CORONAVIRUS: NY UPDATE
CORONAVIRUS: NY UPDATE
Interim Guidance for Essential and Phase II Retail Business Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This interim guidance was created to provide owners/operators of essential and Phase II retail businesses selling goods, with precautions to help protect against the spread of COVID-19, as they continue to operate or reopen.
Protests: Per the ongoing protests, the curfew in New York City has been extended. Additionally, the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse also have curfews.
ANTIBODY TESTING: Antibody testing for grocery workers is continuing through June 6th. Locations and time remain the same.
The Governor has now announced that five regions of New York are available to enter phase two. Those regions are: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier
NYC is on track to begin phase 1 on June 8th
Executive Order 202.34 can be found here.
This EO is effective May 28th through June 27th (though always subject to an extension) and because it is mask wearing we would expect it to be extended. The two provisions specific to mask are as follows:
Executive Order 202.17 contained a directive that required any individual over age 2, and able to medically tolerate a face-covering, to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place. Now, pursuant to Executive Order 202.34, business operators and building owners, and those authorized on their behalf, shall have the discretion to ensure compliance with mask directive of Executive Order 202.17, including the discretion to deny admittance to individuals who fail to comply with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 or to require or compel their removal if they fail to adhere to such directive.
The building owner or business operator shall not be subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, or frustration of purpose, solely due to their enforcement of the Executive Order 202.17 mask directive. Nothing in Executive Order 202.34 prohibits or limits the right of New York State and local enforcement authorities from imposing fines or other penalties for any violation of the directive in Executive Order 202.17. Executive Order 202.34 shall be applied in a manner consistent with the American with Disabilities Act or any provision of either New York State or New York City Human Rights Law, or any other provision of law.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins held committee meetings today Tuesday 5.26 and plan to convene in session in the following days to vote on legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo warned lawmakers against spending state money as New York faces a minimum $13.3 billion budget shortfall. The state projects a $61 billion hole over four years because of unforeseen pandemic expenditures.
Cuomo said the state would pay death benefits to the families of frontline workers who died as a result of COVID19
On Friday, Cuomo signed an executive order allowing gatherings of 10 people or less. Order 202.33
Governor has officially announced that -
Mid-Hudson Valley is entering phase one of opening today
Long Island is allowed to enter phase one of opening tomorrow.
This leaves all regions with the exception of New York City that have started the reopening
process. Governor stated Tuesday that a significant data driven focus will start in NYC, specifically lower-income and minority communities that have a high rate of new cases.
Reopening: Governor announced 5/19 that Capital District will enter phase one of re-opening. This leaves New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson as the only regions of New York that have not started to reopen. Western NY entered phase 1 of reopening today.
Paper Carryout Bag Reduction Fee – While the plastic bag ban has not been enforced since its effective date of March 1st, the fee on paper bags has always remained. On March 1st New York City, Tompkins County and Suffolk County have had the fee on paper bags. It has been announced that the City of Troy and the City of White Plains have determined to enact that fee on paper bags beginning on June 1st.
NYS Business “Reopening” Safety Plan Template: Please take a moment to review the requirements listed in this plan to ensure you have implemented or will implement the requirements listed therein.
While during the pandemic, convenience stores, retail food stores, pharmacies, etc. have been essential and open, you are required to either fill out this template or develop your own safety plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.
Business must establish a communication plan which includes signage reminding employees to adhere to social distancing, use of PPE, etc.
Communication plan in the event a worker tests positive for COVID-19 with regards to notifying state and local health departments.
Maintain a continuous log of every person, workers and visitors (not customers) who have close contact (within 6 feet) of individuals at the work site. This also excludes delivery operations that are performed with appropriate PPE and/or contactless means.
Implement mandatory health screening assessments which could be temperature checks or questionnaires, surveys, etc. before employees begin work each day and for essential visitors (vendors, etc.). Assessments must be done, reviewed and documented daily.
NY Forward (REOPENING PLAN): The Governor created a website for NY Forward, to access that website click here. Questions regarding opening phases can be directed here.
Last night Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.31 which officially opened the regions below to enter phase one of reopening. Executive Order 202.31 provides that effective at 12:01 a.m. on May 15, 2020, the reductions and restrictions on the in-person workforce at non-essential businesses or other entities shall no longer apply to “Phase One Industries”.
Central New York
NOURISH NY PROGRAM: See FIA’s website for a list of contacts for the 10 regional food banks in New York State. The new NYC grocery resources page can be found here.
Antibody Testing: The State has set up 10 sites for grocery retail associates to go for antibody tests. Each site can accommodate 40 tests per hours between the hours of 10am – 5:30pm, up to 300 tests per site per day. The information for testing sites was sent to all members. Please email Mike or Kristina if you require more information on this.
Reopening New York - On Monday the Governor released a “Regional Monitoring Dashboard” which will be updated to reflect where the various regions of New York stand with benchmarks as it relates to reopening. The dashboard can be found here. The Governor also released a “guide” on reopening NY. That can be found here.
SNAP, yesterday, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) announced approximately $880 million for P-EBT SNAP. This Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer will provide eligible households with a total of $420 per child and has been allocated now that NYS has closed schools for the remainder of the year.
