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, 2020)Phase 2 (began June 22, 2020)
Phase 3 (began July 6, 2020)Phase 4 (began July 20, 2020)

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


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.

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.

City government employees began to return to offices on May 3. Each Agency developed a "Return to Office Plan" to bring workers back safely, approved by the Mayoral Restart Taskforce.

Learn more about "Return to Office" guidance.

If you have any questions about returning to your workplace, please contact your Agency's Human Resources office.


You can report an Agency not in compliance with "Return to Office" guidelines.

Call 311 for assistance.

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 Options

Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) were created to provide childcare for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic from March through the summer of 2020.

All RECs closed permanently after Friday, September 11. RECs are no longer enrolling new students.

The Department of Education's Learning Bridges program will provide free childcare options for children from 3-K through 8th grade on days when they are scheduled for remote learning. To learn more, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Schools page.

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.

Summer Rising

The City's new Summer Rising program will replace traditional summer school. The program will fully integrate the strengths of DOE academics and DYCD school-based enrichment programming into one comprehensive summer experience for young people. All students participating in Summer Rising programs will receive academic support.

To learn more about the program, go to the Summer Rising page.