1.) Additional clarity on the Governor's Executive Order requiring non-essential businesses to be 100% work-from-home by Sunday night.
The requirement that non-exempt businesses keep 75% of their workforce home begins Saturday, March 21 at 8:00 pm. The requirement that non-exempt businesses keep 100% of their workforce home begins Sunday, March 22 at 8:00 pm.
- Construction is STILL considered an essential business and therefore exempt.
- Residential building service workers are STILL considered as essential to maintaining the to safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences business and therefore exempt.
- Property management businesses, the same.
Please note that the order only makes differentiation between what is or is not an "essential business." It does not differentiate between who is or is not an essential employee within that business. If the employee supports the essential provision of the service (for example, by processing payroll to keep the other employees working) and the business is an "essential business," our understanding is they are not subject to the work-from-home requirement.
The guidance from ESD does make a differentiation for businesses that "operate or provide both essential and non-essential services, supplies or support." In such cases, "only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions." For example, if your business contains property management and real estate sales departments, the department supporting the provision of property management services is exempt from the work-from-home requirement, but the department supporting real estate sales is not.
Please note that even if your business is exempt from the work from home requirement, the order still requires you to enact social distancing measures to the greatest extent possible -- specifically to allow for all persons in public to remain at least six feet from others.
Finally, whether or not the business is exempt, it is worth remembering the public health rationale behind this emergency order. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Westchester County alone has quintupled in only a few short days. Although much of this can be attributed to a higher volume of testing than was possible before, the intent of all of these measures is to keep people at a safe distance from each other wherever possible and to take every available safety precaution for yourselves and your employees.
2.) RECOMMENDATION: Send your workers letters identifying them as necessary for your "essential business."
TO BE CLEAR, there has been no indication that shelter-in-place or curfew orders will be forthcoming as they have for California and Italy. However, a simple and reasonable precaution would be, if you are an "essential business" as categorized by Empire State Development's guidance, to produce a letter for each of your employees on your company stationary stating who they work for, where they work, and that yours is considered an "essential business" pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order. They should have this letter in their possession as they travel to and from work.
We are making this recommendation not because we have any indication that checkpoints or other emergency "keep off the roads" orders are contemplated or likely. We are suggesting this out of an over-abundance of caution. Events and escalations in emergency social distancing measures have been coming quickly and with very short notice, so better to be prepared.
BRI is regularly updating a special page on our website for information on the outbreak of coronavirus and COVID-19 in New York State: