Friday March 27, 2020
Hello Chamber Members and Partners,

Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time including Gov Cuomo's call to stop non-essential construction, information on new health insurance guidelines and telemedicine options, WARN regulations and links on how to help in our region.

Send us any questions or updates you may have, we are here to help provide information, connect the dots and assure those in the North Country that we will get through this together.

Onward and Be Well!
Gov. Cuomo Calls Off ‘Non-Essential’ Construction Statewide
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that all non-essential construction state wide is to stop.

According to the Empire State Development's website:

"All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).

Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site."

Under the order, every job site, regardless if it's emergency or nonessential, must maintain social distancing, including inside elevators and for meals, entry and exit.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce has been advised that this does not change the status of construction related suppliers and vendors (i.e Hardware Stores, building material suppliers, etc.)

If you are unsure if you are an e ssential businesses or what the guidelines are please check out our website . There are also links available on our site to apply for an waiver that would deem you essential.
Need Medical Attention but Don't Want to go Out? Try Telemedicine!
Nowaday, many insurance plans offer telemedicine benefits to their subscribers and it is easy to use! This is a way to reduce the pressure on Emergency rooms, hospitals, medical offices and urgent care services for non life threatening conditions. 

How it works:
  • Go to the insurance company's website
  • Create an account (if needed)
  • Look for the telemedicine
  • Create an appointment or speak immediately to a medical professional!

Some companies are even offering mental health services.

Many companies have informational flyers explaining their virtual medicine opportunities:

Special Enrollment Period Allowed for Group Policies

Effective immediately, to support our community in response to COVID-19, many insurance companies are offering Open Enrollment for all commercial groups of all funding arrangement types. 

Employees can enroll in their respective employer group medical plans if they don’t already have coverage. The rules are a bit different for each carrier and it looks like a 30 day window is going to be available.
  • This applies to new subscriber additions and dependent additions who do not have coverage
  • New subscribers and dependents can be added into an existing group plan
  • Rehires: Can enroll without a waiting period usine their original date of hire
  • New hires: This special enrollment period overrides new hire probationary periods 
  • Effective date options are 4/1 (prospectively) or 3/1 (retroactively). Normal retroactive guidelines apply at this time. (This may vary)
  • Benefit changes outside of the normal Open Enrollment are not allowed.   

Call your insurance brokers or visit the website for your insurance carrier for more details and restrictions. 

Have questions? Email Lisa , the North Country Chamber of Commerce's Director of Health Insurance Services.
Webinar & Tele-Townhall Resources
During this uncertain time, The North Country Chamber wants to make sure our businesses receive continually informed on the changing conditions surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

Because of this mission we have set-up daily eblasts and weekly webinars. Updating our community on the evolving rules and regulations, new resources available and anything else that comes across our desks! 

Here are links to past "Daily Dose" Emails and Webinars, please bookmark this page and refer back to it often as the information continues to be updated:

  • TELE-TOWNHALL: March 2020 Tele-Townhall (with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Assemblyman Billy Jones, Senator Betty Little and Chamber President, Garry Douglas)

If you have employees that you would like to receive these updates, let us know. Send us and email and we will add them to our list.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)
Many employers are making the difficult decision to lay off workers during this period of closures and reduced business activity. Most probably have not had to file a WARN Act notice before.

If you have more than 50 employees and you are laying off 33 percent (at least 25 workers) or more of your workforce, or if you are laying off 250 workers from a single employment site, you must issue a WARN notice.

You Must Send the Notice To:
  • Employees
  • Their representatives (such as a labor union)
  • NYS Department of Labor
  • Local Workforce Investment Board

Failure to provide notification could result a civil penalty of up to $500 per day and liability for back pay and benefits for 60 days of the violation.

Click Here for a link to information on the section of the NYS Labor Law that covers WARN. The document contains information about what must be included in the notices to employees, the Department of Labor, etc.

Normally, there is also a requirement for 90 days advance notice. That requirement has not been waived, but that is because the WARN Act already recognizes the businesses cannot predict sudden and unexpected circumstances beyond an employer’s control, such as government mandated closures, the loss of your workforce due to school closings, or other specific circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Spotlight: MYNBC5
Thank you to MYNBC5 for this great reminder!
How to Help Throughout the North Country!
One of the incredible thing about the North Country is that when our neighbors are in need, our community rallies to with support. If you are looking for ways to help we have created an ever growing list of needs in our community. Whether it be through donations or volunteer hours (which are limited due to the social distancing mandate), here are ways that you can help our community during these uncertain times.

Please bookmark this page and check back often as we know the needs will continue to grow and change.

If you are a non-profit, health care organization or a business helping those in need, email us with your needs, contact information and we will be happy to add you to our growing list.
The home page of the Chamber's website is now your go to resource for all things Coronavirus related. From information to help your business, health insurance, employee guidelines, restaurant offerings and CDC resources,  will hopefully make things a bit easier for you during this challenging time.

  • Now Hiring: Whether you are hiring or looking for work, we have a page dedicated to helping pair potential employees with employers.

  • TGIF! Looking for dinner tonight? Check out our Restaurant & Bar page to order deliver and support a local business.

  • Cleaning Companies: Coronavirus can survive on surfaces for up to a week making it difficult to track and contain. With many local businesses closed now is the time to disinfect your office, properly. We have complied a list of trusted cleaning company for you to contact.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce