Current Developments Requiring Covid-19 Masking and Vaccinations
Both New York State and New York City have responded to the recent outbreak of the Omicron Covid-19 variant by requiring masking and vaccinations in certain situations.
The NYS Health Commissioner’s December 10, 2021 Determination on Indoor Masking requires that masks be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This requirement remains in effect until January 15, 2022, at which time the State will re-evaluate next steps. Indoor public space is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence which includes common areas in residential buildings. Buildings that implement a full-course vaccine requirement may, under the NYS guideline forego mask requirements. However, buildings in NYC must keep mask requirements in place for both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
In NYC, Executive Order 317 issued December 15, 2021 and effective December 27, 2021 provides rules, known as the “Key to NYC” program, that require a “covered entity” to prohibit a patron, full or part-time employee, intern, volunteer or contractor to enter a “covered premises” without displaying proof of vaccination and identification. Exceptions to providing proof of vaccination status allow those entering a covered premises for a limited period of time, such as to pick up an item or perform necessary repairs, to enter without proving proof of vaccination, provided those persons entering the “covered premises” wear a mask at all times. Note that “covered premises” is defined to include indoor gyms or fitness settings but excludes locations in a residential building the use of which is limited to residents, owners or tenants of that building. In effect, all common areas in a residential building, such as hallways, elevators, stairs, gyms, fitness areas and playrooms would be deemed a “covered premises.” The areas in a residential building used solely as a residence are not covered. Covered entities are required to adopt a written protocol for implementing and enforcing the requirements of the Executive Order, including maintaining a record of worker’s proof of vaccination status. The records are to be made available for inspection upon request by a NYC agency. Violations of the Executive Order will result in fines which increase in severity for repeat violations.
Compliance with these new rules will be a burden. Proof of full vaccination status will be difficult, since those not yet fully vaccinated may require two shots (boosters are not yet required) and, under CDC guidelines, a waiting period of 14 days past the second shot to be deemed fully vaccinated.
In New York City, most buildings are requiring masks to be worn at all times in common areas by building residents as well as by building and residents’ employees and contractors. Buildings usually are not requiring residents or their employees to be vaccinated or to provide proof of such status, as it is not required if a mask policy is in force.
If you have questions about these evolving rules, please contact our firm.