Easy Does It – Landlords are in No Rush to Loosen Safety Protocols
With more than 45% of New York City residents fully vaccinated, New York and the CDC have adopted new, relaxed guidelines for requiring COVID-19 safety measures to be used in certain spaces as of May 19, 2021. But should these guidelines be followed in all buildings?
Mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and social distancing have been the norm for over a year and have effectively curbed the spread of the coronavirus. The COVID-19 vaccine has been available for several months, which has led to greater comfort and increased patronage of local stores, restaurants, and visits to family and friends. The CDC recently announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most situations, and may resume their pre-pandemic activities.
While the temptation to abandon safety precautions is great, there are still many people who are not yet vaccinated (or who cannot be for various reasons) and are at risk of contracting COVID-19. That, coupled with the increase in the number and spread of virus variants (like the highly infectious Delta spreading quickly through Britain), warns us not to become too complacent.
Without knowing who is vaccinated and who is not, landlords may opt to continue to require mask-wearing and other safety precautions to be followed in order to protect their residents, employees, and visitors. Protocols for sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, limiting elevator occupancy, and staggering gym and social room usage should still be implemented. Modifications may be considered, such as allowing two persons to be in an elevator or gym simultaneously instead of one. Unvaccinated residents can adjust their behavior to their own comfort level. Temperature checks or completion of self-certification forms should continue for visitors to apartments such as housekeepers, dog walkers, and contractors. Over the course of the pandemic, buildings have gotten into a rhythm of operating in a virus-safe way. Residential landlords must balance residents’ need to know that they are safe with residents’ desires to re-open amenities.
Most commercial landlords will continue to require wearing a mask in common areas such as lobbies and elevators, and many businesses will still require their employees and visitors to practice safety protocols, regardless of vaccination status. Customers returning to in-person shopping will find that they still need to don a mask while inside the store.
Summer has brought a renewed energy and eagerness to congregate, though the reopening of all activities, especially those held indoors, should be moderated. For example, the last year has shown us that annual meetings can successfully be held remotely. Boards of cooperative and condominium buildings should consider holding remote meetings again this year to stave off any virus resurgence and to increase residents’ peace of mind.
As many who left the city during the height of the pandemic are returning, creating greater numbers of individuals in buildings, landlords and boards of cooperatives and condominiums are cautioned not to loosen COVID-19 rules and reopen too quickly.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about easing the coronavirus-related restrictions in your building.