Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last Updated: 3:30 pm, April 3, 2020
What You Need to Know

While New York State’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue, the state and our agricultural community are working together to keep agricultural products moving, our communities and families fed, and our animals cared for. 

Here is the latest guidance that the agricultural industry needs to know. The Department is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19, and we will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.


Mass Gatherings
  • New York State has not restricted food producing farms, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, retail food stores, food pantries, food banks, and food and beverage manufacturing facilities from being open. These operations are exempt under the mass gatherings guidance as essential food supply chain industries.
Workforce Reduction
  • Food producing farms, fisheries, operations that care for animals, farmers’ markets, food and beverage manufacturers/processors, grocery stores, retail food stores, food pantries, food banks, gas stations, and convenience stores are exempt from the state’s guidance for workforce reduction. 
  • Businesses and vendors supplying goods and services to these essential industries, such as agri-businesses and operations supporting animal health, are also exempt.
  • These businesses are exempt because they are essential food supply chain and related industries. They can continue to operate with their full workforce. 
  • Forest products businesses, including those involved in forestry operations, logging, manufacture of lumber and paper products, and the distribution of those products are essential and exempt from the State's guidance for workforce reduction.
  • Learn more about workforce reductions.
Mall Closings
  • Malls are closed as of March 19, 2020 at 9 pm.
  • However, grocery stores and retail food stores within malls are exempt from this directive and can remain open.
Business Waivers
  • Businesses that are interested in being deemed an essential business should contact [email protected] to learn how to apply for a waiver.
  • At this time, horticulture is designated as a non-essential business (with the exception of nurseries/greenhouses selling food producing plants). Please note that landscaping for maintenance and pest control purposes has been designated as essential. Please consult the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESD) guidance for further information on essential businesses.
  • Guidance issued on March 24, 2020 is no longer applicable. Horticultural operations should continue to check back here for any updates.
Department Inspections
  • New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets staff continue to conduct all food safety, dairy, and plant inspections. 


Additional information and resources on topics like pets, protocols for food manufacturers and retail food stores, obtaining a business waiver, and more are available below.