CDC Guidance for Phased Reopening of Workplaces

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Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) draft guidelines for a 3-phased re-opening plan were released and published by national news media. Although rejected by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, given the often conflicting guidance coming from the White House, it is likely these guidelines would be viewed by some local and state governments as “best practice.” The CDC guidance offers specific direction for childcare programs, schools and day camps, communities of faith, employers with vulnerable workers, restaurants and bars, and mass transit. Vulnerable workers are defined as those over 65 and those with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, hypertension, weakened immunity, diabetes, and kidney disease.

The CDC Guidelines cover eventualities specific to the different work environments and across the three phases of reopening, but generally offer employers guidance at ALL PHASES to:

  • Communicate with local and State authorities to determine current mitigation levels in your community.
  • Protect and support staff, students, customers, vulnerable workers, and congregants, by providing options for telework, virtual learning, and virtual participation, where possible.
    • Offer telework and other options to commuters to reduce travel from higher transmission to lower transmission areas.
  • Offer or assign employees and vulnerable workers duties that minimize contact with others and support 6′ distance.
    • Consider staggering or rotating shifts.
    • Video or Tele-Conference.
    • Restrict access by and reduce contact with nonessential persons.
    • Close and/or limit communal spaces.
    • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards at registers.
    • Change work layouts and workflow to accommodate 6′ distances.
  • Educate on and Enforce Healthy hygiene practices.
    • Frequent and thorough hand-washing.
    • Eliminate face touching.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Wear face masks when near others and/or when physical distancing not possible.
  • Provide effective and adequate personal and surface cleaning supplies.
    • Soap, hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol, tissues, touchless waste cans.
    • Products should meet EPA criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.
  • Clean, sanitize, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g. Handles, supplies).
    • Use gloves for handling and disposing of cleaning waste.
    • Limit shared items (e.g. Menus, condiments).
    • Use touchless options (e.g. Card payments, waste cans and dispensers).
  • Increase air circulation and ventilation in spaces.
  • On notice of employee who is sick or exhibiting common symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath):
    • Send them home immediately with direction to follow CDC’s home isolation guidance,
    • Inform those who have had close contact to self-monitor,
    • Notify local health officials, staff, and customers, and
    • Close off areas used by sick person and clean after 24 hours.
  • Adopt flexible sick leave policies and implement self-reporting process.
  • Ensure other entities and organizations that use the facilities or workspace also follow this guidance.

To learn more about these CDC guidelines and how they may apply to your business or organization, please join us for our quarterly Employment Breakfast at 8am on Tuesday, May 12.   For information on registering for this Zoom event, please visit here.


About the Authors

Onik'a Gilliam-Cathcart

Ms. Gilliam-Cathcart’s practice primarily focuses on conducting investigations concerning claims of discrimination and retaliation, and counseling public and private organizations on a wide range of civil matters with an emphasis on employment-based claims. She also regularly trains and presents to employers on civil rights compliance and employment best practices.

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