New York estimates that roughly 2.1 million children throughout NYS receive free and reduced-price meals. Families will not need to apply for the program. There are roughly 1.3 million children living in households that currently receive SNAP benefits, receive temporary assistance or Medicaid and they will receive their P-EBT assistance through their existing EBT cards
OTDA is currently working with the State Education Department to identify an additional 800,000 children in households that do not receive any of the above mentioned benefits but DO receive free and reduced-price meals. Those families will receive a temporary EBT card.
Like regular SNAP benefits, these Pandemic EBT benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. New Yorkers enrolled in SNAP can also use their benefits to purchase groceries online.
They did not state when the benefits will specifically hit, but as we are at the middle of May, it is safe to assume it will be a rolling allocation over the next two weeks.
Additionally, OTDA will be issuing the emergency assistance to any SNAP household that did not receive the maximum allowable benefit per month, which is $194 for an individual and $646 for a family of four. The emergency assistance will be distributed later this month, after the regular benefits are issued. About half of all households receiving SNAP will receive additional benefits for May. All SNAP recipients will receive the maximum allowable benefit in May.
• Opening New York – New York’s pause order is set to expire May 15th. The Governor has stated that any region can start a four-phase re-opening after that date if they meet seven criteria. As of today, no region meets all seven criteria. The Governor has also stated that any re-opening will be heavily dictated by data and science. Each phase would have a two week evaluation period. Phases (loosely described) are as follows:
- Phase 1 – Construction, manufacturing and some retail to re-open for curbside pickup.
- Phase 2 – professional services, more retail, real estate
- Phase 3 – Restaurant, bars, hotels
- Phase 4 – includes attractions, movie theaters, etc.
All businesses opening must implement social distancing and safety protocols, etc
MTA –Starting tonight, the NYC subway service will cease to run 24 hours a day and will close from 1:00 am through 5:00 am for an elaborate cleaning/disinfecting program. The cleaning program will have three phases over 24 hours.
Daytime Terminal Car Cleaning: After each train reaches its final destination, crews will remove trash, clean spills and bio hazards, and spot clean seats, floors, and other surfaces. Trains will also be disinfected at terminals during particular hours over the course of the day.
Overnight Yard Cleaning: Trains in service during daytime hours but out of service at night will receive a more comprehensive cleaning every night in yards. Crews will remove garbage and graffiti, clean spills and bio hazards, mop floors, clean seats cleaning, and disinfect surfaces.
Overnight Terminal Car Cleaning: Trains that remain in service at night will receive cleaning that is identical to the yard cleaning above, except at terminal stations.
NYS Masks –New York State has the mask information and NYS Homeland Security and/or NYS Emergency Management will be coordinating. On Friday morning’s call with NYS, the date to deliver or coordinate pick up is all to be determined but the company points of contact will hear from NYS. If any FIA members needs masks please let us know. These masks are reusable. As a reminder, the information NYS needs for this request is as follows:
Location or locations masks to be sent to
Company/Business Point of Contact
Number of Masks per location
On Friday 5/8 Governor Cuomo released Executive Order 202.29. Executive Order 202.29 does not issue any new directives. This Executive Order, however, continues the suspensions and modifications of law, and any directives, not superseded by a subsequent directive, made by Executive Orders 202.15, 202.16, 202.17, 202.18, 202.19, 202.20, and 202.21, for thirty days until June 7, 2020.
Among some of those provisions are: Permitting manufacturers, repackers, or wholesalers of prescription drugs or devices, physically located outside of New York and not registered in New York, but licensed and/or registered in any other state, to deliver into New York, prescription drugs or devices. Executive Order 202.15;
Requiring employees who are present in an essential businesses’ workplace to wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public and that employers must provide, at their own cost and expense, the face coverings for their employees. Executive Order 202.16
Requiring an individual to cover his or her nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance. Executive Order 202.17
COVID Testing: If you are an essential worker and would like to get tested for COVID-19, you can do so by visiting the website listed here.
Food Supply Chain Issues: There was a lengthy discussion with NYS with regards to the supply chain on Friday AM, specifically and unsurprisingly on meat. While state officials understand that demand is significant and the processing plants are operating less than 100%, they do know that some retailers are putting daily purchase limitations. They are requesting some observations and feedback on the meat supply chain. Please reach out to FIA or alternatively, the Department of Ag and Markets has requested that you please notify the Department of any issues related to the food supply chain by sending an email to: email@example.com
NYC Essential Workers Bill of Rights Testimony: Please see documents section below for testimony submitted to NYC Council.
· Liability: Please scroll to the documents section to view the PDF of the letter signed by 19 business organizations that has been sent to lawmakers, members of the Cuomo Administration and members of the NY Forward Advisory Committee.
· Temporary packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs: This interim guidance provides temporary flexibility regarding certain packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs sold in retail food establishments, allowing the industry to meet the increased demand for shell eggs during the COVID-19 public health emergency. https://agriculture.ny.gov/temporary-packaging-and-labeling-requirements-shell-eggs-guidance
· Governor. Cuomo today 5/1 announced all K-12 schools and college facilities statewide will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and will continue to provide distance learning during that time. The schools will also be required to continue meal programs and child care services for essential workers. The state will make a decision about summer school programming by the end of May.
DEVELOPMENTS 4/25 – 4/27
· Essential Worker Child Care – New York State announced that it will provide child care scholarships to essential workers. Child care costs will be covered for essential staff whose income is less than 300% of the federal poverty level — or $78,600 for a family of four. Essential workers (including health care providers, law enforcement, food delivery workers, grocery store employees and others) can use these scholarships to pay for their existing care arrangement. If an essential worker needs child care, they can contact their local child care referral agency to find openings. To find out more about this initiative click here.
