Gov. Cuomo Could Begin Restart of Economy After May 15

John Jordan | April 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a multi-phased restart of the New York economy at a briefing on Sunday, April 26.

ALBANY, NY—It appears New York State could allow the reopening of some business operations in the construction and manufacturing sectors in the upstate region beginning as early as after May 15.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his daily COVID-19 update on Sunday April 26 announced the state may begin a phased restart of the state economy beginning as early as after May 15. Segments of the construction and manufacturing industries were listed among the sectors that would be included in the first phase of the restart that will likely begin upstate.

Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo extended the state’s stay-at-home order and business restrictions also known as “at Pause” until May 15. The governor’s action issued on April 16 essentially shut down most real estate development construction projects, with the exception of affordable housing developments. Exemptions to the shutdown order include infrastructure-related construction involving road, bridge, wastewater and other type public works projects.

In his briefing today, the governor said it was likely that he would extend the “At Pause” restrictions in some sections of the state, including downstate, but could be convinced to ease some restrictions after May 15.

On Sunday, the governor outlined a phased plan to reopen New York and what he termed would be an effort to re-imagine a new normal for the state starting with the construction and manufacturing sectors that have low risk.

The plan will be implemented in phases and will be based on regional analysis and determinations. He noted that based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening. The state is closely monitoring the hospitalization rate, the infection rate and the number of positive antibody tests, as well as the overall public health impact, and will make adjustments to the plan and other decisions based on these indicators, he noted.

Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased, the governor stated.

The region that is restarted must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area. There will be two weeks in between each phase to monitor the effects of the re-opening and ensure hospitalization and infection rates are not increasing.

“Every business leader understands that we can’t just re-open and go back to where we were and what we were doing before—we have to move forward in light of the circumstances that have developed,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So, we are going to re-open the economy in phases, based on regional and specific industry determinations and CDC guidelines, and in the midst of all this continuing to monitor the public health impact because all that progress we made by flattening that curve we could lose in a matter of days if we’re not careful.”

This plan will be implemented with multi-state coordination, especially in downstate New York. The plan will also coordinate the opening of transportation systems, parks, schools, beaches and businesses with special attention on summer activities for downstate, public housing and low-income communities, food banks and child care.

The phased re-opening will also be based on individual business and industry plans that include new measures to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business. The state is consulting with local leaders in each region and industry to formulate these plans.

The governor also stressed that the state’s reopening will be done in consultation with neighboring states, particularly in the downstate region. A consortium of seven Northeast states, including New York, are working together on their respective economy restarts.

He noted that the plan will also coordinate the opening of transportation systems, parks, schools, beaches and businesses with special attention on summer activities for downstate, public housing and low-income communities, food banks and child care.

According to the latest guidance updated on Friday, April 24 by the Empire State Development Corp., real estate and attorneys are considered “professional services with extensive restrictions.”

The latest update states: “Real estate services shall be conducted remotely for all transactions, including but not limited to title searches, appraisals, permitting, inspections, and the recordation, legal, financial and other services necessary to complete a transfer of real property; provided, however, that any services and parts therein may be conducted in-person only to the extent legally necessary and in accordance with appropriate social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting protocols; and nothing within this provision should be construed to allow brokerage and branch offices to remain open to the general public (i.e. not clients).”

In regards to attorneys, the updated Executive Order states: “Lawyers may continue to perform all work necessary for any service so long as it is performed remotely. Any in-person work presence shall be limited to work only in support of essential businesses or services; however, even work in support of an essential business or service should be conducted as remotely as possible.”

The governor said there were 5,902 additional cases of Novel Coronavirus as of April 25, bringing the statewide total to 288,045 confirmed cases in New York State. The overall hospitalization rate, the number of intubations and the number of new COVID cases were all down. The number of COVID-19 fatalities in New York State totaled 367 on April 25, down significantly from the height of the outbreak. In Monday’s briefing, the governor said that 337 individuals passed away from the Coronavirus on Sunday, April 26,

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth