As New York City begins its phased reopening, will the protocols boards adopted to protect residents and staff be slowly phased out?
“I think what you’re going to find is that what is in play now is going to stay with us for a very long time,” says Peter Lehr, the director of management at Kaled Management. “I have a commercial co-op that limits four people to an elevator at any given time. They’re going to require masks when you enter the building – which I think every building is going to start doing. And I think that’s going to be the rule until at least Christmas. This is the new norm.”
Adam Stern, the senior vice president at Akam Management, agrees. “Social distancing is going to be with us for quite some time,” he predicts. “Most buildings don’t plan on easing up restrictions – limiting the number of people in an elevator; social distancing on roof decks; not opening gyms and fitness centers. We have to obey the state guidelines, but it's a question of being flexible enough while still being able to protect the residents.”
Then there’s the question of whether boards should allow housekeepers, domestic workers, nannies and home health aides into the building. “It depends on the individual request,” says Mitchell Berg, the managing director and senior vice president at Maxwell-Kates, “If the resident is aged or infirm, caregivers are considered essential workers. [Nonessential workers] is where subjectivity comes in. We have boards that are really adamant that no, they're not going to lighten up these rules just yet. They're monitoring it, and they're just not comfortable.”
At a webinar in late May, Eric Goidel, a senior partner at the law firm Borah Goldstein Altschuler Nahins & Goidel, walked clients and other professionals through a sample house rule that lays out comprehensive policies boards should consider adopting in case of future emergencies. “I know that some attorneys have been recommending that you drop in specific COVID-19 house rules,” Goidel says. “But from my perspective, that's just one particular emergency event that we could have, among many others.”