New York imposes workplace limit on most businesses

Impact of 50 percent rule on real estate and construction companies unclear

Mar.March 18, 2020 01:55 PM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, iStock)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, iStock)

New York stopped short of a “shelter in place” order Wednesday but limited how many employees of “non-essential” businesses can report to work outside their homes.

In the state’s latest measure to slow the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that no more than 50 percent of a company’s workforce can report to work. The state has not yet released a list of what qualifies as essential businesses, but the governor indicated that healthcare providers and grocery stores would be exempt.

He later tweeted that media organizations will also be exempt. It’s not yet clear what impact the order will have on construction sites and real estate brokerages.

Firms have been debating how to go about conducting open houses and apartment showings. Other cities have either halted all construction or significantly limited what type of work can continue.

The move is intended to keep people from being close enough to each other for the novel coronavirus to easily spread. The state’s modeling forecasts that New York will not have enough hospital beds to handle Covid-19 patients in the weeks ahead.

During a press conference in Albany, Cuomo indicated that the state currently has 53,000 beds and 3,000 intensive care unit beds, but the need is expected to swell to 110,000 and 37,000, respectively.

He also remained resistant to ordering shelter in place, reiterating that such a mandate would need to be applied regionally, lest people relocate to neighboring states. Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged New Yorkers this week to prepare for such an order, and said Wednesday morning that he plans to discuss the issue with the governor.

Cuomo said the state would first restrict employees of non-essential businesses and see if that sufficiently curbs the spread of the coronavirus.

“If it doesn’t slow the spread,” he said, “then we will reduce the workforce even further.”

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