Pursuant to an April 15, 2020 Order from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, all businesses remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic that have employees going into work, must follow certain health and safety practices to limit further spread/exposure.
Some are common sense, but some are much more stringent such as requiring temperature screenings of employees before each shift and requiring all customers/members of the public to wear a mask before entering the business’ premises. Essential businesses that are continuing in-person operations should be advised and speak with labor/employment counsel about adopting best practices and emergency work safety policies to ensure compliance.
Below is an overview of the requirements, which will go into effect and be enforceable as of 8:00 pm on April 19, 2020:
A) A business that is authorized to maintain in-person operations, other than health care providers, shall implement, as applicable, the following social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols:
- clean and disinfect high- touch areas routinely in accordance with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in spaces that are accessible to customers, tenants, or other individuals;
- maintain pre-existing cleaning protocols established by the business for all other areas of the building;
- establish protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID- 19, including:
- close off areas visited by the person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. Open outside doors and windows and use ventilation fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas including but not limited to employee break rooms, conference or training rooms and dining facilities, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines used by the ill person, focusing especially on frequently touched areas;
- identify employees that were in close contact (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes) with a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated;
- If the employee remains asymptomatic, the person should adhere to the practices set out by the CDC in its April 8, 2020 Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practice for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19;
- If the employee becomes sick during the work day, the person should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in the employee’s workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on other employees who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 48 hours prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the workplace with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed;
- Promptly notify employees who were close contacts of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the business premises, consistent with applicable confidentiality laws; and
- ensure that the business has a sufficient number of employees to perform the above protocols effectively and timely;
- implement temperature screening before an employee enters the business, prior to the start of each shift or, for employees who do not work shifts, before the employee starts work, and send employees home that have an elevated temperature or fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Ensure employees practice social distancing while waiting to have temperatures screened;
- employees who have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home;
- sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments. Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who do not return to work as set forth above.
- stagger work start and stop times for employees when practicable to prevent gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the premises at the same time;
- provide sufficient amount of space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, while arranging seating to have employees facing forward and not across from each other in eating and break settings;
- stagger employee break times to reduce the number of employees on break at any given time so that appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet may be followed;
- limit persons in employee common areas (such as locker or break rooms, dining facilities, training or conference rooms) at any one time to the number of employees that can maintain a social distance of 6 feet;
- conduct meetings and trainings virtually (i.e., by phone or through the internet). If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time, and maintain a social distance of 6 feet;
- provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes and ensure that common areas (including but not limited to break rooms, locker rooms, dining facilities, rest rooms, conference or training rooms) are cleaned on a regular basis, including between any shifts;
- provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with Department of Health guidance;
- ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform all measures listed effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of the public and employees;
- ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of personnel to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet;
- prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business; and
- ensure that all employees are made aware of these required procedures by communicating them, either orally or in writing, in their native or preferred language, as well as in English or by a methodology that allows them to understand.
B) In addition to the above, the following measures apply to businesses, other than health care providers, that serve the public within a building or a defined area:
- where feasible, businesses should conduct business with the public by appointment only and to the extent that this is not feasible, businesses must limit occupancy to no greater than 50% of the number stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy at any given time, as necessary to reduce crowding in the business, and must maintain a social distance of 6 feet at check-out and counter lines, and must place signage throughout each site to mandate social distancing for both customers and employees;
- based on the building size and number of employees, alter hours of business so that the business has sufficient time to clean or to restock or both;
- install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance of 6 feet between lines;
- encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or pick-up options;
- designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component;
- require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods; however, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition;
- in businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register, or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. Clean the previously open registers and the surrounding area, including credit card machines, following each rotation;
- schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and
- where carts and handbaskets are available for customers’ use, assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before they become available to each customer entering the premises.
Any questions please contact, Gabriel V. Celii at Offit/Kurman, email@example.com.
ABOUT GABE CELII
Mr. Celii devotes his practice to representing businesses and municipal entities navigating labor and employment disputes ranging from wage and hour litigation and workplace discrimination defense to labor negotiations and the resolution of grievances. During his representation of Philadelphia-area Townships and Counties, he has successfully defended claims brought against public officials and advised municipalities on the drafting of local ordinances, such as Police Pension DROP amendments.
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