60 Pages of Reopening Guidance from the CDC

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Patricia Tsipras

May 27, 2020

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again, a 60-page document that sets forth criteria for reopening the economy and tracking cases of COVID-19.  The guidance provides links to the materials that the CDC and others already have published regarding cleaning and sanitizing, worker safety, social distancing, testing, and contact tracing.  Although fully reopening the economy is the goal, the CDC warns that some form of mitigation will remain necessary “until a vaccine or therapeutic drug becomes widely available.”

Likely of greatest interest to employers is Appendix F, which outlines measures for reopening and maintaining safety in five workplace settings – childcare centers, schools and day camps, restaurants and bars, mass transit, and all employers with high-risk workers.

With respect to high-risk workers, the CDC recommends that all employers attempt to identify them – including workers 65 years of age or older and workers with underlying medical conditions – while remaining compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  “Workers at higher risk for severe illness should be encouraged to self-identify, and employers should avoid making unnecessary medical inquiries,” the CDC states.  Rather than reporting to the workplace, high-risk workers should continue to work from home or shelter in place until the third and final phase of reopening.  When/if high-risk workers are in the workplace, employers should assign them to duties that minimize their contact with other employees and with customers, if the employee agrees.  As an example, the CDC suggests having a high-risk worker restock shelves rather than work as a cashier.

The CDC advises all businesses to adhere to these safety measures:

  • Promote healthy hygiene
    • Wash hands
    • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Use cloth face coverings when around others
    • Have adequate supplies of soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and tissues
    • Post signs regarding how to stop the spread of COVID-19, including how to properly wash hands and how to properly wear a face covering
  • Clean, disinfect, and ventilate
    • Regularly clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
    • Avoid using or sharing items that cannot be disinfected easily
    • Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants
    • Make sure that ventilation systems operate properly and, where possible, increase circulation of outdoor air
    • Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features are safe to use following a prolonged facility shutdown
  • Practice social distancing
  • Monitor and prepare
    • Train staff on the safety protocols
    • Encourage workers to stay home if sick
    • Consider performing daily health checks
    • Have a plan for when/if an employee becomes ill at work
  • Offer telework options to workers who are commuting from areas with high rates of infection
  • Implement flexible policies and practices
  • Coordinate with state and local public health officials

And last, but not least, give us a call if you have questions about these guidelines or about getting back to business.

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