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New York State’s laws and regulations for business operations and employment situations are changing rapidly in an effort to flatten the curve. This section contains vital information on changing regulatory requirements. Please note that while many of New York State Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders do exempt food production, processing, farming, and food related business support services, all business operations must still maintain appropriate hygiene standards and implement social distancing to protect workplace health and safety.

  • NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets issued Interim Guidance to Farmers’ Markets on March 31, 2020 for how to remain open for food sales while practicing safe social distancing. Posted on March 31, 2020.
  • NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets releases Interim Guidance for Seafood and Fish Processors to continue to operate as essential businesses during the NYS “On Pause” period. Posted on March 24, 2020.
  • Governor Cuomo’s series of Executive Orders Governor Cuomo’s series of Executive Orders now require all non-essential employers to implement a 100% reduction in density in workplace settings, or essentially moving to a policy of everyone working from home starting March 22, 2020. NYS has been put on “PAUSE” starting March 22, 2020 at 8:00 PM. The 10 Point Pause Policy can be found here. Current Executive Orders require businesses to implement a 75% de-densification measure starting March 20, 2020 until March 22, 2020, when the 100% rule comes into place. The Governor has exempted essential industries from these requirements. Most food, beverage and farm related businesses, agri-businesses in the supply chain like fertilizer and feed mill operations, veterinary practices, and food retail and wholesale businesses such as grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, produce auctions, etc. are EXEMPT from these workplace restrictions.
  • If you are not in one of the designated categories on the ESDC website, you may request a waiver here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
  • ESDC has set up a web portal and FAQ page for individuals and businesses with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions on this website with all COVID-19 info. Posted on March 20, 2020.
  • The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has additional guidance for agricultural and food related businesses, including information on the mass gatherings restrictions policy and how that applies to agriculture and food businesses here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
  • On March 19, 2020, NYS adopted new regulations requiring paid sick leave for employees impacted by COVID-19:
    • Visit this page for employee guidance and instructions on how to apply for sick leave or unemployment insurance.
    • Visit this page for employer guidance on how to comply with the new requirements which are based on the number of employees.
    • Farm and food related businesses are NOT exempt from these required benefits.
  • Craft and Farm Beverage licensees can find information on operational restrictions, as well as new opportunities to directly ship to the consumer at the NYS Liquor Authority’s webpage here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
  • Operate a farmers’ market or farm stand? Find updated COVID-19 food safety and sanitary compliance guidance from NYS here. Posted on March 20, 2020.

Many businesses and organizations have expressed a desire to support New York State as it responds to the virus outbreak. Individuals or groups looking to volunteer or contribute to the State’s effort should contact the Governor’s Office at covid19assistance@exec.ny.gov.


COVID-19 Response

Need information? View the following Cornell CALS and CCE Resource Pages Updated Regularly:


Visit our Food Industry Resources page for links with more information.

Visit our Food Industry FAQs page for more information for the food industry.

Visit our Food Facility COVID-19 Strategy Checklist page for a checklist for food processing companies.

If you have specific questions around ingredients, cleaning/sanitation chemicals and procedures, personnel practices, or other food safety, supply, and distribution changes due to the impact of COVID-19, reach out to our experts:

Our team can also provide process authority services in case you need to change processes and/or formulations due to COVID-19 related challenges. For more information visit the Cornell Food Venture Center and for dairy-related process authority services contact Rob Ralyea (rdr10@cornell.edu).