As guidelines relax, Sacramento businesses are eager to reopen. But reopening safely in the New Normal comes with regulations many employers have never needed to consider before. Read on to learn more about how to reopen your business and stop the spread.
How To Reopen Your Business In Sacramento Amidst COVID-19
Know how COVID-19 spreads
In order to best understand why regulations are in place, it is important to understand COVID-19 symptoms and how it spreads. Ensure you and your staff are educated regarding symptoms, as well as the fact that being asymptomatic does not mean you are COVID-free.
Be prepared with a plan
Cal/OSHA enacted the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (Cal/OSHA ETS) in November 2020, which set forth guidelines for most businesses regarding COVID-19. It requires that employers design and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
What does a COVID-19 prevention program consist of?
Some highlights of what a COVID-19 Prevention Program must include are:
- Identifying and addressing COVID-19 hazards in the workplace – These can include anything from “bottleneck” areas in which physical distancing is difficult, to high-volume areas like cash registers or reception desks. Examples of how these may be addressed include implementing one-way foot traffic to help enforce social distancing, utilizing touch-free payment options, and installing transparent barriers in high volume areas. Requirements also involve steps like maximizing airflow to improve ventilation, thus reducing the chance of transmission. If you or anyone you know has been suffering from covid19 symptoms make sure to get yourself checked and tested to stop the spread of the virus visit this site to know more about test kits that are available for you to use even at home.
- Investigating and responding to workplace cases – Your plan must outline a plan to investigate and properly report COVID-19 cases in the workplace to appropriate health and regulatory agencies. It should be noted that this expands beyond employees and may include vendors, customers, etc.
- Employee policies – Employees who are infected or exposed to COVID-19 at work must be paid for time spent isolating until it is safe for them to return to the workplace. An employer may NOT require a negative test for return to the workplace. It’s important to remember that employees may continue to test positive for several months after the initial infection and recovery.
- Physical distancing and PPE – Employers should enforce social distancing and provide or reimburse employees for personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, face shields, and any other PPE appropriate for the business.
The importance of testing
Cal/OSHA ETS requires that employers inform employees about how they may access testing. If a workplace is determined to be “exposed” after an outbreak, employers must offer weekly or twice-per-week testing to employees (depending on the size of the outbreak).
Testing is a valuable tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Isolating infected people from infecting others is key to preventing an outbreak-related closure once you resume business.
The Best Employee Testing Strategy
The Cal/OSHA ETS states that employees must be compensated for time spent getting tested to fulfill an employer requirement, making public testing options less than ideal.
Not only expensive, sending employees to public test sites also potentially exposes them – and subsequently the rest of your staff - to COVID-19 in the process.
Public testing sites also mostly use PCR tests, which require lab processing and 48-72 hours to produce results.
This long turnaround time is not optimal from an employer standpoint. Rapid antigen tests produce results in 15 minutes, but are most affordably available from healthcare providers at this time.
DIY rapid antigen test kits have begun making their way onto shelves, but are expected to have inflated prices until they reach full production. Additionally, employees may be apprehensive at the idea of administering tests properly to themselves.
Consider on site COVID testing for SAC businesses as a solution. Mobile COVID-19 testing services will send a nurse to your workplace to administer tests to you and your employees. This allows you to have all employees take rapid antigen tests at once, and allows you to send anyone who tests positive home.
Some services will include assistance from medical professionals in creating your COVID-19 Prevention Program, dealing with the employee and documentation aspects of testing, and advice on how to get back up and running as quickly and safely as possible.
Advertising that employees are tested regularly is a good strategy to attract customers who may be wary of venturing back into their former routines. Families with children not yet eligible for vaccination may especially appreciate these measures, especially considering new COVID-19 variants that cause complications in children have emerged.
Additionally, regular testing can allow you to strategically schedule employee shifts so that if someone does test positive, you have backup staff in place to resume operations as soon as possible.