The holiday season may be over, but the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us. Co-op and condo boards learned valuable lessons about limiting social gatherings over the holidays, and they should put those lessons to use as they prepare for what’s sure to be a trying year ahead.
Given the current state of affairs in New York City and much of the rest of the nation, co-op and condo boards should continue to discourage private social gatherings that involve bringing outside family, friends or other guests into the building. The pernicious fact is that the novel coronavirus has a long incubation period, and people can be contagious without showing symptoms or having any idea that they’re infected. Even people who recently tested negative can be unwittingly carrying – and spreading – the disease.
Before the holidays, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that private social gatherings be limited to 10 people. To protect the health of building residents, staff and guests, co-op and condo boards should make sure that this order continues to be strictly enforced. To this end, boards should require that a list of guests, with contact information, be provided to the front desk in advance of any social event.
Guests who arrive without masks or who are not on the pre-submitted guest list should not be permitted to enter the building. Doormen should be empowered to turn away guests who arrive with visible symptoms of illness. Management should also put protocols in place to ensure that there is no overcrowding in the lobby or elevators during high-traffic periods before and after gatherings.
While these measures may reduce the chance that their buildings play host to super-spreader events, there is little that co-op and condo boards can do to prevent their residents and staff from attending large gatherings elsewhere. How can boards reduce the chances that the virus will spread in their buildings in the days and weeks after social events? The key is to maintain the rigorous protocols that boards instituted during the initial surge of the virus last spring: universal mask-wearing rules, social distancing in common areas and regular cleanings. If they have not already done so, boards should also invest in measures to make sure that their common areas (such as lobbies, hallways and laundry rooms) are properly ventilated and that the air is being filtered.
As we all wait for distribution of a vaccine, the most important thing boards can do is to help ensure that their residents and staff will be here to enjoy a “normal” holiday season at the end of this year.
William D. McCracken is a partner at the law firm Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer.