Megan Burney

[email protected]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have announced that the city will enter Phase Two of reopening today, Monday June 22, 2020.  While Phase One came and went with seemingly little change to our day-to-day-pandemic lives, Phase Two feels like a bigger step toward post-COVID normalcy.  

The decision to reopen comes after a consistent decrease in Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths throughout the city.  Though de Blasio said he was comfortable officially moving the city to Phase Two in a press conference last Thursday morning, he stressed that the reopening would proceed in a controlled fashion.

“We’re always going to be watching,” he said.  “We are always going to be watching for any variations, any new data…but we’ve seen consistent progress and it’s time to say to everyone ‘get ready for phase two.’”   

De Blasio also noted that phase two will encompass the “single biggest piece of our economy” in detailing the plans for phase two of the reopening, noting that as many as 300,000 people will return to work in NYC during this phase.  The following industries will reopen today as Phase Two of Gov. Cuomo’s New York Forward initiative:


 Real Estate

 Essential and Phase II In-Store Retail

 Vehicle Sales, Leases & Rentals

 Retail Rental, Repair & Cleaning

 Commercial Building Management

 Hair Salons and Barbershops

 Outdoor Take-Out & Delivery Food Services (yes, outdoor dining is permitted)


And in addition to the standard industries that Phase Two entails, de Blasio also permitted the reopening of playgrounds across the city.

So what does Phase Two actually mean?  Here’s a summary of the crucial changes:


This sector encompasses all office-based businesses including:

 Professional services



 Administrative support

 And higher education administration (excluding full campus reopening). 

So if this is your industry of employment, you may find yourself dusting off your work pants and returning to the office.  It’s likely that your employer has already contacted you with their own specific guidelines for reopening and some offices may even choose to remain closed for the time being.  Those who do reopen, however, will have to adhere to state health standards and develop a detailed plan to do so. 

Such standards include operating at 50% capacity, ensuring 6ft of distance between individuals, adequate disinfection of shared workstations, staggering arrival/departure times to reduce the number of persons in elevators, and, of course, the provision of PPE to all employees.  All businesses must also comply with CDC hygiene, cleaning and disinfection protocol including the maintenance of cleaning logs and the complete prohibition of shared meals (sorry, no more catered buffets).  Lastly, offices must post informative signage that encourages employees to abide by hygienic standards and enforce mandatory screening practices (i.e. temperature check or questionnaire).  Further details on these requirements can be found here.

Real Estate:

 All residential property management entities

 Real estate salespeople/brokers

 Building inspectors

 Building appraisers and

 Related companies/operators 

The precautionary guidelines for the real estate industry are largely similar to those summarized above in the reopening of offices.  The notable mention relating to real estate guidelines pertain to that the practice of in-person property showings and related activities: showings are only allowed in unoccupied of vacant properties, all individuals visiting a property are required to wear face coverings at all times, high-touch surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected before or after every showing and, lastly, appointments must be made and staggered in order to avoid the congregation of people outside and inside properties.  Find more information here.

Hair Salons and Barbershops:

Hair service businesses including:

 hair salons, barbershops, and other similar hair service businesses. 

This guidance does not apply to nail salons, tattoo parlors, or any other non-haircutting-related personal care services or activities, including but not limited to: beard trimming, nose hair trimming, appearance enhancement, nail specialty, tanning, or waxing.

Again, there is a large overlap here with the guidelines for offices and real estate, including operating at 50% capacity, but here’s where hair salons and barbershops differ from the bunch: 

–all employees must wear a face covering that completely covers the nose and mouth and either a face shield or safety goggles when providing service directly to customers, or anytime they interact with customers, 

-customers must only be permitted entry into the hair salon or barbershop if they wear an acceptable face covering, 

-employees must use gloves when providing service to a customer, or perform hand hygiene before and after contact,

-if coverings (e.g. apron, smocks) are provided to a client, they must be disposable, or cleaned and disinfected between each use, 

-services offered must not require removal of a facemask

-provide and maintain hand hygiene stations,

-limit the sharing of objects (e.g. clippers, combs, scissors, tools

-clean and disinfect workstations and tools (e.g. brushes, chairs, shears) between each customer.

Read more here.

Outdoor Dining Services:

 All restaurants and food services establishments, including food trucks and other food concessions with outdoor spaces and seating defined as a “space without a fixed roof (besides a temporary or seasonal awning or cover).”

The main guidelines: all tables with seats must be at least 6 ft. from any other table, seat, patron, or pedestrian thoroughfare or corridor, close indoor dining and seating areas to customers, employees must wear face coverings at all times and patrons must wear face coverings at all times, except while seated.  Six feet spacing lines must be clearly signaled and, wherever possible, designated entry/exit for customers must differ from that of employees with a separate area established only for pickup or delivery services.  Employers are also encouraged to train employees on how to disinfect or discard of PPE properly, employees must also frequently replace gloves while working or wash/sanitize their hands appropriately, especially those who bus the tables.   The use of devices (e.g. buzzers) to provide alerts to customers that seating or an order is available is also prohibited and all condiments provided to customers must be  in single-use disposable containers or reusable containers that are regularly cleaned/disinfected.  Non-disposable menus must be cleaned and disinfected between each party’s use and pre-packaged silverware is encouraged.  And of course, all employees must be subjected to screening before each shift.  Get more detailed information here.

And for more specific and distinguishable details on the reopening of Vehicle Sales, Leases & Rental, Retail Rental, Repair & Cleaning, Commercial Building Management, and Translations you can scan the relevant documents here.

This sounds like a lot, and it is!  But it’s important to still take the appropriate precautions as we begin to regain comfortability in social settings– cover your face when possible, maintain a good distance between yourself and others, and always wash your hands.  You can find out more about the nitty gritty of phase two here.  As for businesses that will remain closed?  See this screen shot from the NY Forward website:

For help determining whether or not your business is eligible to reopen, use the reopen lookup tool

Cover photo by @malvivant.

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