State governments around the country are grappling with decisions about reopening businesses. Nevertheless, it is the businesses themselves that will have the final say on if or when they will reopen.
Many owners and managers are chomping at the bit to get back to work if the company has been closed, but there may also be a lot of pressure on this decision: some employees are struggling to pay bills and want to come back while others are concerned about their safety.
There are no federal guidelines about reopening businesses at this point, and it seems unlikely that any will come. California has its plan for reopening, but dates and rules may change, so check here for updated information.
Mistakes to avoid when reopening
Experts suggest that business owners consider these issues as they weigh their options:
Do not assume taking temperatures is smart: There will be logistical issues for doing this (imagine the lines during shift changes at a factory), and companies will need to find a way to keep biometric data private. To avoid purchasing equipment and training staff, hire an outside service to conduct testing.
Don’t assume social distancing protocols will be easy: The physical constraints of a workspace may present huge challenges, and safe distancing by workers may be hard to enforce.
Figure out a plan for using masks: This involves how to wear a mask properly, what is an acceptable mask (do bandanas count?) and how often it should be changed. Businesses will also need to keep masks stocked for employees, which could be a challenge.
A plan for visitors is needed: Regardless of how well the staff follows the rules, it takes just one visitor, delivery person or client to spread the virus. Signs will need to be posted outside of a business to explain any precautions.
This new arrangement will take preparation
Each business presents its list of challenges when it comes time to reopen. Those with questions about regulations and potential exposure to COVID-19 related lawsuits should speak with an experienced business and employment law attorney who can help owners avoid unnecessary mistakes.