What’s New?

The statewide shutdown, known as New York On PAUSE, came to an end Friday when the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier regions entered Phase One of the reopening process. The Capital District and Western New York regions are poised to enter Phase One this week. The Hudson Valley appears a couple of weeks behind that timeline – the inclusion of Rockland and Westchester is holding back the rest of the region. New York City and Long Island are another few weeks away from reopening too. Each region can begin reopening once they meet the established metrics.

The Governor’s plan authorizes very limited activity during Phase One – construction and manufacturing provided social distancing is maintained and retail with curbside pickup. Phase Two allows professional services, finance & insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate/rental leasing businesses to reopen. Restaurants and bars the green light to reopen in Phase Three. Arts, entertainment, recreation, and education facilities have to wait until Phase Four to reopen. There is approximately a two week delay between phases to measure the results and to ensure it is safe to proceed to the next phase.

When Can You Open Your Business?

Under Governor Cuomo’s plan you can open when your region enters Phase Three, which is four weeks after it enters Phase One. Restaurants and bars in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier regions should be able to reopen on June 12th. Capital Region and Western New York businesses should be able to open by June 19th. The chart below shows potential opening dates based on the Governor’s plan.

 

Phase 1 Starts Phase 2 Starts Phase 3 Starts Phase 4 Starts
May 15 May 29 June 12 June 26
May 22 June 5 June 19 July 3
May 29 June 12 June 26 July 10
June 5 June 19 July 3 July 17
June 12 June 26 July 10 July 24
June 19 July 3 July 17 July 31
June 26 July 10 July 24 August 7

 

The actual date you can reopen will be announced as the State moves through the reopening process. You’ll find updates about the reopening schedule on our website, www.esrta.org, or on the Governor’s website, https://www.governor.ny.gov/programs/new-york-forward.

What Are the Rules for Reopening?

The State has not released guidance for reopening restaurants and bars yet, but they provided guidance last week for those industries allowed to reopen in Phase One. The requirements for retail stores offer some insight into what lies ahead for restaurants and bars. The actions required or recommended are not surprising – they cover familiar topics to us by now: physical distancing, protective equipment, hygiene & cleaning, communication, and screening. The plan we submitted to the State contained many of the same or similar components.

A Reopening New York website has been set-up by Empire State Development with detailed guidance, a summary of the guidance, and a safety plan template for retail businesses, and for the other industries allowed to reopen in Phase One. Under the guidance, the retail business owner has to affirm the guidance, submit the affirmation to the State, and prepare a safety plan to be kept on the premises and available to show to enforcement personnel. We expect restaurants and bars will be required to implement similar procedures, so it’s not too early for you to start thinking about how you will accomplish this.

Of course, you don’t know what the rules are so you can’t make definitive plans. Experience tells us there won’t be a lot of advance notice for restaurants and bars in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier regions who will be the first to reopen. Once restaurants and bars reopen in these regions everyone else in the state will know what the rules will be when those reopen.

So How Do You Plan?

While we can’t be certain of what the requirements will be, we have a pretty good idea of the policies, procedures, and restrictions that may be put in place. We recommend you become familiar with the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Restaurants and Bars. These policies were originally published by the CDC last month as part of a broader set of guidance documents that the CDC issued to help policymakers and stakeholders chart the path forward to reopen. The State will adopt their own rules, which we’ll get out to you as soon as they’re available, but if you’re familiar with the CDC recommendations there shouldn’t be any surprises, and they form a solid foundation for a safety plan for your business.

What Else Can We Tell You?

Talks are underway to continue your ability to sell “cocktails-to-go” when you’re permitted to reopen. The State seems open to allowing this as long as they’re imposing restrictions on your business – and perhaps longer. We’re also in discussions to permit you to extend your premises on a temporary basis so you can serve as many customers as possible while social distancing rules are in place. In addition, the State Liquor Authority has announced an extension of their policy to defer payments of license renewal fees for bars and restaurants through July 31st.Under this policy licensees may defer submission of renewal payments until July 31st, but you must still file your complete renewal application in a timely manner.