Thought Leadership

New York - COVID-19 Community Resource Guide

Client Updates

To help address the concerns of individuals in our communities affected by COVID-19, Baker Botts has published an extensive COVID-19 Community Resource Guide.

The page below specifically pertains to New York. To see all of the jurisdictions covered, please click here. 

This guide provides general information only that may or may not be applicable in individual circumstances. It is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice in specific circumstances, please consult your own lawyer. This material may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions.

 Topics include:

COURT PROCEEDINGS

Are courts still adjudicating cases?

Yes.  New York State courts remain open for essential matters, and beginning May 25th, are open for non-essential matters.

On March 22, 2020, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts ordered county clerks and courts to not accept papers except in “essential matters.” The list of essential matters is available at http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/AO-78-2020.pdf. Virtual court operations for essential and emergency proceedings were put into effect statewide beginning April 6, 2020. More information is available online at https://www.nycourts.gov/index.shtml or by calling the New York State Courts’ COVID-19 Telephone Hotline at (833) 503-0447. 

For all other non-essential matters, New York courts began allowing limited operations:

The scope of litigating non-essential matters has slowly expanded , with most non-New York City courts resuming in-person operations: 

On April 13th, the courts began using a virtual system for conferencing in pending cases; deciding fully submitted motions; and resolving discovery and ad hoc disputes that do not require filing. The order that opened the court to non-essential matters on April 13, 2020, is available at https://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/AO-85-20.pdf. Beginning Monday, May 4, 2020, the courts began permitting electronic filing of notices of appeal; expanded motion practice including new motions and responsive papers to previously filed motions; virtual conferences for problem-solving courts; and resumed referrals for ADR. These changes are detailed at https://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/Memo-04-30-20.pdf.

On May 13, 2020, the County Clerks of New York City announced that they will resume the queuing, docketing and filing of “Clerk of the County” documents received by their offices since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March.  County Clerk offices remain closed to public visitors, and such documents should continue to be filed by mail until further notice.  More information is available at http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/CountyClerkStatement-Final.pdf.

On May 18, 2020, virtual county-specific court rooms were opened to address applications in pending cases in that county.  More information on the availability of virtual county-specific court operations and guidelines for practitioners are available at http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/VirtualCourt-nycFam-AdditionalGuidelines-Practitioners051320.pdf.

Also beginning May 18, 2020, 35 upstate judicial districts returned to in-person operations.  Thirteen additional counties are re-opened in-person operations by May 26, 2020.  Further details are available at https://www.nycourts.gov/legacypdfs/press/pdfs/PR20_20.pdf and http://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/PR20_17.pdf. Some downstate courts have also begun in-person operations, with the last courts outside New York City announcing they had resumed operations on May 29, 2020. https://www.nycourts.gov/legacypdfs/press/pdfs/PR20_21.pdf.

By May 25, filing for new non-essential matters had begun in counties where they are not yet participating in the regional reopening plan.  The memorandum discussing impacted counties is available at http://nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/LKMarks-memo-May20.pdf.

The Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts also has discouraged litigating in a manner that requires in-person appearances, travel, or other actions inconsistent with prevailing health and safety directives. Additionally, parties should use best efforts to postpone proceedings when a party, attorney, or person is unable to meet a deadline due to COVID-19: https://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/AO71-20.pdf.

The Governor has issued an executive order that addresses remote witnessing. The order, among other issues, clarifies the requirements needed to allow the remote signings of such documents as deeds, wills, powers of attorney forms, and healthcare proxies. The text of the order is available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20214-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.

Are there updated filing requirements and processes?

Yes.  Information on the electronic filing system is available at https://iappscontent.courts.state.ny.us/NYSCEF/live/edds/eddsNotice.pdf and https://iappscontent.courts.state.ny.us/NYSCEF/live/edds/eddsFAQ.pdf.  The court has said that this process should not be used for filing emergency applications.

Have statutes of limitations been tolled?

Governor Cuomo ordered that certain time limits are tolled from March 7, 2020 to June 6, 2020. In addition, Governor Cuomo has ordered that certain criminal appearances may be made electronically.  The relevant executive orders are available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency and https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20214-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergencyhttps://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20228-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.

