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New York City began the first stage of its reopening with Phase I on Monday, June 8th. Barring any unexpected setbacks during Phase I, then Phase II of New York City’s reopening will occur approximately two weeks later, enabling many commercial tenants to return to their offices in a modified capacity. The “new normal” that commercial tenants will be facing as they return to work will be significantly different than anything that they have previously encountered. It will require creativity and imagination on the part of the tenants to adapt their respective physical office spaces and employee work arrangements in order to maintain standards of social distancing and safety guidelines. No tenant’s office set-up or safety standards that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic will be sufficient. 

In addition, tenants now have to question what safety protocols their landlords may adopt for their buildings, which will impact different aspects of the work environment than those adopted by tenants within their own offices. Many protocols that may be implemented by landlords will make dramatic changes in the way the building had been operated. As landlords communicate their new procedures to their tenants prior to reopening, the tenants may question whether they are necessary or appropriate, and be concerned as to their impact on their respective businesses and employees. Therefore, it is important that tenants carefully review their leases to determine what rights they might have available in providing their own input to their landlords.

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