Jun 10, 2020

Employer Guidelines for New York Reopening: Phase 2

Reopening NY

The State of New York is now in Phase 2 of reopening, except for New York City, which is still Phase 1. The status of reopening, by region and industry, can be found here.

Phase 2 business that are reopening include office-based businesses and entities in the following sectors: Professional services, nonprofit, technology, administrative support, and higher education administration.

For businesses that are in Phase 2, the state has issued reopening guidelines for employers and employees, found here and here. The guidelines contain mandatory rules as well as best practices, and as explained below, employers must affirm that they have reviewed these guidelines prior to reopening.

Below is a high-level summary of the guidelines and requirements:

Physical distancing:

  • The total number of occupants at any given time must be limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy.
  • A distance of at least 6 ft. must be maintained amongst all individuals at all times (unless safety requires a shorter distance).
  • Any time workers or visitors must come within 6 ft. of another person, acceptable face coverings must be worn.
  • Prohibit the use of tightly confined spaces (e.g. elevators) by more than one individual at time. If occupied by more than one person, keep occupancy under 50% of maximum capacity.
  • Non-essential common areas must remain closed.

Protective Equipment:

  • Provide employees with face coverings at no cost to them.
  • Notify workers and visitors to wear face coverings in common areas including elevators, lobbies, and when traveling around the office.

Hygiene and Cleaning:

  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations in office.
  • Regularly clean the office and ensure that equipment is regularly cleaned and disinfected.


  • Employers must affirm they have reviewed and understand the state-issued guidelines, and that they will implement them.  The affirmation and guidelines can be found here and here.
  • Post signage inside and outside of the office location to remind personnel and customers to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Screening and tracking:

  • Employers must implement a mandatory health screening assessment (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) for employees and, where practicable, visitors, asking about (1) COVID19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days.  Responses must be reviewed and documented daily.
  • Screening practices may be performed remotely.
  • At a minimum, screening is required for all employees or visitors and completed using a questionnaire that determines whether the employee has: (a) knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19; (b) tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and/or (c) has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Employers must notify the local health department and the New York State Department of Health immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test result by an employee in their office.

Develop a Written Safety Plan

  • Employers must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan.
  • Employers must conspicuously post completed safety plans on site.
  • This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.

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