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REVISED ALERT: Impact on New York Dealership Operations of Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE Executive Order – Sales Now Deemed “Essential” with Restrictions

On Friday, March 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order (“PAUSE,” Executive Order No. 202.8: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency).

PAUSE (Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone) mandates that employers reduce the in-person workforce at any non-essential business by 100% effective by 8 p.m. on Sunday, March, 22. The initial guidance for PAUSE issued by the Governor specified auto repair as an excluded essential business not subject to the 100% reduction. On March 26, the Governor added automobile sales – with certain restrictions – to the list of essential services allowed to continue operations during the shutdown.  Specifically, automotive sales must be conducted remotely or electronically, meaning either over the phone or over the internet. Vehicles may be delivered and leases can be returned in person “by appointment only.”   Thus, dealership sales departments may not be open to the general public.  Deliveries and interactions are to occur only: i) Outside a dealership; ii) In a service bay cleaned in accordance with Coronavirus Prevention Guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC Guidelines); iii) In a designated room cleaned in accordance with CDC Guidelines; or iv) At the customer’s home or business.  Additionally, dealers should apply workplace health and social distancing requirements to all appointments for vehicle deliveries, lease returns, and paperwork exchanges, meaning that any personal interactions must follow CDC Guidelines and New York State requirements. 
 
The PAUSE guidance further clarifies that “With respect to businesses or entities that operate or provide both essential and non-essential services, supplies, or support, only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions.”
 
Businesses can request excluded services to be designated as essential by filing a request with the Empire State Development Corporation (a hotlink is included in the PAUSE Guidance URL below). Amongst the points outlined in the Governor’s announcement of PAUSE, the following are specifically applicable to the operation of essential automobile dealership operations: 

  1. Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
  2. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
  3. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
  4. Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
  5. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.

Governor Cuomo has stated that mandatory closures and civil penalties will be enforced against businesses not complying with PAUSE. New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has urged employees to file complaints against employers who violate the Governor’s official directives, including PAUSE.
 
PAUSE Guidance can be found here.
 
For further information see here and here.
 
The New York AG’s comments, reproduced in a legislative update sent out by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association on March 21, can be found here.
 

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