COVID-19 Information for Ulster County Businesses

Ulster County Office of Economic Development


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Ulster County Department of Economic Development is available and ready to help our local businesses face these challenging times.  Please call or email us with your concerns and questions.

Ulster County is also requiring businesses fill out this form to certify they have created a plan. The form also includes a one-question survey about Ulster County business needs.

Safety plan templates are available by visiting https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase

A safe reopening of our local economy is a shared responsibility. Local businesses are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Economic Development with their questions and concerns.

New York’s online business portal has an online guide to help your business through the opening process and see if you are eligible.

On this link, businesses can find:

  • The 56 specific categories of industry listed out in Phase 1 of reopening.
  • Guidelines for each industry that include mandatory practices and recommended best practices to provide safe working environments for employees.
  • An affirmation of the guidelines that businesses must submit online as well as print out a hard copy to post conspicuously for all employees to see. NOTE: Essential businesses currently operating must do this as well to continue operating.
  • Business safety plan templates specific to each industry that businesses can use or develop their own in accordance with the guidelines. These safety plans must be printed and posted conspicuously on premises. The business safety plan do not need to be submitted for state approval but must be made available to NYS DOH or local authorities upon inspection. NOTE: Essential businesses currently operating must do this as well to continue operating.

Can my business continue operating? Yes, Essential businesses can continue operating – to check if your business is designated as essential, visit the guidance page on the Empire State Development site here.

If we begin reopening, and infections increase, what will happen? Ulster County is now being monitored by a regional control room. Across New York State, these regional control rooms will monitor the hospitalization rate, death rate, number of new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, testing and contact tracing within its region during reopening and alert the state if the region’s metrics no longer meet the reopening guidelines and adjust the reopening plan for that region accordingly.

FAQ from Small Business Zoom Webinar held on 5/15/20

QUESTION: Will there be protocols for entering spaces in reopening?

ANSWER: New York Forward has industry-specific guidance for reopening protocols.

https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase

Under each industry included in Phase One of Re-opening, there are mandatory guidelines, as well as recommended best practices. Re-opening refers to non-essential businesses and business activities. (Essential businesses and business activities that are open will remain open.) The guidelines include physical distancing, Protective Equipment, Cleaning and Hygiene, Communication and Screening.  If you are not a business in Phase One, the guidelines are not yet posted for you.

QUESTION:  Can the county source PPE for our businesses and can we then buy from the county? 

ANSWER: Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, will not be sourced by the County. It is up to individual businesses to source their own supplies.  The County however has a list of suppliers on the COVID-19 Business page in order to assist our local business in finding supplies.

QUESTION:  Where do businesses such as childcare, the arts and museums, concerts, human services, pre-schools, summer camps, outdoor exercise, gyms, dance studios and restaurants with outdoor spaced seating fit, to name a few?  How do we get answers to these questions?

ANSWER: Since industries in Phases Two, Three and Four are listed simply and don’t have sub-categories, you should email the Regional Control Room at  mhnyf@esd.ny.gov or use the NY Forward Business Reopening Lookup Tool at https://www.businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward

to determine your Phase for re-opening.

QUESTION: Once we have provided Interim Guidance Affirmation and have implemented the plan, what level of inspection and oversight can we expect? In the event of an inspection will there be a pass/fail rating and any potential penalties?

ANSWER: We do not have any guidance on inspections at this time, but do want to stress that following the guidelines is imperative to keeping your employees and customers safe and may impact your business liability if not followed.  Be sure to read the Mandatory Guidelines and Recommended Best Practices provided by the state found under your industry’s Phase.

QUESTION: I would like to know the thoughts on weddings happening this summer for a group of 150 at an outside venue. There is a venue in Highland saying that an August wedding may still occur?

ANSWER: It will depend upon what Phase the wedding industry falls under and if it is open.  The business must read the Mandatory Guidelines and affirm this with NYS before they can bring employees and customers back.

QUESTION: How does the survey fit into essential businesses that have not closed? 

ANSWER: All essential businesses should also complete the survey.

QUESTION:  Will the PPP forgiveness period be extended?  Many businesses are shut down and cannot bring back employees, but they want to as soon as they open.

ANSWER:  PPP money is used to bring employees back on payroll, no matter if open or not.  It is to keep payroll going forward for the 8 weeks after you receive the loan in your bank account from your lender.  The best approach to take is to speak with your lender. 

Gatherings: All non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reasons (e.g. worship services, parties, celebrations, or other social events) are canceled or postponed. 

Face Coverings: Individuals must wear face coverings when they are in a public and are: within six feet of distance from other individuals; or in a situation or setting where they are unable to maintain six feet of distance from other individuals; or in a public or private transportation carrier or for-hire vehicle.

Executive Order 202.16 directs employers to provide essential workers with masks free of charge to wear when interacting with the public.

Schools: All K-12 schools and college facilities statewide will remain closed and continue to provide distance learning, meal delivery and childcare services for the remainder of the school year. Summer school and camp programs are to be determined.

Travelers:  All New York State roads, bridges and tunnels remain open. Essential travel is still allowed. That said, the public is urged to stay home and travel only if necessary. Be sure to practice social distancing. For current status of road and bridge closures in New York State, please visit 511NY.org or call 511.  It is also recommended that you contact the local county health department for the area you plan to visit/travel through.

Food establishments: Restaurants and barscan provide take-out and delivery services for off-premise consumption only. 

Golf at State Parks: Starting Saturday, April 25 golf courses operated by State Parks may be open. Operating schedules will differ across the state. Call the course directly for current information.

Camping & Pavilion/Shelters: All campsite, cabin, and pavilion/shelter reservations are canceled through May 31. All visitors will be issued a full refund. For those with cottage reservations, there is a possibility the stay restriction will be lifted prior to June 1. All new camping and pavilion/shelter reservations for the 2020 season have been suspended until further notice.

Marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers: Allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. 

Landscaping, Gardening, Tennis & Drive-In-Movie Theaters: These and other low-risk business and recreational activities will reopen statewide on May 15.

Memorial Day Ceremonies: NYS will allow Memorial Day ceremonies of 10 people or less statewide, with final decisions about ceremonies being left to local governments. Vehicle-only parades are encouraged in honor of veterans for Memorial Day.

Horserace Tracks and Watkins Glen: Horse racing tracks across the state and Watkins Glen International Racetrack will be allowed to open without fans as of June 1. 

For employee concerns with reopening:

https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/coronavirus-complaints.shtm