Governor Cuomo has issued guidance on essential services and businesses under his “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order, which requires non-essential businesses to close in-office functions effective 8pm Sunday.
The Governor’s order declares construction as “essential” and updated guidance posted by Empire State Development further states that “essential businesses or entities, including any for profit or non-profit, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure, are not subject to the in-person restriction.”
- skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
- other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes”
The language in the original guidance has generated a great deal of questions and uncertainty from the industry and membership. AGC NYS sought to have the guidance for the Executive Order clarified to definitively answer these questions. We are advised that individual agencies are providing guidance and direction to contractors on how to proceed.
NYSDOT issued a document stating that, “the Executive Order provides that essential businesses and services not subject to the in- person restrictions include transportation infrastructure including vendors that provide essential services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government. The Department is continuing implementation of its capital program as an essential government function and will continue to let and construct projects. The companies awarded such contracts including subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and specialty firms are all exempt for work to support the capital program.”
We have requested that other construction agencies provide guidance to contractors in similar fashion.
We are advised and hearing from members that the MTA, State University Construction Fund, Thruway Authority, DASNY and other public agencies are directing contractors to proceed with work.
At this time, we are continuing to seek additional clarification about how Governor’s Executive Order applies to local government and private construction as well, but believe in the absence of delineation or limitation of “construction” in the issued ESD Guidance, that a reasonable reading of the Executive Order gives a contractor or construction-related firm a basis to affirm that they are exempt from the in-person restrictions. There are conflicting reports about particular private projects being told to proceed, while others are apparently being directed to stop work.
We also advise that contractors on such projects should communicate closely with their owners on these matters, as there is continuing confusion and conflicting information on these matters.
We understand that in some project-specific instances, ESD Regional Directors have been able to provide clarity by deeming individual projects “essential.” You can find the list of ESD Regional Directors at this link.
In all cases, contractors and related firms should be following all relevant public health guidelines and reducing density wherever possible to take all precautions against the spread and transmission of COVID-19. Additional information and resources can be found on our AGC NYS COVID-19 Resources Page, which is being updated regularly.
We will continue to communicate to the membership if/when additional details or clarification becomes available.