Effective Friday, March 19, many of the mandatory practices that Connecticut required businesses to follow in order to reopen during the pandemic changed to recommended best practices. Under the prior guidance, Connecticut businesses were required to:
- Follow CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines;
- Require masks in all public settings where social distancing is not possible;
- Require social distancing and six feet spacing, where possible (unless otherwise noted).
As of March 19 employers are recommended to:
- Continue to support local public health contact tracing efforts, such as maintaining a log of employees on-premises each day;
- Continue to encourage employees who feel unwell to remain home and encourage employees to work from home, if possible. In the event that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employees shall inform their employers and follow state testing and contact tracing protocols;
- Continue using social distance markers and signage and one-way traffic patterns;
- Work to improve ventilation by increasing the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the air system or to use window ventilation units;
- Post clear signage that includes the state hotline (211), which employees and customers can call to report potential violations of sector rules.
- While not required, businesses have the right to refuse service from customers who are not wearing masks.
Further, while capacity limits have been restored to 100%, this limit is subject to social distancing requirements.
Interestingly, the “best practices” published on the DECD website make heavy use of the word “encouraged.” It is not yet clear if the State intends to penalize employers who choose not to follow these recommended best practices, and the rules on the DECD website still supersede any conflicting recommended best practices. However, prudent employers should follow these recommended best practices as if they were mandated rules, absent good reason. Connecticut businesses can bring more employees back to the workplace as of March 19, but, as the pandemic continues to unfold and the health risks posed by a full-capacity workplace are not fully known, employers may wish to proceed with caution as they consider bringing employees back to the office.