Executive Order 202.68 creates three color-coded classifications. Each classification contains specific regulations, including restrictions on in-person business operations. This “Cluster Action Initiative” order also adds new limits on the size of public gatherings.
The order currently impacts specific areas of Brooklyn, Queens, Broome, Orange, and Rockland Counties. The New York State Department of Economic Development has issued guidance and FAQ for businesses and employers to determine how they will be impacted.
After a relatively calm summer, New York is experiencing a worrisome resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Available data indicates a disproportionate number of cases are located in a small number of communities. Concerned that these “clusters” could represent the start of a new wave of cases, Governor Cuomo’s action seeks to limit the transmission of the virus in these particular areas.
Violations of the order can result in $1,000 in fines per violation. Fines for mass gatherings are increased to $15,000.
The Cluster Initiative establishes three colors that correspond to the degree of restrictions implemented. New York released a tool to help businesses understand if their area is subject to the order.
Red – All nonessential businesses must eliminate their in-person workforce. Restaurants may operate only using delivery or take-out. Nonessential gatherings are not permitted, and schools must close in-person instruction. Houses of worship are limited to 25% capacity or 10 people, whichever is fewer.
Orange – Certain nonessential businesses are required to eliminate their in-person workforce. These businesses are associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission including, but not limited to, gyms, barbers, hair salons and all other personal care services. Restaurants may only offer outdoor sit-down service with a limit of four customers per table. Nonessential gatherings are limited to groups of 10 people, and schools must close in-person instruction. Houses of worship are limited to 33% capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer.
Yellow – No mandatory business closures. Nonessential gatherings are limited to groups of 25 people. Restaurants may offer indoor seating, but parties are limited to a maximum of four customers. Houses of worship are limited to 50% capacity.
New York Expands Travel Quarantine
On October 13, 2020, New York expanded the list of states from which travelers are required to quarantine. The list now incorporates a total of 38 states.
Under Executive Order 205, all travelers arriving from states with significant rates of COVID-19 transmissions are required to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of their last contact. Travelers who leave an airport without completing the Travel Health Form may be subject to a $2,000 fine.
Employers with a presence in New York should familiarize themselves with these new restrictions and determine if their operations will be impacted. Employers should incorporate these restrictions into a comprehensive Back to Work Plan for their business. Because these restrictions are subject to change, employers should continue to monitor the situation and consider consulting an attorney for professional guidance.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Patrick McKnight is an associate in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.