FIA Event:  Metro Reception, April 23, 2020 is cancelled.

3/16/20, At this time, due to the CDC recommendations and escalating concerns of mass gatherings that extends into April, and considering New York’s move to disallow mass gatherings over 25 people, FIA unfortunately will need to cancel the Metro Reception event on April 23, 2020 at Tappan Hill, Tarrytown, NY.  Our hope is when we get to the other side of this to conduct our events.

March 17, 2020
New York State Department of Environmental Protection as agreed to further delay the enforcement of New York’s ban on single-use plastic bags until May 15, 2020.  You can see this update at the NYS DEC website here

Documents

Paid Sick Proposal Breakdown
(Adobe PDF File)

CORONAVIRUS: NY UPDATE

CORONAVIRUS: NY UPDATE

DEVELOPMENTS 4/3

· The Governor just released an interactive website. The site provides comprehensive COVID-19 testing date and is found here.

· FMI Guidance document on “Emergency Prevention Measures to Achieve Physical (Social) Distancing in Food Manufacturing Facilities as Related to COVID-19” can be found on the FIANY website.

· The NYS Department of Ag and Markets has provided guidance for how to deliver groceries in a sanitary manner: https://agriculture.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/04/interimguidanceforfooddelivery.pdf.


DEVELOPMENTS 4/1

· The NYC Department of Small Business Services has organized a spreadsheet with details and contact information for suppliers and manufacturers of non-medical face masks.

· The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program established in NYC provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships and independent contractors— are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries. LINK

· NYSDOH has converted the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster into multiple languages, to access this information click here. Please print these posters and post them at your business.

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/31

 • P-EBT SNAP Benefits - Federal legislation provided for “P-EBT” SNAP benefits, which expands current SNAP benefits for those families with children that participated in free and reduced priced lunch programs in NYS as school are closed. Additionally it allows states to issue benefits to families with free and reduced price lunch participation that were not currently receiving SNAP benefits.

 NY will be issuing those benefits and is currently working with the federal government on guidance. There is no timeline at this point as to when they will be going out.

 NY currently has 875,000 families with school-age children currently receiving SNAP benefits. There would be an additional approximate number of 825,000 families to identify.

• As NY works with the federal government on this, these benefits are unlikely to be rolled into current SNAP distribution schedule.

 NY has waived all current SNAP work requirements statewide, and this goes into full effect April 1st.

• CR-SNAP WAIVER - NY has filed a plan with the federal government for the CR-SNAP waiver. The federal legislation allowed states to take SNAP benefits to the maximum benefit level for the household.

 These supplements equate to an estimated additional $102 million statewide

• This averages out to an additional $145 in SNAP benefits for 48% of current recipients (52% of current NY SNAP recipients are at the current maximum allotment).

 Estimated roll out of the additional allotment is April 14th in NYC and April 13th rest of state. This will be a rolling distribution over two weeks.

 Working Paper Issue for Minors - Please see FIANT website for the guidance document from NY State Education Department on the process for minors that wish to work to receive their working papers. We are still working on the minor working hour issue.

 ESDC updated their guidance document re: essential construction. Q14: If my business supports construction and other projects within the energy industry, which projects are considered essential?

ANSWER: For this critical infrastructure sector, essential projects will be considered necessary if they are needed to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, provide support for basic human services (e.g. health, safety, housing, food, and other components of well-being), or proceed to a point where the project can be safely suspended. These activities must continue to comply with current guidance for maintaining a clean and safe work environment, as well as appropriate social distancing, as issued by the Department of Health

·• The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has launched a platform called “virtual Workforce1” to help grocers and other food businesses hire employees. Please click on the following link to complete the required form If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Trofimov (strofimov@sbs.nyc.gov) and Antonio Tseng (atseng@sbs.nyc.gov), both SBS employees.

 Beginning March 27,, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) will also serve grocery, food and pharmacy workers. For workers in these vital industries who have no other means of childcare, the RECs are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday) and will ensure that students have access to remote learning as well as art, music and other activities. If your child is a New York City resident and you would like to enroll in one of these centers, please complete this REC Enrollment Form. Please complete this form for each child you are seeking to enroll. You will then receive an email confirming your child’s center assignment.

