Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the New York State Department of Health is now accepting applications from businesses seeking to operate as cannabinoid hemp processors, retailers, or distributors. The applications are available on the Cannabinoid Hemp Program’s webpage here.

In October, Governor Cuomo announced that the Department filed proposed regulations to regulate cannabinoid hemp products in New York State. Cannabinoid hemp products include many CBD products currently available for purchase, including tinctures, vaporizations, oils, topicals, pills, capsules, and food or beverages.

“Opening the application process for businesses looking to be part of the growing hemp industry in New York State is a critical step in the process of expanding our economy and building back better. Licensing gives processors, distributors, and retailers the ability to help ensure the hemp industry’s long-term viability,” Governor Cuomo said. “This exciting opportunity to be a part of the state’s regulated Cannabinoid Hemp Program is great news for farmers and consumers.”

Update on FY 2022 State Budget Financial Plan

Governor Cuomo also issued an update on New York’s FY 2022 State Financial Plan. The updated financial plan shows the State’s economic recovery has improved in comparison to the initial forecast, with personal income tax collections increasing $1.6 billion annually.

While this is an improvement, the damage done by the pandemic to the State’s revenue remains devastating – the State still expects revenue to remain down $33 billion over four years compared to projections made just before the pandemic struck in February 2020. That includes $9.9 billion in losses in the current fiscal year (FY 2021) and $8.2 billion in FY 2022. The need for federal funding to offset these losses remains.

Billiard Halls, Weddings and Catered Events

Governor Cuomo announced that as New York’s hospitalization and COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline, New York is issuing guidance to begin re-opening additional sectors of the economy. Specifically, billiard halls statewide and movie theaters in New York City are now permitted to re-open. Additionally, guidance is also being released for weddings and catered events which are scheduled to resume on March 15.

“From day one, we have said that our COVID recovery is not a choice between public health and the economy – it has to be both – and in New York, we’re demonstrating how to do that safely and smartly,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all New Yorkers, our infection rate is now the lowest we’ve seen in three months, and accordingly we will now be reopening various recreational activities across the state including billiard halls, weddings, and movie theaters in New York City. As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy and focus our efforts on building our state back better than it was before.”

In addition, movie theaters that have been closed in any remaining parts of the state may also open in accordance with the guidance.

Specific summary guidelines for each industry are as follows:

OPENING MARCH 5:

Movie Theaters in New York City

  • Venues are restricted to 25 percent capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen at a time.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
  • Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
  • Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic, and seating to ensure compliance.
  • Enhanced air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards must be met by theaters.
  • This action brings New York City movie theaters in line with movie theaters throughout the rest of the state.

Billiard/Pool Halls

  • Halls are restricted to 50 percent capacity outside of New York City; 35 percent capacity in New York City
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Mandatory social distancing must be enforced, or physical barriers between parties of patrons/players must be installed.
  • Each party must be assigned to a table to avoid comingling.
  • Staff must rigorously clean and disinfect any rented or shared equipment between use.

BEGINNING MARCH 15:

Weddings and Catered Events

  • Venues are restricted to 50 capacity, with no more than 150 people per event.
  • All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
  • Sign-in with contact information required to assist with potential contact tracing.
  • Venues must notify local health departments of large events, above the social gathering limit, in advance.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines.

Expanded Guidelines for Nursing Home Visitations

Governor Cuomo also announced new, expanded guidelines for visitation of residents in nursing home facilities in accordance with CMS and CDC guidelines to begin on February 26. The Department of Health recommends that visitors take a rapid test before entry into the facility, and DOH will provide rapid tests to nursing homes to facilitate their ability to test visitors on-site and at no cost. Visitation continues to depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.

“One of the most devastating aspects of this virus has been how it separated families from their loved ones, making an already difficult situation even harder to bear,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the dedication of New Yorkers, we’re now at a point where we can begin to expand nursing home visitations under strict guidelines to protect the health and safety of residents.”

For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates between 5-10 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is required and visitors must either present with a negative COVID-19 test, either PCR or rapid, within 72 hours or facilities may utilize rapid tests to meet the requirement. For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates below 5 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is strongly encouraged and rapid tests may be utilized. Alternatively, visitors may provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination no less than 14 days from the date of the visit and no more than 90 days prior to the visit. Visitation will not be permitted if the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than ten percent. Compassionate care visits are always permitted.

Based on the needs of residents and a facility’s structure, visitation can be conducted in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces, and outdoors. The number of visitors to the nursing home must not exceed 20 percent of the resident census at any time and the number of visitors and time allocated to visitation should be considerate of this capacity limitation.

Full DOH guidance for nursing home visitation can be found here.