Timeline of New York Government Actions: 
COVID-19 Response

June 12

Governor Cuomo stated that public pools across the state can open for use at the discretion of local authorities.

June 8:

New York City enters Phase 1 of reopening today. This is the last region in the State to enter this phase. The New York City Department of Buildings released city specific guidance for construction work in Phase 1. Hudson Valley and Long Island regions could reach the Phase 2 this week.

Last week, Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced that outdoor public pools are allowed to operate and have public swimming if the facility follow CDC and State Department of Health Guidelines. We continue to be in touch with other counties to see if similar guidance will be given for their communities.

NY Phase 1 Guidance

NYC Construction Guidance: DOB’s Phase 1 Reopening Guidance and FAQsBuildings Bulletin 2020-010

June 1

Governor Cuomo announced that 5 regions entered Phase 2 of reopening. These regions include: Central NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier. Phase 2 includes the opening of storefront retailers beyond delivery and curbside pick-up.

Areas in the NESPA region including the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson and Long Island are currently in Phase 1. Governor Cuomo has stated that New York City is expected to be approved to enter Phase 1 on Monday, June 8. View the NY State Regional Dashboard here.

NY Phase 1 Guidance

Construction: Summary GuidelinesDetailed GuidelinesSafety Plan Template

Retail: Summary GuidelinesDetailed GuidelinesSafety Plan Template

NY Phase 2 Guidance

Retail: Summary GuidelinesDetailed GuidelinesSafety Plan Template

Offices: Summary GuidelinesDetailed GuidelinesSafety Plan Template

May 28

All regions of the state except New York City are now in Phase 1 of reopening

As of 5/27/20, New York City does not meet the criteria to enter Phase 1 of reopening.  All the other regions within the State have met the criteria.  Currently, there is not clear information on when State will allow those regions in Phase 1 to enter Phase 2.  The State has put out guidance on what businesses will be part of Phase 2 and the requirements that businesses will have to follow.  

Essential & Phase 2 In-Store Retail


May 26

The State has announced more regions can enter Phase 1 of reopening

The State has announced more regions can enter Phase 1 of reopening.  The Mid-Hudson region has been cleared to reopen today and Long Island will enter Phase 1 on Wednesday.  Governor Cuomo announced efforts will focus on getting New York City to hit the necessary milestones so that area can enter Phase 1 in early June.   See below for links to safety guidelines and templates.

Regions Given Approval to Start Reopening; Tools to Make a Reopening Plan for Your Business: 5/18/20

Five regions within New York State have met State requirements to begin Phase 1 reopening. The regions include the Central New York. Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North County and Western New York. View the Region Dashboard here.

The New York Department of Health has stated "Certain low-risk business and recreational activities will be ready to reopen statewide on May 15th, including landscaping and gardening businesses." We are actively advocating for further guidance on this statement and its impact on the Pool and Spa industry throughout NY State.

Phase 1 includes the reopening of construction, manufacturing, and select retail for curbside pickup only. View NY Forward: A guide to reopening New York. While the regions entering Phase 1 on May 15th do not include NESPA territories, it is important to take the time to review safety guidelines that will be required for businesses once they are able to reopen in Phase 1.

The State has put together both mandatory actions and recommended practices for both construction and retail operations.

Safety Guidelines:

Each business reopening must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. This written document does not need to be submitted to State but must be retained onsite and available to provide to the New York State Department of health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.

May 12

Pool Retail Update

Around our region, State and local enforcement officials have taken different approaches to retail operations for the pool and spa industry. NESPA has reviewed guidance from each of our States and it is our position that pool retail stores are essential businesses.

Our goal is to provide you with the information and tools you need to make the best individual decisions for your company. Please review the information below as you consider how your retail business should operate.

Commercial Pool Update

NESPA received the following communication from Empire State Development regarding the spring start-up (opening) and maintenance of Commercial Pools in NY:

The business function of commercial pool maintenance and commercial pool opening for the summer ONLY is an essential business and/or supports an essential business and is not subject to the required 100% workforce reduction pursuant to the revised Executive Order 202.6. However, your business has been designated as essential solely with respect to those employees that must be present at the business location in support of essential business activities.

please note:  Opening refers to the maintenance and service for a commercial pool in preparation for future use.  Commercial pools are still not allowed to be “open” for public or private (e.g., homeowner association) use under current NY State restrictions.  

