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 19, 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.
In a further effort to contain the expansion of the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday (March 18th) that he would be issuing an Executive Order mandating that all non-essential businesses in New York State implement work-from-home policies, with workforces reduced by at least 50%. Executive Order 202.6 was then issued late on March 18, 2020, and goes into effect Friday, March 20th at 8:00 p.m. Thereafter, at his press conference today (March 19th), the Governor announced that, in light of the significant increase in the number of confirmed cases over the last day, he will be mandating a further reduction such that only 25% of workers in non-essential businesses may work on-site.
Executive Order 202.6, effective through April 17, 2020, provides as follows:
- All businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely utilize.
- Each employer shall reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 50% (as stated above, it is anticipated that this number will be further reduced in a new Executive Order).
Pursuant to the Executive Order, essential businesses and entities providing essential services or functions are not subject to the in-person restrictions. As such, the following are exempted from the restriction:
- Essential health care operations including research and laboratory services;
- Essential infrastructure including utilities, telecommunication, airports and transportation infrastructure;
- Essential manufacturing, including food processing and pharmaceuticals;
- Essential retail including grocery stores and pharmacies;
- Essential services including trash collection, mail, and shipping services;
- News media;
- Banks and related financial institutions;
- Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations;
- Vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses; and
- Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public;
The order further provides that other businesses may request an opinion from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to be deemed essential. The ESDC will review any such request and, if it determines that it is in the best interest of the State to have the workforce continue at full capacity to properly respond to this disaster, grant it.
Finally, by 5 p.m. on March 19, 2020, the ESDC is to issue guidance as to which businesses are determined to be essential. The text of Executive Order 202.6 is available here. It is anticipated that an additional Order will be issued to effectuate the mandate to reduce on-site workers to 25% rather than 50%.
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:
- Executive Order 202.4 – COVID-19: Reduction in Workforce By Municipalities
- Open Meetings Law in Light of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Issues for Municipalities
- Updates From Governor’s March 16, 2020 Press Conference
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 New York 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 or Lance H. Klein and on general municipal issues contact Nicholas M. Ward-Willis or Drew Victoria Gamils or any other attorney in our Public Law Sector Practice Group.