March 28, 2020 UPDATE: Updates to Construction as Essential Business


Today’s second update will discuss the 880-page federal law that was signed yesterday concerning layoffs, some government funding of small business, small business loans, unemployment insurance and other issues.

This update will discuss the construction industry. As you are aware from my prior emails, Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.6, effective March 20, 2020, implemented in-person workforce reductions to 100% for non-essential businesses. However, essential businesses, including the construction industry, were broadly exempt from the in-person restrictions. (See March 20, 2020 UPDATE.)

On March 27, 2020 at 11:00 am, the New York State Department of Economic Development published updated guidance for essential business enterprises under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders. Specifically, they have narrowed the definition of what is essential construction. Essential construction now includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters. All non-essential construction must shut down, with the exception of emergency construction (projects necessary to protect health and safety) and those projects where it would be unsafe to shut the site. In that instance the site should remain open until it is safe to shut. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, the company must maintain social distancing, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices, must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation. ( – see #9).

If you fall within these categories of essential construction, you are still subject to restrictions. Employees that are not necessary to work on site, such as human resources, accounting, etc., should utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures. ( – see #9).

The attorneys in Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP’s Employment & Labor practice group will continue to keep you updated on any changes to your requirements as an employer as updates become available. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at the below contact information. Battling the novel coronavirus is difficult for everyone. We are here if you need us.

With best wishes for your, and your family’s, health and safety.

Gregory S. Lisi, Esq.
Partner-in-Charge, Employment & Labor practice group | 516.248.1700