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Phase 4 Business Reopening in New York State

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*Employer Alert* – Businesses in industries that were open in prior phases should recheck their guidelines as many guidelines have been updated since they were first published. For example, Office-Based Work and Construction guidance was just updated on June 26th.

NYS recently released Phase 4 guidelines and they can be found on the New York Forward website. The guidelines apply to non-essential businesses in regions that are permitted to reopen, essential businesses throughout the state that were previously permitted to remain open, and commercial and recreational activities that have been permitted to operate statewide with restrictions. Here is a breakdown of Phase 4 industries:

As of June 29th, Phase 4 includes:

  • Higher Education – This guidance is intended to address all types of in-person higher education institutions, including but not limited to community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools, and technical schools. Higher education institutions must develop and submit a plan for reopening and operating for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment – These guidelines apply to all low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities permitted to reopen. This guidance applies to low-risk outdoor arts/entertainment activities, including outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, grounds of historic sites and cultural institutions, outdoor museums, outdoor agritourism, local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions; and other similar institutions/activities.
  • Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment – These guidelines apply to all indoor museums, historical sites, aquariums, and other related institutions or activities that have been permitted to reopen.
  • Media Production – These guidelines apply to media production businesses/activities in regions of New York that have been permitted to reopen. For the purpose of this guidance, “media production activities” encompass all activities undertaken in motion picture, music, television, and streaming productions on set, on location, or at any production or recording site.

In addition to these guidance summaries, all industries have more detailed guidelines that can be found on the New York Forward website. NYS has provided a “Business Reopen Lookup Tool” to help determine whether or not your business is eligible to reopen.

Gyms and malls were expected to reopen in Phase 4 however the state recently announced that they will not be included in Phase 4. At this time, it is unknown when they will be allowed to reopen.

Similar to all previous phases, the New York Forward guidance calls for Phase 4 businesses to prepare and retain on their premises a COVID-19 Health and Safety plan. Template health and safety plans along with a list of FAQs can be found on the NYS Forward website. It should be noted that the reopening standards apply to both essential and nonessential businesses.

If you have any questions on reopening in NYS, please contact Caroline Organ, Director of Human Resources at 854-5034 or