Summary of Executive Order 202.31

By Adriel Colón-Casiano

May 15, 2020

Summary of Executive Order 202.31


By Adriel Colón-Casiano

On May 14, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.31 invoking new powers from a law passed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to temporarily suspend or modify laws necessary to assist or aid in coping with a declared State disaster emergency. On March 3, 2020, the Governor signed into law legislation that expanded his authority to temporarily suspend, modify, or issue directives in response to a declared State disaster emergency. That legislation also accompanied a $40 million appropriation to the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) of Section 594 of the Labor Law was suspended and modified to prevent forfeiture of unemployment insurance benefit days to as a form of temporary relief to provide claimants from serving forfeit day penalties during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Section 240.35 or the Penal Law was suspended and modified to be consistent with any directive requiring the wearing of a face mask in public.

Executive Order 202.28 which extended prior directives to close or otherwise restrict public or private businesses or places of public accommodation and cancelled all non-essential gatherings, was further extended to continue until 11:59 pm on May 28, 2020.

Effective 12:01 am on May 15, 2020, reductions and restrictions on the in-person workforce at non-essential businesses in Phase One industries were lifted. These industries include and are subject to:

  • Construction, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, Retail limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off, Manufacturing, and Wholesale Trade;
  • Guidance promulgated by the Department of Health; and,
  • Subject to the Department of Health public health and safety metrics.

As of May 14, 2020 the regions that meet the above referenced metrics are: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and the North Country regions comprising the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence.  Regions that later meet the criteria are deem to be incorporated into this Executive Order and will be permitted to re-open Phase One industries.

All enforcement mechanisms by state or local governments are directed to continue in full force until June 13, 2020.

The directive authorizing the Department of Taxation and Finance to accept digital signatures on documents related to the determination or collection of tax liability was modified to last for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

The Governor modified a directive that closed movie theaters to allow drive-in movie theaters to open as if they were any other business under in-person workplace restrictions.

Under the newly enacted law, the Governor has the power to suspend, modify, or issue directives during a declared emergency for 30 days which may be extended for an unlimited number of 30 day periods with consent of the legislature after each subsequent period. Unless the Governor elects to extend the suspension or directives, they will expire on June 13, 2020.

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