COVID-19 Tri-State Updates

New York

October 27, 2020 Update:

New York Travel Advisory Update as of October 27th – Three States Added, None Removed; bringing the total of quarantine states to 39 and 2  territories

The New York coronavirus travel advisory, has announced between last week and this that 3 states have been added to the list which requires the 14-day voluntary quarantine for those arriving from a state with a 10% or higher positive rate of COVID-19 cases over a 7-day rolling average. The newest states added are: Arizona, California and Maryland.

Currently CT, MA, NJ and PA meet the criteria for the travel advisory however, due to the region’s interconnectedness, it was decided that quarantine is not practical. Instead Governor Cuomo, along with the governors of CT and NJ discourage non-essential travel between these states to the extent practical. The travel advisory does not apply to individuals classified as essential workers or those traveling through the designated states for a limited duration of less than 24 hours. The guidance lists examples of “brief passage” to include stopping at rest stops or layovers for air, bus or train travel.

Here’s the total updated list of states and territories on the current travel advisory:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Puerto Rico and Guam

October 19, 2020 Update:

Per Governor Cuomo as of Monday, October 19th the following applies in New York state:

  • Most movie theaters outside of New York City can reopen as of 10/23 at 25% capacity with up to 50 people per screen. Theaters outside of New York City in counties that have COVID-19 positivity rates of less than 2% on a 14-day average, and that do not have any cluster zones, are permitted to open.
  • The positivity rate in the “Red Zone” focus areas fell slightly to 3.31% while the statewide positivity rate excluding these areas was 1.13% as of 10/18.
  • Ski resorts can reopen with 50% indoor capacity starting 11/6. There will be strict health and safety protocols put in place, including masks required at all times, except when eating/drinking or skiing/snowboarding; restricting gondolas; and ski lifts to members of the same party, and limiting lessons to no more than 10 people.
June 27, 2020 Update: 

Governor Cuomo signed an executive order on 6/27/20 directly impacting employee paid sick leave benefits while CT and NJ join in the effort as well

With recent COVID-19 flare-ups occurring in certain states the governor signed an order that essentially strips the COVID protections afforded under the current paid sick leave protections (approved on 3/17/20) for NY employees who voluntarily travel to high-risk states after 6/25. In the continuing effort to contain the spread of the virus and just as anyone traveling from the current states of AL, AR, AZ, FL, NC, SC, TX, UT and WA must self-quarantine for 14 days, so now will employees who travel to these same states risk losing their paid sick leave benefits as they pertain to COVID-19.  CA and several other states are expected to be added to this list in the coming days.

This order does not apply to any employee that regularly travels for work, or who is sent to one of these states at the employer’s request.  It expands on a mandate made earlier this year which made NY employees ineligible for paid sick leave if they travel to a country with a level 2 or 3 travel health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It should also be noted that this order is part of a joint effort with CT and NJ, and the criteria and protocols will be coordinated among the 3 states in order to ensure that the tri-state area is protected from community transmission of COVID-19, while permitting free travel between and among the states.

Currently, unlike NY, CT and NJ have not addressed the issue of employees losing paid sick leave protections if they do travel to one of the above hot-spot states. Employees of essential employers may have some exceptions, and it is possible that other exceptions may be established by state public health commissioners in the coming days.

New York City General Information:

State guidelines require individuals to keep a distance of at least 6 feet at all times. If at any time workers or visitors must come within 6 feet of each other, they will have to wear protective masks or acceptable face coverings.  Individuals also must be prepared to don face coverings if someone unexpectedly comes within 6 feet.

Meetings will be limited and office workers will use tele- or videoconferencing whenever possible. Essential in-person meetings should be held in open, well-ventilated spaces with appropriate social distancing among participants, and shared workstations must be cleaned and disinfected between users.

New Jersey

August 27, 2020 Update:

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Allowing Gyms and Indoor Amusement and Water Parks to Reopen Effective Tuesday, September 1

Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 181, which permits gyms and health clubs, as well as amusement and water parks, to reopen their indoor premises to the public on Tuesday, September 1 at 6:00 a.m., provided these facilities comply with the health and safety standards issued by the Department of Health.