· Executive Order 202.24 Executive Order 202.24 (the 25th of the pandemic in NY – see on FIA’s website)addresses a few things: , Expanded Role for Pharmacies
o Authorizes licensed pharmacists to order COVID-19 tests, approved by the FDA, to detect SARS-CoV-2 or its antibodies, and to administer COVID-19 tests subject to certificate of waiver requirements pursuant to the Federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988, in patients suspected of a COVID-19 infection, or suspected of having recovered from COVID-19 infection, subject to completion of appropriate training developed by the State Health Department.
o Permits licensed pharmacists to be designated as a qualified healthcare professional for the purpose of directing a limited service laboratory, pursuant to subdivision 579(3) of the New York State Public Health Law, to test patients suspected of a COVID-19 infection or its antibodies provided that such test is FDA-approved and waived for use in a limited service laboratory.
· According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, New York City is offering testing priority for essential workers. Essential employees who would like to schedule an appointment can call 1-888-ONEMED1 or go to onemedical.com and use code NYCCARE30 .
· Guidance from the NYS Department of Health has been released regarding the expansion of COVID-19 Diagnostic testing for essential workers. The expanded criteria will now allow all first responders, health care workers and essential employees to be tested for COVID-19 even if they aren't symptomatic. The state will continue to expand testing criteria as testing capacity increases. Please see uploaded on FIA’s website DOH’s revised testing protocol which includes the steps an essential worker can take to get tested and prioritizes health care providers to ensure essential workers get tested. Diagnostic Testing Access: Individuals who fit these prioritization categories and do not currently have access to testing can call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website to be screened for eligibility, and if eligible, have an appointment set up at one of the State’s Testing Sites.
· FMI is hosting a COVID-19 and employment liability considerations for food and beverage companies on Tomorrow Tuesday, April 28th at 12 p.m. EST In light of a recent wrongful death action brought against a major retailer related to an alleged workplace COVID-19 infection, businesses with continuing operations are concerned about potential liability risks they may face as a result of COVID-19. Join FMI on Tuesday, April 28th at 12 p.m. ET as Michael Kidney and George Ingham discuss the liability risks that businesses face (including tort liability and workers’ compensation), as well as steps businesses can take to mitigate those risks. Register Here
· Antibody Test Results –Governor has announced the results of the first phase (3000 samples) of the antibody testing that began on Sunday. It will be continuing around NY as they work to increase the sample size and analyze the data. Governor will be using this data as the sample size increases to implement regional analysis/regional re-opening of NY. Testing took place in 19 counties/40 localities…
- 13.9% tested positive for the antibodies (equates to 2.7 million NY’ers; and potential hospital death rate at approximately 0.5%). Regional breakdown as follows:
21.2% NYC (43% of tests)
16.7% Long Island (14.4% of tests)
11.7% Westchester/Rockland (9.8% of tests)
3.6% Rest of state (33% of tests)
· RE: Construction. State Ag and Markets has shared an official letter (on FIA’s website) than can be used in instances of a locality balking at grocery constructions. FIA continues to work with the state and localities in instances of confusion or misinterpretation. This letter can also be used on site to help “prove” to locals that grocery construction can continue. · New York City COVID-19 Relief Package
- Premiums for essential workers Legislation was introduced at yesterday’s City Council meeting that would require large employers to pay premiums to certain essential non-salaried workers: Employers with more than 100 employees would pay hourly workers $30 for a shift under four hours, $60 for a shift of four to eight hours and $75 dollars for any shift over eight hours. The obligation reportedly would end when the state of emergency is lifted. Food Industry Alliance of New York State is part of the businesses coalition that is mobilizing to oppose the legislation.
· Plastic Bag Ban – Enforcement delay has been extended to June 15th.
· Antibody Testing – As most of you know and have participated in, antibody testing by NYS began yesterday and will continue throughout the week. Grocery stores are the primary location for the testing. If your company has not been contacted, please note you could be moving forward. FIA is aware that the administration is contacting stores directly. NOTE: This testing is not a positive/negative COVID-19 test, but specifically for the antibodies.
· Regional State Re-Opening Appointees – the Northeast Regional Governors on the multi-state council announced their appointees to the Council. NY appointees include:
- Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor
- Robert Mujica, Director of NYS Division of the Budget
- Michael Dowling, President and CEO, Northwell Health
· NYS has released interim guidance regarding public face covering requirements. Interim Guidance on Executive Orders 202.17 and 202.18 Requiring Face Coverings in Public During the COVID-19 Outbreak, April 17, 2020.
· Governor Cuomo announced today that NY Pause (the shut down of non-essential everything) will remain in effect until May 15th. This order was due to expire at the end of April. An executive order will be released soon.
· 20-C Food Safety Licenses – FIA has worked with State Ag and Markets to get extensions to those that have expiring licenses. The Department has announced this morning that a 45 Day Extension for 20-C licenses that expire between April 16th and May 31st. At the end of the 45 day period, a completed 20-C food processing license and the full applicable fees must be received by the Department. This can be found on Ag and Markets website here.
· FIA is working with the NY business community to draw awareness to liability concerns and essential businesses during the health crisis. Please the documents section below for the letter that was circulated to leaders in New York, and the media today outlining our concerns.
