Policy Changes for Post-COVID Business Reopening
A lot of Americans have been struggling for months to keep their businesses afloat during the COVID crisis of 2020. As we begin to see some economical relief in some states, it’s important to remember that COVID is not eradicated and many experts are predicting another wave of infectivity as we return to our regular work and leisure activities.
That’s why most states are reopening slowly and implementing conditions that will hopefully help to inhibit infection rates. By adapting to these changing circumstances, you can reopen your business without becoming a hot spot for COVID transmission or losing half your staff to illness and sick leave.
In Part One of this two-part series, you’ll learn about the policy changes you’ll need to make to ensure the safety of your staff, guests, and business in the post-COVID era.
Social Distance Like A Pro
Social distancing is a bit more complicated than simply staying six feet from any other person, but it can be done. First, divide the inhabitable square footage of each room that will be open to staff or guests and divide it by 36. That will tell you the maximum capacity of each room while maintaining social distancing.
Monitor entrances and exits to track current occupant numbers. Stagger breaks to meter traffic in break areas. Create and mark a layout for the flow of traffic that will prevent congestion. Limit the number of guests in lines for the bathroom, registers, service desks, etc. Encourage digital communications as an alternative to physical interactions like purchasing, staff meetings, document sharing, etc.
Get Serious About Handwashing
We’ve all heard that we should be washing our hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds each time, but there’s more you can do to make hand washing more effective and efficient in your workplace. Sanitize and restock handwashing areas more frequently than before throughout the day, as they are being used much more often. Install no-touch dispensers for soap and paper towels and automatic, no-touch faucets for water.
Replace air dryers with paper towel dispensers. While air dryers may seem like the perfect no-touch option, recent research shows that they cover a large area in germs by spreading water from the hands, whereas paper towels absorb the water and deposit any remaining germs in the trash.
Learn more about the equipment you’ll need for effective handwashing and bathroom safety in Reopening the Right Way Part Two: Equipment and Workspace.
Keep it Clean
Cleaning measures have to be upgraded across the board. Make your cleaning practices more frequent and more effective by using dedicated staff and qualified sanitizers/disinfectants in the appropriate areas. Eliminate any shared equipment or workspaces and allow employees to use their cell phones as an alternative to shared computers and desk phones. Close non-essential shared spaces and replace shared storage areas with individual lockers. Read more about the supplies you’ll need to keep your facilities safe and clean in Reopening the Right Way Part Two: Equipment and Workspace.
Stop COVID at the Door
Screening for possible illness at the door is easier than you think. Have an attendant stationed at the door to track occupancy and take everyone’s temperature with a no-touch thermometer before entry. If the temperature is normal (below 99.0), entry should be permitted. It’s also a good idea to have the attendant ask guests if they’ve had any symptoms like coughing or fever in the past few weeks. This isn’t a fail-safe method, as many visitors will deny symptoms even if they’ve had them and many carriers are asymptomatic, but it could potentially prevent many infections.
Implement a policy for employees that will protect them from penalties and job loss when they feel the need to stay home due to suspicion of illness. This policy will protect your business from COVID and staff loss.
Communication is Key
All the policy changes in the world won’t protect your business is no one is aware of them. Schedule a Zoom meeting or send digital messages to every member of staff to discuss your new policies and why they are important. Ensure that everyone read and understood the policies by discussing them afterward and asking questions. Use charts, logs, and posters as reminders, guides, and to track implementation.
Posters and signs can also be used to tell guests and customers about your new policies as well, which is important because many policies require their cooperation. Draw attention to social distancing floor signs with eye-level wall signs that alert visitors to the new protocols. Let them know what your new maximum capacity rules are and ask that they wear a facial covering, gloves, or whatever your region requires inside businesses. Most importantly, let your customers know that while you are open for business, their health and safety is your number one priority.