On March 17, 2022, New York State’s Commissioner of Health ended the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act. As of that date, private sector employers in New York State are no longer required to implement their workforce safety plans.
The HERO Act was signed into law on May 5, 2021, and began to apply to COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease on September 6, 2021. Employers were required to implement extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act was to protect employees against exposure and disease during a potential airborne infectious disease outbreak.
Although COVID-19 is no longer designated as an airborne infectious disease covered by the HERO Act’s protections, the HERO Act technically remains available for New York State to choose to reactivate its application to COVID-19, or to apply the HERO Act to any other future airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and fall, employers should continue to watch for developments in state, local, and federal workplace health and safety regulations. As of this publication, New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers remains in effect, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams has not provided any further guidance on when this mandate may be withdrawn.