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Reopening in NYC: An Overview of Phase 4

by Madison Meltz

Starting July 20th, NYC has been cleared to enter a modified Phase 4 of reopening; this article provides a high-level overview of the resulting changes that pertain to employers. For all government guidance on Phase 4 of reopening, click here.

The primary change resulting from Phase 4 of the NYC reopening strategy is that the following industries are now allowed to operate:

  • Higher Education
    • Higher Education institutions include community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools, and technical schools.
  • K-12 Schools
    • K-12 Schools are defined as all public and private, secular and non-secular elementary, middle, and high schools authorized for in-person education.
  • Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment
  • Media Production
    • Media Production encompasses all activities pertaining to motion picture, music, television, and streaming productions performed on set, on location, or at any other production or recording site.
  • Professional Sports Competitions with No Fans

It is important to note that shopping malls and museums were also scheduled to reopen in Phase 4. However, Gov. Cuomo stated on July 17th that reopening new indoor recreation activities has been indefinitely suspended in an NYC-only modification of the phased reopening plan. 

With this being said, all businesses in industries cleared for reopening in Phase 1, Phase 2, or Phase 3 are allowed to reopen and remain open in Phase 4. 

In order for any approved business to open during Phase 4, the employer must take the following steps:

  1. Read the NYS interim guidelines for the business’s specific industry
    • Interim guidelines can be found for businesses that are in Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, or Phase 4 industries by clicking the applicable link and scrolling to the appropriate industry.
  2. Develop and distribute a safety plan for the workplace that encapsulates how the business will meet all required industry guidelines for reopening.
  3. Fill out an affirmation form for the NYS government to affirm compliance with new reopening guidelines.

To determine the reopening eligibility of a specific business, use the New York Forward Reopening Lookup Wizard.

NYS is continuing to provide tools for employers to comply with new regulations including a sample employee screening questionnaire, an employer health screen review template, and a disinfectant log template. Additionally, the City of New York has recently started the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) for small businesses struggling with the capital costs to comply with new regulations. For information on government resources for businesses, click here; for a comprehensive list of government-sponsored financial options for small businesses, click here.

At this time, there appears to be no additional changes to the business landscape as a result of Phase 4 reopening. For real time updates, check the NYC Health COVID-19 webpage.



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