On March 8, 2020, Governor Cuomo ordered that, Section 214-g of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, to the extent it allows an action to be commenced not later than one year and six months after the effective date of such section, is hereby modified to allow an action commenced pursuant to such section to be commenced not later than one year and eleven months after the effective date of such section.  This order is available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20229-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.  

For the most up-to-date Executive Orders addressing matters related to the ongoing public health crisis, including the tolling of limitations periods, please visit: https://www.governor.ny.gov/keywords/executive-order.  

What if I have been called for Jury Duty?

  • If you have been summoned for jury duty (beginning March 16, 2020 and continuing indefinitely) your service has been suspended.
  • If you have been summoned for a Grand Jury, please visit your county information page online at http://www.nyjuror.gov/.
  • If you are a juror currently serving on a criminal trial, on a Grand Jury, or on a civil trial where opening statements have been made, you are still required to appear.
  • You can call the Coronavirus hotline at 833-503-0447 if you have specific questions about your juror service, a case already in court, or you need to start a court case

Can I still access Family Justice Centers?

Yes. Family Justice Center buildings are temporarily closed. However, they are available Monday-Friday, from 9:00am to 5:00pm Eastern Time by phone at the below numbers and online at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ocdv/index.page. For additional support, visit http://www.nyc.gov/NYCHOPE or call the 24 hour Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 621-4673.

  • Bronx FJC—(718) 508-1220
  • Brooklyn FJC—(718) 250-5113
  • Manhattan FJC—(218) 602-2800
  • Queens FJC—(718) 575-4545
  • Staten Island FJC—(718) 697-4300

I had a meeting scheduled in Family Court, what do I do now?

For certain matters, New York City will conduct hearings by videoconference or by telephone. Those matters are:

  • Child-protective intake cases involving removal applications will be heard by remote video conference and/or by telephone;
  • Newly-filed juvenile delinquency intake cases involving remand application will be heard by video conference at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan, regardless of the borough where the arrest took place;
  • Emergency family offense petitions/temporary orders of protection will be heard;
  • You can file a violation of a custody or visitation order, or the other parent refuses to return the child;
  • All Orders to Show Cause requesting relief on an essential matter will be reviewed on submission, including failure to pay support. All Order to Show Cause must be emailed to StipsOS[email protected] (for those cases in the First Department) or [email protected] (for those cases in the Second Department);
  • All Stipulations will be reviewed on submission. All stipulations must be emailed to [email protected] (for those cases in the First Department) or [email protected] (for those cases in the Second Department;
  • All existing scheduled court proceedings, except those above, will be administratively adjourned for a period of 90 days or more. Clients should not appear. New appearance dates will be sent to you;
  • All Temporary Orders of Protection are continued. If you have any questions, contact your attorney; and
  • All Family Court matters may be viewed via live stream telecast at 100 Centre Street.
  • Updated virtual court guidelines are available at https://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/VirtualCourt-nycFam-AdditionalGuidelines-Practitioners051320.pdf.

Have immigration courts been closed?

No. At this time, federal immigration courts in New York have not all been closed. However, all non-detained hearings scheduled through June 26, 2020 have been postponed. For updates, visit  https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.

  • The New York – Federal Plaza Court is open for filings only; 26 Federal Plaza, 12th Floor, Room 1237, New York, NY 10278.
  • The Broadway Court in the Ted Weiss Federal Building is open for filings and detained hearings; 290 Broadway, Suite 2900, New York, NY 10007.
  • The Varick Court is open for filings and for detained hearings; 201 Varick St #507, New York, NY 10014.
  • The Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) is temporarily permitting parties to submit filings to the court electronically via email.  The relevant rules and guidelines are available at https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.

For Migrant Protection Protocol (“MPP”) hearings, beginning May 10th, in-person document service will be suspended immediately until June 8th, alleviating the need for aliens to travel within Mexico to a U.S. port of entry during this one-month suspension period.

  • All MPP hearings will remain postponed through, and including, June 19th. Individuals with a hearing date prior to June 22nd should present themselves at the port of entry identified on their tear sheet one month later than the date indicated on their most recently noticed date. For example, if the hearing date is May 10th, individuals should present themselves on June 10th. For individuals with a hearing date of June 22nd or after, there is no change in procedures and individuals should report as instructed on their tear sheets.

