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Cuomo Orders 'Non-essential' Construction Shutdown

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning ordered "nonessential" construction to shut down statewide during the coronavirus pandemic except for emergency work and in other limited scenarios.

This is a significant policy change that will have far-reaching impacts for the industry, developers and workers.

Empire State Development issued the following guidance (via an updated version of the governor's state of emergency executive order):

- Essential construction can continue includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. 

- Emergency construction can continue are projects "necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants."

- Exceptions will also be made for projects in which "it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site."

- Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

- For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

Cuomo originally deemed all construction essential as part of his efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, but there were growing concerns - especially in New York City, which is the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the state - voiced by laborers who are concerned about their safety because they're often in close contact with their colleagues, such as inside elevators taking them to the top of residential and office towers being built.

Every job site, emergency or nonessential, must maintain social distancing, including inside elevators and for meals, entry and exit. 

Sites that can't maintain distance and safety best practices must close. The state, city and local governments will enforce the rules, with fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

For the purposes of the order, "construction" doesn't include situations where there's a single worker who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

Associated General Contractors of New York State, among others, are seeking additional clarity from the about the new rules.

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