· NYS Department of Homeland Security has reached out to FIA. They are currently casting a wide net in search of recently retired refrigeration trucks to be potentially donated to them for use as temporary morgues. Please reach out to an FIA staff person if your company is able to help.
· Governor Cuomo announced that with the administration’s constant calibration with the public health crisis, he will be signing a new Executive Order which mandates that ALL people must have face coverings while in public AND must WEAR them in instances where it is not possible to maintain social distancing.
·The order will take effect in three days
· He envisions possibility of a civil penalty but at this time does not see a need for a penalty unless people do not comply
· Full executive order language
· Potential sources for the procurement of masks: Allta Representative is Kevin Foley – firstname.lastname@example.org and Hickey Freeman Representative is John Martynec - John.Martynec@hickeyfreeman.com
· Uploaded on FIA is the document (in the documents section below) with regard to the requirement starting tomorrow night re: employees and face coverings. The State Department of Health has not published this, but it is a final document.
· Uploaded on FIA’s website is the NYS Department of Health updated guidance on best practices to clean retail food stores. This document (in the documents section below) reflects the new poster that was shared last week that must be on display.
DEVELOPMENTS 4/11 - 4/13
· The Governor’s most recent Executive Order has been released and can be found here.
· As it relates to masks, that language is specifically this: For all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees. This provision may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement as if it were an order pursuant to section 12 or 12-b of the Public Health Law. This requirement shall be effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.
· Please find information uploaded on FIA’s website geared toward retailers who would like to participate in the SNAP online purchasing platform, as sent to FMI by USDA this morning. The document is titled Online Snap for Retailers Requirements
· Received confirmation today re: New York’s SNAP Emergency Allotments to households. Benefit issuance will start today (4/13) for Rest of State and 4/14 for New York City. Benefits will be spread across 10 days for both NYC and Rest of State. Please see the SNAP documents uploaded in the document section below.
· Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union which represents over 900,000 grocery workers, launched a new national initiative to help protect America’s food and grocery workers. The new national campaign, entitled #ShopSmart, will target American grocery shoppers and is in response to the growing number of food and grocery workers who are becoming exposed to the coronavirus and the direct threat this growing outbreak poses to our nation’s food supply
· The Department of Ag and Markets today informed FIA of new guidance for retail food stores. Many of the guidance recommendations are already implemented by our members. Please note, there is no mandatory language and it is expressly encouraging best practices to ensure social distancing, limit crowds in stores, and promote awareness for employees and customers. Again please note, that this guidance is not law, but strongly recommended that stores as best as practicable implement these protocols. This is on Ag and Markets website and is considered published now.
· Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.15 (the 15th Executive Order since March 7th) today. Two provisions we want to flag for you that may be of interest:
· Labeling of bottle/bulk water products: Paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 5-6.12 of Title 10 of the NYCRR, governing bottled or bulk water products sold or distributed in New York, to allow bottled and bulk water product facilities currently certified in in New York to temporarily, if their stock of regularly used labels has been depleted, distribute bottled or bulk water products without an assigned New York State Department of Health certificate number shown on the product label and use labels authorized in any other state. Once labels showing the assigned certificate number have been obtained, their use must be resumed;
· Prescription Drug Delivery: Section 6808 of the Education Law and any regulations promulgated thereunder, to the extent necessary to permit a manufacturer, repacker, or wholesaler of prescription drugs or devices, physically located outside of New York and not registered in New York, but licensed and/or registered in any other state, may deliver into New York, prescription drugs or devices;
· NYC: The Department of Consumer Affairs is extending certain license expiration dates and renewal application deadlines. Stoop line stands with a current license expiration date of March 31, 2020 will have a new license expiration date of June 30, 2020 and a new renewal application deadline of August 28, 2020. . For more information about licenses and license renewals during the pandemic you can visit the below web pages LINK to renew
· Today FIA released a video message from Mike Durant to highlight the fact that the grocery industry is working closely with the New York State Farm Bureau to ensure that the supply chain remains healthy during this time. The video can be found on our website (above) and social media pages.
· NYC has made the following resources available for grocery store owners and their employees.
· NYS has again updated their essential business guidelines relative to construction. LINK. It explicitly states that “construction is for existing projects of an essential business, of which grocery, convenience stores, pharmacies, etc are essential business. This supersedes any local business/construction restrictions and that includes NYC.
· NYS Ag and Markets is now requiring that the poster (PDF document above) be printed and posted in all stores. Posting of this poster should be at your main entrance, your breakrooms, bathrooms, loading docks, etc. While this was recommended in previous Executive Orders, in EO 202.14, it does require this poster is posted and if it is not it can be considered a violation.
· FMCSA Expanded Emergency Declaration EXTENSION GRANTED till May 15th
· CDC Interim Guidance for Essential Workers Who Have Been Exposed to COVID-19 This guidance applies to critical infrastructure workers (including food and ag) who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
· Today the Governor updated Executive Order 202.14. The order allows for a fine of up to $1000 for violations of social distancing restrictions as ordered by the Governor.
· Ag and Markets extended the ability for restaurants to operate as retail stores, a link to that guidance can be found here.
· The Department for Ag and Markets has created this interim guidance on grocery good delivery.
· Guidance was requested from a store in relation to managing the ID-ing process for customers wearing facemasks. The State Liquor Authority has stated that “If they are unable to verify the identity of the customer, they should refuse the sale.”
