To help our clients navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Keane & Beane is providing numerous Legal Alerts on a variety of issues. The information contained in this Legal Alert is applicable as of today, March 16, 2020. Many situations are so fact specific and nuanced that this Legal Alert only addresses some of the more pressing ongoing issues. The discussion below is therefore general and does not address all considerations and specific analyses that may need to be undertaken prior to taking action.
The Governor’s March 16, 2020 Directives
The Governor announced the following new directives during his press conference this morning:
- New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are taking coordinated regional action to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Effective 8 pm tonight there will be a mandatory closing of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, fitness centers, casinos and race tracks along with a ban on “parties” of more than 50 people. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and medical facilities are not affected by this rule and may remain open. Restaurants are permitted to provide take-out orders only.
- Each local government must provide its local police department and emergency medical staff with surgical masks.
- All local governments have been called upon to reduce their workforce by at least 50% and have been called upon to allow non-essential employees to stay at home. To the extent practicable, non-essential employees should be allowed to work from home. Local agency officials should consider essential employees as any person whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency or authority, or who must be physically present to perform their job, or who is involved in the emergency response to COVID-19. Non-essential employees should be considered any person who does not need to be physically present to perform their job functions, or they are not currently required to meet the core functions of their agency or authority during this emergency response. The definition of essential and non-essential employees provided herein comes from a memorandum from Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, on behalf of Governor Cuomo to all local government leaders, dated March 16, 2020.
- Non-essential travel is being discouraged between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., but presently there is no official ban on travel at this time.
- All schools will be closed for a minimum of two weeks starting on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, subsequent to meeting certain requirements for distance learning plans, provision of food plans, and child care plans.
- Governor Cuomo is asking local governments to immediately identify places in their areas that can be easily converted to medical facilities. Examples include dormitories, former nursing homes and other facilities that have a basic configuration that can be retro-fitted.
The Governor’s directives preempt any orders issued by any mayor, county executive, or other local government official in the State.
The Governor also announced that in addition to the New Rochelle drive-thru mobile testing center, three more drive-thru mobile testing centers will be introduced in Staten Island, Long Island and Rockland County.
We will have more information regarding the specifics of these orders once the Emergency Order is officially issued by the Governor.
Prior Keane & Beane Covid-19 Legal Alerts
Keane & Beane, P.C. has prepared several Legal Alerts concerning the State’s response to COVID-19 and the impacts on local governments. Our Legal Alerts are available at the links below:
Consult Counsel Regarding Specific Questions
Given the fluidity of this rapidly developing situation, we encourage you to reach out to a member of the Keane & Beane Public Sector Practice Group with questions regarding specific situations. We note that there are legislative developments in Congress and NY which impact each of these questions, and which we are closely monitoring. Because of the frequent developments, you should consult counsel regarding specific questions.
For questions on employment and labor issues contact William Kang, Esq. or Lance Klein and on general municipal issues contact Nicholas M. Ward-Willis, Esq. or Drew Victoria Gamils, Esq. or any other attorney in our Public Law Sector Practice Group.