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/28 -3/30

• Clarification on Governor’s Construction Ban – it does NOT apply to construction related to food retail: Construction related to a retail food store - is a service that is deemed “essential”. In an effort to further control the spread of COVID-19 in our State, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO)202.6. This executive order continues to exempt food processing (including but not limited those supplying goods and services to this industry such as agricultural operations, agri businesses, etc.) and retail grocery stores(including gas stations and convenience stores),from all restrictions imposed by emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency. NOTE: EO 202.6 also exempts businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these essential businesses

• CDC issued a travel advisory for NY, CT and NJ. That is found here This is an advisory and it explicitly states that it does not apply to essential business. Governor Cuomo stated that the advisory is not anything different than what was already in place in NY for the past 10 days.

• Governor Cuomo also ordered non-essential NYS workers to remain remote/at-home through April 15th, the original order was to April 1st .

• For questions regarding COVID-19 Risk Assessment/Management. This link is CDC guidance on this specific issue

• NY Dept of Ag and Markets have released a COVID19 guidance document for the Ag community. (The document can be found under documents section above.)

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/27/20

• State Department of Transportation has confirmed that all expired CDL licenses (March 1st or later) are EXTENDED until further notice.

• CDC issued a press release clarifying the confusion related to NY travel and “quarantine”. This clarifying statement is 100% in line to the position/guidance of FIA since comments were made by the Trump administration on Tuesday night. The link to the clarifying statement is here. It reiterates that any guidance to self-quarantine does not apply to “critical transportation and delivery workers…”.

• The Governor further defined essential business as it relates to construction. That updated guidance is found here. The administration has verified that any construction needed or occurring currently at an essential business is exempt by the changes made in this updated language. All vendors, third party providers, contracted work, construction, maintenance, etc. is allowed

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/26/20

• FIANY circulated a memo to legislators and the media, requesting that New York’s leaders issue public service messaging on the importance, and obligation for social distancing in stores. The memo can be found on our website. Thus far a number of state legislators have shared the memo with their networks.

• US Senate reached an agreement, and passed the economic relief CARES Act for individuals and businesses. A breakdown of the law can be found on our website.

• According to NYC Economic Development Corporation, today retail food workers were recognized as part of the city’s emergency response. As a result, the city is offering childcare services at Regional Enrichment Centers for the children of retail food workers. Please see our website for an overview of the Regional Enrichment Center Program.

U.S. Dept. of Labor Publishes Guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave AndExpanded Family and Medical Leave Under The Families First CoronavirusResponse Act Fact Sheet for Employees -Fact Sheet for Employers -FAQs

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/24

• From Governor Cuomo’s press briefing this AM, highlevel points: - Apex of the virus is forecasted for 5/1, but the curve is increasing, new apex is forecasted for 14 to 21 days. - NYC expected to have a density reduction plan in place by noon today. - Still pushing feds to use of federal Defense Production Act. Not using power is inexplicable to Cuomo. - The Governor is urging HHS Secretary Azar to release 20,000 ventilators to the State. - Once tests are available to determine if someone has already recovered from COVID The Governor is discussing bringing lower risk people back into the workforce, and recovered people - ramp up the economy with available workers.

• The Department of Environmental Conservation has issued the following guidance on bottle redemption in NY. In short, while stores are expected to continue to the best of their ability to redeem bottles, the state will not be enforcing the law at this time. - “DEC recognizes that unintended consequences of the COVID-19 response may make full compliance with requirements challenging for certain facilities and result in temporary disruptions to required redemption operations. While continuing the redemption of containers is considered an essential service and is expected to continue, DEC will not actively enforce violations at facilities unable to fulfill redemption operations due to resource restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. Please email the Department with any questions nybottle@dec.ny.gov.” -The full language can be found on the DEC website. Additionally DEC reached this decision based on the following guidance from CDC and SWANA LINK and LINK

• Department of Ag and Markets has confirmed to us that New York will NOT be pre-loading SNAP benefits for April prior to April. 

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/22- 23

• The FDA has posted guidance in relation to recommended workplace social distancing; protocol for the event in which an employee tests positive for COVID19; and the official CDC recommendation that grocery store employees should NOT wear masks. The guidance can be found here 

• Today NYS Department of Tax and Finance issued their guidance for those that experienced or are experiencing difficulties in remitting sales tax. This guidance is in regards to the abatement of penalties and interest for sales and use tax due to the Covid-19 outbreak.For smaller businesses/operators, independents, CStores, etc. this information could be critical. That guidance is found here

DEVELOPMENTS 3/21

• Please see upload on FIA website entitled “Essential worker Status for Company Letterhead”. We recommend editing said document with your own company letterhead, and having contractors etc carry with them. There is NO curfew and NO expectation or protocol that says workers need a badge or credentials.

