On April 13th 2020, the President of the United States issued the Reopening American Again Guidelines to help guide the State Governors and community leaders in a path to reopen businesses in this post COVID-19 environment. As each state, region or metropolitan area moved past their peak outbreaks and into a more manageable situation, the guidelines established three distinct phases where businesses and operations could return to a more normal state of operations. The guidelines presented responsibilities for the States, Individuals and Employers.
The States are responsible for testing, contact tracing, screening of the most vulnerable, health care capacity and planning to limit and mitigate further outbreaks. Individuals are responsible for personnel hygiene, using face mask and staying home if they are sick.
Employers are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate policies in accordance with Federal, State and local regulations and guidelines bases on industry best practices to protect their workforce. Those include:
- Workplace social distancing and protective equipment,
- Temperature checks,
- Testing, Isolating and contact tracing of employees.
- Use of disinfection of common and high traffic areas
- Business travel
- Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following COVID-19 + test.
The Guidelines want you to monitor your workforce for indicative symptoms and not allow symptomatic employees to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider. IACL’s focus is different from many companies because we want to help advise on a broad range of these recommendations instead of just temperature checks. We can definitely help with the Temperature Check, but there is much more in these recommendations that just temperature checks. Everything basically starts with your company’s Policies and Procedures. The Reopening America Again Guidelines has these recommendations spread between the three phases of reopening.
Phase One for Employers encourages telework whenever possible and then allow for a return to work in phases. Close common areas where people gather, congregate and interact to enforce social distancing protocols. Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19. There are other restriction related to specific types of business and employers.
Phase Two still encourages telework whenever possible and feasible with your business operations. They still want common areas closed where employees are likely to congregate to enforce moderate social distancing. It does allow non-essential travel to resume but still strongly considers special accommodations for especially vulnerable personnel. There are other relaxed restrictions related to specific types of business and employers.
Phase Three basically allows unrestricted staffing activities on worksites with some mild restrictions on some specific employers.
People think of the transition from Phase One to Phase Two to Phase Three as a linear progression in one direction. If there are further outbreaks of infection in a region, state or locality, our society could move from Phase One or Two directly to Phase Three and then back to Phase One. We will be dealing with COVID-19 for years to come and with the high mortality rate, it will affect your business’s ability to be productive and profitable for a long time. That is why planning and preparation is so important.