- The New York Lottery is working with retailers statewide that are affected by the COVID-19 public health challenge. If a licensed retailer decides to temporarily close from COVID-19 outcomes or has been required to close:
- The retailer is to contact any New York Lottery regional office and request a temporary pin-off and specify that COVID-19 is the cause.
- The Lottery will deactivate retailer equipment (“pinned-off”). The retailer is not allowed to sell instant tickets while pinned-off.
- The Lottery equipment stays in place.
- The retailer is to secure current inventory against theft. Retailer is responsible for all instant tickets, so it is very important to secure all instant ticket inventory.
- The Lottery will work with retailers to settle their accounts when business resumes.
- Contact details for New York Lottery Regional Offices:(If no answer, please leave a message. Include your name, retailer number and phone number and someone will call you back as quickly as possible.)
- For information about your Lottery account, including financial information, go to https://nyretailer.lotteryservices.com/. If you are a first-time visitor, you will need to sign up. Only store owners can create a Primary account.
New York Lottery Regional Offices
Long Island 516-222-8224
New York City 646-486-6168
· The Governor just released an interactive website. The site provides comprehensive COVID-19 testing date and is found here.
· FMI Guidance document on “Emergency Prevention Measures to Achieve Physical (Social) Distancing in Food Manufacturing Facilities as Related to COVID-19” can be found on the FIANY website.
· The NYS Department of Ag and Markets has provided guidance for how to deliver groceries in a sanitary manner: https://agriculture.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/04/interimguidanceforfooddelivery.pdf.
· The NYC Department of Small Business Services has organized a spreadsheet with details and contact information for suppliers and manufacturers of non-medical face masks.
· The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program established in NYC provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships and independent contractors— are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries. LINK
· NYSDOH has converted the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster into multiple languages, to access this information click here. Please print these posters and post them at your business.
• P-EBT SNAP Benefits - Federal legislation provided for “P-EBT” SNAP benefits, which expands current SNAP benefits for those families with children that participated in free and reduced priced lunch programs in NYS as school are closed. Additionally it allows states to issue benefits to families with free and reduced price lunch participation that were not currently receiving SNAP benefits.
• NY will be issuing those benefits and is currently working with the federal government on guidance. There is no timeline at this point as to when they will be going out.
• NY currently has 875,000 families with school-age children currently receiving SNAP benefits. There would be an additional approximate number of 825,000 families to identify.
• As NY works with the federal government on this, these benefits are unlikely to be rolled into current SNAP distribution schedule.
• NY has waived all current SNAP work requirements statewide, and this goes into full effect April 1st.
• CR-SNAP WAIVER - NY has filed a plan with the federal government for the CR-SNAP waiver. The federal legislation allowed states to take SNAP benefits to the maximum benefit level for the household.
• These supplements equate to an estimated additional $102 million statewide
• This averages out to an additional $145 in SNAP benefits for 48% of current recipients (52% of current NY SNAP recipients are at the current maximum allotment).
• Estimated roll out of the additional allotment is April 14th in NYC and April 13th rest of state. This will be a rolling distribution over two weeks.
• Working Paper Issue for Minors - Please see FIANT website for the guidance document from NY State Education Department on the process for minors that wish to work to receive their working papers. We are still working on the minor working hour issue.
• ESDC updated their guidance document re: essential construction. Q14: If my business supports construction and other projects within the energy industry, which projects are considered essential?
ANSWER: For this critical infrastructure sector, essential projects will be considered necessary if they are needed to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, provide support for basic human services (e.g. health, safety, housing, food, and other components of well-being), or proceed to a point where the project can be safely suspended. These activities must continue to comply with current guidance for maintaining a clean and safe work environment, as well as appropriate social distancing, as issued by the Department of Health
·• The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has launched a platform called “virtual Workforce1” to help grocers and other food businesses hire employees. Please click on the following link to complete the required form If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Trofimov (email@example.com) and Antonio Tseng (firstname.lastname@example.org), both SBS employees.
• Beginning March 27,, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) will also serve grocery, food and pharmacy workers. For workers in these vital industries who have no other means of childcare, the RECs are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday) and will ensure that students have access to remote learning as well as art, music and other activities. If your child is a New York City resident and you would like to enroll in one of these centers, please complete this REC Enrollment Form. Please complete this form for each child you are seeking to enroll. You will then receive an email confirming your child’s center assignment.
DEVELOPMENTS 3/28 -3/30
• Clarification on Governor’s Construction Ban – it does NOT apply to construction
related to food retail: Construction related to a retail food store - is a service that is
deemed “essential”. In an effort to further control the spread of COVID-19 in our State,
Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO)202.6. This executive order continues to
exempt food processing (including but not limited those supplying goods and services
to this industry such as agricultural operations, agri businesses, etc.) and retail grocery
stores(including gas stations and convenience stores),from all restrictions imposed by
emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency. NOTE: EO 202.6 also
exempts businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these
• CDC issued a travel advisory for NY, CT and NJ. That is found here This is an
advisory and it explicitly states that it does not apply to essential business. Governor
Cuomo stated that the advisory is not anything different than what was already in place
in NY for the past 10 days.
• Governor Cuomo also ordered non-essential NYS workers to remain remote/at-home
through April 15th, the original order was to April 1st
• For questions regarding COVID-19 Risk Assessment/Management. This link is CDC guidance on this specific issue
• NY Dept of Ag and Markets have released a COVID19 guidance document for the Ag
community. (The document can be found under documents section above.)
