The last four months have been some of the most taxing and pressurized months I have seen in my 35 years calling on business owners. It’s hard enough to start a business and keep it up and running, but add COVID-19 to the mix, and it has made it almost impossible.
I can remember thinking back in December, “can this get any better for our policyholders?” It was going gangbusters for most of the accounts I visited. It was so busy the last few years that they could not keep up with expansion, hiring new employees, etc.
Then came COVID-19. Business owners seemed stunned at first, wondering what would come next. Unfortunately for many, layoffs and/or closings had to happen. As with most Americans, these troopers wanted to make sure they were doing what the authorities wanted to assure the safety of customers and employees. With reopenings taking place now, it has been interesting to visit different businesses and see some of the things they have done to keep their place as safe as possible.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website offers many helpful resources to assist businesses to reopen their establishments, because owners and managers are expected to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. “Employers should respond in a way that takes into account the level of disease transmission in their communities and revise their business response plans as needed.”
Spas, barbershops, and fitness centers. These were the first to close, but many of those shops have finally reopened. The barbershop I visit has had special masks they can offer that do not block the ability of the barber or beautician to complete work. Sanitizer is also readily available.
Restaurants. These business owners have really been creative with initially offering takeout and then switching to some form of limited opening. Most of the restaurants have gone out of their way to follow CDC guidelines with proper signage, 6-foot separation of tables, and outstanding cleanliness. The ways they are offering exterior dining by adding tables to sidewalks and other open areas has really been interesting to see.
Retail establishments. There are so many of the smaller retailers that have been closed, and in many cases, had to remain closed. Some of them are just reopening with special rules, like limiting the number of customers in the store and having signs up regarding mask requirements before entry. Most are happy to offer customers a mask, and hand sanitizer stations seem to be visible everywhere.
Businesses in general. Reopening is still in a transition and will remain in transition with the ongoing changes. Governors have been pulling back in some states due to COVID-19 re-emerging. Closing the first time was bad enough, but the roller coaster of having to pull back after the first reopening makes things even more taxing for business owners.
American business owners are tough, and we hope they can just hold on. Everyone is looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. With their resilience and fortitude, something tells me that these business owners will create that light. Let’s do what we can to help!
EMPLOYERS: GUIDELINES FOR ALL PHASES (https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/)
Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
- Social distancing and protective equipment
- Temperature checks
- Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
- Business travel
Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test.
Here is a toolkit for resuming business provided by CDC.
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