Following an increase in documented coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order permitting the state Department of Health to identify geographic areas that require enhanced public health restrictions based on clusters of COVID-19 cases. The permitted restrictions include mandatory business closures, and are to be based on risk-level categorizations (red, orange, or yellow risk zones) with corresponding levels of constraint meant to mitigate COVID-19 transmissions in those areas.
The restrictions for these color-coded zones shall remain in place for a minimum of 14 days and include:
The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) is instructed to maintain guidance that includes an up-to-date list of areas deemed at risk. Initially, there are five regions subject to restrictions under the executive order, including portions of Broome County, Brooklyn, Orange County, Queens, and Rockland County. Companies can determine whether there are restrictions in place at a certain address using a new tool published by the state.
The order takes effect immediately and will be enforced in designated zones beginning October 9, 2020, and will remain in effect through at least November 5, 2020.
Violations of may result in a penalty of $1,000 for each violation.
The order also provides that any individual who encourages, promotes, or organizes a nonessential gathering as defined by the New York State Department of Health will be liable for a civil penalty of up to $15,000 per day.
Employers with operations in New York should monitor the ESDC guidance and maps to ensure they remain compliant with any restrictions applicable to their operations in these regions. Additionally, employers should consider creating a plan of action for responding to mandated closures or an imposition of limitations on gathering size applicable to their operations. Employers should also be prepared to address concerns from employees who must travel from a restricted zone to a workplace not in a restricted zone, or vice versa.
We have developed many customizable resources to support employers’ efforts in safely returning to work. These include tracking of state and local orders on return to work requirements and essential/nonessential work; policy templates and guidelines for key topics such as social distancing procedures, temperature testing, and workplace arrangements for high-risk employees; and webinar training on safety measures for return to work. View the full list of return to work resources and consult our workplace reopening checklist.
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