Under the Department of Health’s Executive Directive, gyms and health clubs who reopen will be required to adhere to the health and safety standards listed in the “Guidance for Health Clubs/Gyms/Fitness Centers”.  These standards, which will also apply to other recreational businesses that offer fitness classes and activities, include the following, among others:

  • Limit occupancy of any indoor premises to 25 percent of the stated maximum capacity;
  • Conduct a temperature screening and questionnaire of staff and clients upon entrance to the facility;
  • Limit indoor group activities (e.g., classes) to no more than 1 individual per 200 square feet of accessible space or less, with all individuals being able to maintain 6 feet of distance from other individuals during the entire class;
  • Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings at all times, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, such as when in the water and in other situations where the presence of a mask would pose a risk to the individual’s health, or where the individual is under two years of age;
  • Demarcate six feet of distance between equipment, or blocking off equipment (e.g. every other machine) to maintain six feet of distancing between individuals using equipment;
  • Require that reservations, cancellations and pre-payments be made via electronic or telephone reservation systems to limit physical interactions;
  • Limit occupancy in restrooms to avoid over-crowding;
  • Inform clients to arrive dressed to workout/train and bring their own hand towel, water, yoga mat, boxing gloves, and any other equipment;
  • Not permit the use of showers, with the exception of gyms with pools, which can have individually partitioned showers or communal showers with installed barriers/partitions at least six feet apart;
  • Limit locker room use to hand washing and restroom use only; and
  • Adopt infection control practices and enhanced sanitization protocols.

Activities such as swimming in an indoor pool, tanning, outdoor dining, pick-up of food or beverage, and retail sales, which are otherwise permitted but which are not governed by the guidance, remain subject to applicable standards outlined in Executive Orders, Executive Directives and guidance.

What businesses are open? What rules or safety guidelines must they follow?

To slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, indoor concert venues, indoor movie theaters, indoor performing arts centers, indoor amusement parks, indoor water parks, and indoor dining at restaurants are closed at this time. However, beginning September 1, amusement parks and water parks may reopen indoor facilities subject to mandatory health and social distancing protocols.

Most other businesses can open, while following appropriate mitigation requirements.

BUSINESSES THAT MAY OPEN

Note: Any establishment open to the public, including bars and restaurants, must cordon off any indoor or outdoor dance floors to the public.

Workplaces that do not have walk-in customers or products for sale, including office spaces, were never closed, but must allow employees to work remotely if their job can be performed remotely. At a  minimum, businesses must have policies that require individuals to wear face coverings indoors when in close contact with others for long periods of time, and are strongly encouraged to follow safety and sanitization protocols.

Retail businesses and indoor portions of retail shopping malls may open to customers, while following required mitigation requirements.

Bars and restaurants are open for drive-through, delivery, takeout and outdoor dining, while following appropriate safety and sanitization protocolsIndoor dining is not allowed. The reopening of indoor dining spaces has been postponed.

Microbreweries and brewpubs may be open for home delivery. Depending on the type of license they hold, outdoor service may also be allowed.

Child care centers can reopen their doors to all clients, while following all safety guidelines.

Golf Courses may open so long as they adopt minimum social distancing policies.

Recreational businesses can reopen, while following required mitigation requirements.

Entertainment businesses can reopen, while following required mitigation requirements, with the exceptions of indoor concert venues, indoor movie theaters, and indoor performing arts centers.

Playgrounds, outdoor amusement parks, and outdoor water parks can reopen, while following mitigation requirements. Indoor amusement parks and indoor water parks remain closed, however beginning September 1, they may reopen subject to mitigation requirements.

Swimming pools can reopen, while following necessary mitigation requirements. Summer camps will be able to use their pools when they reopen on July 6.

Casinos, including casino gaming floors and retail sports wagering lounges, can reopen, while following mitigation requirements.

Horse racetracks can reopen for racing and for in-person bets, while following necessary mitigation requirements.

Construction may continue. Construction projects must follow appropriate mitigation requirements.

Manufacturing and warehousing businesses may remain open and must follow social distancing and safety requirements.

Personal care businesses may reopen, while following appropriate mitigation requirements.

Libraries can reopen, while following appropriate mitigation requirements.

Gyms and fitness centers may reopen outdoor spaces so long as they follow required social distancing and other safety protocols. Indoor spaces remain closed except for individualized instruction by appointment only. Effective Tuesday, September 1, 2020, gyms may reopen at 25% capacity. Masks will be required. Additional details will be added shortly.