Can I visit someone in a correctional facility?

No. At this time the Department of Corrections has suspended in-person visitation at all correctional facilities until phase three of re-opening.  For updates, see: https://doccs.ny.gov/doccs-covid-19-report

I need legal assistance, but can’t afford a lawyer, what should I do?

LawHelpNY provides an online resource for finding free legal assistance and information at  https://www.lawhelpny.org/find-legal-help

The New York State Bar Association and the New York Unified Court System have announced the creation of a Pro Bono Lawyer Network: https://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/NewYork-sets-up-ProBono-network.pdf.

Additional Resources

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COVID-19 TESTING POLICIES/PROCEDURES

I think I may have COVID-19. Where can I get tested?

In many areas, healthcare providers are not authorized to test patients who have no or mild symptoms of COVID-19. The current guidance from New York state authorities is to avoid emergency rooms, clinics, or the doctor if you have only mild to moderate symptoms. Instead, call, text, or use telemedicine to consult with a physician. More information on what to do if you think you may have COVID-19 is available at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-main.page.

If you are eligible to get tested, testing is free to all New Yorkers as ordered by a healthcare provider or by calling the state’s COVID-19 hotline at (888) 364-3065. You can also call the hotline to make an appointment at drive-through testing facilities in New Rochelle (serving all of Westchester County), Nassau County, Suffolk County, Rockland County, Staten Island, and the Bronx. For up-to-date information on testing, visit  https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

Is there anything else I should do if I have tested positive for COVID-19?

Your local health department is your community contact for any COVID-19 concerns and will have the most appropriate guidance for your area. Find your local health department by accessing the following website: https://www.nysacho.org/directory/.

COVID-19 Engagement Portal (NYC): New York City residents who have tested positive for, or have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for, COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, are encouraged to input their information in the COVID-19 Engagement Portal, located at
https://cv19engagementportal.cityofnewyork.us/#/display/5e63c34ff75d7a02111fcb6c.

  • Note: Information entered in the Engagement Portal will be shared with only city employees who need to access it for public health reasons and to ensure necessary city services are being provided to individuals who are sick. This information will not be accessible by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) or for law enforcement purposes.

I had COVID-19 but have now recovered. Is there anything I can do to help others who are still sick?

First, check with your healthcare provider or local health department to confirm you are no longer contagious and that it is safe for you to stop isolating.

The New York Blood Center is collecting plasma donations from those who have recovered from COVID-19 to maintain a bank for hospitals to treat those who are still critically ill. If you had a positive test, have been symptom free for 14 days, and you are willing to donate, fill out the form available at https://www.nybc.org/donate-blood/convalescent-plasma-covid-19-donor-request-form/.  Many area hospitals are also organizing plasma donations. Visit hospital websites for more information.

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EDUCATION/SCHOOL RIGHTS AND RESOURCES

How can I get an iPad for my student?

Are there other resources available to help facilitate learning from home?

The NYC Department of Education has a web page dedicated to providing age-appropriate activities for children and students, ranging from early childhood to high school: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/learn-at-home/activities-for-students.

Scholastic is providing free resources for students in Kindergarten through Grade 9 at https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/teaching-tools/articles/resources/scholastic-learn-at-home--free-resources-for-school-closures.html#.

A list of additional free educational resources is located here: https://www.njfamily.com/free-resources-to-keep-the-kids-learning-and-entertained-during-coronavirus-shutdowns/.

Are special accommodations being made for students with disabilities or special education needs?

Individualized education program (“IEP”) services continue to be provided by phone.

  • If you need to make a referral for an initial evaluation or reevaluation in New York City, assessments can be conducted remotely. Parents can make a referral by emailing their child’s principal or [email protected], or by calling 311.
  • Related services will be provided via teletherapy or video conferencing where appropriate.

Will my elementary or middle school student need to take state exams this spring?

No. The New York State Education Department has suspended the following exams for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Tests;
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Tests;
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test;
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test;
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (“NYSESLAT”) in Grades K-12; and
  • New York State Alternate Assessment (“NYSAA”) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school.

