COVID-19, Returning to the Workplace – New York State
New York Re-opening Work Guidelines for Employees
Effective June 15, 2021
- State's COVID-19 Restrictions and New York Forward Industry Guidance Lifted Across Commercial Settings, including Retail, Food Services, Offices, Gyms and Fitness Centers, Amusement and Family Entertainment, Hair Salons, Barber Shops, Personal Care Services, Among Others
- Unvaccinated Individuals Responsible for Continuing to Wear a Mask, Per Federal CDC Guidance
- Large-Scale Indoor Events Venues, Pre-K to 12 Schools, Public Transit, Homeless Shelters, Correctional Facilities, Nursing Homes and Health Care Settings Must Still Adhere to Existing COVID-19 Health Protocols Per CDC Guideline
Below are the work guidelines for NY employees in place prior to June 2021
Social Distancing Guidelines
- Social distancing means that a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) is maintained between people whenever possible.
- Remember, people may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms. Consider all close interactions (within 6 feet) with employees, clients, and others as a potential source of exposure.
- Handshaking, hugs, fist bumps and similar type of contact are discouraged.
- If there is outdoor seating areas available, please take advantage of these areas.
- Keep in mind you should also practice social distancing for all small-group activities such as lunches, breaks, and meetings.
New York State requires everyone returning to the workplace be trained on the proper way to both don (put on) and doff (take off) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The guidance below is from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). You may print this page out for future reference.
Complete daily COVID-19 symptom screenings before entering your workplace
- Do you have any of these symptoms that are not caused by another condition?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
*This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
- Within the past 14 days, have you had contact with anyone that you know had COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms? Contact is being 6 feet (2 meters) or closer for more than 15 minutes with a person, or having direct contact with fluids from a person with COVID-19 (for example, being coughed or sneezed on).
- Have you had a positive COVID-19 test for active virus in the past 10 days?
- Within the past 14 days, has a public health or medical professional told you to self-monitor, self-isolate, or self-quarantine because of concerns about COVID-19 infection?
Importance of not coming to work if ill
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.
- Stay home except to get medical care
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
When to seek emergency medical attention:
- Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
- Hand hygiene is an important part of the U.S. response to the international emergence of COVID-19. Practicing hand hygiene, which includes the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) or handwashing, is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens and infections in healthcare settings. CDC recommendations reflect this important role.
- The exact contribution of hand hygiene to the reduction of direct and indirect spread of coronaviruses between people is currently unknown. However, hand washing mechanically removes pathogens, and laboratory data demonstrate that ABHR formulations in the range of alcohol concentrations recommended by CDC, inactivate SARS-CoV-2. [1,2]
- ABHR effectively reduces the number of pathogens that may be present on the hands of healthcare providers after brief interactions with patients or the care environment.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect.
- Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.
- Cleaning with soap and water reduces number of germs, dirt and impurities on the surface. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.
- Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
- More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.
- Surfaces and objects in public places, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
- High touch surfaces include:
- Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
- Disinfect with a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARs-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID 19.
- Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend:
- Keeping surface wet for a period of time (see product label).
- Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use.
- Wear skin protection and consider eye protection for potential splash hazards
- Ensure adequate ventilation
- Use no more than the amount recommended on the label
- Use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label)
- Avoid mixing chemical products
- Label diluted cleaning solutions
- Store and use chemicals out of the reach of children and pets
- If products on List N are not available, diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Use bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use a bleach product if the percentage is not in this range or is not specified.
- Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions for the surface, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute.
- Ensure proper ventilation during and after application.
- Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
- Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in.
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per gallon of room temperature water OR
- 4 teaspoons of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per quart of room temperature water
- Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
For soft surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes
- Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.
- Launder items (if possible) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
- Disinfect with a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARs-CoV-2
- Vacuum as usual.
For electronics, such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines
- Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics.
- Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting.
- If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.
For clothing, towels, linens and other items
- Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
- Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from a person who is sick.
- Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items.
- Do not shake dirty laundry.
- Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
- Remove gloves, and wash hands right away.
Cleaning and disinfecting your building or facility if someone is sick
- Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
- Companies do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off affected areas.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
- Vacuum the space if needed. Use a vacuum equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
- Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms.
- Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect. For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floors or rugs, clean the surface with detergents or cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces, according to the textile’s label. After cleaning, disinfect with an appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon. Soft and porous materials, like carpet, are generally not as easy to disinfect as hard and non-porous surfaces. EPA has listed a limited number of products approved for disinfection for use on soft and porous materials on List N. Follow the disinfectant manufacturer’s safety instructions (such as wearing gloves and ensuring adequate ventilation), concentration level, application method and contact time. Allow sufficient drying time if vacuum is not intended for wet surfaces.
- Temporarily turn off in-room, window-mounted, or on-wall recirculation HVAC to avoid contamination of the HVAC units.
- Do NOT deactivate central HVAC systems. These systems tend to provide better filtration capabilities and introduce outdoor air into the areas that they serve.
- Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
- Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use.
- Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
- If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
- Continue routing cleaning and disinfection. This includes everyday practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment.
Cleaning and disinfecting outdoor areas
- Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.
- Do not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds- it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce risk of COVID-19 to the public.
- High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings should be cleaned routinely.
- Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (play structures, benches, tables) or groundcovers (mulch, sand) is not recommended.
- Sidewalks and roads should not be disinfected.
- Spread of COVID-19 from these surfaces is very low and disinfection is not effective.
- Regular cleaning staff can clean and disinfect community spaces.
- Ensure they are trained on appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals.
- Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
- Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
- Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick.
- Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use.
- Keep hand sanitizers away from fire or flame
- For children under six years of age, hand sanitizer should be used with adult supervision
- Always store hand sanitizer out of reach of children and pets
See CDC's Hand Sanitizer Use Considerations for more information
- Additional key times to wash hands include:
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After using the restroom.
- Before eating or preparing food.
- After contact with animals or pets.
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child).
Additional considerations for employers
- Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
- Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
- Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
- Ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
- Comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030), including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE (29 CFR 1910.132)
Alternative disinfection methods
- The efficacy of alternative disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light against COVID-19 virus is not known.
- EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19.
- CDC does not recommend the use of sanitizing tunnels. There is no evidence that they are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Chemicals used in sanitizing tunnels could cause skin, eye, or respiratory irritation or damage.
- CDC only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against the virus that causes COVID-19.
NYS HERO ACT
The New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) was signed into law on May 5, 2021. The law mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.
On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. This designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans.
Under this law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, has developed a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Employers can choose to adopt the applicable policy template/plan provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard’s minimum requirements.
The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.
The standard and model plans are available in English and Spanish. Employers are required to provide a copy of the adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan and post the same in a visible and prominent location within each worksite.
See below link to the NY Hero Act and all supporting resources