Nonessential Construction Anticipated to Resume in New York City

4 min

Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio have announced that New York City is expected to reach the benchmarks to enter Phase 1 for reopening on June 8. This would allow retail stores to be open for curbside or in-store pickup, and nonessential construction and manufacturing to resume.

In anticipation of the reopening, the City's Department of Buildings (DOB) has announced here the phased reopening of its e-filing systems for permits and requests for inspections. DOB will begin processing these requests, although the underlying work and inspections are prohibited until the City is officially in Phase 1 of the reopening. State guidance here allows certain preparatory activities in advance of the reopening, including cleaning, testing equipment, certain deliveries, and setting up the site in compliance with the guidance described below. Note that DOB will issue a $10,000 violation for the start of any other nonessential construction activities before the official determination that the City is in Phase 1.

For construction-related activities, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) published interim guidance here providing both mandatory and recommended best practices for resuming work during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including requirements for physical distancing, protective equipment, cleaning, communication, and screening of employees, other workers, and visitors. Employers must prepare and post a written safety plan outlining how the workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19 – a template plan is available here. Employers must affirm via an online form that they have reviewed and understand the guidance, including their obligation to operate under such guidance.

While the guidance may be updated from time to time, this is an outline of the current mandatory practices (please review the full guidance for details):

  • Physical Distancing
    • Six-foot separation, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance.
    • For indoor work, limit of one person per 250 sq. ft., excluding supervisors.
    • For tightly confined spaces (e.g., elevators, hoists), one person at a time. If occupied by more than one person, keep occupancy under 50% of maximum capacity.
    • Face coverings required when people are less than six feet apart.
    • Tape or mark six-foot spacing in certain areas (e.g., clock in/out stations, health screening stations).
    • Limit in-person gatherings, use tele- or videoconferencing, and hold essential in-person gatherings in open, well-ventilated spaces with appropriate social distancing.
    • Establish designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.
  • Protective Equipment
    • Employers must provide employees with an acceptable face covering (and in some cases gloves) at no cost to the employee and have an adequate supply of coverings in case of replacement.
    • Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use or when damaged or soiled, may not be shared, and should be properly stored or discarded.
    • Limit sharing of tools, machinery, materials, vehicles, etc. and touching of shared surfaces; or require gloves, hand washing, or hand sanitizer.
  • Cleaning and Hygiene
    • Follow CDC and DOH hygiene and sanitation requirements and maintain cleaning logs. 
    • Provide hand hygiene stations for hand washing or hand sanitizer.
    • Provide cleaning/disinfecting supplies for shared/frequently touched surfaces. 
    • Daily or more frequent cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, shared objects, and high-transit areas using approved products.
    • Prohibit shared food and beverages (e.g., buffet-style meals).
  • Communication
    • Use training and signage and otherwise frequently communicate safety guidelines. 
    • Have a communication plan for updated information.
    • Keep a log of people who may have close contact at the site.
    • If a worker tests positive for COVID-19, immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing, while maintaining required confidentiality.
    • Conspicuously post completed safety plans on site.
  • Screening
    • Require anyone who is sick to go or stay home; 14-day quarantine for those testing positive for COVID-19.
    • Require and document daily health screening assessments for anyone on site by trained on-site screeners.
    • Evaluate employees who have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 (may be able to work with additional precautions, if not exhibiting symptoms).
    • Have a plan for cleaning, disinfection, and contact tracing in the event of a positive case.

We will continue to keep you updated as additional developments occur. Please contact Venable if you have any questions regarding this update.