NYS Dept of Health Sends Letter to Camp Operators


In a letter sent to overnight camp operators, District Director Edward R. Bartos outlined for the camps the restrictions that remain in place for these camps even if they register to operate as other forms of businesses.

“Overnight children’s programs are considered non-essential businesses,” Bartos wrote. “Executive Order 202.8 requires all non-essential businesses to reduce their in-person workforce by 100%. Accordingly, the prohibition against overnight children’s camps applies even if the camp alters its operations to offer programs of less than 72 consecutive hours.”

The notification from the Department of Health is understood to forewarn the camps not to seek any loopholes in the closure of overnight camps, and to preclude them from altering their program in order to continue operation under the guise of an alternate type of business.

The Department of Health letter references that many overnight camps have been applying for permits to operate Temporary Residences, which are considered essential services and are thus allowed to operate under the executive order. Nevertheless, it goes on to warn that these types of businesses are still subject to restrictions, and must adhere to guidelines pertaining to social distancing, use of face coverings, food service, swimming pool use and gathering size limitations contingent on the phase of reopening of the region in which the camp is located.

“The responsible party must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the letter informed the operators.

Besides for the Safety Plan, Mr. Bartos reminded the Temporary Residence operators that all children staying overnight at their facility must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and the operator may not accept responsibility for overnight supervision of a child. In addition, meals served at the facility are restricted and prohibit congregate meal service, i.e. eating together in one gathering. The letter instructed that “individuals seated at the same table must be members of the same party (but may be from different households), with a maximum of 10 people per table.”

The letter from the Health Dept closed with a dire warning that businesses operating in violation of the Executive Order are liable to be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 per violation per day along with other civil penalties and closure, and may be denied permits to operate in future seasons.

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