The New York Commissioner of Health once again extended the designation of COVID-19 as highly contagious, thereby requiring employers to keep their HERO Act safety plans activated through at least January 15, 2022.
As previously reported (here and here and here), New York State’s health commissioner designated COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health, thus requiring employers to activate their safety plans under the NY HERO Act as of September 6, 2021. Although the initial designation lasted through September 30, 2021, the health commissioner subsequently extended the designation twice through December 15, 2021.
As expected, the commissioner has now again issued a revised designation under the NY HERO Act. This means that employers must continue implementing their respective Disease Exposure Prevention Plan through January 15, 2022, at which time the commissioner will decide based upon a review of the level of COVID-19 transmission at that time whether to once again extend the designation.
Therefore, employers must continue to implement the various disease-prevention measures under the HERO Act, including daily health screenings and masking for workplaces where all individuals on premises are not fully-vaccinated, among other requirements.
Finally, as discussed previously here, New York Governor Hochul declared that, effective December 13, 2021, masks will be required for employees, customers, and visitors in all indoor public places -- to include office spaces -- unless the covered business or venue requires proof of vaccination to enter. The Governor’s masking mandate is currently in effect through January 15, 2022, the same expiration date as today’s HERO Act designation extension, and the masking requirement under both the HERO Act and the Governor’s order are virtually the same. The January 15 expiration date for both will be subject to potential further extensions pending a review of statewide COVID-19 transmission levels at that time.
Seyfarth will continue to monitor developments in this space and provide updates when available.