The Departments of Health in both Suffolk and Nassau Counties in Long Island have also issued similar guidance stating that the opening and maintenance of commercial pools in their jurisdictions is considered an essential service. 

May 4

Governor Cuomo outlined additional details on when regions within the State can reopen.  In addition to guidelines for reopening, Cuomo emphasized that the state will not open at once but will be able based on the specific status of by each region within the State.  Construction, manufacturing and retail stores would be the first businesses to be able to reopen.

Regions that meet the reopening criteria start opening on May 15.  According to state officials, Long Island, New York City, the Mid-Hudson, Capital District, and Western New York were at the highest risk in the state and businesses in those areas could see a later reopening date.

April 16

On April 16th, we received the following communication this evening from Empire State Development:

Businesses that provide “essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other businesses” including general maintenance are deemed essential.  While this does not explicitly mention service related to the opening and maintaining swimming pools, it would include any service to ensure the safety, sanitation and general operations of the residence or building.

The information we provided to the ESD perfectly aligns with the definition laid out above.  Members can click the link below to access copies of the information we provided the state that communicates the industry consensus that pool openings are part of necessary service for safety and sanitation of the residence. It is recommended that you keep a copy of the provided documents in your vehicles to demonstrate why your work is considered essential.

The action is a result of weeks of advocacy done by NESPA, our METRO and Long Island Chapters and PHTA on behalf of our industry.  Once this is announced, we will forward you the complete details from the State.


To access these valuable resources click the links above, log into the website, select the "Info From Government" folder and open NY

This means that companies working in New York must abide by the following:

  • Pool construction is no longer permittedThis includes both currently open construction as well as new construction.
  • Construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.
  • Companies can continue to provide pool & spa service. This includes pool openings.
  • Non‐essential retail businesses must close storefront and brick‐and‐mortar operations. Businesses may continue any online operations. Hardware and home improvement stores are listed as an exception.

April 7

On April 7, 2020 Governor Cuomo extended all restrictions enacted under Executive Order 202 for an additional thirty days until May 7, 2020. View details here.

On March 27, 2020 New York State revised its definition of essential business as to state that

“All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site). “

Under this revised definition

  • Pool construction is no longer permitted. This includes both currently open construction as well as new construction.
  • Construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.
  • Companies can continue to provide pool & spa service.
  • Non‐essential retail businesses must close storefront and brick‐and‐mortar operations. Businesses may continue any online operations. Hardware and home improvement stores are listed as an exception.


  • Pool opening has NOT been determined to be an essential business and does not currently fall under pool/spa maintenance which continues to be an essential business.

While NESPA and PHTA agree that the designation of pool maintenance as essential is correct and consistent with other guidance we have received from the state, it is our position that the failure to designate openings as essential is incorrect and we are currently asking the state to change the statement made in the above email based on the essential nature of the pool opening and start up process.

Full FAQs on this Action - click here

March 22

Based on Governor Cuomo's Executive Order 202.8 (3.20.20), business enterprises in the state are subject to 100% reduction no later than 8 p.m. on March 22nd.  ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES OR ENTITIES, including any for profit or non-profit, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure, are not subject to the in-person restriction.  (Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health).

View the Empire State Development: Guidance for Determining if Your Business is Essential. It is our position that both pool & spa construction and pool & spa service are classified as essential businesses that can continue to operate.

  • Pool & Spa Construction would fall under - 9. Construction
  • Pool & Spa Service would fall under - 11.  Essential Services that maintain safety, sanitation and essential operations of residence

March 20

New York State Announces Workforce Restrictions (effective 3.20.20)
The State of New York announced that all businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely utilize. Each employer shall reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 75% no later than March 20 at 8 p.m. Any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions shall not be subject to the in-person restrictions. This includes construction; vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences.  While we believe the Executive Order clearly exempts our industry, we have submitted an office opinion from the Empire State Development Corporation.