On April 15, 2020, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, signed an order “Directing Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Permitted to Maintain In-person Operations,” which specifies social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols for both employees and customers. The order, which goes into effect immediately, and supplements previous orders issued by the Governor and Secretary of Health, is enforceable beginning on April 19, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.
Businesses that fail or refuse to comply with this order may forfeit their ability to receive applicable disaster relief, may be subject to termination of state loan or grant funding, and may face revocation of applicable licensures. Finally, in addition to criminal charges that might be applicable, businesses in violation of this order may be subject to fines by the Department of Health.
Mandatory Procedures for Employers
With the exception of health-care providers, businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations must implement the following procedures:
- Provide masks for employees to wear at the business and require that employees wear masks while at work, except while they are on break to eat or drink. Employers may approve masks made or obtained by employees in accordance with Department of Health guidelines.
- Meetings or trainings should be held virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, it should not exceed 10 employees and 6 feet of social distance must be maintained.
- Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas that are accessible to customers, tenants, or other individuals, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Stagger work start and stop times for employees when practicable to prevent gatherings or interaction.
- Provide sufficient space for employees during breaks and meals to maintain 6 feet of distance, and arrange seating for breaks and meals so employees do not to face each other. Breaks and meals should be staggered, and persons in employee common rooms should be limited, to permit appropriate social distancing.
- Provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
- Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the businesses’ premises.
- Provide notice of these requirements to the business’ employees.
- Ensure that enough employees are on site to implement the above-listed requirements.
Mandatory Procedures for Employers Who Serve The Public
With the exception of health-care providers, businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations, and that serve the public, must implement the following additional procedures:
- Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers, or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel.
- Require all customers to wear masks while on premises unless customers cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years old). Customers who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition may not be required to provide documentation of such medical condition.
- Where carts or handbaskets are available for customer use, an employee must be assigned to wipe down the carts and handbaskets before they are available for use for a customer entering the premises.
- If feasible, conduct business with the public by appointment only. If appointment only business is not feasible, the business’ occupancy must be no greater than 50% of its applicable certificate of occupancy and signage must be placed throughout the premises to mandate 6 feet of social distancing for both customers and employees.
- Provide delivery or pick-up options through online ordering. If a business provides medication, medical supplies, or food, it must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods.
- Hours of business must be altered to permit sufficient time to clean or to restock or both.
- Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week.
- Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.
- In businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. The previously open registers and surrounding areas, including credit card machines, must be cleaned following each rotation.
Protocols for COVD-19 Related Cases
All businesses that are authorized to conduct in-person operations must also establish protocols for execution when the business discovers it has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. Those protocols must include:
- Closing off and ventilating areas visited by that person for a minimum of 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
- Implement temperature screening before an employee enters the business and/or begins work, and send home employees who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.
- Identifying employees that were in close contact with that person for 48 hours before that person became symptomatic to the time at which that person isolated.
- For asymptomatic employees that were in close contact with a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, they should follow CDC guidelines.
- For employees who become sick during the work-day, they should be sent home immediately, surfaces in their workspace should be disinfected, and information on other employees who had contact with the ill employee should be compiled. Other employees that were in contact with the ill employee should be notified consistent with applicable confidentiality laws.
- Employees who have COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor, stay at home, and follow CDC guidelines for isolation in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
It is recommended that employers review these new requirements to ensure they are in compliance with the order prior to continuing operations. Additionally, employees should be trained to ensure compliance internally, and with respect to customers.
For more information on the Order, how it may affect your business, or ways to ensure that your company is in compliance with the order, please contact James Bucci, Esq., Partner in the Firm’s Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offices at 856-968-0686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.