Over the weekend, Governor Ned Lamont issued rules to allow certain Connecticut businesses to reopen on May 20th. These guidelines aim to provide specific, science-driven directives applicable to all open businesses generally and individual sectors specifically.
While the goal of the State’s phased reopening is to “speed up the pace of economic, educational, and community recovery,” employers will find that the rules place a heavy emphasis on employee and customer safety. This first phase of reopening will serve as a barometer for additional businesses to reopen in the coming months.
In addition to essential services that have remained open, businesses from the following six sectors will be allowed to reopen in a limited capacity on May 20th:
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Restaurants (outdoor only)
- Retail stores and malls
- Museums and zoos (outdoor only)
- University Research
Items Employers Can Focus On Right Now
While we will recap the applicable rules below, here are the items that employers can focus on right now:
- First, create a timeline (without dates) of the items you will need to do to get ready to reopen at least a portion of your business.
- Survey your workplace (and even your workforce) to figure out your needs.
- Conduct a functional assessment and ask yourself questions: What is most critical for your office or business to reopen? How many people will be needed and what percentage of your workforce do you need?
- Understand that a phased reopening is anticipated and that this will take a series of months, not days or even weeks.
- Determine what equipment or materials (such as masks or thermometers) might be needed to reopen.
- Understand that despite the government allowing businesses to reopen, employees will have a series of concerns that will need to be addressed too.
- The rules below should serve as a minimum; many employers will find that they need to go above and beyond to allow employees (and in some cases, customers) to feel comfortable returning to business.
Rules Applicable to All Reopening Businesses
The following rules apply to all businesses and the public in general:
- Capacity limit of 50% for businesses that reopen
- Strict cleaning and disinfection protocols in all settings
- Those who can work from home should continue to do so
- Those in high-risk groups (comorbidities) and over the age of 65 should continue to stay safe and stay home
- Face masks should continue to be worn in public by everyone at all times
- Social gatherings remain restricted to a maximum of five people
All reopening businesses must also do the following:
- Create a plan for reopening and share with all employees
- Appoint a program administrator who is accountable for implementing the rules
- Institute a training program and ensure employee participation
- Training shall be provided at no cost and during work hours
- Weekly refreshers are required
- Develop a cleaning plan and checklists to incorporate these guidelines
- Provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment to all employees
- Customers and patrons must provide their own face masks and wear them at all times possible
- Stagger shifts, breaks, and lunch times to minimize contact between employees
- Install visual social distancing markers
- Complete a thorough cleaning of the facility prior to reopening including but not limited to bathrooms, tools, and equipment
- Ensure employees are washing hands regularly
- Clean and disinfect bathrooms multiple times a day and hourly during busy times; keep a cleaning log
- Make hand sanitizer available at the entrance and make sanitizer/wipes available near commonly used surfaces
- Increase ventilation by using central air or opening doors and windows
- Post clear signage that reinforces new policies, including social distancing protocols, PPE requirements, and that employees or customers experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 may not enter
- Post clear signage that includes the State hotline (211) to report violations
- Maintain a log of employees on the premises for contact tracing
- Complete the self-certification on the DECD website to receive a Reopen CT badge
The rules indicate that employers should perform daily health checks on employees by asking them to confirm that they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. In the case of a positive COVID-19 case, employees are required to inform their employers and follow state testing and contact tracing protocols.
As the State sees progress in certain health measures, it will gradually loosen restrictions and allow other sectors to reopen, but businesses should not expect this to occur before September.
The full set of rules and guidelines may be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/Sector-Rules-for-May-20-Reopen.
In addition to the rules generally applicable to all open businesses, businesses in each sector must conform to the following specific rules and protocols. Businesses must implement these protocols on or before May 20th, or must delay reopening until they are able to comply. Click on industries below to view rules specific to that industry.