Reopening Your Business: Next Steps of COVID-19
On April 16, 2020, the White House issued Opening Up America Again, federal guidelines to reopen the U.S. economy through a three-phase approach. State and local governments are also beginning to create their own frameworks to gradually lift stay-at-home orders, with important differences in each locality. Business leaders are now preparing to resume business operations under strict regulations. With employees coming back to work and businesses looking to adjust to the post-COVID conditions, it is time to get your plan in place.
What you need to know to reopen your business
The Opening Up America Again plan is designed to help state and local officials when reopening their economies and determining when each non-essential business reopens, public areas reopen, as well as updating state orders.
Phase one of the plan is currently starting and has three main criteria:
- Symptoms – Downward trajectory of COVID-like and Flu-like symptoms reported within a 14-day period
- Downward trajectory of positive tests within a 14-day period
- Treat all patients without crisis care and robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing
During Phase One employers are recommended to:
- Continue to have employees work remotely, whenever possible and feasible with business operations
- If possible, return to work in phases instead of all at once.
- Close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols
- Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel
- Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population
There are specific employer types that have specific guidelines:
- Schools and organized youth activities (e.g., daycare, camp) that are currently closed should remain closed.
- Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.
- Large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.
- Elective surgeries can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.
- Gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.
- Bars should remain closed.
What you need to do when your state starts to reopen
The CDC released guidance to assist employers in making a decision regarding reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC and OSHA have several general guidelines in place currently for businesses, be sure these are all in place before your doors open.
You will also need to post the mandatory Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) poster in a visible place. Where employees will remain working from home, send by email or post to company intraweb or employee website.
Cover your bases with this Return to Work Checklist.
How to effectively communicate to your returning employees when you reopen your business
Communicate frequently and as transparently as possible with employees:
- Provide expected timelines for recalling/rehiring employees.
- Provide returning employees with recall or offer letters.
If employees were laid off or furloughed, have the necessary documentation to return back to work. Download the furlough recall letter template here. Make sure you also confirm all payroll aspects are correct. If you outsource your payroll, make them aware business will be opening and any payroll changes there may be. You should also educate employees on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at home and at work (follow CDC recommendations).
Each industry is different and their approach to reopening will be different. These are general terms to consider when reopening your business, but are not specific to one industry. We know the urge to get back to work, but taking the necessary steps to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is increasingly important when you open your doors back up.