(Reuters) - The New York State Bar Association on Wednesday issued guidance on how law firms can safely start to reopen their offices, once the state’s government relaxes shutdown measures in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Even if firms are allowed to reopen, employees who can effectively work from home should be encouraged to do so until the threat of the coronavirus has further receded, the bar said in a statement on Wednesday. Its other guidance includes: installing barriers for receptionists to sit behind, developing an employee testing plan, discouraging public transit use, restricting visitors and staggering the number of people in the office.
Law firms in some parts of New York state may be allowed to start reopening as early as June under a plan from Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. That doesn’t include offices in the New York City metropolitan area, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. New York has been the state hardest hit so far by the pandemic.
The state’s possible piecemeal reopening is one reason why every firm will “have to consider what’s appropriate in their situation” rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all plan, said David Schraver, a member of the NYSBA working group that drafted the guidance, in an interview with Reuters.
Factors such as whether a firm is the only business in a building, whether its employees need to take an elevator or public transit and its office headcount should also play a role in reopening plans, said Schraver, who is of counsel in Nixon Peabody’s Rochester office.