New York City Is Re-Opening And So Is Its Real Estate Industry… Slowly

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real estate agent and customers in face mask looking at an apartment

UPDATE: Governor Cuomo, announced on May 29, 2020 that New York City will enter Phase I re-opening on June 8, 2020. We anticipate, barring any significant rise in the number COVID-19 patients, Phase II is to re-open 2 weeks thereafter. As a reminder, Phase II industries include but are not limited to offices, real estate and commercial building management. For more information on Phase I and Phase II industries, please visit Phase I and Phase II, respectively.


Governor Cuomo has recently announced the phased re-opening of New York State. However, we must hold our excitement as many obstacles must be overcome before the real estate industry is fully functional again. The re-opening of New York State is dependent upon multiple factors listed by Governor Cuomo. According to the Governor, “Re-opening is not going to happen statewide all at once - New York has diverse regions and those regions have different circumstances.”
Phase one will permit the following businesses to re-open on May 15, 2020: construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chain, and select retail with curbside pickup.
Phase two will permit professional services, finance, insurance, retail administrative support, and real estate/rental leasing to open next.
Before any region of New York State may open, a four-factor determination must be made:


  • total net hospitalizations and deaths for the region must have declined for at least 14 days, using a 3-day rolling average, and the region must have fewer than two new COVID patients hospitalized per 100,000 residents per day;
  • the region must have the health care capacity to handle a potential surge in cases, including at least 30 percent of the total hospital and ICU beds available for new cases and at least 90 days of personal protective equipment stockpiled;
  • the region must be able to conduct 30 diagnostic tests per 1,000 residents per month; and
  • the region must have at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents, and additional tracers available based on the projected number of cases for the region.

Before an impacted business may re-open, it must have the following procedures in place:

  • Workplace hours and shifts designed to reduce density in the workplace;
  • Social distancing protocols adopted;
  • Non-essential travel for employees restricted;
  • All employees and customers must wear masks if in frequent contact with others;
  • Strict cleaning and sanitation standards implemented;
  • Continuous health screening before individuals may enter the workplace;
  • Tracing, tracking, and reporting of cases must be required; and
  • Liability protocols adopted.

Currently, New York City does not meet the reopening criteria set forth above. Governor Cuomo suggested that it might take a long time before New York City and Long Island re-open, when he said, “If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time.”
Businesses may want to start implementing procedures now to be prepared for the day when New York City meets Governor Cuomo’s requirements and is allowed to re-open. Procedures may include preparing a staggered work schedule where employees alternate days or hours in the office to avoid sharing office space or to allow social distancing of at least six (6) feet between employees; purchasing disposable or non-intrusive thermometers to check the temperatures of employees coming into the office; purchasing a supply of face masks, gloves and sanitizing wipes or sprays that is readily available for staff; assigning an office manager or employee(s) to screen staff by asking how they are feeling and to send them home when they are not feeling well or displaying coronavirus symptoms.
While we are very much looking forward to business as usual, we know that it will not happen in May. Businesses have time to prepare to re-open by implementing some of the recommendations in the preceding paragraph. We at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP understand the requirements for re-opening and are ready to assist you to develop re-opening policies for your business.

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