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Cuomo mandates that non-essential businesses keep 100 percent of their workforce home

By Adam Rombel


Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Photo credit: Don Pollard, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo via Cuomo Flickr page)

(Updated on 3/20 at 5:00 p.m.)

ALBANY, N.Y. — After the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York state again soared overnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday morning announced that businesses in the state must have their entire workforce working from home. It goes into effect Sunday, March 22 at 8 p.m.

“Today we’re bringing it to 100 percent of the workforce must stay home,” Cuomo said in his daily briefing on the COVID-19 crisis. “These are legal provisions. They will be enforced.”

The move comes a day after the governor ordered businesses to have 75 percent of their staff work from home, and two days after he told companies to keep 50 percent of their people at home.

The businesses that are exempt from the restrictions include financial institutions (banks, credit unions, insurance, payroll, accounting), grocery and food production firms, health-care providers, news media, pharmacies, shipping companies, utilities, warehousing businesses, and other industries vital to the supply chain. The full list is available here.

The new restrictions come after the state had already ordered numerous businesses to close completely in the last few days including casinos, fitness centers, movie theaters, bars, restaurant dining rooms, malls, bowling alleys, and amusement parks.

Friday, Cuomo added all barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair-removal services, and related personal-care services to that list. They must shut down, effective Saturday, March 21, at 8 p.m. New York said it made the move in conjunction with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, because “these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distance.”

The number of people in New York state testing positive for the coronavirus increased by 2,950, or 71 percent, in the last day to 7,102 total cases, Cuomo reported Friday. New York City and the surrounding counties (Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Orange) again had both the most new positives and total cases. New York has more COVID-19 cases than any state in the nation.

“You can see why we’re taking these actions,” the governor said. “These actions will cause disruption. They will cause businesses to close. I understand that.”

He continued, “This is a statewide order. It’s not what your county executive is doing. This is not what your mayor is doing. I accept full responsibility.”

More than 10,000 people in New York state were tested for the virus in the last day. That’s up from more than 7,500 tests the prior day.

The governor’s directive on businesses is part of his 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan. It includes the following provisions:

  1. Effective at 8 p.m. Sunday, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
  2. Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
  3. Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
  4. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
  5. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
  6. Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
  7. Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
  8. Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
  9. Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
  10. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.

Contact Rombel at

Photo credit: Don Pollard, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo via Cuomo Flickr page

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