As New York’s businesses were already coping with the harsh consequences of COVID-19, Governor Cuomo directed in the “New York On Pause” Executive Order that took effect Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 8 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities in New York State shall reduce the in-person workforce at each business/work location by 100% from pre-state of emergency declaration employment levels. However, the Executive Order provided a carve out for “essential businesses or entities” that are permitted to continue to operate at full employment levels and on-site, as long as CDC COVID-19 health guidelines are followed.

If your business falls into the financial services, hospitality, construction or technology related services industries (such as remote education or tele-health), your business may be considered an essential business. Identifying immediately whether your business falls into this “essential business” category to avoid fines and shut-down orders is critical to keeping your businesses operating and to properly guide your employees.

Businesses in these industries are also specifically considered “essential” under the current but ever changing New York law:

•      Health Care Operations (hospitals, elder care, walk- in-care health facilities, etc.);

•      Infrastructure (utilities, telecommunications, data centers, airports, etc.);

•      Manufacturing (pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food processing, etc.);

•      Retail (grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, restaurants for take-out and delivery only, etc.);

•      Critical Services (childcare, auto repair, mail and shipping, trash and recycling, etc.);

•      News/Media;
•      Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations (homeless shelters, food banks, etc.)

•      Defense (national security-related operations, etc.); and

•      Services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other businesses (law enforcement, fire prevention and response, security, etc.).

In addition, the State has created a process under Executive Order 202.6 to permit businesses to submit requests to the Empire State Development Corporation to be deemed an “essential business”.

If you have any question about whether your business falls into one of these exceptions or the PAUSE law in general, or would like assistance with making a request to deem your business as “essential,” please do not hesitate to reach out to Michael S. Popok, Managing Partner, (,  or Mitchell G. Mandell, Senior Partner, (, to discuss the most appropriate continuity plan for your business during these unprecedented times.