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Published August 4th, 2020

New York Reopening: Showing the World What ‘New York Tough’ Means

The people and health infrastructure of New York have been proven and tested by previous global pandemics, such as Zika, Ebola, and H1N1 influenza - but they have never seen a threat with the scale and speed of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The first case of COVID-19 in the State of New York was confirmed on March 1, 2020; in less than 30 days after the first case, New York was declared the ‘new global epicenter’ of COVID-19. Since then, the State government and its people have continually learned how to combat the deadly virus and employed best public health safety strategies to help curb the outbreak and show what ‘New York Tough’ means.

In the latter part of May 2020, New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, enabled 7 out of 10 New York regions to reopen under a four-phase plan, also known as New York Forward, following the statewide lockdown. This reopening has enabled non-essential businesses and activities that were closed to resume, and essential business to remain open all while ensuring that recommended health and safety practices are properly implemented as they help restart New York’s economy.

In this article, we will tackle:

  • the four phases of reopening New York;
  • the standard protocols and requirements before reopening businesses; and
  • New York reopening plan checklist templates to help business owners comply with state requirements and welcome New Yorkers safely back to their premises.

Metrics and Phases of New York Reopening


Map of the New York State | From


As per the New York Forward plan, New York will reopen on a regional basis, with the state divided into ten regions. A region can only start reopening when it meets seven key public health metrics:

  1. 14-day decline in total hospitalizations;
  2.  14-day decline in hospital deaths;
  3. new hospitalizations under 2 per 100k residents;
  4. at least 30% hospital bed capacity;
  5. at least 30% ICU bed capacity;
  6. 30 per 1k residents tested monthly; and
  7. 30 contact tracers per 100k residents.

Once a region meets the reopening criteria, the region can reopen industries in the following Phases, with at least two weeks in between each Phase:

Phase 1

Construction; Manufacturing; Wholesale Trade; select Retail (for curbside pickup or drop-off only); Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

Phase 2

Professional services; Finance and insurance; Retail; Administrative support; Real estate, Rental and leasing

Phase 3

Restaurants and Food services.

Phase 4

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, and Education.

The New York Forward reopening plan prioritizes businesses and activities considered to have a greater economic impact and inherently lower risks of infection for workers and customers, followed by businesses considered to have less economic impact and those that present a higher risk of workplace or customer infection spread. As of July 2020, the entire state of New York has been cleared by global health experts and has allowed all New York regions to enter Phase 4, the final phase of the state’s reopening plan.

Reopening New York: What are the standard protocols?

The New York state government has encouraged all businesses to complete their reopening plans immediately to ensure that they are well-equipped once their business and their respective regions are ready to reopen. Here are the standard protocols and metrics that should be included as part of planning for the reopening New York businesses:

  • Strict cleaning and sanitation standards must be met.
  • Social-distancing protocols must be in place and workplace hours and shifts must be designed so as to reduce the density of people working at the business.
  • Mandatory face masks for all employees and customers in situations where there is frequent person-to-person contact.
  • Coronavirus cases must be traced, tracked, and reported to regional public-health officials.
  • Nonessential travel must be restricted for employees.
  • Liability processes must be in place

Reopening Plan Checklists to Help New York Move Forward

The gradual restart of New York is in its final phase. However, business owners must not become complacent.  They should remain strict with the implementation of safety protocols according to the state’s reopening guidelines.  The path to the full recovery may be long and daunting, but with discipline, cooperation, and proper planning, New Yorkers can surpass the storm – just like how they have done with previous pandemic outbreaks.

To help New Yorkers safely move forward, business owners can use free reopening plan and checklist templates from iAuditor by SafetyCulture and help give their employees and customers peace of mind as the state gets back on track.

Disclaimer: Please note that these checklists are hypothetical examples and provide basic information only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.


John Derick Flores

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Dirk is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture who has 3+ years of experience being a Safety Officer in an international airline. Over the course of his tenure, he worked on projects involving training management, ramp safety inspections, quality & safety certification audits, and safety promotion programs. Further, he is interested in maximizing the power of technology to help make the world a better place.