With 70 percent of adult New Yorkers having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, as of June 15, 2021, New York lifted restrictions imposed on most industries under the NY Forward and COVID-19 Safety Plan rules that had been in effect since last spring.
COVID-19 rules remain in effect for large-scale indoor event venues, pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings.
While the recently updated NY Forward rules for select industries are no longer in effect, the state’s implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on May 19, 2021, for unvaccinated individuals remains in place and requires unvaccinated employees to wear masks and social distance.
Employers still need to be cognizant of their general duty obligations under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA continues to recommend that businesses follow CDC guidance related to COVID-19. Such guidance recommends that individuals (regardless of vaccination status) self-monitor for symptoms and individuals with COVID-19 and COVID-19 symptoms quarantine pursuant to Department of Health recommendations. Employers might want to consider a brief policy or memo reminding employees of their ongoing obligations to assist in preventing COVID-19 spread, even as the state’s mandated rules are lifted.
Employers still await the Department of Labor’s and the Department of Health’s issuance of their model airborne “Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards” under the HERO Act. Such standards are due to be released by July 5, 2021. Employers will have 30 days from the date those model standards are issued to adopt either the model standard or implement their own standard.