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Is Your Business Exempt from New York State's 100% Workforce Reduction Mandate?

March 21, 2020

The Empire State Development Corporation (the "ESDC") issued further guidance to inform businesses in New York State whether they are an “essential business” or if they are subject to the current workforce reduction mandate issued by Governor Cuomo.

By the ‘New York State on Pause’ Executive Order, Governor Cuomo directed that by Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 8:00 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities in New York State shall reduce their in-person workforce at each individual business/work location within the state by 100%.  For the purpose of this Executive Order, the ESDC provided the following additional guidance on what "Essential Business" means:

  1. Essential health care operations including


     2. Essential infrastructure including


      3. Essential manufacturing including


     4. Essential retail including


     5. Essential services including


     6. News media


     7. Financial Institutions including


     8. Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations including


     9. Construction


     10. Defense


     11. Essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other businesses including


     12. Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services including but not limited to:

If the ESDC's guidance does not address the function of your business and you believe it should qualify for an exemption as an "Essential Business," you may request designation as an "Essential Business" by submitting this request form to ESDC:


The form requires the following information: business name, address, contact information, number of employees, description of business function, industry, and a brief description of the business.  The form must be signed under penalty of perjury that the information provided is true and accurate.

The ESDC's guidance further clarifies that for businesses that have both essential and non-essential services, supplies or support, only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions.

Please contact HoganWillig at 716-636-7600 with any questions regarding this Executive Order or if you'd like to discuss challenging for an "Essential Business" designation. 

For changing and up-to-date legal information, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

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