Novel Coronavirus FAQ for Businesses

UPDATED: MARCH 30, 2020

Empire State Development (ESD) has created this FAQ to offer information to businesses regarding State regulations and general guidance related to the coronavirus. If your question is not answered below, please contact ESD at our website at: https://esd.ny.gov/covid-19-help

BUSINESS-RELATED QUESTIONS REGARDING COVID-19

Background

Now a global pandemic according to the World Health Organization, 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus was first detected in China and has spread worldwide. This virus causes a disease called COVID-19 and can lead to flu-like symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. There are more than 100,000 confirmed cases in a growing number of countries internationally and the virus is now spreading in the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more about this virus. Senior citizens and people with underlying respiratory conditions are at particular risk, but everyone must take the highest level of precautions right now in order to prevent spread in the community.  

Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern, or have been in contact with someone who has traveled to these areas, should call their health care provider before seeking treatment in person.

This is a rapidly changing situation. Please check this site and the CDC's COVID-19 webpage regularly for updates.

New York State Department of Health has established a website and telephone number that provide the latest, most comprehensive information about the State’s response to the virus.

Other Helpful Resources:

 

Information for Businesses and Corporations

 

Q: Will New York State offer financial support to businesses negatively impacted by coronavirus? 

A: NYS is currently assessing options to mitigate hardships to NYS businesses.

The federal government will allow the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses impacted by the coronavirus. These loans would allow businesses in certain areas to apply for low-interest loans from the SBA. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering two loan programs as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to small businesses throughout New York State.  For more information about the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, visit the Small Business Administration COVID-19 loans page:  https://esd.ny.gov/small-business-administration-sba-covid-19-loans

 

Q: What changes are businesses expected to implement at their places of work/office? 

A: On March 18, Governor Cuomo announced he will issue an executive order directing non-essential businesses to implement work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20, to help reduce density as a social responsibility to protect their workforce. On Friday, March 20, he also announced the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, including the directive that 100% of all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions. Exceptions will be made for essential service industries, including shipping, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, media, banks and related financial institutions and other businesses that are essential to the supply chain. On March 29, Governor Cuomo announced NYS on Pause functions will be extended through April 15. In-person workforce restrictions are also restricted until then. The state will re-evaluate after this period.

 

Q: How do I know if my business is designated as an essential service based on the executive order?

A: See the ESD Guidance on Essential Businesses at: https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026 which includes a comprehensive FAQ.

 

Q. I’m an employee who is being asked by a non-essential employer to work outside my home. Where do I find guidance/file a complaint?

A: Go to: https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/coronavirus-complaints.shtm

 

Q: Where can I send additional COVID-19-related business questions?

A: Submit your questions at: https://esd.ny.gov/covid-19-help

 

Q: Many of my employees are quarantined. I still need to run my business, what is the Governor’s bill about Paid Sick Leave mean to me? When will it be passed? How will employees benefit?

A: To address the immediate need of employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation, the Governor signed legislation on March 18 to provide the following:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.
     

Q: If employees of NYS businesses are dealing with unexpected school closures and/or the need to take extra time to care for children or elderly relatives who might be affected or quarantined by this outbreak, can they be covered in some way?

A: Steps so far include:

  • Governor Cuomo is amending the Paid Sick Leave Budget proposal to specifically protect workers from termination if they are required to stay home from work because they are being isolated or quarantined because of the novel coronavirus.
  • Governor Cuomo has instituted a requirement from the state Department of Financial Services that private health insurers in New York make COVID-19 testing free for patients by waiving any customary out-of-pocket costs.
     

Q: Is the state’s Shared Work Program an option for businesses affected by the coronavirus to help avoid layoffs? How does it work?

A: The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Shared Work Program allows businesses to manage business cycles and seasonal adjustments while retaining trained staff and avoiding layoffs. Employees can receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. Full-time, part-time and seasonal employees are eligible. For more information:

Q: Are barber shops, hair and nail salons still allowed to open?

A: On March 20, Governor Cuomo announced that these businesses – and other personal care-related services – would temporarily close as of 8 p.m., March 21. This density reduction restrictions will apply not only to these businesses in New York State, but also in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
 

Q: The Governor has called on businesses to produce needed supplies related to COVID-19. How do I offer to do so?

A: For guidance on producing COVID-19 products and medical supplies for New York State—and specifications for Personal Protective Equipment  (PPE) please visit : https://esd.ny.gov/sourcing-covid-19-products-nys

 

Q: Where can I find the latest COVID-19 health-related guidance for employers/employees?

A: Please see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html. The NYS Department of Health site also offers comprehensive information: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home