• NY Executive Order 202.8 has been released and is here. This is the exec order from 3/20 which announced the reduction of the workforce by 100% for nonessential businesses.This closing takes effect at 8pm on 3/22, and there is no date that it will be lifted at this time.

• Governor Cuomo’s address on 3/21 announced that four sites are being considered for temporary hospitals. He also gave an update on the Coronavirus numbers in NY and pleaded with the public to stay home. Full presentation notes can be read here.

 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/20

• The Governor has announced that 100% workforce reduction. He has put New York on “pause”. This takes effect Sunday evening 3/22. The executive order will require the following: - Remain indoors, can go outside for solitary exercise - No non-essential gatherings unless part of essential business/essential workforce - Do not visit households with multiple people - All vulnerable people should wear a mask - Do not take public transportation unless urgent and necessary - social distancing These provisions will be enforced and non-essential businesses are subject to civil fines.

If there are questions regarding if a business is essential or if a type of business wants to apply to be essential, visit ESDC website here

• Essential retail including - grocery stores including all food and beverage stores - pharmacies - convenience stores - farmer’s markets - gas stations - restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery) - hardware and building material stores - beverage industry

• NYS is in desperate need of masks and other supplies. If any business/company can contribute please contact ESDC (Eric Gertler) at 212-803-3100 or Simonida Subotic who works at the Executive Chamber at 646-522-8477

• Cuomo announced that State Income tax will mirror Federal change to 7/15

• Cuomo also announced that business sales tax late payments will have late penalties and interest waived

• FDA has issued guidance for the temporary production of hand sanitizer. FIA is establlishing lines of communication with potential vendors. Guidance document can be found uploaded on FIA’s website.

• Guidance from DEC has confirmed that stores are NOT allowed to refuse customers to carry resusable bags into the store. This refusal would be in violation of the law governing retail and bags. DEC recommends that stores instead request that customers pack their own bags in the instance where they bring their own reusable bag.

• The full list of executive orders to date can be found here

*Please note that if an order was presented by Cuomo in the AM, it may take 24 hours to appear on the website or for formal language to be issued.

• DOH has issued a guidance on gathering. Public spaces and public and private entities. This document should be carried by third party contractors and providers of essential businesses. 

DEVELOPMENTS 3/19

· Cuomo announced that he will be issuing an order that would further reduce the workforce to 25%, which is a 75% mandatory reduction in the workforce.

Additionally the order will include:

- 90 Day Mortgage relief, based on financial hardship. Waiving mortgage payments for 90 days.

- Suspending foreclosures.

- Waiving overdraft fees for ATMs and Credit Cards.

- Reiterated commitment to keep NYC out of a stay-in-place order.

 

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE TO FOLLOW

· There was a clarification to the Executive Order last night to ensure that gas stations and convenience stores are explicitly listed. That updated language is: This executive order continues to exempt food processing (including but not limited those supplying goods and services to this industry such as agricultural operations, agri businesses, etc.) and retail grocery stores (including gas stations and convenience stores), from all restrictions imposed by emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency. NOTE: EO 202.6 also exempts businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these essential businesses, see except provided below.

With respect to retail food and pharmacy in malls, where the store does not have an outside entrance, the administration has informed FIA that they are also exempt from the mall closing order.

· Executive orders at the local level will not be allowed during this state of emergency. This nullifies Rockland County’s order to limit the quantity of items customers may buy.

DEVELOPMENTS 3/18

● Per the Governor’s executive order 3/18- Mandatory statewide, all businesses must adhere to no more than 50% workforce on premises. The Executive Order will exempt essential services, grocery, food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc. 

● NY with NJ, CT and PA have all agreed to close retail shopping malls. The closer takes effect at 8 pm on March 19th. Shopping malls are defined as in excess of 100,000 sq. ft as available for lease. All stores located within shopping malls, which have their own external entrances located within the shopping malls, separate from general mall entrance may remain open.

● New York State has not imposed any travel restrictions and all industries essential to the food supply chain, including grocery stores, gas stations, retail food stores, food processors and related food businesses, etc., are exempt from the workforce reduction guidance issued today. Please see the guidance and exemptions here

● President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed to a temporary travel ban across the border for non-essential travel. Trade is exempt from this ban.

