You can learn about how businesses will be reopening, health and safety in the workplace, your rights under the law, and other resources to help you return to work during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

New York City businesses are reopening in phases.

The City is currently in Phase 4 of the State’s New York Forward Plan for reopening.

Within each phase, non-essential businesses may reopen if they belong to certain industries. 

Phase 1 (began June 8)Phase 2 (began June 22)
Phase 3 (began July 6)Phase 4 (began July 20)

Essential businesses and business activities that are open may remain open, but they must follow health and safety rules.

High-Risk Industries

Some industries are considered high-risk from a health standpoint. These include:

  • Movie theaters
  • Performance venues

The State is undertaking further study before reopening these businesses.

Indoor Dining 

New York State has established guidelines to allow indoor dining at restaurants on September 30, 2020. They will be subject to rigorous inspection protocols and strict occupancy limits. Some requirements for restaurants include: 

  • Serve customers at a maximum of 25% capacity
  • Conduct temperature checks at every front door for all customers
  • Collect Test & Trace data from at least one customer at each table
  • Close bar tops for seating - bars will only be used as a source of making drinks and serving them tableside
  • Offer COVID-19 protections like PPE for employees
  • Space tables six feet apart
  • Masks must be worn at all times when not seated at a table
  • No service after midnight

Online

By Phone

You can get answers to questions about reopening, health and safety guidelines for the workplace, or report an employer that is not following reopening requirements.

  • Agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Division: Worker Protection Hotline
  • Phone Number: (212) 436-0381
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

To reopen and stay open, business must follow State-mandated health and safety rules.

These rules apply to both non-essential businesses and essential businesses that were previously permitted to remain open.

Rules for All Businesses

Safety Plan

Businesses must develop a Safety Plan outlining how it will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its workplace.

You can fill out the New York Forward Safety Plan Template or develop your own Safety Plan.

The Safety Plan doesn’t need to be submitted to an agency for approval, but it must be posted at the worksite where everyone can see it and be made available to City or State agencies during inspections.

Employee Symptoms Screening

Businesses must conduct employee health screenings every day. Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home or go home if they become sick at work.

Learn more on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Symptoms Screening page.

Hygiene and Cleaning

Businesses must:

  • Train employees on hygiene and safety practices
  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations for their employees. The stations must include hand washing with soap, water, and paper towels, and/or contact-free hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing isn’t feasible.
  • Regularly clean shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces

Face Coverings

Under the State’s Executive Order, face coverings are required in public for any individual over the age of two and those who do not have a medical condition that can prevent them from wearing a face covering.

Employers must give employees free face coverings and proper protective equipment and provide replacements

Business owners or building operators, or those authorized on their behalf can deny access to individuals who fail to wear a face covering on the premises.

Social and Physical Distancing

Workers must:

  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others unless safety or core function of the work activity requires less
  • Wear a mask or a face covering if they are less than 6 feet from others

Employers must:

  • Reduce occupancy to under 50% and limit confined spaces to one person (elevators, behind cash registers, etc.)
  • Post signs and put tape or other markers to show people where to stand
  • Limit all in-person gatherings and meetings, and only hold them in large, well-ventilated areas with social distancing

Rules for Specific Industries

Businesses must also follow guidelines specific to their industry.

You can get detailed industry-specific guidelines on the following pages:

Get Help

You can get answers to questions about reopening, health and safety guidelines for the workplace, or report an employer that is not following reopening requirements.

  • Agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Division: Worker Protection Hotline
  • Phone Number: (212) 436-0381
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

In addition to keeping their workers and customers safe during the COVID-19 crisis, employers must continue to follow the workplace protection laws in place for their employees.

Worker Rights

Sick Leave

Under the City’s paid sick leave law, covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member. The federal and state governments have also passed laws to protect workers. To learn more, visit the Paid Safe and Sick Leave page.

In addition to paid sick leave, employees may be eligible for 2 additional days of unpaid leave under NYC’s Temporary Schedule Change Law. For more information, visit the Temporary Work Schedule Change page.

Work Schedule Changes

Under the law, covered employees have a right to temporary changes to their work schedule for certain personal events. Learn more on the Temporary Work Schedule Change page.

Commuter Benefits Law

Most New York City companies with 20 or more full-time employees must provide pre-tax transit benefits. Learn more on the Commuter Benefits Law page. 

Work Protections for Specific Workers

Retail and Fast Food Workers

Retail and fast food employers must offer employees predictable work schedules and give advance notice of changes or cancelations. Learn more on the Fair Workweek Law page.

Fast food workers have the right to have payments deducted voluntarily from their paycheck and have those payments sent to a nonprofit of the worker’s choosing. Learn more on the Fast Food Deductions Law page.

Grocery Store Workers

After a grocery store is sold, the former owner and new owner must notify the store's workers about the change in ownership and their employment rights. For more information, visit the Grocery Store Sale Requirements page.

Paid Care Workers

Paid care workers include homecare and domestic workers such as:

  • Nannies
  • Caregivers
  • Home health aides
  • Personal care aides
  • Home attendants
  • House cleaners

You can learn about paid care worker rights, legal responsibilities for employers and get help with questions or complaints on the Paid Care Worker or Employer Assistance page.

Freelance Workers

You can learn about freelance worker rights, legal responsibilities for employers, and get help with questions or complaints, including contract disputes and payment issues on the Freelance Worker and Hiring Party Assistance page.

COVID-19 Discrimination

Employers cannot harass or discriminate against workers because of fears or stigma around COVID-19, including harassment or discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or other protected classes.

If this is happening to you, you can report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Learn more on the Discrimination page.

Staying Home from Work

If you need a note to stay home from work because you are sick with coronavirus symptoms, you can get one online.

Download a health care provider note to excuse absence from work.

Paid Sick Leave

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need documentation so you can receive paid sick leave from your employer, visit the Paid Safe and Sick Leave page for information.

Financial Assistance

You can get information about cash assistance, SNAP, and other resources for New Yorkers during the outbreak on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources and Support page.

NYC Financial Empowerment Centers also provide free one-on-one professional, financial counseling over the phone. Learn more on the Financial Counseling page.

Child Care for Essential Workers

Child care is available for health care providers, first responders, key transit workers, and other personnel who are critical to the COVID-19 response effort in New York City.

Child care is also available for essential staff of:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Residential and commercial buildings
  • Restaurants/food delivery
  • Utility companies
  • Staten Island Ferry and NYC Ferry
  • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Probation

At Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs), Department of Education staff provide children meals, remote learning, and activities to allow frontline workers to continue to serve the City during this health emergency.

REC locations include early childcare centers and K–12 sites and will be available in every school district.

If you think you may be eligible to send your child to a REC, please complete the online survey.

Learn more about RECs and complete the survey.

Unemployment and Jobs

If you have become totally or partially unemployed due to COVID-19, you can claim unemployment insurance benefits. New York State is waiving the 7-day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.

To learn more, visit the Unemployment Insurance page.

Through Workforce1 Career Centers, you can receive free professional employment and training services that can help you find a job or develop your career. Currently, Workforce1 Career Centers are providing services online and by phone.

To learn more, visit the Workforce1 Career Centers page.