BUSINESSES REQUIRED TO CLOSE

Indoor water parks and indoor amusement parks must close, however beginning September 1, all amusement parks and water parks may reopen indoor facilities**.**

Indoor movie theaters, indoor performing arts centers, and indoor concert venues must close.

See the following link for further information: https://covid19.nj.gov/index.html

Reopening Plan

July 21, 2020 Update:

Currently, New Jersey remains in Stage 2 of the state’s reopening phase and is continuing to eliminate critical in-office work, which is expected to come in Stage 3.

June 18, 2020 Update:

Governor Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police, Col. Patrick Callahan announced on 6/18 that indoor portions of retail shopping malls will be allowed to reopen to the public as of 6/29. Those retail areas will be expected to comply with all requirements concerning social distancing, wearing masks and the like.  Restaurants within the interior of a retail shopping mall will be restricted to offering takeout and delivery services, except that they may also provide in-person service at outdoor areas outside the shopping mall.

With respect to the mall’s own employees, mall operators must require infection control practices, provide employees break time for handwashing, and provide sanitization materials, among other requirements.  If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the mall at the point of entry, then the mall must decline entry to the individual.

The following services or areas shall be closed at all indoor shopping malls:

  1. Valet parking;
  2. Vending machines;
  3. Stroller rentals; and
  4. Any type of communal play area.

Businesses located within the indoor portions of retail shopping malls that remain closed to the public by any Executive Order, such as entertainment and recreational businesses including gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, amusement parks, water parks, and arcades, shall remain closed.

STAGE 2:

Restrictions are relaxed on activities that can be easily safeguarded.

Phased-in businesses and activities, with adherence to safeguarding and modification guidelines, include:

  • Outdoor dining (beginning on June 15th)
  • Limited in-person retail (beginning on June 15th)
  • Hair salons and barber shops (beginning on June 22nd)
  • Youth summer programs (beginning on July 6th)
  • In-person clinical research/labs
  • Limited fitness/gyms
  • Limited in-person government services (e.g. – Motor Vehicle Commission)
  • Museums/libraries

All workers who can work from home should continue to work from home.

New Jersey will move toward subsequent stages based on data that demonstrates improvements in public health and the capacity to safeguard the public, including:

  • Sustained improvements in public health indicators, including new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, individuals in intensive care, and ventilator use;
  • Substantial increase in testing and contact tracing capacity;
  • Sufficient resilience in New Jersey’s health care system to include adequate bed capacity, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and workforce;
  • Widespread safeguarding of workplaces;
  • Widespread safeguarding and capacity of child care, schools, and mass transit;
  • Continued public compliance.

For more information refer to the New Jersey State website

April 4, 2020 Update:

Paid Sick Leave & Family Leave Insurance Benefits

  • Amended to permit employers to provide sick leave when an employee is unable to work because:
    • There is a state of emergency or threat of health to others by the presence of an employee in the community (paid sick leave).
    • The same circumstance as above but determination relates to an employee’s family member in need of care by the employee (paid sick leave & FLI).
    • The employee is caring for a family member who is in isolation or quarantine because of “suspected exposure to a communicable disease” (paid sick leave & FLI).
    • The employee is isolated or quarantined (paid sick leave).
    • The employee’s workplace or child’s daycare or school is closed because of a state of emergency (paid sick leave).
April 4, 2020 Update:

Family Leave Act

  • FMLA is amended to expand the definition of “serious health condition” during a state of emergency.
  • This will apply to employers with 30+ employees.
  • It prohibits an employer from denying family leave to any employee during an epidemic of a communicable disease or a known suspected exposure to such a disease.
    • This will apply to care for a family member who needs to be quarantined; or because the family member’s place of care is closed due to a state of emergency.
April 4, 2020 Update:

Temporary Disability Insurance

  • The law has been modified to waive the seven-day waiting period for benefits during a state of emergency if the disability is for illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the disease, or in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Employers with a private disability plan instead of a New Jersey state plan are required to provide these benefits as well.

Connecticut

September 22, 2020

Connecticut Provides Amendment to Travel Advisory

Connecticut has modified the self-quarantine and travel advisory order for people traveling into the state from adversely coronavirus-impacted states.  The modification provides a testing exemption to all travelers who test negative for COVID-19 in the 72 hours prior to arrival.  This amendment to the state’s previous advisory became effective on 9/18/20.

In general, for more information please refer to the Connecticut State website.