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Co-op and Condo Staffs Deemed "Essential" Personnel

New York City

Building staffs, essential workers, coronavirus, doormen, co-ops and condos.

Collecting and removing trash and recyclables is an "essential" job during pandemic.

March 24, 2020

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo modified Executive Order 202.6, requiring that all businesses and not-for-profit entities operating in New York must reduce their in-person workforce by 100 percent, essentially ordering most New Yorkers to work from home as a way of slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But the order failed to spell out which employees are "essential" and which ones are not.

"We have been asked by many of our cooperative and condominium boards whether the Executive Order is applicable to building staffs," the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas writes in a newsletter. "The Empire State Development Corporation (the “EDC”) has issued guidance as to the services and functions it deems to be essential, and these include employees who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations for residential properties. The EDC specifically recognized that doormen, janitors, cleaning and maintenance employees and those who are involved in the collection, processing and disposal of trash and recyclables are considered to provide essential services."

At increased risk to themselves, the staffs at most co-ops and condos throughout the five boroughs find themselves scrambling to institute hygienic measures, the New York Times reports. They are also enforcing daily changing guidelines, establishing ad hoc networks of notification and caring for the elderly and vulnerable.

Jimmy Brennan, 40, the resident manager of a cooperative building on Fifth Avenue, says of his nine-member staff: "We're not a hazmat crew, but we're doing the best we can."

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