Will I still have to take the high school Regents exams? How will graduation from public high school be determined?

No. The New York State Department of Education has cancelled the June 2020 administration of the NYS High School Regents Examination Program.

The Department has modified the requirements for earning high school diplomas, credentials, and endorsements for the 2019-2020 school year. For additional information, please visit http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/coronavirus/nysed-covid-19-memo-cancellation-june-2020-regents-exams.pdf.

Are NYC schools still providing free meals to school-aged children?

Yes. Meals are being distributed at over 400 sites across the New York City and may be picked up Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 1:30pm Eastern Time. Meals must be eaten off the school premises.

CUNY is kicking me out of my dormitory, but I have nowhere to go. What do I do?

City University of New York (“CUNY”) is donating dormitories to expand hospital bed space. CUNY has arranged to move students and their belongings from Hunter College, City College, and College of Staten Island to Queens College. For up-to-date information from CUNY, visit https://www.cuny.edu/cuny-continuity/cuny-continuity-for-students/#1585191925580-0bbba8fd-83b5.

Are SUNY campuses still open? Where can I get up-to-date information?

SUNY campuses have transitioned to distance learning but remain open for students with special circumstances (international students, students who otherwise have limited or no access to technology, and students who do not have a safe place to go). All other students are discouraged from returning to campus. Additional information is available at https://www.suny.edu/health-alert/.

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EVICTIONS

Can I be evicted?

No. Governor Cuomo has suspended all residential and commercial eviction proceedings for at least ninety days effective March 20, 2020.

Can I delay mortgage payments?

New York-regulated institutions must provide a 90-day forbearance period for mortgage payments on residential properties for New York residents who demonstrate financial hardship resulting from COVID-19.  Information on this directive and steps to take is available at https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/coronavirus/mortgage.

If my rental ends on April 1, 2020, will I have to move out and find a new apartment?

If you already know where you are moving, residential movers have been deemed an essential business, so you are allowed to move: https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026.

If you do not have a new place to move to, then you should communicate your circumstances to your landlord. Note that as noted above, the eviction suspension will prevent your landlord from having you evicted from your housing for the time period noted.

Do I still need to pay rent?

Yes. Although landlords may not currently evict you for failure to pay rent, you are still legally obligated to pay. Thus, wherever possible, you should continue to pay your rent on time.

If I have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or am under quarantine, can my landlord take action against me in New York City?

No. Your landlord cannot evict you, force you to leave, or ask you to leave your apartment due to discrimination surrounding COVID-19. If you believe that your landlord is discriminating against you in any capacity, please report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/about/report-discrimination.page.

Can I file a complaint against my landlord?

Yes. If you live in New York City, the NYC Department of Investigations is accepting complaints of fraud, waste, or corruption. Though not meeting with complainants in person, the DOI accepts reports by phone at (212) 825-5959 or online at https://a032-secure.nyc.gov/p/ofcomplaint.html.  

If you live anywhere in New York State and your landlord is harassing you, you may file a report with the Office of Rent Administration at https://hcr.ny.gov/harassment.   

What steps should landlords take when a tenant has tested positive for COVID-19? How should they address building maintenance issues during the outbreak?

The Department of Homes and Community Renewal’s website contains information on how landlords should manage COVID-19 on their properties:  https://hcr.ny.gov/covid-19-helpful-links-and-faqs

Additional Resources

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FRAUD/PRICE GOUGING

Who can I call if I think a business is charging too much for cleaning products and other sanitary supplies?

In New York City, it is illegal for businesses to increase the price of the following types of items and services by 10% or more: cleaning products; diagnostic products and services; disinfectants; face masks; gloves; hand sanitizer; medicines; paper towels; rubbing alcohol; soap.  For more information, see https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr031720-DCWP-Emergency-Rule-Price-Gouging-Illegal.page.

If you think a store is charging too much money for these types of goods or excessively increased the price of these items, you can:

If you think a store, including an online business, starting in March was charging too much money for toilet paper, you can file a price gouging complaint with the New York State Office of the Attorney General online at https://formsnym.ag.ny.gov/OAGOnlineSubmissionForm/faces/OAGPGCHome or by phone at (212) 416-8000, Monday – Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm Eastern Time.

