What can I do to prepare for a potential local outbreak?
Create an outbreak response plan:
Is there additional advice I can share with my staff?
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, at 8:00 p.m. Until Further Notice
Pursuant to the Governor's order, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, at 8 p.m., all licensed on-premises establishments (e.g. restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs, arenas, catering establishments, etc.) must cease on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages and/or food. Additionally, all licensed manufacturers with on-premises privileges must also cease on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages and/or food; however, a licensed manufacturer may continue all manufacturing operations. This restriction shall continue until April 15, 2020 but may be extended or reduced depending upon the circumstances.
What do I need to know if I have an employee who has recently traveled to an affected area?
People who have arrived in the U.S. from an affected area and who have no symptoms can return to work or school after completing a self-monitoring period at home for up to 14 days, depending on their last day in the affected area. There is no clearance process. People without symptoms are not tested for the virus.
What if my staff have family members who have recently been in an affected area?
Staff who were not in an affected area may continue to go to work if their family member has no symptoms, and if they are considered an essential employee under the State's new executive order.
What should I do if I feel sick or my employee feels sick?
Stay home and call your doctor. If you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms — coughing, sneezing, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat — call your doctor. If you are not feeling better after 3 or 4 days and do not have any preexisting conditions, consult your doctor. If you are over 50 years of age and have preexisting conditions and you begin to feel symptoms, consult your doctor – they may want to monitor you more closely.
If you are an essential employee and have been authorized to continue to work out of your office, do not go back to work until you have been home for seven days and fever-free for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs like acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil).
Learn more: nyc.gov/coronavirus
What if someone on my staff tests positive for COVID-19?
As an employer, you should avoid sharing personal medical information of staff. Without providing identifying information, you may send a communication to staff that there has been a confirmed case, and the steps you are taking to sanitize the office and keep staff healthy. Make sure to continue to follow guidelines to keep workspaces clean, and encourage staff to practice good hygiene. If anyone feels sick, they should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. New Yorkers who do not have primary care providers can call 311 or visit nychealthandhospitals.org to find a provider. Hospital staff will not ask about immigration status and strict laws protect patient confidentiality.
How can I disinfect my business if someone comes in and they appear to have symptoms?
It's hard to find hand sanitizer, masks, gloves tissues; where can I get them?
The NYC Health Department does not recommend the routine use of face masks if you are not sick. Face masks are not needed for general or routine tasks by staff – even those who frequently interact with the public. It is also encouraged to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which may relieve the need for hand sanitizer. Although harder to find than usual, there are supplies available in neighborhoods across the City. This may be a good opportunity to visit a new local business along your commercial corridor.
Please note: The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has declared facemasks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes temporarily in short supply to prevent stores from overcharging New Yorkers. The declaration makes it temporarily illegal to drastically increase prices. Stores found to be overcharging consumers will be issued a violation with a fine up to $500 per item. NYC DCWP encourages consumers who feel they were overcharged to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311.
What can I do to help decrease fear and discrimination related to novel coronavirus?
My staff and/or I are feeling stressed or harassed because of the potential outbreak. What can I do?
The Mayor announced employee retention grants of up to 40% of payroll costs will be available to help businesses with under 5 employees pay their staff. Learn more and apply.
Under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave. Covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member. Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/sbs or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information.
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed emergency legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Read more here.
While we hope that you do not have to reduce the number of people you employ, there is a layoff process that must be followed. If your private sector business has 50 or more employees, the NYS Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires 90 days notice before a plant closing, mass layoff, relocation, or other covered reduction in work hours. Notice must also be given when there is a layoff that affects either 33 percent of the workforce (at least 25 workers) or 250 workers from a single employment site. Learn more about the WARN Act.
The Shared Work Program gives you an alternative to laying off workers during business downturns by allowing them to work a reduced work schedule and collect partial Unemployment Insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. Instead of cutting staff, you can reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group. Learn more about the Shared Work Program here.
More resources for staff are available at nyc.gov/covid19wf1.
I am worried about the financial impact of COVID-19. Are there any grants or loans available to help me?
SBA loans will be available on a first-come-first-served basis, so it is important to submit your application as soon as possible. You should reach out to the SBA for guidance on how any other financial awards could impact your SBA award. If you have questions related to the SBA programs, find a local SBA resource partner.
Can I attend or host public gatherings? Religious services? Sporting events? Museums?
Governor Cuomo is urging all New Yorkers to stay at home as much as possible and to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from others in public spaces to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
If you need to go out, please follow these guidelines:
Can I go to a restaurant?
Restaurants and bars are limited to offering delivery or take out options only. If you are feeling healthy, it is fine to pick up your food. If you are sick, please STAY HOME. You might want to consider asking the restaurant to leave your food outside your door.
I have contracts with the City/State/Federal government, but I can't access my product due to travel and export restrictions. Now I'm concerned I won't be able to fulfill the contract on time or at all – what should I do?
First, review your contract carefully to be sure you understand your obligations. Consult an attorney, if needed, for help understanding contract terms. If you need legal assistance, visit nyc.gov/LegalAssistance.
Once you understand your obligations, and if your attorney agrees that it's advisable, communicate clearly and promptly with the contract manager about the cause of delay, and any contingency plans you are able to offer. Understanding the magnitude of the situation, your government client may be willing to negotiate an extension or other adjustment in terms, even if it is not contractually obligated to do so.
