Ward Law LLC is dedicated to keeping our clients informed about all things COVID-19 related. Our business is to ensure that you have all the information you need to keep your business going. In that regard, please read below for an update on plans to reopen the State of New York.
Governor Cuomo has announced that as of this week, four of the state’s ten regions have satisfied all seven of the benchmarks required to begin reopening once the “PAUSE” order expires at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 15th. The Governor previously set forth the seven criteria a region would need to meet to begin phase 1 of the reopening. Those criteria are generally:
- 14-day decline in hospitalizations OR under 15 new hospitalizations (three-day average)
- 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths or under 5 new hospitalized deaths (three-day average)
- New hospitalizations: under two per 100K residents (Three-day rolling average)
- Hospital bed capacity: at least 30% of total hospital beds available
- ICU bed capacity: at least 30% of ICU beds available
- Diagnostic testing capacity: ability to test at least 30 people per 1,000 residents per month
- Contact tracing capacity: at least 30 contact tracers per 100k residents
The four regions that may begin phase one of reopening are:
- Finger Lakes: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties
- Southern Tier: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties
- Mohawk Valley: Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties
- North Country: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties
The Central New York region has met six of the seven criteria and includes Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties. This region is tantalizingly close and only needs to slightly increase (less than a 1%) its testing capacity to meet its final benchmark for reopening. The rest of the regions, including New York City, have been hit much harder by the virus and have failed to meet at least two of the required benchmarks.
Under the reopening plan, Phase 1 allows for reopening of specific types of nonessential businesses. Those are construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail. Retail businesses are restricted to curbside pickup only, however.
Reopening will apply industry-wide, although each business is required to implement a plan to allow for social distancing and density reduction. They are also required to submit plans for keeping workers safe under state reopening guidelines, including specifics for liability. That includes devising plans to keep workers at least six feet apart and require face coverings for those in contact with others. Strict cleaning standards and possibly adjusted shifts to spread out workers will also be part of the plans. Non-essential travel is also restricted.
Additionally, employers will have plans to conduct continuous health screening to enter the workplace, but it is unclear if that means mandatory temperature taking for workers or other measures. The EEOC has already issued some guidance in that regard and indicated that mandatory testing would not be deemed a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a worker is infected with COVID-19, the employer must have plans in place for tracing contact with other workers, tracking down other cases and reporting findings to state health officials.
Also this week, the Governor announced that restrictions on some businesses statewide would be allowed on Friday. Those include drive-in theaters, gardeners, and landscapers.
For any questions about NY’s reopening plans, please email the Ward Law helpline any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.