On Thursday, May 14, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.31, which extended the “PAUSE” for non-essential gatherings and in-person conduct of non-essential businesses through May 28, 2020. The Governor cited the expected continued increase in cases and transmission of COVID-19, in contrast to New Jersey where Governor Phil Murphy recognized the efforts and success in limiting the disease, to justify the extension of the emergency orders already in place.

The Executive Order does not direct any State or local agency to issue new guidance on what constitutes “essential” business, so the existing Empire State Development guidelines on the construction industry are expected to remain in place.

However, there is some evidence of progress. In line with the Governor’s phased reopening plan, certain upstate and western New York State regions have been deemed to have met the criteria for Phase 1 industries reopening as of May 14, 2020. Phase 1 industries, identified as construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, retail (limited to curb-side or in-store pick-up/drop-off), manufacturing, and wholesale trade, must still operate in accordance with the State Department of Health Guidelines, regardless of whether they have been operating to date.

The regions deemed suitable for Phase 1 reopening consist of the following counties: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence.

The rest of the State’s regions, including New York City, have not yet met the seven metrics for reopening and remain on “pause” until May 28. When the State determines that a region has met the standards, it may then reopen.


As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice.  For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.