confined space;
-post social distancing markers;
-limit in-person gatherings as much as possible;
-establish designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries
– provide employees with acceptable face covering at no cost to employee and have adequate supply of coverings; coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use or when damaged or soiled, may not be shared and should be properly stored or discarded
– limit the sharing of objects and discourage touching of shared surfaces or wear gloves or sanitize or wash hands before and after contact
- Hygiene & Cleaning:
-adhere to hygiene and sanitation requirements from CDC (see below) and maintain cleaning logs on site that document date, time and scope of cleaning
-provide and maintain hand hygiene stations for personnel
-conduct regular cleaning and disinfection at least after every shift, daily or more frequently as needed
-post signage throughout workplace to remind personnel to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE and cleaning and disinfecting protocols
-maintain a log of every person entering the site (other than contactless deliveries and deliveries using personal protection equipment; customers may be encouraged to provide information but are not mandated to do so)
-if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employer must immediately notify state and local health departments
Businesses should also consult with any licensing entity that governs their particular business or industry, along with any associations with which they are affiliated to seek further guidance and suggestions. Additionally, businesses should follow the guidelines and guidance to develop cleaning and sanitizing protocol issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
Businesses are also encouraged to implement mandatory health screening assessments before employees begin work each day; they may ask employees to complete a questionnaire asking whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for it or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed or exhibits symptoms; they may also require measuring employees’ body temperatures before entering the workplace.
Other best practices include encouraging businesses to reduce density in the workplace by adjusting employees’ hours– workday hours may be staggered, or those employees who can continue to work effectively remotely should be encouraged to do so. Barriers should be installed for receptionists and other employees located in high foot traffic locations. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies should be maintained and ordered ahead. The use of common refrigerators should be discouraged and employees should be encouraged to bring their own food.
As we navigate through these unprecedented times, the attorneys at Esseks, Hefter, Angel, Di Talia & Pasca, LLP remain available to guide businesses through the process of reopening, including preparation of their individualized safety plans, and to assist businesses with any other needs they may have. For further information, please contact Lisa Tymann at email@example.com.