Governor Cuomo Signs Executive Order 202.6 Requiring Employers to Reduce In-Person Workforces by 75% Due to COVID-19

March 20, 2020

As part of New York State’s continuing response to COVID-19, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order on March 18, 2020 (amended on March 19, 2020) requiring most employers to reduce their in-person workforces by 75%. This means that starting tonight only 25% of a company’s employees may show up to work at any given time.

Here is a summary:

  • Effective March 20 at 8 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities in New York State must reduce the in-person workforce at each work location by 75%. The executive order suggests utilizing telecommuting or other work from home procedures.
  • “Any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions” will not be subject to this restriction. 
  • The Empire State Development Corporation has issued guidance concerning the definition of an “essential business.” This guidance, which applies to each business location, individually, defines “essential businesses” as:
    • Essential health care operations, including: research and laboratory services, hospitals, walk-in-care health facilities, veterinary and animal health services, elder care, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care workers or aides, doctor and dentist offices, nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities, and medical supplies and equipment providers;
    • Essential infrastructure, including: utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission, public water and wastewater, telecommunications and data centers, airports/airlines, and transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages;
    • Essential manufacturing, including: food processing, including all foods and beverages, chemicals, medical equipment/instruments, pharmaceuticals, safety and sanitary products, telecommunications, microelectronics/semi-conductor, agriculture/farms, and paper products;
    • Essential retail, including: grocery stores including all food and beverage stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, farmer’s markets, gas stations, restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery), and hardware and building material stores;
    • Essential services including: trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, laundromats/dry cleaning, building cleaning and maintenance, child care services, auto repair, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries, storage for essential businesses, and animal shelters or animal care or management;
    • News media;
    • Financial institutions, including: banks, insurance, payroll, accounting;
    • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, including: homeless shelters and congregate care facilities, food banks, and human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs, the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities, those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support;
    • Construction, including: skilled trades such as electricians and plumbers, other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes;
    • Defense and natural security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government;
    • Essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses, including: law enforcement, fire prevention and response, building code enforcement, security, emergency management and response, building cleaners or janitors, general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor, automotive repair, disinfection, and doormen; and
    • Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public, including: logistics, technology support, child care programs and services, government owned or leased buildings, and essential government services.
  • With respect to businesses that perform both essential and non-essential services, supplies or support (applied to each location individually), only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies or support are exempt from the restrictions.
  • Businesses not in this above list may be deemed essential after requesting an opinion from the Empire State Development Corporation.
  • Businesses that were already ordered to close on March 15 pursuant to the restrictions on any gathering with 500 or more participants (such as bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, casinos, auditoriums, concerts, conferences, worship services and sporting events) must remain closed and are not eligible for designation as an “essential business.”
  • Any business that only has a single occupant/employee (such as a gas station) is deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an essential business.
  • This workforce reduction requirement is effective through April 17.
  • Click here for the guidance published by the Empire State Development Corporation.

For more information on this issue or other employment matters, please contact:

Carol M. Goodman at +1 212 592 1465 or [email protected]
Meaghan Roe at +1 212 592 1632 or [email protected]
Silvia Stockman
at +1 212 592 1583 or [email protected]

© 2020 Herrick, Feinstein LLP. This alert is provided by Herrick, Feinstein LLP to keep its clients and other interested parties informed of current legal developments that may affect or otherwise be of interest to them. The information is not intended as legal advice or legal opinion and should not be construed as such.