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An Important Message From Michelman & Robinson About New York Governor’s PAUSE Order

MARK ROBINSON
MARCH 20, 2020


Following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s issuance of a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued and executive order of his own. While not as restrictive as Governor Newsom’s directive, Governor Cuomo has put New York state on PAUSE (Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone), requiring all workers in non-essential businesses to stay home as well.

Taken together with the restrictions now in place in California, Governor Cuomo’s move means that one in every five Americans are impacted by these new limitations.

As of this writing, the exact details of the order in New York are not yet available. That being said, we can answer the following questions that may be top of mind.

Q. When does Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order go into effect and when will it end?

A. The order takes effect Sunday evening, March 22. As of now, no end date has been announced.

Q. Is this order just like the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders that have been issued in California?

A. No, Governor Cuomo’s directive simply mandates that 100% of New York’s workforce stay home, excluding essential services. At this point, the order does not entirely restrict the movements of New Yorkers, generally. Rather, it is focused on the workforce only.

Q. What are the “essential services” that are exempt from Governor Cuomo’s order and what businesses or governmental agencies can require their workers to come to work?

A. The “essential services” contemplated by the New York PAUSE directive include:

  • Health care providers (doctors, nurses, etc.)
  • Law enforcement
  • Public transportation
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery an food production (including grocery stores)
  • Banks and related financial services
  • Shipping
  • Media
  • Warehousing
  • Utilities
  • Restaurants (for take-out only)
  • Other industries critical to the supply chain

Of note, Governor Cuomo has said that businesses providing “essential services” and remaining open as a result will need to implement rules to facilitate social distancing (e.g., six feet between individuals, hand washing, etc.)

Q. What businesses in New York must definitively close while the order is in effect?

A. Non-essential businesses that must be closed to the public include:

  • Bars
  • Restaurants (other than for take-out orders)
  • Barbershops and hair salons
  • Tattoo or piercing salons
  • Nail salons
  • Hair removal and related personal care services
  • Casinos
  • Gyms
  • Theaters
  • Retail shopping malls
  • Amusement parks
  • Bowling alleys


Q. Mine is not an “essential business,” can I allow my employees to work remotely while they are ordered to stay-at-home?

A. Yes, this is the case whether or not you operate an “essential business.” In fact, Governor Cuomo has directed that all businesses implement work-from-home policies.

Q. Can those not impacted by Governor Cuomo’s order still use public transportation?

A. Yes and no. The governor has made it clear that everyone other than those specified above should limit the use of public transportation to only when urgent and absolutely necessary.

Q. What about public gatherings and outdoor activities, are they now limited in New York?

A. Yes, non-essential gatherings of individuals of ANY size for ANY reason are cancelled at this time. As for outdoor activities, Governor Cuomo ordered that they be limited to those without contact.

Q. Is this order in New York mandatory?

A. Yes, and there will be civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses that do not comply. That being said, there will be no civil fines at this time on individuals who violate the policy.

Q. Does Governor Cuomo’s order address anything other than “non-essential” workers in New York staying home?

A. Yes, he also announced the following:

  • Coronavirus testing will be free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider
  • A moratorium on evictions, both residential and commercial, for 90 days
  • Waiver of mortgage payments based on financial hardship
  • That no negative reporting be made to credit bureaus
  • A grace period for loan modification
  • No late payment fees or online payment fees
  • The postponement or suspension of foreclosures

Additionally, the Governor has asked DFS to instruct state chartered banks to waive ATM fees, late fees, overdraft fees and fees for credits cards to help lessen the financial hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic on New Yorkers.

Lastly, Matilda’s Law has been enacted to protect New Yorkers aged 70 or higher and those with compromised immune systems. They are ordered to (1) remain indoors, (2) go outside only for solitary exercise, (3) pre-screen visitors by taking their temperatures, (4) have visitors wear masks, and (5) stay six feet away from others.

As we learn more about the measures being taken in New York, or any others that come online in additional jurisdictions, we will be sure to inform you. In the meantime, remember that M&R is here to assist with any coronavirus-related business issues you may have.


We are working diligently to keep our clients up to date on coronavirus-related developments. Nevertheless, these developments are changing daily and, in some cases even hourly, so it is important that you make sure you are dealing with the most current information. That being said, this alert is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for guidance and counsel regarding any specific concern or situation.