Megan Burney

[email protected]

After three months of lockdown, New York City enters phase one of reopening this week.  And there’s a lot of information going around right now that needs some clarification, luckily I’ve broken it down for you.  

While this step is good news in terms of coronavirus recovery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going to be all that different than they have been.  In short, this phase of reopening does not permit large social gatherings or the reopening of restaurants and bars, so for now you’ll still need to order online or grab your drink to go.

Not only does this reopening indicate that we, as a city, have seemingly flattened the curve — or to use the Governor’s words “crushed it” — but it also means that a hefty chunk of our workforce will be restored.  Reports indicate that as many as 400,000 people may return to work during this first phase.  But who are these workers and where are they going?

Phase one of reopening includes the following industries:


 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

 Retail (limited to curbside pick up and drop off)


 Wholesale Trade

In order to reach this initial phase of the reopening process, specific benchmarks relating to the coronavirus had to have been met.  In other words, the fact that we started the process means that the city has reported a consistent decline in three categories: total hospitalizations, deaths, new hospitalizations, and an increase in five healthcare-related fields: hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, diagnostic testing and contact-tracing. 

If you are heading back to work this week, or you are an essential worker that has continued to work during lockdown, be prepared to encounter more people as the city begins to reopen, especially on your commute.  Wear proper PPE to protect yourself and others and check the full description of these industries below for a comprehensive rundown of what’s opening.

And to find out if your business is eligible to reopen, you can follow the prompts on the NYS reopen lookup tool.  If you are a small business owner whose business has been hurt by the pandemic, consider applying for a NYS Covid-19 Small Business Loan. Otherwise, here is a breakdown of the guidelines for the reopening of the above-listed industries:


This selector encompasses:

 Building Equipment Contractors

 Building Finishing Contractors

 Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors

 Highway, Street and Bridge Construction

 Land Subdivision 

 Nonresidential Building Construction

 Residential Building Construction

 Utility System Construction

And all construction sites and workers must comply with physical distancing rules and CDC cleaning and hygiene protocol.  Employers are also required to provide employees with proper PPE, including facemasks, which workers must wear when appropriate and replace after extensive use or dirtying.  Employers should have received state-issued guidelines on these protocols and are responsible for going over such guidelines with their employees, things like keeping a log of people they have come in contact with and notifying supervisors and the state as soon as a positive Covid-19 case arises.  Lastly employers have been asked to implement mandatory health screening assessments that might entail a temperature check or completion of symptom-survey before starting work.  You can find more information on these requirements here.

And likely the most of our collective concern: 

Retail (limited to curbside pick up and drop off):

Phase one includes delivery, curbside, and in-store pickup service only for the following businesses:

 Clothing Stores

 Direct Selling Establishments

 Electronics and Appliance Stores

 Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses

 Furniture and Home Furnishing Stores


 General Merchandise Stores

 Health and Personal Care Stores

 Jewelry, Luggage, and Leather Goods Stores

 Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores

 Office Supplies, Stationery, and Gift Stores

 Used Merchandise Stores

 Shoe Stores

 Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument and Book Stores

 Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers

And if you plan to participate in the reopening by frequenting some of your favorite stores and shops, here’s what you need to know: physical distancing applies in stores, no more than 50% occupancy is permitted in stores, designated areas for pick-ups and deliveries must be established, and business owners and managers must “post social distancing markers using tape or signs that denote 6 ft. of spacing in commonly used and other applicable areas”.  Free facemasks must also be provided to employees and similar to the construction guidelines listed above, businesses must comply with CDC hygiene protocol and mandatory screenings.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting:

This sector includes:

 Other Animal Production

 Other Crop Production

 Support Activities for Animal Production

 Support Activities for Crop Production

 Support Activities for Forestry

The guidelines here essentially fall in line with those mandated in construction.  You can read the fine print here.


 Apparel Manufacturing

 Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing

 Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing

 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

 Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

 Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing

 Machinery Manufacturing

 Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

 Paper Manufacturing

 Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

 Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing

 Printing and Related Support Activities

 Textile Mills

 Textile Product Mills

 Wood Product Manufacturing

 Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing

Guidelines for returning to work in manufacturing are largely in agreement with those of previously mentioned industries, to find specifics for manufacturing click here.

Wholesale trade:

 Apparel, Piece Goods, and Notions Merchant Wholesalers

 Chemical and Allied Products Merchant Wholesalers

 Furniture and Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers

 Household Appliances and Electrical and Electronic Goods Merchant Wholesalers

 Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers

 Metal and Mineral (except Petroleum) Merchant Wholesalers

 Paper and Paper Product Merchant Wholesalers

 Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers

 Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers

 Miscellaneous Durable Goods Merchant Wholesalers

 Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods Merchant Wholesalers

Again, guidelines are pretty much the same as those already stated.  You can get more information here.

Cover photo borrowed from the Governor’s website.

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