Phase Three Business Reopening Guidance: Just the Highlights

For many upstate regions, “Phase Three” of New York’s business reopening plan started on June 12th. As of June 17, 2020, seven regions are in Phase Three (Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North County and the Capital Region), two are in Phase Two (Mid-Hudson and Long Island), and New York City is in Phase One.

Phase Three includes businesses in Food Services (including food trucks and concessions) and Personal Care (nail and tanning salons, tattoo and piercing shops, spas, massage therapy and cosmetology practices).

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 Three approved.  

As with Phases One and Two, 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.

Here are the highlights important to you:

  • Safety plans must be completed, and maintained onsite (it is not a requirement that they be submitted to the Department of Health). A link to the safety plan template is provided here: Safety Plan Template.
  • Businesses must read and affirm that they have read the detailed guidance. A hyperlink for the affirmation is located at the bottom of each industry’s “detailed guidance” (links below), and allows businesses to submit their business information to Empire State Development.
  • Guidance varies by sector, and subcategories within sectors, so it will be important to locate the guidance most applicable to your business.
  • The 6-Foot Rule continues to be in effect, and persons working or patronizing businesses in all industries should attempt to stay 6 feet apart when possible.
  • Screening must occur regularly to determine whether employees or vendors had COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive for, or came in contact with someone suspected or known to have COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
  • Businesses must designate a point-of-contact whom employees can inform if they later are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Food Service (Click to Read and Affirm Detailed Guidance)
    • Restaurants may accommodate indoor service.
    • Food service must be limited to 50% of maximum capacity, which does not include employees.
    • Tables must be spaced, at a minimum, 6 feet apart; however, if tables cannot be separated by a minimum of 6 feet, physical barriers of at least 5 feet in height must be erected between tables.
    • Employees must wear face coverings at all times, and patrons must wear face coverings any time they are not seated.
    • Individuals seated at the same table must be of the same family, and no more than 10 persons may be seated at any one table.
    • 6 feet spacing must be utilized for customers waiting for restrooms, cueing to pick up food, or sitting or standing at bars.
    • Employees should regularly replace gloves when switching between tasks, and those who buss tables must wash hands with soap and water or, if they wear gloves, change their gloves before and after cleaning and disinfecting tables.
    • Customers may not be provided with buzzers to alert them to when their table is ready, unless such devices are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each use.
    • All condiments provided to patrons should be in clean single-use containers and/or reusable containers that are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
    • All reusable menus must be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
    • Silverware must be pre-rolled while wearing masks and gloves.

  • Non-Hair-Related Personal Care (Click to Read and Affirm Detailed Guidance)
    • Note: Guidance for Hair Salons and Barbershops was provided as a part of Phase Two reopening.
    • Customer and work force capacity must be limited to 50% of the maximum occupancy as set by the certificate of occupancy.
    • Customers must be seated 6 feet away from one another, except from the employee providing services.
    • Employees must wear face coverings at all times when providing services, or when coming within 6 feet of another person.
    • Employees at appointment desks must be 6 feet away from other persons, unless a physical barrier, such as a Plexiglas shield, is erected or they are wearing a face covering; however, a face mask must always be worn when interacting with a customer.
    • Waiting rooms must be closed, and lines should be avoided to the extent possible. Walk-in customers who cannot be immediately served should be provided a time to return.
    • Services that require patrons to remove face masts (such as facials, face piercings, or lip waxing) are prohibited.
    • Tattoo and piercing facilities must ensure that all stencils and razors are brand new for each client, and not reused. Needles must come from sealed packaged for each customer before using.
    • Saunas, steam rooms, and other services that take place in enclosed spaces where it is inherently difficult to maintain social distance should be closed.
    • Manicure and pedicure bowls must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses with an EPA-approved solution.
    • All linens must be changed between clients and laundered appropriately.
    • All stations must be disinfected between clients.

If you are a Phase Three 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.