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  • Ryan T. Biesenbach

NY Eases Mask Mandate, Clarifies COVID Paid Sick Leave Benefits

This week, New York made a series of announcements concerning the State’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, beginning Thursday, February 10, 2022, New York will lift the statewide mask mandate for businesses and other indoor spaces. Mask requirements will, however, remain optional for businesses, local governments, and counties to enforce.

Masking requirements will remain in place in K-12 schools until at least early March. Masking will also remain in effect in certain areas with high concentrations of people, including public transit, planes, correctional facilities, childcare, and nursing homes.

Following the lessening of the mask mandate for business, the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) revised its model for HERO Act airborne infectious disease plans (here). In the model plan, the NYDOL recommends, but does not require, masking in indoor areas with no vaccine requirement as a condition of entry.

Second, the NYDOL also revised its guidance concerning COVID Paid Sick Leave (COVID PSL). Although last week the State seemed to suggest unlimited terms of COVID PSL for employees (see U&K article here), the updated guidance states that employees are limited to receiving COVID PSL a maximum of three (3) times. As before, the second and third occurrence must be the result of the employee’s positive test documented by a licensed medical provider or testing facility. No documentation is needed for a positive test result if the employer administered the test.

Consistent with updated guidance concerning the length of time recommended for those unvaccinated to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure (as little as five (5) days), the NYDOL further clarified that COVID PSL is only available during an order of isolation or quarantine. Meaning, benefits are not available to employees who do not meet this revised standard of quarantine (which ends five (5) days after exposure if the individual is asymptomatic and subsequently tests negative or if employee has no COVID-19 symptoms and does not test).

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Ryan T. Biesenbach, the author of this piece, here, or at (585) 258-2865.

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