At 8 p.m. on Sunday, New York State was put on PAUSE (Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone), as Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order that requires all nonessential businesses statewide to close in-office personnel functions went into effect. In addition, the order bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason and decreed a 90-day moratorium on any residential or commercial evictions.
“We know the most effective way to reduce the spread of this virus is through social distancing and density reduction measures,” Cuomo said in the announcement. “I have said from the start that any policy decision we make will be based on the facts, and as we get more facts we will calibrate our response accordingly. This executive order builds on the actions we have taken to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the wellbeing of our friends, colleagues and neighbors. But again, I want to remind New Yorkers that the panic we are seeing is outpacing the reality of the virus — and we will get through this period of time together.”
Separately, Cuomo released Executive Order 202.7, allowing the temporary virtual notarization of documents during the crisis. The order is effective March 20 through April 18, 2020.
“We applaud Governor Cuomo for his exemplary leadership during this time of crisis. This Executive Order is an important and sensible step that will shift real estate closing transactions away from traditional person-to-person contact towards a modern, 21st century solution so desperately needed to keep critical parts of our economy moving safely during this time of crisis,” said Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan. “We continue to advocate for additional common-sense solutions and technical advances like these to support our industry and help keep New Yorkers safe. It is our civic responsibility to ensure that New Yorkers take every measure possible to protect the health and safety of our community.”
REBNY has published best practice guidelines for the industry, which can be found here.
NAIOP, the commercial real estate development organization, will host webinars on Tuesday and Wednesday regarding COVID-19’s impact on commercial real estate. For more information and to register, visit here.
REBNY is among various real estate organizations that have lobbied the White House and Congress for relief given closures of facilities nationwide.
Noting that the nation’s mall owners have closed the doors on enclosed shopping centers, ICSC president Tom McGee wrote the White House that “These closures are placing an insurmountable strain on our members, and we believe federal government action is urgently needed. In the most immediate term, we believe the federal government should guarantee or directly pay for business interruption coverage for retailers, restaurants and other tenants as well as landlords. While some companies may have third-party insurance, the current crisis is not covered by these policies. This will allow these businesses to continue to pay their employees and suppliers.
“Most importantly, the nearly $400 billion of state and local taxes the shopping center industry generates to support local communities will continue,” McGee’s letter said. “As the ramifications of the crisis become clearer in the near term, the industry will require further federal support associated with outstanding debt obligations as well as tax and regulatory relief.”