Cuomo exempts construction, certain residential services from virus order

The state is expected to release a full list of essential businesses on Thursday

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Ron Adar / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Ron Adar / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The state has exempted construction, banks and certain residential services from a new work-from-home mandate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order, released Wednesday night, that requires businesses to limit their in-office workforce to 50 percent. The governor announced the order Wednesday morning but did not specify what “essential” businesses would be exempt from the rule, which goes into effect 8 p.m. Friday. The order includes construction, transportation infrastructure, financial institutions, shipping and “essential operations of residences” among the businesses that do not have to comply with the rule. The Empire State Development Corp. is charged with releasing a full list of businesses by 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the order. Businesses are permitted to request “essential” status from ESD.

Other cities have grappled with the question of whether construction is “essential,” and the answers have varied. Boston shut down its sites on Monday. San Francisco, which issued a shelter-in-place order Monday, included housing construction among its essential businesses. Construction also continued in Las Vegas following an order by the Nevada governor for nonessential businesses to close for 30 days. Sites also remained active in Philadelphia, after the city ordered the closure of non-essential businesses.

Construction groups urged New York officials to specifically exempt construction from the governor’s order. Some City Council members have called for work to halt on construction sites.

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During multiple media interviews on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that he favors the San Francisco model.

“So, I think construction has been exempted so far for valid reasons. Whether it is going to be tightened up going forward is a different discussion,” he told NY 1.

In a separate executive order, Cuomo also required malls with indoor common areas greater than 100,000 square feet to close. Stores with separate, external entrances can remain open.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at