The Governor held a press conference today where he announced several updates to the reopening in New York. As of September 9, casinos around the State can open at 25% capacity, with appropriate social distancing, masks and advanced air filtration systems. He also announced that as of September 9, malls in New York City can open at 50% capacity, again with appropriate social distancing, masks and advanced air filtration systems. The Governor also addressed the issue of indoor dining in New York City. While indoor dining is allowed in the other regions of the State, indoor dining has still not been authorized in New York City. The Governor indicated that the problem in New York City has been the lack of compliance by many restaurants and bars as the reason for the delay in allowing indoor dining there. He stated that the situation will continue to be monitored.
The travel quarantine is still in full force and effect in New York. As a reminder, if you travel to or from a state on the list, you have to quarantine for two weeks upon your arrival in New York. The Governor announces each Tuesday what states have been added to the list and what states have been removed. For the latest list, you can visit this website.
Next week, the first schools will reopen for students. While the decision to reopen schools was made by the Governor and was a state level decision, the details on how to reopen and what instruction will look like is up to each school district. The schools slated to open next week are all in upstate New York where there are the lowest infection rates. New York City has announced that the start of school will begin on September 21. Almost every school in the state appears to have adopted a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction. Testing will be conducted at schools and the in-person instruction will cease if certain infection rates are surpassed.
Over the past two weeks, colleges around the state have welcomed back students. For the most part, the return of students has been smooth, but there are a few universities around the state that have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases. In each of these cases, the spikes occurred following students having unsanctioned parties and gatherings. Those students that hosted the gatherings have been suspended by their institutions. The institutions have acted swiftly and are testing and tracing everyone impacted. This situation will continue to be closely monitored, and the state has announced that it will close a university if there are 100 cases or more than 5% of the student body tests positive.
Finally, we continue to await a return of the legislature for a session dealing with budget issues. As of now, the budget deficit in New York is $15 billion. There was hope that the federal government would strike a compromise on the next round of Coronavirus relief funding in August and that this deal would include funding for states and localities. No compromise was reaching in August, and there is now talk of a September deal. However, it is looking increasingly like a deal on federal funding that includes funding for state and localities is not going to happen. If this doesn’t happen, the Governor has indicated that there will have to be a 20% spending cut across the board to all areas that receive state funding, including education and healthcare. The legislature has already pushed back on funding cuts to education and healthcare and are calling for an increase on billionaires in New York instead of making cuts. The Governor has indicated that he does not want to increase income taxes. Given the magnitude of the budget deficit, something will have to be done to bridge the gap.
If you have additional questions about this update or any other developments that are happening as New York continues to Un-PAUSE, please reach out to a member of our Government Affairs practice group for assistance:
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