Are there any other frauds I should be aware of and where can I report them?

Be very careful when making charitable donations and do some research to determine whether the charity is legitimate. The New York Attorney General recommends using the following tools to help determine if a charity is reputable:

Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

How do I know if information is accurate and up-to-date?

Check the New York City government website (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-main.page) and the New York State government website (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home) for the most up-to-date and accurate information about changes in services, rules, and regulations related to COVID-19.

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HOMELESSNESS AND INDIVIDUALS IN COMMUNITY/SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

What resources exist for the homeless population?

Many agencies have realized the threat that COVID-19 can pose to vulnerable homeless populations in both New York State and New York City and are providing guidance to help:

If you are currently experiencing homelessness, at risk of becoming homeless, or know someone in either situation, please consider contacting your Local Department of Social Services (https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp), applying for shelter through the Department of Homeless Services (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dhs/shelter/shelter.page), or contacting the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance at (518) 473-1090.

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HOSPITAL/MEDICAL APPOINTMENT VISITATION

Can I accompany my spouse/partner while she gives birth?

Yes.  On March 28, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order stating that all women giving birth in New York can be accompanied by one support person. The support person must not have a fever at the time of labor and delivery. The support person may be present for labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum period. https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20212-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.

Can I accompany my family member to his or her medical appointment?  Can I visit my family member who is in the hospital with an illness that is not related to COVID-19?

Probably not. The New York State Department of Health has advised all hospitals in the state to stop allowing visitors, except where medically necessary or in “end of life” situations: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/covid19-hospital-visitation-guidance-3.18.20.pdf.

For pediatric patients:  the New York State Department of Health issued guidance that one support person is considered essential both in emergency room situations and during hospitalization. If a patient is hospitalized for a long period of time, the patient or the family/caregiver may designate two support persons; however, only one support person may be present at a time. Support persons must not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Additional information is available at  https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/doh_covid19_obpedsvisitation_032720.pdf.

For all other patients: whether you can accompany a family member to a medical appointment or visit them while they are hospitalized varies from hospital to hospital. Hospitals and health systems across the state have each enacted their own rules and these policies are constantly changing, so we encourage you to check online or call the hospital before trying to visit a loved one.

The visitation policies for some of New York’s largest hospital systems are below:

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IMMIGRATION ISSUES

I am not a U.S. citizen. Are there any state resources available to help me purchase groceries, feed my family, or obtain healthcare?

Yes. There are a variety of resources available to all New Yorkers, regardless of your immigration status.

Additional information on New York State services for non-citizens is available at https://www.ny.gov/we-are-all-immigrants/new-york-state-immigrant-resource-guide#. For non-citizens living in New York City, additional information is available at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/immigrants/help/city-services.page.

NOTE ABOUT THE PUBLIC CHARGE RULE: The federal government has enacted a rule that could prevent some immigrants from getting a green card or visa if they use certain public benefits or the government believes they will depend on public benefits in the future. Seeking medical treatment or preventive healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the public charge rule and you should seek medical care without fear if you are worried about your health. If you have questions about the public charge rule, you can call the ActionNYC hotline at (800) 354-0365, Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm Eastern Time, or visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/immigrants/help/legal-services/public-charge.page for further information.

Where can I find information in a language I speak fluently?

Translation services for New York State workers are available at (877) 632-4996 in the following languages: Bangla; Chinese; Creole; Italian; Korean; Polish; Russian; and Spanish.

Information on services available to all New York City residents, regardless of immigration status, is available in twenty-four languages: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/immigrants/help/city-services.page.

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MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

I am struggling to maintain my mental health during the COVID-19 epidemic. Is there anyone I can talk to?

Yes. You can make an appointment for free, online mental health services by calling the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline: (844) 863-9314. For individuals in crisis needing immediate mental health assistance, text GOT5 to 741741, or call (800) 273-8255. If your life or someone else’s is in imminent danger, call 911.

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RIGHTS OF SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

Do I have to provide my employees paid sick leave?

It depends on the size of your business. Some employers are now required to provide at least five days of paid sick leave to an employee who is sick or has a sick minor dependent child. Generally, the amount of leave an employer is required to provide depends on the number of employees and the employer's net annual income.

