NY Executive Order Impacts “Public Places” in Condo, Co-op Buildings

April 16, 2020 Advisory

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promulgated many Executive Orders in regard to COVID-19 issues.  The Orders are rules and changes in laws in order to remedy a number of these issues.  All of the Executive Orders can be found online.

The most recent Order (No. 202.17) includes a provision that requires,  effective as of 8 PM on April 17, 2020, any individual over the age of two (and able to medically tolerate a face-covering ) cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain social distance.

It should be noted that notwithstanding reporting to the contrary, this Order does NOT require a mask. Any covering of the mouth and nose is appropriate, and scarves and homemade masks are therefore acceptable. 

While not defined in this Order, according to another announcement by the Governor, social distance requires individuals to keep six feet away from one another.

For condominiums and cooperatives, the other concern is whether the lobby, the laundry room, the elevators and other common areas are considered “public places.” It is clear to us that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the purpose of the Order, any area where individuals from separate apartments might be together would be considered a public place. Therefore, any area outside of the apartments themselves should be considered a public place for these purposes.

In the interest of accomplishing the intent of the Order – to restrict exposure to the COVID-19 virus – Boards should consider adopting a House Rule, or Rule and Regulation, requiring face covering in public places of the building. It would allow Boards to better enforce the policy and to utilize fines or other enforcement provisions permitted by their Lease or By-laws. 

We recommend that all co-ops, condos and apartment buildings distribute information on this Order as soon as possible. 

Armstrong Teasdale attorneys are actively monitoring and providing updates regarding the impact of COVID-19. For additional information, visit Armstrong Teasdale’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

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