As we get closer to reopening the economy on Long Island and in NYC, the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) published industry specific detailed guidance setting forth the minimum requirements for businesses reopening in Phase 2. The NYSDOH’s guidance is broken down into the following categories: (1) Offices; (2) Real Estate; (3) Essential and Phase 2 In-store Retail; (4) Vehicle sales, leases, and rentals; (5) Retail rental, repair, and cleaning; and (6) Commercial Building Management. Although the guidance for each is industry specific, the general guidelines are substantially similar.
The NYSDOH breaks down the guidance into three categories: people, places and processes.
- The number of occupants shall be limited to 50% of the maximum occupancy as set by the certificate of occupancy.
- Individuals should continue to maintain a distance of at least six feet where possible and when not possible, face coverings should be worn.
- The use of shared workstations should be limited where practicable. Where not practicable, the workstation should be cleaned and disinfected between users.
- The use of small spaces, such as elevators, should be limited to one person at a time, unless all individuals are wearing face coverings. Even when using face coverings, the capacity should not exceed 50% of the maximum.
- The businesses should increase ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible.
- The businesses should adopt measures to reduce bi-directional foot traffic and post signs and distance markers in commonly used areas and areas where people may congregate.
- The businesses must post signs throughout the office consistent with DOH COVID-19 signage.
- In-person meetings and conferences should be limited to the greatest extent possible in favor of alternatives such as teleconferencing. If not possible, the meetings should be held in open, well-ventilated spaces where six feet distance can be maintained.
- The businesses should limit in-person presence by adjusting workplace hours, reducing the in-office workforce, and encouraging employees to work from home when possible.
- Businesses must provide acceptable face coverings to employees while at work at no cost to the employee. If the face coverings are reusable, they should be cleaned or replaced after use and may not be shared with other employees.
- Businesses must train employees on how to adequately put on, take off, clean and discard PPE.
- Employees must wear face coverings in common areas (elevators, lobbies, and when walking around the office).
- Businesses should adopt policies limiting the sharing of objects such as laptops, notebooks, and writing utensils.
- Businesses must adhere to the cleaning and disinfection requirements as set forth by the CDC and NYSDOH and conduct regular cleaning and disinfection.
- Businesses must provide hand hygiene stations and cleaning/disinfection supplies for shared and frequently touched surfaces.
- Businesses must prohibit shared food and beverages. Further, they should encourage bringing lunch from home and ensure adequate space for employees to socially distance while eating meals.
- Businesses should develop a communications plan for employees, visitors and customers to ensure they are informed of the guidance.
- Businesses must implement daily health screening practices for employees and, where practicable, visitors.
- Businesses are permitted to conduct daily temperature checks in accordance with EEOC or DOH guidelines.
- Any employee who screens positive for COVID-19 symptoms should not be permitted to enter the office and should be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider.
- Businesses must notify the local health department about any positive case.
- To the extent possible, businesses should maintain a log of every person who may have contact with other individuals at the worksite so contacts can be identified, traced and notified in the event an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Businesses should take specific steps when an employee demonstrates symptoms of COVID-19 and either tests positive or did not receive a test, including imposing a 14-day self-quarantine
- When an employee or visitor tests positive, the business must cooperate with the local health department in tracing contacts in the workplace.
- For any employee showing symptoms, businesses must notify building managers and provide information of where the individual has been throughout the building.
- Businesses must post completed safety plans on site. A template is available here:
1. Offices: This guidance applies to professional services, nonprofit, technology, administrative support, and higher education administration. It should be noted that these guidelines may be applicable to certain segments of businesses that are subject to different guidelines, such as the front office of a construction company. This guidance does not apply to medical offices.
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for offices is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/offices-interim-guidance.pdf
2. Real Estate: This guidance applies to residential property management entities, real estate salespeople/brokers, building inspectors, building appraisers, and related activities. One of the distinctions present in the Real Estate guidance is for “Residential In-Person Property Showings and Related Activities” (located in section D, on pages 5-6 of the guidance).
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for real estate is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/realestate-masterguidance.pdf
3. Essential and Phase 2 In-Store Retail: This guidance applies to all in-store essential retail business activities and all in-store non-essential retail business activities in regions that are currently in Phase 2 of reopening. It does not apply to restaurants or other food services, retailers of rental goods, or personal care services (i.e. hair salons, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors, etc.)
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for essential and Phase 2 retail business activities is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/RetailMasterGuidance.pdf
4. Vehicle sales, leases and rentals: This guidance applies to owners/operators of vehicles sale, lease and/or rental businesses and their employees and contractors.
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for vehicle sales, leases and rentals is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/motor-vehicles-master-guidance.pdf
5. Retail rental, repair, and cleaning: This guidance applies to retail rental, repair, and cleaning businesses such as electronics repair, equipment rental, clothing rental, laundromats, other clothing/fabric cleaning services and residential cleaning services. It does not apply to retail hair services (hair salons or barbershops), general retailers (book stores or grocery stores), or businesses involved in buying, selling, leasing or renting motor vehicles.
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for retail rental, repair and cleaning is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/retailrental-repair-cleaning-master-guidance.pdf
6. Commercial Building Management: This guidance applies to commercial/non-residential property management entities and related activities. It does not apply to tenants occupying office space and their employees or contractors or residential property management or real estate. The building owner/manager is primarily responsible for unleased areas as well as common areas. One of the distinctions in this guidance is the addition of a section on “Building Systems” (pages 5-6). Before occupants return to a building that was closed, pre-return checks, tasks and assessments must be performed to ensure a healthy and safe environment.
The full text of the NYSDOH’s guidance for commercial building management is located here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/commercial-building-management-master-guidance.pdf
7. Construction Guidelines: The Construction Guidelines apply to all construction but must be separated into the different types of construction industries.
A list of the different Phases and Essential Businesses can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/.
If you have any questions about the implementation of the above, or any issue with your employees, please do not hesitate to contact me (GLisi@Forchellilaw.com or 516.248.1700).
Battling the novel coronavirus is difficult for everyone. We are here if you need us.