  • 1-10 employees, net income of $1 million or less—Not required to provide paid sick days
  • 1-10 employees, net income of $1 million or more—Must provide five paid sick days.
  • 11-99 employees—Must provide five paid sick days.
  • 100 or more employees—Must provide at least 14 sick days

Do I have to provide my employees Paid Family Leave? 

Yes. All private employers who employ one or more persons are required to provide Paid Family Leave for all full-time and part-time employees, except employees who are eligible for and signed a waiver. Paid Family Leave may be used by an eligible employee who becomes sick due to COVID-19 or to care for a family member with COVID-19. For more information on employer responsibilities and resources regarding Paid Family Leave, visit https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/employer-responsibilities-and-resources.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, household employers may be required to provide their employees with up to two weeks of sick leave and up to twelve weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act leave.  For additional information on how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act affects household employers and their employees, visit https://gtm.com/household/families-first-coronavirus-response-act/.

What do I do if someone comes into my business and I think they have COVID-19? Is it illegal to refuse serve to them?

It is illegal to refuse service to people or make them feel unwelcome because of their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, or nation of origin. You do not need to report an individual who you think is sick. Businesses are encouraged to provide tissues and hand sanitizer, and to frequently clean high-touch areas like work stations, door knobs, and counter tops. New York City recommends the following measures to keep your business safe:

  • Close off areas and wait as long as possible to clean areas that you think may have been exposed to respiratory droplets;
  • Have soap and paper towels in the bathrooms at all times;
  • Use regular cleaning and disinfection products; and
  • Clean areas that are touched frequently more regularly.

For a full list of cleaning guidelines, see https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/disinfection-guidance-for-businesses-covid19.pdf.

For general information about this topic, see https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sbs/downloads/pdf/businesses/nycfactsheet-coronavirus-full_2020-3-9.pdf.

What do I do if someone is harassing my business or my staff?

If you think that you or your staff have been harassed because of race, nation of origin, or another identity, you can report the incident to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or (718) 722-3131.

You can report hate crimes or bias-based incidents by email or phone to the Office of the Attorney General of New York at [email protected] or (800) 771-7755.

How much can I charge for things like cleaning products and hand sanitizer? Is it illegal to increase the prices of these items?

It is illegal to increase the price of items and services needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by 10% or more in New York City, unless you are raising the price because it cost you more to supply them. If that is the case, any increase in the price you charge consumers must be comparable to the increase you paid to supply the item. The rule covers items such as cleaning products, disinfectants, gloves, medicines, paper towels, soap, etc.

Face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant were declared to be in short supply by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. These declarations make it temporarily illegal to increase prices for these items. Stores selling these items cannot excessively increase prices, require customers to purchase a minimum quantity of these items, require customers to purchase another item to get the short supply item, or deny customers an equal opportunity to purchase the item. DCWP is inspecting stores and responding to customer complaints. Stores that are found to be overcharging customers can be issued a violation with a fine of up to $500. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr030420-DCWP-declares-face-masks-in-short-supply.page; https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/pr030920-DCWP-Declares-Hand-Sanitizer-and-Disinfectant-Wipes-Short-Supply.page.

For information on price gouging laws in New York State, see https://www.governor.ny.gov/combat-price-gouging-products-protect-people-coronavirus-covid-19.

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SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE/RELIEF

Does the city have any resources to help small business who have lost revenue?

Yes. The NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund is for businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decrease 25% or more; such businesses can apply for a zero-interest loan of up to $75,000. To start the application, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZL5N8XL. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be located within the five boroughs of New York City;
  • Demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in revenue;
  • Employ 99 employees or fewer in total across all locations;
  • Demonstrate ability to repay the loan; and
  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also has programs available for small businesses who are struggling as a result of COVID-19. More information on these programs is available at https://esd.ny.gov/small-business-administration-sba-covid-19-loans.

Can I lay off staff because there is no business right now?

You can lay off staff, but there are programs available to assist businesses and reduce the need to lay off staff.

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SHELTER-IN-PLACE RULES AND THEIR RAMIFICATIONS

Can I leave my home?

