What Should The Board Do In The Event There Is COVID-19 In The Building
What should the Board do in the event there is a COVID-19 infected person in the building or a person who must quarantine because of contact with an infected person or return to the building from a COVID “hot spot”?
The Board may alert all residents that there may be an infected or quarantined person in the building. However, landlords are not required to notify the city or others in a building if someone in the building is sick or in quarantine. With widespread community transmission, many people will get sick and recover at home. The Board may remind all of the residents to follow the health guidelines and explain the measures that are being taken to prevent its spread (e.g., the person is following all governmental protocols for quarantine).
We recommend the Board take the following precautions:
- Personal privacy considerations must be taken into account, so the Board should keep the name and specific location of the infected or quarantined person confidential from other residents, unless consent to release the information is obtained.
- Notify the building staff who the infected or quarantined person is, and direct the building staff when interaction with the person is required to follow the recommended protocols as described in the guidance issued by NYC, i.e. request that person to exit the room, wear protective face mask and properly sanitize after the visit. Note, this procedure may be practiced with all persons in the building, not only with those who may be ill or who have traveled to COVID “hot spots.”
- If the Board chooses to advise the other residents, the notice to residents should specify that the unnamed resident is self-quarantining, or that he or she is under governmental order not to leave the apartment, and that safe procedures are in place for ministerial tasks such as disposing of trash or receiving mail.
- If other building residents inquire who the infected or quarantined resident is, to protect the resident’s right to privacy and to remove fear that such person might be publicly ridiculed or shamed, Boards should not disclose the infected or quarantined person’s name or apartment, without first obtaining that person's written consent.
- Advise all infected or quarantined persons that deliveries will be left outside the apartment door, that the delivery (or staff) person will ring the doorbell to advise of the delivery and will depart immediately without interacting with such person.
- Develop a plan with the infected or quarantined person for trash removal, i.e. have such person leave trash outside the door at a specific time for safe pick-up.
- Advise the infected or quarantined person that if they need to leave the building for any reason, to alert the Board or Managing Agent first so that proper precautions and measures may be taken.
If the Board learns that the infected or quarantined person is not following government guidelines, the Board should notify the person of the need to comply and that the Board may take action against the person for failing to follow building rules requiring compliance with government guidelines, including fines, notice of objectionable conduct or termination of their proprietary lease. In extreme cases the appropriate authorities should be contacted. The Board may call 311 to alert the city Health Department, file a complaint with the state online or by calling 833-789-0470.
For further information, please contact our attorneys at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP.