What phase 2 will look like for NYC real estate

A quick guide on how office, retail and brokerages will reopen

Offices, real estate firms and retailers can resume activities as part of New York City’s phase two of reopening. (Getty)
Offices, real estate firms and retailers can resume activities as part of New York City’s phase two of reopening. (Getty)

With Covid-19 cases at an all-time low since the outbreak, New York City is launching phase two of reopening Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Friday that the city had met the state’s requirements to allow activities at offices, real estate firms, retail locations and restaurants, with restrictions.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that he expected some 5,000 eateries to reopen, which could save 45,000 jobs, the Daily News reported.

“Restaurants are the backbone of New York City’s neighborhood culture, and they’ve done their part in slowing the spread of Covid-19,” de Blasio said in a statement. “These common-sense guidelines will help local businesses get back on their feet — and let New Yorkers safely enjoy the meal they’ve earned.”

This week an average of 25 people died from the virus each day statewide — down 97 percent from the peak in early April — and less than 1 percent of New Yorkers tested were found to have the virus, the governor said.

Here is what the second phase will look like in New York City:

Though some companies have announced that they won’t reopen offices until at least September, some employees can return to their desks. Occupancy is limited to 50 percent in any area of an office and workers must remain six feet apart, according to the state. Small spaces, such as elevators, should be limited to one person unless everyone is donning a mask. Non-essential shared spaces such as gyms, game rooms and other gathering areas must remain closed. Employers have to provide face coverings to all workers.

The state’s guidelines also call for regular office cleaning — and more frequent sanitizing of areas and objects used often by multiple individuals — and hand-hygiene stations. Landlord groups and office unions released their own best practices earlier this month.

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Real Estate
Brokerages, property managers and development firms are required to follow the above office guidelines when they reopen. In-person residential showings, which were a point of contention over the last few months, are permitted only in unoccupied or vacant apartments.

Last week the Real Estate Board of New York issued additional guidelines for brokers. The trade group suggested brokers conduct in-person showings only when necessary, and consider doing health screenings ahead of appointments.

During phase one, some non-essential retailers were allowed to resume deliveries and curbside or in-store pick-up. Now customers can enter stores, but total occupancy indoors — including staff — can’t exceed 50 percent of the pre-pandemic maximum. Employees are required to wear face coverings at registers, and physical barriers must be installed in areas that lack adequate air flow.

Outdoor dining
Last weekend Cuomo threatened to reverse the city’s reopening trajectory if New Yorkers kept gathering and not wearing masks, as was seen on social media and reported in tens of thousands of complaints. But, for now, plans for outdoor dining are on.

Tables can be set up on sidewalks adjacent to restaurants and parking areas. All tables with seats must be at least six feet from other tables and major pedestrian thoroughfares. Up to 10 people are permitted at a table. Employees are required to wear face coverings at all times, and patrons are encouraged to wear them when not eating or drinking. According to the rules, cleaning and disinfection “must be rigorous and ongoing” and should occur at least after each shift and more often if necessary.

Guidance for the city has yet to be released for the third and fourth phases of reopening, which will include restaurants and bars, and recreation and education facilities, respectively.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at kathryn@therealdeal.com