I am in the process of contracting with the City, but now I am not hearing back from anyone. What should I do?
Please be patient. Circumstances relating to the public health situation may have changed agencies' focus. We're all in this together, working to keep New York and New Yorkers safe. While you wait, be sure you don't miss deadlines to respond to requests for bids and solicitations. Also, consider how the goods or services you provide could help the City at this time and be ready if new opportunities come your way.
My company wants to help. How can I donate or sell supplies, food, or funds?
Some City agencies have adjusted their operations during this time. See updates here.
I am concerned about paying my commercial lease. Is there anyone who can help?
Yes. If your business needs help with a commercial lease issue in New York City, you may be eligible for free legal services. Visit nyc.gov/commlease to learn more.
The Legal Aid Society is providing pro-bono legal advice to businesses impacted by COVID-19. As businesses may experience lost income due to the current threat, The Legal Aid Society can review leases to determine what a business' rights and obligations are in case of disaster, negotiate payment plans for arrears, get business documents in order for loan applications, etc.
For assistance, small businesses should contact Legal Aid Society at either (212) 426-3002 or (212) 426-3004 or email The Legal Aid Society's Community Development Project at email@example.com.
What does my business interruption insurance cover?
Your business interruption insurance policy should list or describe the types of events it covers. Events that are not listed on, or not described in, the policy are typically not covered. It is important to review the policy exclusions, coverage limits, and applicable deductibles. You should also determine if the policy requires your business interruption to last for a certain time period before you are entitled to any policy benefits.
Business interruption coverage typically can only be triggered if you have property loss that leads to the business interruption. One example could be that a fire in your office has caused you to suspend your business activities.
Because coverage varies across policies, you will need to read your exact policy and consult your broker/insurer/agent for more information.
Is there a type of business insurance to cover cancelation of events due to COVID19?
On March 12, 2020, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo announced that all events with 500 or more individuals will be canceled or postponed. Learn more about this announcement.
You should call your insurance provider with questions about your specific plan and whether it covers event cancelations. You might also want to ask your insurance provider about loss of profits cover, "key person" insurance, whether your current levels of coverage are adequate, and whether any exclusions may be relevant.
How does my coverage work if I have more than one business interruption insurance policy?
Multiple policies may have been structured to provide greater limits or broader coverage than what might have been available from one policy. You should contact your broker/insurer(s)/any related agent to get a full explanation of your total coverage.
I do not have any policy that says it is a business interruption policy – is it possible that I have coverage under another type of policy?
It is possible to have business interruption coverage under another type of insurance policy. For example, there may be available coverage in policies that cover perils arising out of actions by civil authorities or interruption of your supply chain. Business interruption coverage may also be part of a package of multiple coverages that have been combined or are contained in a Special Multi-Peril or Business Owners policy.
You should contact your broker to obtain an explanation of related coverage in other types of policies you may hold. Any insurer or its agent whose policy you purchased should explain whether it provides business interruption coverage.
I have a policy that is called a contingent business interruption insurance policy – how is that different from a regular business interruption insurance policy?
As explained in "What does my business interruption insurance cover" above, business interruption coverage requires a related property damage. For a contingent business interruption insurance policy, that property damage can be on someone else's property but causes your business interruption. One example could be that a fire in a building on your street has closed the street to traffic and prevented your employees from coming to the office.
As with regular business interruption insurance policies, coverage can vary and you should consult your broker or insurer or its agent.
How does my business interruption insurance policy treat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It is unlikely that a current business interruption policy has contemplated the coronavirus specifically. However, you should check to see if your policy has an exclusion that would disable coverage for an incident triggered by an epidemic or pandemic, which might apply as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Also, any claim would still need to be related to your property damage for coverage to be triggered.
If I do not have an existing business insurance policy that covers COVID-19, can I buy one?
Insurers typically do not write coverage for known events for which the extent of potential damage is not easily understood, although it is possible to insure specialty risks such as business interruption due to COVID-19 in the excess lines market. Because the Excess Lines market is not regulated by the Department of Financial Services, we do not recommend it - there is much less regulatory protection for consumers in that market and the cost may be excessive. You should discuss any potential purchase in the excess lines market with your broker or insurance consultant.
Does my business interruption insurance policy cover me if my employees stay home out of concern about COVID-19?
As explained in "What does my business interruption insurance cover?" above, business interruption coverage requires a related property damage. Fear of COVID-19 alone is unlikely to trigger business interruption insurance coverage.
Does the Governor's or Mayor's declaration of a State of Emergency affect my business interruption insurance policy?
The State of Emergency declaration does not change the terms of your business interruption policy. It does, however, indicate the serious attention that the Governor has directed all State agencies to give to COVID-19. As a result, the Department of Financial Services is focused on consumers having the greatest amount of knowledge about their business interruption insurance. We recommend reaching out to your broker/insurer/agent to better understand what is covered by your policy.
Who can help me understand my business interruption insurance?
Your broker should be able explain your coverage benefits. The issuer of your policy or its agent should be able to do the same. Any of them may have a website that explains your business interruption benefits.
Can the Department of Financial Services help me if my insurer or broker does not?
If you cannot find the answer to your question in our FAQs, call (800) 342-3736. The DFS Hotline is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (local calls can be made to (212) 480-6400 or (518) 474-6600), or send DFS an email.New Yorkers with complaints about a business interruption insurance policy should contact: dfs.ny.gov/complaint.