Effective March 17, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) ended its designation of COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. (A copy of the NYSDOH's release can be found here.)
In light of the NYSDOH's announcement, employers are no longer required to administer and enforce their airborne infectious disease prevention plans (i.e., health screenings, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection, etc.). Notwithstanding the fact that there is no designation of COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease, the New York State Department of Labor has issued guidance stating that employers must still:
- Create an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan.
- Distribute copies of the plan to employees within 30 days after creation.
- Provide a copy to any new employees when they are hired.
- Post the plan in each work site so employees can view it.
- Update the plan as needed.
Significantly, if the NYSDOH re-designates COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease, employers may be required to create, implement, and effectuate HERO Act plans on short notice. Thus, employers should remain vigilant in creating and updating their HERO Act plans to ensure compliance in the event of a re-designation.