· As requested by an FIA member today. The policy and regulations around refunds/rainchecks

· Rockland County Executive Order which limits retail sale to two, of any item on this restricted list (please see website uploads for full list PDF and executive order)

Note: FIA is working closely with the Governor’s office to prevent local actions like these

· Two email addresses have been provided to direct concerns around. For supply chain issues: foodsupplychain@usda.gov Any issues related to the crisis in general as it pertains to grocery stores: crisismanagement@fmi.org

· The Senate and the Assembly passed Paid Sick Leave legislation specific only to the COVID19 crisis. The breakdown of the law can be found on our website.

· The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has adopted an emergency rule (copy attached), effective immediately, making it an unconscionable trade practice for a merchant to sell or offer for sale “covered goods or services” with an “excessive price increase” during an imminent threat to public health. The full order can be read on our website.


DEVELOPMENTS 3/15 to 3/17

· New York State Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to further delay the enforcement of New York’s ban on single-use plastic bags until May 15, 2020. You can see this update at the NYS DEC website here

· The Governor issued an executive order that, among other items, limited the operations of bars and restaurants to delivery and take- out only. This executive order was made public on 3/16 and is found here

· Note that that the mass gathering guidance does not apply to private businesses and retail food stores are also exempt from this guidance.

· From Dept of Ag and Markets with regard to food donations from restaurants/bars/etc. that have now had their operations restricted:

- “Prior to a restaurant sending unwanted food to a food bank or retail food store, foods should be designated as a donation, with all attempts made to donate such foods to a food bank. If such attempts fail, labels that state “for restaurant use only” should be removed, crossed out or blacked out. Donated foods must be handled and stored safely, prior to delivery to their final destination.”

· The State Department of Agriculture and Markets this morning informed FIA on our daily call that the above order DOES apply to dine-in facilities/food service areas within grocery stores. They do not want people sitting and eating within a grocery store. These services can remain open and be grab and go or home delivered only.

- The café area can be used by employees provided that the area is roped off, chairs are placed on the tables when not in use, employees still practice social distancing and clear signage is posted that designates the area an employee break area only, not for customer use.”

· The Governor introduced a proposal for Paid Sick Leave. The proposal is two parts, part 1 deals with paid sick leave specifically in relation to the Corona Virus. Part 2 relates to standard paid sick leave proposal that he has extracted from the budget proposal. The bill can be read here. A summary was sent to all members and can also be viewed on our website.

· We expect the Cuomo Administration to issue guidance specific to retail food/food supply chain, etc. soon. This guidance is expected to strengthen our industries position in light of any local action that could be considered or undertaken. We will post when we receive.

DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK 3/7-3/15

● All non-essential state employees are to stay home from Rockland County south as of 3/15

● The NYS Capitol is closed to all visitors as of 3/14

● NY DMV offices are appointment only as of 3/15

● The Governor and the legislature will attempt to reach a budget agreement this week, they have until April 1st to do so.

● The Department of Ag and Markets issued guidance received specific for food manufacturing and food retail with regards to cleanliness/food safety. The guidance can be read here

● The seven day waiting period for unemployment insurance has been waived.

● No utilities can turn off services for those that cannot pay bills due to the health crisis.

● All events of 500 + must be cancelled. Businesses with a capacity less than 500 may only fill to half of their rated-capacity. Guidance can be viewed here. We have verified with the administration that this DOES NOT apply to grocery stores and pharmacies.

● Travel has been banned for 30 days to and from European countries for foreign nationals. Exemptions in place for US Citizens and permanent residents. Although stringent screening and quarantine requirements will apply. Effective 3/13

● SUNY and CUNY schools will all be closed beginning March 19th for the remainder of the semester with exceptions for those who have unique circumstances.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AND DRIVERS

Per a call between Mike Durant and the Cuomo administration on 3/14, the administration have agreed to communicate and coordinate if the situation evolves into any travel restrictions. While none are anticipated at this time, there are extremely sensitive and mindful of our industry and the services we provide to New Yorkers during this crisis.

STATE: It is the Cuomo Administration's position that the Executive Order 202 (March 7th) which formally declared a State of Emergency in New York language that states: this declaration satisfies the requirements of 49 C.F.R. 390.23(a)(l)(A), which provides relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FM CSR). Such relief from the FM CSR is necessary to ensure that crews are available as needed.

This language officially eases all hours of service regulations and weight limits for commercial trucking for INTRA-STATE driving. The full text can be viewed here 

FEDERAL: The federal State of Emergency declared yesterday similar provisions with regards to INTER-STATE driving. A waiver for NY was accepted by the Federal Motor of Carrier Safety Administration specific to hours of service. The full federal declaration can be viewed here

FMCSA's declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

● Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

● Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.

