A shareholder in a Manhattan co-op recently returned from Florida, which on July 12 posted a national record of more than 15,000 daily positive COVID-19 tests. The shareholder has some questions. Do the self-quarantine restrictions apply to New York residents returning from hot-spot states? Can a co-op board prevent such a shareholder from entering her apartment, or from leaving the building to buy groceries?
The New York State travel restrictions apply to anyone coming into the state from an affected state who will be staying for more than 24 hours, with exceptions for essential workers, replies the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times. So, yes, the rules include New York residents. As of July 7, the restrictions affected 19 states that are hot spots around the country. Travelers are expected to self-quarantine, following Department of Health guidelines.
A co-op board cannot prohibit a shareholder from entering the building. But state reopening guidelines give building management wide latitude for visitors, so the board may be able to bar entry by a guest coming from an affected state.
“I dealt with a shareholder who had her son and his girlfriend coming up from Florida,” says Steven Sladkus, a partner at the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. “We had management contact the shareholder and say that the guests were more than welcome to stay if they properly quarantined. But if they can’t, they cannot stay here.” The couple subsequently left.
Shareholders returning from one of the 19 affected states should tell building management that they need to self-quarantine, as the building will need to make arrangements to collect trash and deliver food and other essentials. Management does not want shareholders under quarantine walking down the hall to the trash chute, or passing in and out of the lobby to go to the grocery store.
“You certainly have a moral and ethical obligation, and a legal one too, to disclose the fact that you have just returned from a hot-spot state,” Sladkus says.
The self-quarantine rules require the person to stay inside the apartment during the entire 14 days. If the person leaves the apartment during these two weeks, building staff or a neighbor could report the breach to the city Health Department by calling 311, or file a complaint with the state online or by calling 833-789-0470. Violators of the rules could be subject to fines up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 15 days.
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