Yes, for limited purposes. People may leave their homes for groceries, medicine, and exercise. While outside, people should engage in solitary activity and follow the guidelines for social distancing themselves at least six feet from others.

What businesses can remain open? 

Executive Order 202.8 reduced the workforce by 100%, closing all non-essential businesses. 

  • Essential businesses include grocery stores and pharmacies; trash collection, mail, and shipping services; banks and related financial institutions; some construction; and vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses. 
  • The Empire State Economic Development Corporation has issued official guidance for determining whether a business is essential and whether construction is permissible.  It is available at http://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026.  It also specifies that the legislation limits on-site workers to those necessary to support essential services. 

Is there a curfew in place?

No.  As of this writing, there is no curfew in place for New York. 

What enforcement measures are in place?

As of April 6, 2020, there was a maximum $1,000 fine for non-adherence to the order. 

When does the stay at home order end?

The order has been extended and is in effect through April 29, 2020. 

Will I continue to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits?

SNAP services will continue to be provided with some accommodations:

  • All SNAP interviews can be done by telephone;
  • In some instances, where a person’s identity can be verified and the SNAP office can determine eligibility, an interview may not be required;
  • SNAP benefits can be used for online grocery purchases; and
  • Beginning April 1, 2020 there is a nationwide suspension of the Able Bodied Adult Without Dependents (“ABAWD”) 3-month time limit.

Information regarding hunger solutions is available at https://hungersolutionsny.org/covid-19/.

The SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (“WIC”) program continues to provide services, though on-site appointments are limited. Information is available at https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/.

Local Departments of Social Services: http://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp

I don’t qualify for SNAP benefits, but I still need food. Are there additional resources I can access?

Yes. Everyone is eligible for emergency food assistance, regardless of immigration status or income. Food pantries and community kitchens can be located at https://access.nyc.gov/programs/emergency-food-assistance/?step=how-it-works. More information can be found through the Emergency Food Assistance Program at https://access.nyc.gov/programs/emergency-food-assistance/?step=determine-your-eligibility.

New York City is making three free meals a day available to any New Yorker:  https://www.schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.

What if my child receives meals through school programs?

Can I still go out to parks and other public places?

Under the PAUSE Act passed by Governor Cuomo, all gatherings of individuals of any size for any (non-essential) reason are canceled or postponed at this time.

  • If you must leave your home, please practice proper social distancing of at least six feet.
  • Although subject to certain restrictions, state parks remain open and encourage citizens to experience outdoor exercise activities while maintaining proper CDC and Department of Health guidelines for prevents the spread of COVID-19. For state park restrictions, visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/. And for CDC and Department of Health guidelines, visit https://parks.ny.gov/covid19/.

In New York City, playgrounds have been closed by order of Governor Cuomo, though open spaces in parks will remain open.

Further Resources

 Can I get a refund for NJ Transit passes?

To refund NJ Transit monthly or weekly passes, either refund in the My Tix app or follow the instructions online at https://www.njtransit.com/ti/ti_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=TicketRefundTo.

Is MTA refunding monthly passes bought before the PAUSE work order?

As of March 27, 2020, MTA is not refunding passengers who bought monthly tickets before the PAUSE order. Some news outlets have reported that the MTA refund policies are under review.

Are Metro North or Long Island Railroad refunding monthly passes?

Customers can seek refunds from both Metro North and Long Island Railroad by following the normal reimbursement process:

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UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

I lost my job due to COVID-19. How do I file for unemployment benefits in New York State?

Governor Cuomo waived the 7-day waiting period for eligible workers to claim unemployment insurance if they were put out of work by COVID-19. You can file for unemployment by calling (888) 209-8124 or online at https://applications.labor.ny.gov/IndividualReg/. For additional information, including the hours you can file online or by phone, please visit https://labor.ny.gov/ui/how_to_file_claim.shtm.

On March 27, the federal CARES Act was signed into law to provide enhanced Unemployment benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Additional information on the CARES Act and what you should do to obtain these benefits is located at https://labor.ny.gov/ui/cares-act.shtm.

For additional questions, you can review the Department of Labor’s answers to frequently asked questions at https://labor.ny.gov/ui/claimantinfo/most-frequently-asked-questions.shtm or call (888) 209-8124.