• State Department of Transportation has confirmed that all expired CDL licenses
(March 1st or later) are EXTENDED until further notice.
• CDC issued a press release clarifying the confusion related to NY travel and
“quarantine”. This clarifying statement is 100% in line to the position/guidance of
FIA since comments were made by the Trump administration on Tuesday
night. The link to the clarifying statement is here. It reiterates that any guidance to self-quarantine does not apply to “critical
transportation and delivery workers…”.
• The Governor further defined essential business as it relates to
construction. That updated guidance is found here. The administration has verified that any construction
needed or occurring currently at an essential business is exempt by the changes
made in this updated language. All vendors, third party providers, contracted
work, construction, maintenance, etc. is allowed
• FIANY circulated a memo to legislators and the media, requesting that New
York’s leaders issue public service messaging on the importance, and obligation
for social distancing in stores. The memo can be found on our website. Thus far
a number of state legislators have shared the memo with their networks.
• US Senate reached an agreement, and passed the economic relief CARES Act
for individuals and businesses. A breakdown of the law can be found on our
• According to NYC Economic Development Corporation, today retail food workers
were recognized as part of the city’s emergency response. As a result, the city is
offering childcare services at Regional Enrichment Centers for the children of
retail food workers. Please see our website for an overview of the Regional
Enrichment Center Program.
• U.S. Dept. of Labor Publishes Guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave AndExpanded Family and Medical Leave Under The Families First CoronavirusResponse Act Fact Sheet for Employees -Fact Sheet for Employers -FAQs
• From Governor Cuomo’s press briefing this AM, highlevel points:
- Apex of the virus is forecasted for 5/1, but the curve is increasing, new apex is
forecasted for 14 to 21 days.
- NYC expected to have a density reduction plan in place by noon today.
- Still pushing feds to use of federal Defense Production Act. Not using power is
inexplicable to Cuomo.
- The Governor is urging HHS Secretary Azar to release 20,000 ventilators to the State.
- Once tests are available to determine if someone has already recovered from COVID The Governor is discussing bringing lower risk people back into the workforce, and
recovered people - ramp up the economy with available workers.
• The Department of Environmental Conservation has issued the following guidance on bottle
redemption in NY. In short, while stores are expected to continue to the best of their ability to
redeem bottles, the state will not be enforcing the law at this time.
- “DEC recognizes that unintended consequences of the COVID-19 response may make
full compliance with requirements challenging for certain facilities and result in temporary
disruptions to required redemption operations. While continuing the redemption of
containers is considered an essential service and is expected to continue, DEC will not actively
enforce violations at facilities unable to fulfill redemption operations due to resource
restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. Please email the Department
with any questions email@example.com.”
-The full language can be found on the DEC website. Additionally DEC reached this
decision based on the following guidance from CDC and SWANA LINK and LINK
• Department of Ag and Markets has confirmed to us that New York will NOT be pre-loading SNAP
benefits for April prior to April.
DEVELOPMENTS 3/22- 23
• The FDA has posted guidance in relation to recommended workplace social distancing; protocol for the event in which an employee tests positive for
COVID19; and the official CDC recommendation that grocery store employees
should NOT wear masks. The guidance can be found here
• Today NYS Department of Tax and Finance issued their guidance for those that
experienced or are experiencing difficulties in remitting sales tax. This guidance
is in regards to the abatement of penalties and interest for sales and use tax due
to the Covid-19 outbreak.For smaller businesses/operators, independents, CStores, etc. this information could be critical. That guidance is found here
• Please see upload on FIA website entitled “Essential worker Status for Company
Letterhead”. We recommend editing said document with your own company
letterhead, and having contractors etc carry with them. There is NO curfew and NO
expectation or protocol that says workers need a badge or credentials.
• NY Executive Order 202.8 has been released and is here. This
is the exec order from 3/20 which announced the reduction of the workforce by 100% for
nonessential businesses.This closing takes effect at 8pm on 3/22, and there is no date
that it will be lifted at this time.
• Governor Cuomo’s address on 3/21 announced that four sites are being considered for
temporary hospitals. He also gave an update on the Coronavirus numbers in NY and
pleaded with the public to stay home. Full presentation notes can be read here.
• The Governor has announced that 100% workforce reduction. He has put New York on
“pause”. This takes effect Sunday evening 3/22. The executive order will require the
- Remain indoors, can go outside for solitary exercise
- No non-essential gatherings unless part of essential business/essential
- Do not visit households with multiple people
- All vulnerable people should wear a mask
- Do not take public transportation unless urgent and necessary
- social distancing
These provisions will be enforced and non-essential businesses are subject to civil fines.
If there are questions regarding if a business is essential or if a type of business wants to
apply to be essential, visit ESDC website here
• Essential retail including
- grocery stores including all food and beverage stores
- convenience stores
- farmer’s markets
- gas stations
- restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery)
- hardware and building material stores
- beverage industry
• NYS is in desperate need of masks and other supplies. If any business/company can
contribute please contact ESDC (Eric Gertler) at 212-803-3100 or Simonida Subotic who
works at the Executive Chamber at 646-522-8477
• Cuomo announced that State Income tax will mirror Federal change to 7/15
• Cuomo also announced that business sales tax late payments will have late penalties
and interest waived
• FDA has issued guidance for the temporary production of hand sanitizer. FIA is establlishing lines
of communication with potential vendors. Guidance document can be found uploaded on FIA’s
• Guidance from DEC has confirmed that stores are NOT allowed to refuse customers to
carry resusable bags into the store. This refusal would be in violation of the law governing
retail and bags. DEC recommends that stores instead request that customers pack their
own bags in the instance where they bring their own reusable bag.
