The State has revised its health screening requirements – the following is applicable to both food service establishments and offices.
- Instead of questioning employees about COVID-19 testing, symptoms or close contact with someone known or suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 14 days, businesses must now ask individuals whether they:
- Are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have experienced such symptoms in the past 48 hours (though symptoms related to a pre-existing medical condition, like allergies or migraines, need only be reported if they are new or worsening);
- Had close or proximate contact with an individual with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 based on symptoms within the past 10 days; or
- Tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days.
Businesses must only limit occupancy as needed to maintain social distance for unvaccinated individuals.
Updates Specific to Office-Based Work
- Offices no longer need to:
- Close common indoor and outdoor seating areas.
- Implement strict desk policies.
Take measures to reduce interpersonal contact and congregation (i.e., adjusting work hours, reducing in-office workforce, shifting design, etc.).
- Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear masks in the office or maintain 6 feet of distance from others, while unvaccinated employees must both wear masks and maintain appropriate distance.
Updates for Food Services
- Restaurants and other food service businesses may permit fully vaccinated employees to forgo masks and social distancing.
- If the restaurant is operating below the social gathering limit (currently, 250 people indoors, 500 people outdoors), the business may require employees and guests to either self-report their vaccination status or provide proof of vaccination.
When congregating patrons and operating above the social gathering limit (i.e., for large restaurants/bars or when hosting in-person and catered events), the restaurant must verify all individuals’ vaccination status.
- Restaurants are no longer required to:
- Conduct temperature checks of employees or customers.
- Limit table size.
- Use pre-packaged silverware or pre-rolled silverware.
- Collect contact tracing information from customers, other than in NYC.
- The NYC guidance appears to provide that NYC restaurants must continue to collect this information from at least one person in each party dining indoors.
- Notify employees that they may have been in contact with a customer who was showing COVID-19 symptoms while in the restaurant and who later tested positive for COVID-19.
- Restaurants may now:
- Offer or provide unwrapped straws or toothpicks.
- Offer self-serve buffets.
- If having a self-serve buffet, staff must be in the vicinity of the self-serve buffet to ensure that customers are complying with applicable requirements, particularly if customers are unvaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
- At events:
- Activities of fully vaccinated attendees are now unrestricted with respect to distancing, masking, congregating, standing, dancing and table assignments.
- Unvaccinated attendees or those with unknown vaccination status must still:
- Wear masks and maintain 6 feet of distance from others;
- Be assigned to a table/area where they must be seated while eating or drinking for the duration of the event;
- Be standing only when necessary;
- Remove masks only to eat or drink while seated, even at standing receptions; and
- Dance in a designated and distanced area.
- Barriers need only be installed where unvaccinated attendees or those with unknown vaccination status frequently interact with employees/staff.
- Amenities and event services that involve interactions between employees/staff and attendees no longer need to be limited.
Imminent Lifting of All Restrictions
Finally, New York State has announced that once 70% of the adult population in New York has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted entirely and, capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screenings and collecting contact information for contact tracing will become optional in most settings, including restaurants and offices.
Unvaccinated individuals will still be required wear a mask in most settings and are responsible for social distancing.
Additionally, large-scale events, pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and health care settings will still be required to adhere to existing guidelines.
As of yesterday afternoon, 69.1% of the adult population had received their first dose of the vaccine.
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If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact any of our Labor & Employment attorneys or the primary EGS attorney with whom you work.