On May 28, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.34 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.
The Governor directed and authorized discretion from business operators and building owners to ensure compliance with a prior directive from Executive Order 202.17 that requires individuals over the age of two and who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering wear one when in a public space. Business operators and building owners may deny admittance to individuals who are not in compliance without being subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or frustration of purpose. This discretion is to be applied in a manner consistent with human rights and disability law.
The Governor directed that the following regions have met the prescribed public health and safety metrics to reopen under Phase One of the State Reopening Plan:
- Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country, Western New York, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, and Long Island. Such regions include 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, St. Lawrence, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk.
Regions which meet the prescribed public health and safety metrics will be eligible for Phase One reopening. Business that reopen under Phase One must comply with guidance promulgated by the Department of Health.
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 27, 2020.