• The full list of executive orders to date can be found here
*Please note that if an order was presented
by Cuomo in the AM, it may take 24 hours to appear on the website or for formal
language to be issued.
• DOH has issued a guidance on gathering. Public spaces and public and private entities.
This document should be carried by third party contractors and providers of essential
· Cuomo announced that he will be issuing an order that would further reduce the workforce to 25%, which is a 75% mandatory reduction in the workforce.
Additionally the order will include:
- 90 Day Mortgage relief, based on financial hardship. Waiving mortgage payments for 90 days.
- Suspending foreclosures.
- Waiving overdraft fees for ATMs and Credit Cards.
- Reiterated commitment to keep NYC out of a stay-in-place order.
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE TO FOLLOW
· There was a clarification to the Executive Order last night to ensure that gas stations and convenience stores are explicitly listed. That updated language is: This executive order continues to exempt food processing (including but not limited those supplying goods and services to this industry such as agricultural operations, agri businesses, etc.) and retail grocery stores (including gas stations and convenience stores), from all restrictions imposed by emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency. NOTE: EO 202.6 also exempts businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these essential businesses, see except provided below.
With respect to retail food and pharmacy in malls, where the store does not have an outside entrance, the administration has informed FIA that they are also exempt from the mall closing order.
· Executive orders at the local level will not be allowed during this state of emergency. This nullifies Rockland County’s order to limit the quantity of items customers may buy.
● Per the Governor’s executive order 3/18- Mandatory statewide, all businesses must adhere to no more than 50% workforce on premises. The Executive Order will exempt essential services, grocery, food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc.
● NY with NJ, CT and PA have all agreed to close retail shopping malls. The closer takes effect at 8 pm on March 19th. Shopping malls are defined as in excess of 100,000 sq. ft as available for lease. All stores located within shopping malls, which have their own external entrances located within the shopping malls, separate from general mall entrance may remain open.
● New York State has not imposed any travel restrictions and all industries essential to the food supply chain, including grocery stores, gas stations, retail food stores, food processors and related food businesses, etc., are exempt from the workforce reduction guidance issued today. Please see the guidance and exemptions here
● President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed to a temporary travel ban across the border for non-essential travel. Trade is exempt from this ban.
· As requested by an FIA member today. The policy and regulations around refunds/rainchecks
· Rockland County Executive Order which limits retail sale to two, of any item on this restricted list (please see website uploads for full list PDF and executive order)
Note: FIA is working closely with the Governor’s office to prevent local actions like these
· Two email addresses have been provided to direct concerns around. For supply chain issues: firstname.lastname@example.org Any issues related to the crisis in general as it pertains to grocery stores: email@example.com
· The Senate and the Assembly passed Paid Sick Leave legislation specific only to the COVID19 crisis. The breakdown of the law can be found on our website.
· The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has adopted an emergency rule (copy attached), effective immediately, making it an unconscionable trade practice for a merchant to sell or offer for sale “covered goods or services” with an “excessive price increase” during an imminent threat to public health. The full order can be read on our website.
DEVELOPMENTS 3/15 to 3/17
· New York State Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to further delay the enforcement of New York’s ban on single-use plastic bags until May 15, 2020. You can see this update at the NYS DEC website here
· The Governor issued an executive order that, among other items, limited the operations of bars and restaurants to delivery and take- out only. This executive order was made public on 3/16 and is found here
· Note that that the mass gathering guidance does not apply to private businesses and retail food stores are also exempt from this guidance.
· From Dept of Ag and Markets with regard to food donations from restaurants/bars/etc. that have now had their operations restricted:
- “Prior to a restaurant sending unwanted food to a food bank or retail food store, foods should be designated as a donation, with all attempts made to donate such foods to a food bank. If such attempts fail, labels that state “for restaurant use only” should be removed, crossed out or blacked out. Donated foods must be handled and stored safely, prior to delivery to their final destination.”
· The State Department of Agriculture and Markets this morning informed FIA on our daily call that the above order DOES apply to dine-in facilities/food service areas within grocery stores. They do not want people sitting and eating within a grocery store. These services can remain open and be grab and go or home delivered only.
- The café area can be used by employees provided that the area is roped off, chairs are placed on the tables when not in use, employees still practice social distancing and clear signage is posted that designates the area an employee break area only, not for customer use.”
· The Governor introduced a proposal for Paid Sick Leave. The proposal is two parts, part 1 deals with paid sick leave specifically in relation to the Corona Virus. Part 2 relates to standard paid sick leave proposal that he has extracted from the budget proposal. The bill can be read here. A summary was sent to all members and can also be viewed on our website.
· We expect the Cuomo Administration to issue guidance specific to retail food/food supply chain, etc. soon. This guidance is expected to strengthen our industries position in light of any local action that could be considered or undertaken. We will post when we receive.
DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK 3/7-3/15
● All non-essential state employees are to stay home from Rockland County south as of 3/15
● The NYS Capitol is closed to all visitors as of 3/14
● NY DMV offices are appointment only as of 3/15
● The Governor and the legislature will attempt to reach a budget agreement this week, they have until April 1st to do so.
