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New York State Goes on PAUSE in Response to COVID-19 New York State Goes on PAUSE in Response to COVID-19

New York State Goes on PAUSE in Response to COVID-19

On Friday, March 20, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a New York State on PAUSE (which stands for “Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone”) executive order (the “Order”), directing all businesses and entities in the state to close in-office personnel functions and, to the maximum extent possible, utilize telecommuting or work-from-home procedures they can safely utilize. Essential businesses and establishments, as well as entities performing essential services and functions, are not subject to these same restrictions.

The Order went into effect at 8 p.m. on March 22 and extends through April 19. The Order’s ten-point PAUSE plan is summarized as follows:
  1. Effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
  2. Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
  3. Any concentration of individuals outside their homes must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
  4. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
  5. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
  6. Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
  7. Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
  8. Sick individuals should not leave their homes unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
  9. Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
  10. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.
“Essential Businesses,” while exempt from some Order restrictions, still must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet and comply with applicable guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment. Guidance issued by the New York Department of Economic Development (the “Guidance”) defines an “Essential Business” to mean:
  1. Essential Health Care Operations, including:
    • Research and laboratory services
    • Hospitals
    • Walk-in-care health facilities
    • Emergency veterinary and livestock services
    • Elder care
    • Medical wholesale and distribution
    • Home health care workers or aides for the elderly
    • Doctor and emergency dental
    • Nursing homes or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities
    • Medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers
  2. Essential Infrastructure, including:
    • Utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission
    • Public water and wastewater
    • Telecommunications and data centers
    • Airports/airlines
    • Transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages
    • Hotels and places of accommodation
  3. Essential Manufacturing, including:
    • Food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages
    • Chemicals
    • Medical equipment/instruments
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Sanitary products
    • Telecommunications
    • Microelectronics/semi-conductor
    • Agriculture/farms
    • Household paper products
  4. Essential Retail, including:
    • Grocery stores, including all food and beverage stores
    • Pharmacies
    • Convenience stores
    • Farmer’s markets
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants and bars (for take-out/delivery only)
    • Hardware and building material stores
  5. Essential Services, including:
    • Trash and recycling collection, processing, and disposal
    • Mail and shipping services
    • Laundromats
    • Building cleaning and maintenance
    • Child care services
    • Auto repair
    • Warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
    • Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
    • Storage for essential businesses
    • Animal shelters
  6. News Media
  7. Financial Institutions, including:
    • Banks
    • Insurance
    • Payroll
    • Accounting
    • Services related to financial markets
  8. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, including:
    • Homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
    • Food banks
    • Human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support
  9. Construction, including:
    • Skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
    • Other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or emergency repair and safety purposes
  10. Defense and national security-related operations supporting the U.S. government or a contractor to the U.S. government
  11. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, including:
    • Law enforcement
    • Fire prevention and response
    • Building code enforcement
    • Security
    • Emergency management and response
    • Building cleaners or janitors
    • General maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
    • Automotive repair
    • Disinfection
  12. Vendors that Provide Essential Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services, including:
    • Logistics
    • Technology support for online services
    • Child care programs and services
    • Government owned or leased buildings
    • Essential government services
Any business that has a single occupant/employee is automatically exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an essential business. In addition, certain retail, entertainment and other businesses need to remain closed until further notice.

For more guidance on determining whether your business is an essential business, click here. Additionally, if the function of your business is not listed above, but you believe it is essential or providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business by clicking here.

If your business is not included in the essential businesses listed above or you have not received a requested “essential business” designation, then it is a “non-essential” business, and in-office personnel functions must be closed. Additionally, all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are now cancelled or postponed.

If your business provides both essential and non-essential services, however, it is important to note that the Order’s business restrictions apply to each business location individually. With respect to locations that provide both essential and non-essential services, supplies or support, only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies or support are exempt from the restrictions.

Governor Cuomo explained the state will enforce the order through monitoring, civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses that do not comply. No penalties have been announced for individuals who do not comply.

The Order also prevents the enforcement of any commercial or residential mortgage or the eviction of any commercial or residential tenant for 90 days.

The New York State Department of Health has also provided guidance for the cleaning and disinfection of public and private facilities, and a link to that guidance is provided in the Guidance.

The Order is available here: Executive Order No. 202.8: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency. To stay up to date with the latest laws and orders, please visit Ice Miller’s COVID-19 Resource Center, available here:

Ice Miller LLP attorneys can recommend measures your business should implement to minimize legal risk and respond effectively to executive orders and laws enacted relating to COVID-19. For further information and guidance, please contact the Ice Miller COVID-19 Task Force or call the New York State COVID-19 hotline at 888-364-3065.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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