Question to NYSDAM:
We generally do upgrades to our tasting room in the winter (slow) season. However, with the uncertainty around the Covid-19 crisis, we put some of the more expensive aesthetic improvement projects that we were working on (namely replacing the worn out flooring) on hold in February when it looked like the crisis unfolding in Asia and Europe could also hit hard here. It seemed too risky to make the investment at that time. Normally it’s hard to do major aesthetic improvements in the tasting room like re-painting or installing new flooring because we are open seven days a week. We decided that since we have an empty tasting room right now, we would get the flooring fix done while we are forced to be closed to the public. We have workers working at safe distances in the vineyards and wine cellar, and our plan was to have two workers (with gloves and masks), working at a safe distance, on the flooring in the large (2600 square foot) tasting room. Is this work permissible under the essential business agriculture exemption?
Below provides clarifying language regarding “services” such as construction, etc. to food businesses that are deemed “essential”.
To reiterate: This executive order continues to exempt food processing (including but not limited those supplying goods and services to this industry such as agricultural operations, agri businesses, etc.) and retail grocery stores (including gas stations and convenience stores), from all restrictions imposed by emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency.
NOTE: EO 202.6 also exempts businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these essential businesses, see except provided below.
The question and answer provided by Empire State Development below also addresses this issue: https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/ESD_EssentialEmployerFAQ_033120.pdf
What if my business is NOT an “Essential Business” listed on ESD’s guidance but provides services, materials, supplies or other support to an Essential Business?
If your firm is a vendor, supplier or provides other support to an “Essential Business” that is required for the Essential Business’s operation, then your business is exempt from the employment reduction provisions contained in Executive Orders 202.8. However, only those employees necessary to support the Essential Business are exempt from the employment reduction requirements of Executive Orders 202.8 and your business is still required to utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures to the maximum extent possible.