● The Department of Ag and Markets issued guidance received specific for food manufacturing and food retail with regards to cleanliness/food safety. The guidance can be read here
● The seven day waiting period for unemployment insurance has been waived.
● No utilities can turn off services for those that cannot pay bills due to the health crisis.
● All events of 500 + must be cancelled. Businesses with a capacity less than 500 may only fill to half of their rated-capacity. Guidance can be viewed here. We have verified with the administration that this DOES NOT apply to grocery stores and pharmacies.
● Travel has been banned for 30 days to and from European countries for foreign nationals. Exemptions in place for US Citizens and permanent residents. Although stringent screening and quarantine requirements will apply. Effective 3/13
● SUNY and CUNY schools will all be closed beginning March 19th for the remainder of the semester with exceptions for those who have unique circumstances.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AND DRIVERS
Per a call between Mike Durant and the Cuomo administration on 3/14, the administration have agreed to communicate and coordinate if the situation evolves into any travel restrictions. While none are anticipated at this time, there are extremely sensitive and mindful of our industry and the services we provide to New Yorkers during this crisis.
STATE: It is the Cuomo Administration's position that the Executive Order 202 (March 7th) which formally declared a State of Emergency in New York language that states: this declaration satisfies the requirements of 49 C.F.R. 390.23(a)(l)(A), which provides relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FM CSR). Such relief from the FM CSR is necessary to ensure that crews are available as needed.
This language officially eases all hours of service regulations and weight limits for commercial trucking for INTRA-STATE driving. The full text can be viewed here
FEDERAL: The federal State of Emergency declared yesterday similar provisions with regards to INTER-STATE driving. A waiver for NY was accepted by the Federal Motor of Carrier Safety Administration specific to hours of service. The full federal declaration can be viewed here
FMCSA's declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:
● Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
● Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
● Food for emergency restocking of stores.
● Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
● Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
● Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services
CONTAINMENT AREA: NEW ROCHELLE
Cuomo announced a containment area in New Rochelle beginning
March 12th until Wednesday March 25th.
● The containment area is roughly a three-mile radius around the center of the coronavirus cluster in Westchester County which includes most of the City of New Rochelle and enters into Tuckahoe and Eastchester.
● Grocery stores in the containment area WILL NOT be closed.
● Public facilities (schools, churches, etc.) will be closed.
● The National Guard will be deployed to the containment area to deliver food to homes of those quarantined and to help conduct a deep clean of public spaces.
● The press conference DID NOT identify the exact starting point for the containment area.
● Out of the 173 total NY confirmed cases, 108 are in Westchester County
● The Governor stated that residents who live within the containment area will be free to leave their homes and the area as long as they have not been ordered to be quarantined.
IMPACT ON STORES
Many questions have come in to FIA regarding state guidance on business operations. FIA sent a letter to Governor Cuomo on March 11th regarding Covid-19 and the grocery industry industry. It indicates a willingness to be engaged and supportive of any state plans as the situation evolves and cautions against imposing any new regulations, mandates, laws, etc. that could adversely impact the viability of our industry.
The letter can be read above (documents section).
- - - -
As outlined above, the Department of Ag and Markets has issued a guidance document specific to food safety. This can be read above (documents section). We will continue to update you as we receive more information.
- - - -
FIA has spoken with the State DEC regarding plastic bags. Our formal request to further extend non-enforcement across the board is being considered. While we do not have a timeline to a decision, please note that state agencies are dealing with a number of public health/safety issues at this time and we still have two weeks until April 1st. But they do understand that the consumer behavior this week changed dramatically and it is an issue that needs to be examined.
SNAP AND WIC RESTOCKING REQUIREMENTS
Our partners at FMI are working at a federal level on this engagement. FIA as also echoed these requests at the state level.
FMI is working with federal lawmakers on potentially implementing a temporary moratorium on WIC stocking requirements, which may create challenges for some retailers as customers stockpile supplies. A copy of FMI's WIC Stocking moratorium proposal is linked here, and please feel free to use language from this as you speak to your state WIC departments. We know many of you are already reaching out to your state regarding vendor monitoring on stocking requirements.
For example, Jan Gee in Washington State shared with us that her WIC department told her: "Washington State, at this time, will not be conducting vendor monitors. Given the COVID-19 outbreak, our focus is primarily on supporting our vendors and participants. We appreciate your communication and concern in ensuring compliance with Washington WIC's guidelines and want to assure there will be no findings regarding the minimum stocking requirement. We have made an exemption request to FNS and are awaiting a response."
FMI is also working with lawmakers to ensure whatever solution(s) they select will not necessitate reprogramming for our members or require significant labor. Below are some possible solutions:
1. P-SNAP: This was created during H1N1 and is triggered when local schools are closed for five or more days. Families whose children participate in the school lunch program would qualify for additional SNAP benefits. (See a press release sent out this evening on a proposal from Senate Democrat leaders where P-SNAP is suggested.)
2. There is also an idea to expand P-SNAP to included households without kids on school lunches.
3. There is another idea to modify (temporarily) D-SNAP. Currently, D-SNAP is only triggered after a Presidential Disaster Declaration. One idea is to temporarily expand it to cover pandemics for households in affected areas. How the designated affected areas will be determined is yet to be figured out.
4. There has been some interest expressed in expanding the summer feeding EBT cards that are used in certain areas. We have raised the challenges this would present. These cards are limited to a WIC-like food package and would require significant programming for our members.