• COVID-19 Industry Response Tips

  • We are closely monitoring the coronavirus and its potential impact on CRBRA members. We hope to be a resource for you by relaying information and tips that relate to your business. We've been in contact with building departments within CRBRA's jurisdiction about their plans for permitting and inspections. Click here for responses received.

  • Payroll Protection Loan guide for small businesses

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Sunday, March 29, 2020
    Dear Kristen,

    As we await more details from the government about the Paycheck Protection Program, a component of the CARES Act, I wanted to bring your attention to a small business guide and checklist that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put together. This program is going to provide 100-percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses that may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. Loans can be up to 2.5 times the borrower’s average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million. While the application is not yet available, this guide will help prepare you for filing when it does become available. 
    Click here to view the guide & checklist
    As always, we'll keep you informed of any new information we receive. Stay safe and healthy.

    Best regards,

    Gregg Biché, President 

    One local municipality defines what constitutes "unsafe"

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Saturday, March 28, 2020
    Dear fellow member,

    As we informed you yesterday, the Governor and Empire State Development updated their guidance regarding Executive Order 202.6 as it applies to construction. We have interpreted this to mean the following:
    1. Your jobs in-progress may continue until they are safe to shut down. It is at the discretion of the local building department to determine how they define "safe." Most municipalities define an unsafe work site in their Town code. Below is a portion of the definition found in the Town of Bethlehem’s code.

      "When in his own opinion or upon receipt of information that a building is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the general public: is open at the doorways and windows, making it accessible to and an object of attraction to minors under 18 years of age, as well as to vagrants and other trespassers; is or may become a place of rodent infestation; presents any other danger to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public; or is unfit for the purposes for which it may lawfully be used, the Building Inspector shall cause or make an inspection thereof and report in writing to the Town Board his findings and recommendations in regard to its repair or demolition and removal."

      I also reached out to Bethlehem's building inspector and he confirmed that homes under construction need a roof installed, windows and doors installed or boarded up with plywood. CRBRA is contacting local municipalities for their interpretation, but it's hard to say what response we'll get over the weekend. I suggest you visit your town's website to read their definition and reach out to your local building department contacts as well.
       
    2. Sites that remain open must practice social distancing protocols. 
       
    3. Jobs may continue with a single worker onsite at a time.
       
    4. This took immediate effect.
    In other news, the President signed the CARES Act which includes several provisions to help small businesses. Check out this article from NAHB for more details. I'm especially interested in the Paycheck Protection Program within the Act. I found this article from Permanent Equity to be extremely helpful at explaining what's entailed. Both of these articles are also available on the helpful links page of our COVID-19 Resources page at CRBRA.com. 

    We'll continue to monitor the situation and will keep you informed.

    Best regards,

    Gregg Biché, President 

    Governor changes definition of essential construction

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Friday, March 27, 2020
    Dear fellow member,

    This morning, Empire State Development updated their Executive Order 202.6 guidance as it applies to construction. It now reads: 
    1. All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).
    2. Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
    3. For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.
    NYSBA held an emergency phone call for leadership this morning. I want to share my takeaways about this new language:
    • Your jobs in-progress may continue until they are safe to shut down.
    • Sites that remain open must practice social distancing protocols. 
    • Jobs may continue with a single worker onsite at a time.
    • Since this is an update to the Executive Order, it takes effect immediately and remains in effect until April 22. 
    CRBRA is committed to being your trusted resource during this challenging time. Visit the COVID-19 section of our website for updates, to see the information we've gathered from local municipalities about their permitting and inspection processes, a collection of helpful links, and to contact us with any questions you may have. Anytime we have new information, we'll pass it along to you.

    Stay safe.

    Best regards,

    Gregg Biché, President 

    NYSBA announced residential construction is essential

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Wednesday, March 25, 2020
    Dear fellow member,

    We're very happy to share that the New York State Builders Association (NYSBA) just announced they are confident residential building construction is considered an “Essential Business” per Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.6.

    As you continue working at the level you're comfortable with, please use your best judgment, practice social distancing and limit the size of your crews. 

    CRBRA continues to strive to be a trusted resource for you. Visit the COVID-19 section of our website for updates, to see the information we've gathered from local municipalities about their permitting and inspection processes, a collection of helpful links, and to contact us with any questions you may have. 

    Stay safe.

    Best regards,

    Gregg Biché, President 

    Monday, March 23

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Monday, March 23, 2020
    Dear CRBRA member,

    As you know from our previous emails, CRBRA and NYSBA have concerns about the vague nature of the guidance provided by Empire State Development in regard to construction as an essential business. The guidance reads: "9) Construction including: skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers; other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes." The gray area lies in what's considered essential infrastructure during a state-declared disaster. Knowing the wide range of work done by our members, we don't feel comfortable making a blanket assertion without further guidance.

