Cuomo Orders Employers To Give Workers Masks

By Vin Gurrieri
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Law360 (April 13, 2020, 5:54 PM EDT) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered still-open businesses in the Empire State to give employees who interact with customers masks or other face shields to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo issued an executive order Sunday stating that any business in New York that has been deemed "essential" and remains open during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic must supply workers with "face coverings" if they are to have any interaction with members of the general public.

"For all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public," Cuomo's executive order said. "Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees."

The new mandate takes effect on the evening of April 15 and will remain in place until May 12.

The move is the latest measure taken by Cuomo to curb COVID-19 infections in New York, the state hit hardest by the viral outbreak so far.

In addition to the mask mandate on certain businesses, Cuomo's executive order Sunday included several other components designed to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Among them is a provision that expands the range of people who are allowed to conduct antibody tests.

In a statement that accompanied the executive order, Cuomo said his latest moves "will be key to getting people back to work and making sure they are protected when they do go back."

"The big question for everyone right now is; When do we reopen the economy? But first we need to make sure we have a smart, safe and coordinated plan in place to do it without risking public health," Cuomo said. "The keys to reopening the economy are continuing to limit the spread of the virus and ramping up antibody testing."

Since COVID-19 infection rates and deaths started climbing, lawmakers in New York have taken multiple steps to protect workers from both the health and economic dangers of the virus.

Those moves include the enactment of a permanent paid sick leave policy, which itself came weeks after lawmakers passed legislation that gave many workers access to some measure of paid sick time for coronavirus-related reasons.

--Editing by Daniel King.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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