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Legislative & Regulatory Update–The Latest Developments

As reported by our Legislative & Governmental Affairs firm, Harter Secrest & Emery:

The Governor has announced that the Capital Region will begin Phase 1 reopening tomorrow and that Western New York began Phase 1 reopening today.  This means that 7 of the 10 regions have begun reopening.  The last three regions, Long Island, Mid-Hudson and New York City are the three remaining regions and have not yet begun reopening and are not likely to start until early June.

The Governor also announced that starting this weekend, for Memorial Day, gatherings for ceremonies of 10 people or less will be allowed at the discretion of local governments. These gatherings are contemplated to be Memorial Day celebrations to honor veterans but may include other ceremonies such as weddings and other religious gatherings.  The gatherings can have no more than 10 individuals, which is per the CDC recommendations.  At this time, there isn’t information detailing if this change is a permanent one or a set definition of what ceremonies are covered.  We will pass along any information we receive.

In other developments related to the phased in re-openings, the Governor stated that 16 hospitals around the State will participate in a hospital pilot program for visitors for hospital patients. All visitors will be time limited and will have to use provided personal protection equipment during their visit.  Additionally, judges and staff in 30 upstate counties will be returning to New York Courts this week.

For those with questions about whether a business in a region can be open or when they will reopen, a link has been added to the New York Forward web site called the “New York Forward Business Reopening Lookup Tool.”  This tool allows you to enter business specific information by category and determine if the business is eligible to reopen.  The tool also provides the applicable public health and safety standards that each business must comply with.  The tool can be found here:

This morning, a federal judge ordered New York State to reinstate the June 23 primary that had been previously canceled.  You may recall that back in April the New York State Board of Elections announced that the Democratic Presidential Primary was being canceled after Senator Bernie Sanders conceded the race to former Vice President Joe Biden. Senator Sanders and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang filed suit saying that the primary should still go forward.  The Board of Elections has announced that they will not appeal this court decision and the primary will occur on June 23.

Finally, it is being reported that the Senate will return to session next Tuesday and Wednesday.  There is no word yet on if the session will be in person or remote, and there is also no set agenda.  However, it is assumed that the agenda will be specifically focused on COVID-19 related bills including legislation related to rent forgiveness.  We will be tracking this very closely, and we will keep you posted if and when we learn of a definitive return and a set agenda.