    While the requests from CRBRA and NYSBA on behalf of members haven't received a response, I submitted the request form for my business, Quality PM, on Friday and received the essential designation late last night. You can submit the designation request form for your business here. Our understanding is that the forms are better received when they come from individual companies where you're able to detail what it is that makes the jobs you're working on essential. For example, I detailed how I would be leaving customers without functioning kitchens and bathrooms when they're housebound for an undetermined amount of time.

    If you are working, please post signs at your job site with safety precautions, practice social distancing (the CDC website has several great flyers available), limit the size of your crews on job sites and send home anyone who shows any signs of illness.   

    Finally, know that CRBRA continues to be a resource and advocate for you and our industry. In the COVID-19 tab on CRBRA.com, we've also added a form you can use to let us know of any questions you might have that we can try to help you with. We'll be in touch when we have an update for you. 

    Best regards,

    Gregg Biché, President 

    Saturday, March 21

    COVID-19 Industry Response Update from CRBRA
    Saturday, March 21, 2020
    Dear fellow member,

    I'm writing to assure you that we continue to seek clarification about how Governor Cuomo is classifying essential construction in Executive Order 202.7. Unfortunately, at the time of sending this email, we have not gotten a response to our requests. 

    According to the order, the 100% work-from-home mandate will take effect tomorrow, Sunday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Until we receive clarification, the best suggestion we can give you is to consult with your legal counsel for their interpretation of the Executive Order as it applies to your business. If you do keep your business open, it's advisable to post COVID-19 warnings in plain view and practice social distancing. 

    While there's so much right now that is beyond our control, there is something you can do to help: donate your supply of PPE safety gear to local health care professionals who are in desperate need. I donated what I had in my hometown of Bethlehem and they were very appreciative. I was also very proud to see members like SEFCU and Bennett Contracting also making donations. This just goes to show that no matter the crisis that may be going on, we are all community-minded and will get through this together.

    When we receive clarification or any information that will be of help to you, we will be sure to send you another email and post about it on the CRBRA Facebook page. Until then, I wish you good health.

    Best regards,
    Gregg Biché, President 

    Friday, March 20

    Confusion surrounds Empire State Development's guidance for essential vs. non-essential
    Earlier today, Gov. Cuomo ordered that 100% of non-essential businesses shutdown on-site work. The Empire State Development website offers guidance for determining "essential business." Number nine on the list reads: "Construction including: skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers; and other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes." 

    Unfortunately, this wording has only created more confusion. We had hoped to delay sending this email until we had received clarification, but we've been hearing from so many of you that we felt it was important to communicate with you despite not having it.

    What we can tell you is this:
    1) The New York State Builders Association (NYSBA) has applied to Empire State Development for a waiver that keeps residential construction an essential business.
    2) The wording "skilled trades"  is open-ended and could easily be applicable to your workers in the field.
    3) The effective date and time has not yet been announced. We have heard rumors it takes effect at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22.

    We'll continue to monitor the situation, communicate with NYSBA and inform you of any developments. 
     
    Small Business Disaster Loans available in New York State
    New York State was declared a disaster area making small businesses in all counties to apply for disaster loan assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Program details are as follows:
    • Your business must be experiencing a business loss due to COVID-19
    • Entities may qualify for loans up to $2 million
    • Maximum unsecured loan amount is $25,000
    • Interest rates: 3.75% for small business; 2.75% for private nonprofits
    • Term – up to 30 years
    • Use of funds: working capital, paying fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred
    • Loans are NOT intended to replace lost sales or profits or for expansion
    • There is no obligation to take the loan if offered
    • Applicants can have an existing SBA loan or other SBA loan and still qualify for this disaster loan. Loans cannot be consolidated.

    The NYS Small Business Development Center is offering informational webinars on the topic and is also available to provide assistance with submitting applications. On one of these webinars this afternoon, the presenter suggested businesses thinking about it should start the application process immediately. There is no fee to apply and you aren't required to take the funds. The typical application process takes 21 days, but is expected to take longer due to the number of applications. For more information, click here.

     

    Critical need for safety masks
    Our friends at the Capital Region Chamber were contacted by area hospitals about the dangerously low supply of masks appropriate for treating COVID-19. It's very likely the supply will be depleted today. We've heard from many of you that you're donating the masks you have and would urge anyone else who has them to do the same. Please contact John Dow at john.dow@trinity-health.orgor 518-525-6798 to coordinate the donation.


    Thursday, March 19

    Last night, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.6 which mandated most businesses go to a 50-percent workforce effective Friday, March 20, 2020. However, construction was listed as an essential business and is therefore exempt from this mandate! Click here to read the Executive Order. 

