* For additional guidance on re-opening your business, you can access the slides and a recording from our 5/20/20 webinar.
The 60-page guidance outlines a three-phased plan for reducing community mitigation measures while protecting vulnerable populations. The guidelines propose that local and state officials use six gating indicators to assess when to move onto another phase of reopening. The gating indicators include: (i) decreases in newly reported COVID-19 cases; (ii) decreases in emergency department visits as well as a robust testing program; (iii) decreases in emergency department and/or outpatient visits for influenza-like illness; (iv) decreases in percentage of SARS-CoV-2 tests positive; (v) treat all patients without crises care; and (vi) robust testing programs.
In addition, the CDC’s guidance provides recommendations to assist businesses as they reopen. The CDC noted that this guidance is meant to supplement the decision tools it released on May 14, 2020. The recommendations are broken down into three steps that correlate to the COVID-19 outbreak. For each step, the CDC provided recommendations on how businesses can safely scale up their operations.
Certain recommendations, however, are applicable to all businesses throughout the three steps. In particular, all businesses should: (i) promote healthy hygiene practices; (ii) intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation; (iii) promote social distancing; (iv) check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19; (v) plan for when an employee becomes sick; and (vi) maintain health operations. These measures are consistent with the CDC’s earlier guidance for reopening the workplace.
For certain industries, the CDC provided a detailed list of recommendations that businesses can implement at each of the three steps. The CDC’s industry-specific guidance is detailed below:
Employers with Workers at High Risk.
In Step 1, businesses should scale up only if the employer can ensure strict social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their works and customers. The CDC recommends that during this step, workers at higher risk for severe illness shelter-in-place. For Step 2, the CDC advises scaling up business only if the employer can ensure moderate social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their workers and customers. Workers at higher risk for severe illness should still shelter in place during this step. Lastly for Step 3, a business should be scaled up only if the employer can ensure limited social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their workers and customers.
Childcare programs and Camps.
When in the first step, childcare programs should be restricted to serve only children of essential workers. In the second step, childcare programs may be expanded to serve all children so long as the business implements social distancing measures. Such measures include restricting the mixing of groups, limiting sharing of items, limiting the size of gatherings, staggering use of communal areas, and staggering arrival and drop-off times. In the third step, childcare programs may remain open for all children so long as the social distancing measures continue to be in place.
Food Service Industry.
In Step 1, the CDC recommends that bars should remain closed and restaurants should be limited to drive-through, curb-side take-out, or delivery. Businesses that are open should provide physical guides to ensure customers remain at least six feet apart in lines. In addition, businesses should consider installing physical barriers at cash registers, or other food pickup areas where maintaining a physical distance of six feet is difficult. In Step 2, the guidance provides that drive-through, delivery, curbside pick-up, and outdoor seating should be prioritized as much as possible. In addition, to limit the amount of time customers are in the restaurant, a business should request that customers wait in their cars away from the establishment, or consider having dine-in customers place their order prior to being seated. Further, restaurants should discontinue using buzzers or pagers to alert customers when they can be seated. Customer occupancy should be reduced as much as possible to ensure parties are at least six feet away from each other. Self-serve food and drink options should also be avoided. In Step 3, the CDC continues to recommend prioritizing drive-through, delivery, curbside pick-up, and outdoor seating as much as possible. The social distancing measures implemented in Step 2 should remain in place during Step 3.
In Step 1, mass transit should restrict ridership to essential critical infrastructure workers. The CDC notes that mass transit is critical for many individuals to receive essential goods and services. As a result, the CDC recommended that in areas needing significant mitigation and mass transit maintains strict social distancing as much as possible. In Step 2, the CDC recommends maintaining social distancing between transit riders and employees. This includes having bus passengers enter and exit through rear doors, closing every other row of seats, and reducing maximum occupancy of buses, subway, and train cars. In Step 3, the CDC encourages maintaining the social distancing measures instituted in Step 2.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Jonathan Krause is a partner in the labor and employment practice group at Klehr Harrison.