NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed what he’s calling a first-in-the-nation “HERO Act” into law.
It aims to permanently protect workers from diseases like COVID-19, but businesses say it’s too much regulation.READ MORE: President Biden Makes Vaccination Push As Concerns Over Delta Variant Increase
A celebratory press conference from supporters was held just hours after Cuomo signed the New York “Health and Essential Rights Act,” or “NY HERO Act,” into law.
“This is a moment for celebration,” one speaker said.
The act permanently requires all private businesses to meet certain safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID and any future airborne diseases.
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“What we did with the passage of this law is save lives,” said New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
It mandates the state come up with standards for things like employee health screenings and PPE.
It also mandates employers with more than 10 staffers must allow them to form labor-management workplace safety committees. Staffers can sue if safety measures aren’t followed, and fines go up to $10,000.READ MORE: New York Scaling Back Mass COVID Vaccination Sites, Adding Pop-Ups At Early Voting Locations
All of this is welcome news for employees like Maritza Ovalles with the Nail Salon Workers Coalition.
“If we don’t have the proper protections, our lives are at risk. Not just ours, but our families’,” she told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes in Spanish.
But many in the business community oppose more regulations, including the Mansion restaurant on the Upper East Side, which lost its beloved chef to COVID early in the pandemic.
Owner John Philips and others say reasonable protections are necessary, but this law is too much.
“There is an overreach. It is starting to look like the state wants to have a hand in running my business,” he said.
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“We just need some time to breathe. These businesses have been in the worst time of their professional lives,” said Tom Grech, with the Queens Chamber of Commerce.MORE NEWS: New Jersey Hits COVID Vaccination Milestone 2 Weeks Early
This law does not include any funding for businesses to implement the requirements. Lawmakers say small businesses were taken care of in the recently passed state budget and through the federal stimulus.
Lawmakers say they plan to introduce amendments, including giving employers 30 days to fix any issues that arise.