On June 12, 2020, five regions (Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier) in New York began Phase 3 of the "NY Forward" reopening plan. As with Phase 1 and Phase 2, the State has issued guidance for those industries permitted to reopen in Phase 3, which include restaurants/food services and personal care businesses.

New York Restaurants and Food Services Phase 3 Guidance

Restaurants and food service providers in those regions currently permitted to reopen may now offer indoor and outdoor dining, provided they meet the minimum requirements set forth in the Food Services Guidelines and the Department of Health's "Interim Guidance."

Among the standards set forth in the guidelines and guidance are the following requirements:

  • Outdoor capacity is limited to the number of tables that can be safely arranged at least six feet from one another .
  • Indoor capacity is limited to no more than 50 percent of the maximum occupancy for the particular area, not including employees, and indoor tables must be separated by at least six feet in all directions.
  • Where the six foot distance is not feasible at either indoor or outdoor tables, physical barriers must be erected at least five feet between tables.
  • Employees (including kitchen staff) and customers alike must wear face coverings at all times, except while seated and except where the customer is under the age of two or medically unable to tolerate the covering.
  • Restaurants and food service providers must train their employees on how to adequately put on, take off, clean (as applicable), and discard PPE, including—but not limited to—appropriate face coverings.
  • Where restrooms are available, restaurants and food service providers must promote social distancing within and while waiting for the restrooms.
  • Measures should be implemented to reduce bi-directional foot traffic and use distance markers indicating spaces of six feet in areas where people may congregate, such as breakrooms, health screening areas, or time entry locations.
  • Restaurants and food service providers must post signs consistent with DOH COVID-19 signage, which remind customers and employees to:
    • Cover their noses and mouths with a face covering.
    • Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
    • Adhere to physical distancing instructions.
    • Report symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19, and how to do so.
    • Follow cleaning, disinfection, and hand hygiene guidelines.
    • Follow appropriate respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Establishments must ensure adherence to hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including "Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19," and the "STOP THE SPREAD" poster, as applicable. Further, businesses must maintain logs that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
  • All condiments provided directly to customers must be in single-use disposable containers or reusable containers that are regularly cleaned and disinfected, ideally between each party's use.
  • Customers should be provided with single-use, paper, disposable menus and/or menus that are displayed on white boards/chalk boards/televisions/projectors, where possible. If non-disposable menus are used, the menus must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. Customers should be encouraged to view menus online (e.g., on their own smartphones or electronic devices) where possible.
  • Businesses must use pre-packaged silverware or pre-rolled silverware, which were pre-rolled while wearing masks and gloves, and businesses must not offer or otherwise provide unwrapped straws and toothpicks.

Personal Care Businesses

Personal care businesses, which are non-hair-related businesses, may also reopen in Phase 3, provided they meet the minimum requirements set forth in the Personal Care Guidelines and the Department of Health's "Interim Guidance."

Personal care businesses include establishments such as tattoo and piercing facilities, appearance enhancement practitioners, massage therapy, spas, cosmetology, nail specialty, UV and non-UV tanning, and waxing facilities.

Going Forward

We expect that the State will continue to publish guidance as it relates to industries authorized to open in Phase 4, which include arts, entertainment, recreation, and education.

Employers should continue to monitor the State's guidance as it relates to its specific industry, as the guidance published to date is currently characterized as "interim" and may be subject to change.

Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys remain available to help employers across New York State and elsewhere with the reopening process and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

The facts, laws, and regulations regarding COVID-19 are developing rapidly. Since the date of publication, there may be new or additional information not referenced in this advisory. Please consult with your legal counsel for guidance.

DWT will continue to provide up-to-date insights and virtual events regarding COVID-19 concerns. Our most recent insights, as well as information about recorded and upcoming virtual events, are available at www.dwt.com/COVID-19.