New York Local News, Politics, Sports & Business

Lift the NY HERO Act

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gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have been pushing New York businesses to reopen and office workers to return to their workplaces since the start of the new year. But the NY HERO Act, a little-known law enacted quietly last year, is the proverbial fly in the ointment.

When Hochul declared COVID-19 an airborne infectious disease in September, as The Post reported at the time, she triggered a host of “onerous new [workplace] demands on businesses statewide — while exempting government agencies.” The law requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans.

Last month, her health commissioner continued that designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease presenting a serious risk to the public health.”

Many companies are confused on what restrictions remain and what the state Department of Labor regulations mean. The state DOL confirmed to The Post that the law applies only to private business and that government agencies are exempt.

The act micromanages the smallest details of business hygiene, including “sneezing etiquette” and “shaking out soiled laundry,” and empowers workers to sue their employers for up to $20,000 for minor infractions.

The DOL rules are vague and seem to put the onus on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite Hochul’s spokeswoman’s denial, the Labor Department regs and model plan rely on CDC guidance that imposes 6 feet of social distancing in the workplace. The guidance adds the meaningless caveat “when possible.”

Business owners, human resources and corporate attorneys in the know are skittish given that workers can sue their employers for up to $20,000 if they feel the company’s plan puts them at risk.

And with many businesses simply struggling to survive, the HERO Act isn’t on their radar. Companies — especially in the hospitality industry — have also been contending with Hochul’s vaccine, mask and other mandates.

Our “compassionate capitalist” mayor needs to use his bully pulpit to advocate lifting all the remaining pandemic mandates and guidelines on behalf of the city’s beleaguered business community.

If Hochul is serious about New York’s economic recovery, she should lift the COVID designation and the HERO Act restrictions.

If this isn’t already in progress, it needs to be.

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