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All Hands on Deck: Emergency Work during COVID-19 Crisis

How to navigate filing for emergency staging and temporary hospital projects.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases in New York City appears to be leveling off as of mid-April, the NYC hospital system is still at near-max capacity.

This has resulted in a number of temporary hospitals and emergency staging areas, set up in places like the Javits Center (considered the largest hospital in the country treating this virus) and Central Park.

But more are still needed, and fast. With so much construction put on hold for the time being, this is the perfect time for firms to step up and help out.

Temporary Structures Procedure

While new establishments would normally have to file for a new Certificate of Occupation/Operation, any emergency staging or temporary hospitals fall under “Emergency Work,” (as per Administrative Code 28-111) requiring a different filing process.

  1. File letter for Temporary Use Permit (TUP) with the NYC DOB office, which will coordinate with the appropriate borough office. This permit will cover legal occupancy for patients in the facility.
  2. File appropriate Alteration application (A2 or A3) with the appropriate borough office for any physical installations or build out, via DOB HUB or DOB NOW.

Because it’s an emergency, this is one of the rare cases where work may commence without a permit once the temporary use request is submitted and the request to start is noted. However, the application for the temporary use permit must be made within two (2) business days of work’s commencement, and approvals from other agencies, like the DOT, may be required if your structure is situated in the street or beyond property lines.

Temporary Use Permits are issued with the understanding that compliance with all safety, fire protection and egress requirements for use and structure are met, without compromise to any other structures.

Also note, while TUP can only be issued for 90 days, they can be extended for a demonstrable cause. While we all hope the pressure eases on the medical system sooner than that, if you find your temporary hospital is still required beyond 90 days, you can submit an extension request.

Temporary Use Permit Letter

The TUP letter must be submitted by the project’s Registered Design Professional/Applicant of Record, and include the following information:

  • Address where the work is occurring (including Block, Lot, and BIN numbers)
  • Description of work needed
  • Proposed occupancy group
  • Name, license number, telephone and fax number, and/or e-mail address of the licensed contractor performing the work

Additional information and drawings may be needed, depending on the nature of your project.


Emergency tents are a handy temporary solution for hospital crowding, but they come with a particular challenge: the weather. While snow is highly unlikely at this point, torrential rain and gusts are par for the course in a New York Spring, which could quickly turn a safe haven hazardous. Tent projects must:

  1. Designate a responsible person, working under the direct supervision of a licensed professional, to monitor the weather, and
  2. Have an action plan on site for evacuating or removing the tent if warranted by the weather.

Ongoing Healthcare Projects

As of April 10, the DOB has categorized 288 ongoing projects as “Hospital/Healthcare facilities,” which automatically qualify as Essential Work.

But this distinction does not cover work on any healthcare facilities housed within an office building, or healthcare buildings whose primary use is listed as “Office.”

If you are planning on converting a healthcare office into a COVID-19 facility, for instance, or something similar, the Applicant of Record will need to submit an Essential Construction Request on DOB NOW. Until the DOB approves it as Essential, work must be suspended except to secure the work site.

If you’re working on emergency work for a temporary structure and need assistance on how to approach the filing process, please email