Re-Opening Your Business After New York Pause
Posted on: May 22, 2020
By: Kyle Lawrence
On Friday, May 15, New York State commenced with its Phase One business re-openings, one day after officials released guidelines for the re-opening of all businesses (both essential and non-essential) within the state, containing both mandatory measures and best-practices. In order to commence with Phase One re-opening, the particular region must have satisfied all 7 of the following metrics:
- Decline in Total Hospitalizations. The region must show either (i) a sustained decline in the 3-day rolling average of total net hospitalizations (defined as the total number of people in the hospital on a given day) over the course of a 14-day period, or (ii) that the daily net increase in total hospitalizations (measured on a 3-day rolling average basis) does not exceed 15.
- Decline in Deaths. The region must show either (i) a sustained decline in the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths over the course of a 14-day period, or (ii) that the 3-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths does not exceed 5.
- New Hospitalizations. The region must experience fewer than 2 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, measured on a 3-day rolling average. New hospitalizations include both new admissions and prior admissions subsequently confirmed as positive COVID cases.
- Hospital Bed Capacity. The region must have at least 30% of their hospital beds available.
- ICU Bed Capacity. The region must have at least 30% of their ICU beds available.
- Diagnostic Testing Capacity. Average daily diagnostic testing over the past 7 days must be sufficient to conduct 30 tests per 1,000 residents per month.
- Contact Tracing Capacity. Number of contact tracers in each region must meet thresholds set by the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and Vital Strategies.
As of the date of this article, 7 regions in New York State had satisfied all 7 of these criteria and were able to commence with Phase One re-opening – Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Western New York and Southern Tier. Long Island has met 5 of the criteria to date, New York City has met 4 of the criteria to date.
Upon the satisfaction of all of these factors, the region will be deemed “ready” to re-open, and the businesses and industries in the approved region will be permitted to re-open in the following phases:
1. Phase One: Construction, manufacturing, select retail (limited to those shops with curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off only) and wholesale trade.
2. Phase Two: Professional services (e.g., law, accounting and architecture firms), banks, real estate/rental leasing office and retail shops.
3. Phase Three: Restaurants, food services and hotels.
4. Phase Four: Arts, entertainment, recreation and education.
In these unsettled times as a business owner, your primary concern should be the health and safety of your employees and customers. Here are some suggestions (note – these are not necessarily requirements) as you develop your new safety policies in the post-coronavirus workplace:
- If your business cannot be operated remotely, consider how your current office setup can be reconfigured to encourage social distancing with a minimum of 6 feet between work stations.
- The CDC recommends installing physical barriers, changing layouts to accommodate the 6-feet of space suggestion, closing communal spaces (such as kitchens and conference rooms), staggering shifts and breaks and refraining from large events.
- You may wish to consider limiting the number of employees in the workplace and alternating teams to further encourage social distancing.
- Try to limit the number of persons within an elevator to one person, where feasible.
Employee Health Monitoring:
- Develop a plan for monitoring your employees’ health, with a particular focus on COVID-19 symptoms.
- Before you re-open, put together a plan for how you will handle a positive case of COVID-19 in your workplace after you reopen. OSHA’s guidelines give specific steps on how to manage and isolate employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms, but try to remember that you don’t want to ostracize any of your employees who may be showing symptoms but do not have COVID-19.
- Remind your staff of your company’s sick time and paid time off policies to employees and discourage them from coming to work if they feel ill.
General Hygiene Practices:
- Think about how you can best reiterate and enforce the CDC’s guidelines for proper, frequent handwashing and general best practices.
- Assess your company’s current cleaning and sanitation practices against the CDC’s recently released recommendations.
- What procedures can you implement or upgrade to reduce the spread of the virus, and how can your staff help maintain those practices? This may include sourcing and stocking up on cleaning products and sanitizers for employee use during work hours.
Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”):
- If your business was subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s general requirements for employee PPE use, make sure you continue to adhere to those guidelines when you reopen.
- Provide PPE to employees if at all possible, including masks and gloves. Otherwise, you may wish to encourage employees wear their own cloth face coverings in the workplace, per the CDC’s official recommendation.
These are highly unusual times and it
seems as though new information and recommendations are being released on a
daily basis. We are continually
monitoring the situation and we are happy to discuss the requirements discussed
above, or any other situations that may affect your business, at your
 These metrics have been established based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of State, and other public health experts.