For a step by step guide to filing for unemployment online, visit: https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/Unemployment-Filing-Instructions.pdf.

Can I file for unemployment if I am self-employed?

Yes. Self-employed individuals may now file unemployment insurance claims on the New York State Department of Labor’s website. Follow the guidance available at https://labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/self-employed-ui-guide.pdf.

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UTILITY ASSISTANCE

Can the utility companies shut off my utilities if I can’t pay during the COVID-19 outbreak?

No. Major utilities will suspend service shutoffs to households during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Electricity and Gas

New York City: Given that a significant portion of New York City’s electricity and gas is provided by Con Edison (“ConEd”), this section focuses on only ConEd’s operations. If you have a different service provider, however, please contact them directly or refer to their website.

As of April 6, 2020, ConEd does not expect any service interruptions because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but they have made certain operational changes. Please refer to ConEd’s COVID-19 response page for up-to-date information: https://www.coned.com/en/about-us/media-center/news/coronavirus/updates.

ConEd will only enter your home or building for:

  • Emergencies;
  • Safety-related inspections; and
  • Upon request, for critical issues, including turning on service.

Other changes to ConEd’s operations include:

Financial help and payment information:

If you need additional support or to make an appointment, please contact ConEd’s call center at (800) 75-CONED (or (800) 752-6633). For emergencies, call 911 or ConEd.

ConEd appointments: Before the appointment, please let ConEd know if you or anyone on your premises is quarantined by calling (800) 75-CONED (or (800) 752-6633).

For more general information and updates from Con Edison related to COVID-19, visit  https://www.coned.com/en/about-us/media-center/news/coronavirus/updates.

New York State (other than NYC): For specific information about your electricity and gas provider’s response to COVID-19, or for other general questions, you should contact your provider directly or refer to their website. The contact information for the main utility providers in New York State is available at http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/03627EFC626529EE85257687006F39CD.

Water

New York City: The NYC Department for Environmental Protection (“DEP”) is responsible for the city’s water services.

New York State (other than NYC): Please contact your local water utility provider directly for specific questions or refer to their website for up-to-date information.

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VOTING RIGHTS/RESTRICTIONS

Will I still be able to vote?

Yes. Governor Cuomo has passed an executive order that temporarily modifies voting procedures; however, it ensures that voting can still take place. The order is available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/amid-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-signs-executive-order-temporarily-modifying-election.

Should I use an absentee ballot?

The decision on whether or not to vote by absentee ballot is up to you. Further information can be provided by the New York Board of Elections at https://www.elections.ny.gov/INDEX.html.

Will the Presidential Primary still be held?

Yes. The federal Presidential Primary will still be held; however, it has been postponed from April 28, 2020 to June 23, 2020.

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APPENDIX AND SOURCES

General

Mental Health & Wellness

State Resources

All States

Taxes. The Tax Foundation is tracking state legislative responses to COVID-19, including extensions of deadlines to file state tax returns and pay taxes: https://taxfoundation.org/state-tax-coronavirus-covid19/#timeline.

New York Resources

Statewide Resources – Check the New York State government website for complete and accurate up-to-date information: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

Assistance for the Homeless

If you are currently homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or know someone in either situation, please consider:

Businesses

Courts

COVID-19 Testing, Policies, and Procedures

Education

Executive Orders

Fraud/Price Gouging

Hospital/Medical Appointment Visitation

Immigration/Non-Citizen Resources

Mental Health and Wellness

SNAP/School Meals/WIC/CACFP Benefits

Tenants & Homeowners’ Rights

Unemployment

Utility Assistance

Voting Rights and Regulations

New York (City) - Check the New York City government website for complete and accurate up-to-date information: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-main.page.

Assistance for the Homeless

Business Resources

Education

Evictions

Fraud/Price Gouging

Immigration/Non-Citizen Resources

Legal Services

Mental Health

Public Transit

SNAP/School Meals Information

COVID-19 Testing, Policies, and Procedures

Utility Assistance

Stay-at-Home Orders

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ABOUT BAKER BOTTS L.L.P.
Baker Botts is an international law firm of approximately 725 lawyers practicing throughout a network of 14 offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy and technology sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.

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