For many upstate regions, “Phase Four” of New York’s business reopening plan started on June 26th. As of June 30, 2020, seven regions are in Phase Four (Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, and the North County), three are in Phase Three (the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson and Long Island), and New York City is in Phase Two.
Phase Four includes Higher Education, “Low-Risk” Outdoor Arts & Entertainment, “Low-Risk” Indoor Arts & Entertainment, and Media Production. Notably, Phase Four, despite being the last pre-planned reopening phase, does not address businesses that perform non-Low-Risk outdoor or indoor programming, such as theatres, amusement parks, bowling centers, gyms, fitness centers or exercise classes.
To mitigate confusion about which businesses constitute Phase Three businesses, Empire State Development has created a Business Reopen Lookup Tool. Business owners and consumers may enter the county and industry in which a business operates to determine, in real time, whether that business is Phase Four approved.
As with Phases One, Two and Three, individuals are able to file complaints regarding the improper operation of businesses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, online or by phone, and employees may make complaints against their employers through an online form with the Department of Labor. Therefore, it is imperative that all employers and public-facing businesses comply in good faith with all guidance to avoid possible penalties, or business closures.
Though guidance varies by industry, the common thread across each is that social distancing remains imperative.
If you are a Phase Four Business Owner, it is imperative that you review the full guidance provided in the links above. If you have questions about how to bring your business into compliance with New York’s new guidance, our Labor & Employment Law team is ready to help.