In a letter to Utah’s business owners, Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist, explains how to make sure employees and customers remain safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
I know these are uncertain times of economic challenges, and as an employer, Utahns need your help to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus through encouraging “social distancing” in the workplace. Social distancing means to stay away from others as much as possible, whether you are sick or not. Social distancing is important because it slows the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
This concept may seem at-odds with operating a business, but I would like to provide you with some specific, actionable steps you can take to encourage social distancing in your business.
What businesses can do:
- Try not to have more than 10 people in waiting rooms.
- Consider adjusting operations so you are not accepting appointments that allow more than 10 people in shared spaces.
- Rearrange your waiting room so chairs are placed at least six feet apart.
- In environments where people typically stand in lines, place markers spaced six feet apart for people to stand.
- Consider using drive-through options or scheduling appointments in advance to limit the number of people who come inside your business at one time to fewer than 10.
- Consider using credit cards instead of cash. Most credit card transactions do not require cards or receipts to exchange hands. It is a good idea to have hand sanitizer available for customers to use after paying for their goods.
- Clean surfaces that are touched often (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink handles, countertops) with EPA-recommended products.
- Make sure enough soap, paper towels, tissues, and hand sanitizer are available for employees and customers.
- For surfaces used often (e.g. keyboards, desks, remote controls), employees can also use disposable wipes to clean surfaces before each use. If disposable wipes are used, it is important to remind staff to throw them away right after they use them.
Tips for staff:
- Encourage staff who are sick to stay home, and as management, be supportive of their decision.
- Provide paid time off for employees who are unable to work due to illness.
- When employees are ready to return to work after their illness, typically 72 hours after their symptoms have significantly improved and at least seven days after symptoms began, do not require them to have a doctor’s note. This puts unnecessary stress on the health care system.
- Conduct staff meetings or other gatherings virtually or by email.
- Encourage staff to avoid shaking hands.
- Proper handwashing is the most important way to stop the spread of illness.
- Increase proper hand washing and good hygiene education for staff.
- Staff should wash their hands often, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom, and after touching shared surfaces.
- Encourage staff not to touch their mouth or eyes with their hands.
- Encourage staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or an elbow.
- Encourage staff not to share food or drink from the same cup or bottle as someone else.
We have more resources that may be helpful to your business. Thank you for your continued effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to keep your workplace and our communities healthy.