● Food for emergency restocking of stores.

● Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.

● Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.

● Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services

 

CONTAINMENT AREA: NEW ROCHELLE

Cuomo announced a containment area in New Rochelle beginning

March 12th until Wednesday March 25th.

● The containment area is roughly a three-mile radius around the center of the coronavirus cluster in Westchester County which includes most of the City of New Rochelle and enters into Tuckahoe and Eastchester.

● Grocery stores in the containment area WILL NOT be closed.

● Public facilities (schools, churches, etc.) will be closed.

● The National Guard will be deployed to the containment area to deliver food to homes of those quarantined and to help conduct a deep clean of public spaces.

● The press conference DID NOT identify the exact starting point for the containment area.

● Out of the 173 total NY confirmed cases, 108 are in Westchester County

● The Governor stated that residents who live within the containment area will be free to leave their homes and the area as long as they have not been ordered to be quarantined.

IMPACT ON STORES

GENERAL OPERATIONS:

Many questions have come in to FIA regarding state guidance on business operations. FIA sent a letter to Governor Cuomo on March 11th regarding Covid-19 and the grocery industry industry. It indicates a willingness to be engaged and supportive of any state plans as the situation evolves and cautions against imposing any new regulations, mandates, laws, etc. that could adversely impact the viability of our industry.

The letter can be read above (documents section). 

- - - -

As outlined above, the Department of Ag and Markets has issued a guidance document specific to food safety. This can be read above (documents section). We will continue to update you as we receive more information.

- - - -

PLASTIC BAGS:

FIA has spoken with the State DEC regarding plastic bags. Our formal request to further extend non-enforcement across the board is being considered. While we do not have a timeline to a decision, please note that state agencies are dealing with a number of public health/safety issues at this time and we still have two weeks until April 1st. But they do understand that the consumer behavior this week changed dramatically and it is an issue that needs to be examined.

SNAP AND WIC RESTOCKING REQUIREMENTS

Our partners at FMI are working at a federal level on this engagement. FIA as also echoed these requests at the state level.

WIC

FMI is working with federal lawmakers on potentially implementing a temporary moratorium on WIC stocking requirements, which may create challenges for some retailers as customers stockpile supplies. A copy of FMI's WIC Stocking moratorium proposal is linked here, and please feel free to use language from this as you speak to your state WIC departments. We know many of you are already reaching out to your state regarding vendor monitoring on stocking requirements.

For example, Jan Gee in Washington State shared with us that her WIC department told her: "Washington State, at this time, will not be conducting vendor monitors. Given the COVID-19 outbreak, our focus is primarily on supporting our vendors and participants. We appreciate your communication and concern in ensuring compliance with Washington WIC's guidelines and want to assure there will be no findings regarding the minimum stocking requirement. We have made an exemption request to FNS and are awaiting a response."

SNAP

FMI is also working with lawmakers to ensure whatever solution(s) they select will not necessitate reprogramming for our members or require significant labor. Below are some possible solutions:

1. P-SNAP: This was created during H1N1 and is triggered when local schools are closed for five or more days. Families whose children participate in the school lunch program would qualify for additional SNAP benefits. (See a press release sent out this evening on a proposal from Senate Democrat leaders where P-SNAP is suggested.)

2. There is also an idea to expand P-SNAP to included households without kids on school lunches.

3. There is another idea to modify (temporarily) D-SNAP. Currently, D-SNAP is only triggered after a Presidential Disaster Declaration. One idea is to temporarily expand it to cover pandemics for households in affected areas. How the designated affected areas will be determined is yet to be figured out.

4. There has been some interest expressed in expanding the summer feeding EBT cards that are used in certain areas. We have raised the challenges this would present. These cards are limited to a WIC-like food package and would require significant programming for our members.

FIA serving NY Grocery Industry for 120 Years!

  • FIA's Mission Statement:
    To serve as the networking catalyst for FIA’s retail, wholesale and supplier members to conduct business more effectively and efficiently.

    Annual Membership Includes:
  • Government Liaison;
  • Three “complimentary” Regional Trade Reception Events around New York state, in Rochester, Metro area and Albany;
  • Participation in FIA's Annual Trade Summit;
  • Guaranteed Appointments with Retailers;
  • FoodScan- FIA's Weekly Newsletter