The beginning of the “new normal” for businesses across North Carolina will start to take shape at 5 p.m. Friday when Gov. Roy Cooper begins phase one of the state's reopening. Phase one is set to last until at least May 22.
The order removes the designation of essential and nonessential business and allows some businesses to reopen, if they can practice social distancing and other measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
A checklist, adapted by the National Retail Federation and provided by the National Main Street Center, represents guidance intended to highlight key topics to consider as businesses seek to re-open operations. Individual circumstances should be considered when crafting personalized checklists.
Employer practices should be designed to discourage contagious employees and customers from entering a business or facility and mitigate the effect of contagious individuals in the store, according to a release from Sanford Area Growth Alliance, which shared the checklist Friday.
This checklist was adapted by the National Retail Federation.
Place signage in conspicuous locations throughout your business, particularly high-traffic areas such as entrances and exits, checkouts, breakrooms, fitting rooms, etc. Signage may include:
There are still some businesses unable to resume operating for at least the duration of phase one. Personal care and grooming businesses — barber shops, hair salons and nail salons — will remain shuttered.
Also included among the places to remain closed are bars, health clubs, fitness centers, gyms and other indoor exercise facilities. Those include yoga studios, martial arts, indoor trampoline, rock climbing facilities and indoor and outdoor pools.
Entertainment venues, such as performance halls, movie theaters and bowling alleys also remain closed under the order. Restaurants will remain limited to providing drive-through, carryout and delivery services.
For those businesses who meet the criteria to open, there will be certain limitations imposed. Most notably, retail businesses can operate at 50% capacity, that is allowing the number of customers equivalent to the building’s fire safety occupancy levels established by the local fire marshal.
Along with rules for capacity, there are also several other measures the executive order requires. They include maintaining the 6 feet apart social distancing rules, in both lines at the point of sale and in other high traffic customer areas, such as aisles.
Business owners are required to perform frequent and routine cleaning and disinfecting of areas where a lot of hand contact is prevalent, using EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19.
Businesses also need to make hand sanitizer available and ensure soap and hand drying materials are available at sinks.
The order also calls for businesses to conduct daily screenings for symptoms of the virus among employees and to send home those who show symptoms.
Businesses are also now required to have a plan in place to immediately isolate an employee from work if they develop symptoms.
Also expect to see signs at store entrances that remind customers about social distancing recommendations and asking customers who are sick or symptomatic not to enter. The signs will also remind customers of the limited number of people allowed in the building at one time.
The order encourages businesses to provide designated times for seniors and other high-risk residents to access their business and develop and use online, phone, curbside or drive-thru pickup options or home delivery and contact-free checkouts, where possible.
High volume business, such as grocery stores and pharmacies are also encouraged to install clear shields at cash registers, clearly mark entry and exit points and provide routine assistance with routing through aisles in the store.
Businesses, regardless of what their focus is, are asked and encouraged to continue things such as promoting teleworking and limiting non-essential travel if possible, limiting face-to-face meetings to no more than 10 people, provide social distancing measures between desks and even staggering shifts to reduce the number of people in the workplace at one time.
Businesses are also encouraged to recommend the use of face coverings and provide instructions for proper usage and encourage employees who are symptomatic to stay home by providing sick leave policies in line with CDC guidance.
Rick Curl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 910-230-2037.