    The state legislature also passed the Paid Sick Leave bill last night requiring employers to provide paid time off for employees impacted by the coronavirus and it awaits the Governor's signature to take effect. The final version of the bill did not include language about the permanent paid sick leave as was originally expected. The provisions are based on company size and net income as follows:

    Companies of 10 or fewer employees with net income less than $1 million:

    • Guarantee workers access to paid family leave and short-term disability benefits during quarantine, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

    Companies of 10 or fewer employees with net income over $1 million:

    • At least five days of paid sick leave, job protection during the quarantine order and guarantee workers access to paid family leave and short-term disability benefits, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

    Companies with 11-99 employees:

    • At least five days of paid sick leave, job protection during the quarantine order and guarantee workers access to paid family leave and short-term disability benefits, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

    Companies with 100 employees or more (and all public employers):

    • Provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection during the quarantine order.

     

    Wednesday, March 18

    NY State to Pass New Emergency Paid Leave for COVID-19
    Today the New York State Legislature is expected to pass, and the Governor is expected to sign, legislation that adopts two separate and distinct sick leave programs in New York State that will impact local businesses: 1) a provision that provides paid time off for employees impacted by the coronavirus, which will go into effect immediately; and 2) a new, permanent law requiring all employers to provide sick leave to their employees that takes effect 180 days after the Governor signs the bill. Key provisions of the bill include:

    • Employers of 10 or fewer as of January 1, 2020 with net income less than $1 million, must provide unpaid sick time during an employee’s period of ordered quarantine or isolation,
    • Employers of 10 or fewer with net income of more than $1 million, which must provide five days of paid sick leave during an employee’s period of ordered quarantine or isolation;
    • Employers of 11 to 99 must provide five days of paid sick leave;
    • Employers of 100 or more must provide up to fourteen days of paid sick leave;
    • Public employers must provide at least fourteen days of paid sick leave;
    • Benefits will not be available to employees deemed asymptomatic or not yet diagnosed with any medical condition and are physically able to work, through remote access or other means.

    More details to come as made available by the State.

    Gov. Cuomo: Businesses must operate at 50-percent on-site workforce
    Governor Cuomo announced this afternoon that he plans to make an executive order later today that will require New York State businesses to have no more than 50% of their workforce report to work outside of the home. The rule, effective Friday, March 20, will not apply to essential services At this time, essential services include the shipping industry, warehouses, grocery and food production, pharmacies, media, banks and related financial institutions, and other businesses essential to supply chain. More details will be added to CRBRA.com/COVID-19 as they are made available.
     
    CRBRA collecting local building department procedures
    In our continued efforts to be of value to you, CRBRA has contacted local building departments inquiring about their plans to proceed with issuing permits and performing inspections. As responses come in, the information will be added to the COVID-19 section of the website. Our hope is that best practices will emerge from the responses that can be shared as guidance to neighboring municipalities. To view the responses, click here.
     
    NYSBA Voter Voice: Tell legislators to remove prevailing wage mandates from budget
    On Tuesday, NYSBA issued a Voter Voice after hearing speculation that Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature will try to pass a budget and head home by the end of this week. The governor’s budget still contains language regarding prevailing wage that would be detrimental to our industry. Prevailing wage mandates should be negotiated during an open legislative session with input from everyone. It should not be implemented by legislative leaders at a time when New Yorkers are being urged to stay home. Click here to respond to the Voter Voice in less than one minute.

  • Tuesday, March 17

    NAHB: Coronavirus Could Affect OSHA Compliance on Home Building Sites

    Excerpt: "NAHB has identified at least two areas of concern for home builders in the short term, both related to compliance with OSHA standards: The availability of N95 respirators for those working with respirable silica dust and OSHA reporting standards on injuries and illnesses in the workplace."


    Monday, March 16

    1. Ensure that sick employees don’t come to work. Workers in this industry are notorious for working despite being sick. Be abundantly clear that this is not acceptable in this environment. Make a plan for how you intend to handle an employee who needs to be quarantined. For a list of what's required of you as a business, click here.

    2. Contact your critical supply chain vendors. Discuss their plans for dealing with potential disruption and consider stocking up on commonly used items within reason. Strongly consider ordering your next few weeks of job materials needed and schedule them to be delivered now.

    3. Prepare for negative economic impacts. 

    • Capital: Create, confirm, or expand your line of credit. Learn more about disaster assistance loans here.

    • Staffing: Develop staffing plans for varying levels of customers and revenue (what does an 80% scenario plan look like?).

    • Insurance: Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage and options.

    4. Communicate with your customers. Keep in contact with your current jobs discussing what you may need to do if additional shut downs occur, schedules are delayed or employees are sick. 

    5. Identify critical services or operations. What are the critical services your company offers? What can only be performed on-site and in person versus remotely? What services or operations are not critical and could be suspended or rescheduled for the short-term?

    One of the best things about CRBRA is the collaborative nature of our members. Communicate with each other, share best practices and support each other in the interest of your collective success.

    In the meantime, we'll continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed by updating this page on our website, by email and on our social media channels. Stay safe and healthy!