On May 31, 2020, following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s issuance of Executive Order 202.35 on Friday, May 26, 2020, New York’s Empire State Development (“ESD”) updated its guidelines for construction projects across the state.

Construction is a Phase One industry, and while certain parts of the State have already entered Phase One of recovery/reopening, New York City and much of the southern portion of the State has not yet met the criteria to begin reopening beyond “essential” construction activities. The ESD’s updated guidelines do not change the definition of “essential,” but now permit certain on-site staging activities in anticipation of a broader construction reopening. Last week, Governor Cuomo anticipated June 8, 2020 for a full, statewide construction reopening.

Personnel are permitted on-site for the following staging and preparation activities:

  • Clean, sanitize, and/or disinfect common and work areas;
  • Test run hoists, elevators, cranes, and other equipment;
  • Establish new and multiple entrances/exists to control the movement of personnel and allow for health screening, including temperature taking;
  • Install hand hygiene/wash stations or retrofit existing ones with touchless faucets and dispensers;
  • Install health screening stations or devices at entrances;
  • Affix social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning/disinfection signage, including posters, markers, and directional arrows;
  • Deliver and stockpile personal protective equipment (e.g. face coverings, face shields, gloves); and
  • Order, unload, and rough set materials that specialty contractors or subcontractors need to perform work (e.g. structural supports, piping, conduits, drywall).

Additionally, every business, even those already operating as essential under the ESD’s guidelines, must prepare a Safety Plan in line with the template found here. While this Safety Plan does not need to be filed with any state or local agency, it must be kept on premises in case of Department of Health or local health/safety authority inspection.


As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice.  For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.