Mandatory Face Coverings For Employees Are The Latest In New York’s Efforts To Combat The Spread Of Coronavirus

Written By: Eugene H. Goldberg Michelle P. Quinn

business people walking streets with masks on

Social distancing. Work from home. No social gatherings. New York’s state and city officials have imposed these restrictions on its communities in order to thwart the transmission of COVID-19, which has infiltrated every aspect of life in New York.

Executive Order 202.16, issued on April 12, 2020, has now made it mandatory (as of 8:00 p.m. on April 15, 2020) for all essential employees who come into direct contact with customers or members of the public to wear “face coverings.” While many have already opted to undertake this precautionary measure, Governor Cuomo has now made it a requirement for certain employees.

In addition, starting Friday, April 17th, at 8 PM, everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask or cloth face-covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place if unable to maintain a minimum 6-foot social distancing. (Executive Order 202.17.)

While “essential services” (and by extension, their employees) have been defined by Executive Order 202.6, other portions of the recent order have not been, such as what may constitute “direct contact.” In this environment, however, it is best to err on the side of caution and prevention. 

Employers must supply their employees with face coverings at the employers’ expense. Due to the shortage or delay in the delivery of some supplies, employers may need to get creative in fulfilling this requirement, temporarily using makeshift substitutes. Lack of supplies is not likely to relieve an employer of its obligation, as violations carry a penalty of up to $2,000 per instance and a potential charge of a misdemeanor for a willful violation.

Coops and Condos:

Significantly, the employees of cooperatives, condominiums, and other multiple dwellings are considered essential (e.g. doormen, superintendent, porters, concierge, managing agents). These individuals regularly come into contact not only with the building residents but also with visitors, delivery persons, letter carriers, and the like. This latest order is a directive for all to exercise an additional degree of caution given the potentially wide circle of contacts.
In conjunction with other precautionary measures, Executive Order 202.16 augments the ongoing endeavors to battle the pandemic.
Readers are encouraged to contact our firm if you have any further questions. 

about the authors

Eugene H. Goldberg


​Mr. Goldberg has practiced construction law for over 40 years on all sides of the construction triangle (contractor owner designer), including materialmen, engineers retained by architects, inspectors approving the release of monies under building loans, and sureties. He emphasizes insurance coverage in his handling of matters.

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Michelle P. Quinn


Michelle P. Quinn represents cooperative and condominium boards, businesses, and individuals regarding issues with shareholders and owners in commercial and residential landlord-tenant litigation, including summary proceedings, administrative agency hearings, and Supreme Court actions and appeals.  She has substantial experience with Mitchell-Lama cooperatives, redevelopment companies, and tenancies protected by New York State Rent Regulation.

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