Time to Prepare!
Governor Murphy recently announced a phased-in approach to reopening non-essential businesses and activities in New Jersey. To find out what you should do to get ready, read the Letter to Businesses below:
Letter to Businesses
UPDATED: June 19, 2020
On May 28th Governor Murphy announced beginning of Stage 2 in his multi-staged plan called “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” toward reopening New Jersey. Several dates were announced for a phased-in approach of the following specific non-essential businesses and activities:
- Outdoor gatherings of 100 people or less beginning (June 9th)
- Indoor Gatherings of 25% of the capacity of the room but no larger than 50 people (beginning June 9th)
- Outdoor dining (beginning on June 15th)
- Museums/libraries (beginning June 15th)
- Limited in-person retail (beginning on June 15th)
- Hair salons and barber shops (beginning on June 22nd)
- Cosmetology Shops (beginning June 22nd)
- Spas and Nail Salons (beginning June 22 with LHD approval)
- Tanning Salons and Tattoo Parlors (beginning June 22nd)
- Outdoor Swimming Pools (beginning June 22nd)
- Youth summer programs (beginning on July 6th with LHD approval)
- Retail Malls (beginning June 29th)
The Governor also announced that reopening of other businesses and activities will be dependent upon the status of COVID-19 spread in New Jersey. As conditions allow, additional reopening dates and guidance will be announced. Those mentioned include:
- Indoor dining (to be determined)
- Fitness/gyms (to be determined)
- Movie Theaters (to be determined)
Over the next few weeks, there will be specific guidance and rules from the Governor and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) which will need to be put in place before reopening.
It is important to remember that while restrictions are being lifted and businesses reopen, the pandemic has not ended and COVID-19 is still present in the community. With that in mind, one of the most important things businesses will need, in order to remain open and productive, are healthy workers!
While we await specific guidance from Governor Murphy and NJDOH, the Salem County Department of Health and Human services recommends businesses and organizations start to prepare by using recently released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Consider Preliminary Questions Before Reopening
The first step is to assure your business is capable of reopening safely. According to the CDC Workplace Decision Tool you should consider these questions when deciding whether to reopen:
- Will reopening be in compliance with state and local orders?
- Will you be ready to protect your employees; especially those at higher risk for severe illness?
- Are recommended health and safety actions in place?
- Is ongoing monitoring of employees in place?
You should only consider reopening if you can answer “yes” to each of the questions.
- Take Recommended Safety Actions
If you feel you will be able to answer yes to the above questions, your next step should be to adopt the CDC’s recommended safety actions. They include:
- Promote healthy hygiene practices like hand washing, wearing face coverings where you are likely to be within 6 ft of others, making sure the covering is worn properly (over the nose, not under), etc;
- Ensure social distancing continues with methods such as installing physical barriers between workstations, spacing out seating (more than six feet), and staggering gathering times such as lunch and breaks;
- Step up routine cleaning and disinfection efforts of all commonly touched surfaces (light switches, copy machines, etc.
- Cancel non-essential business travel, and encouraging commuting and telework for employees where possible;
- Restrict use of any shared items and spaces; and
- Train all staff in the above safety actions.
Also see OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for steps employers can take to reduce workers’ exposure risks.
Face coverings are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19 from those who may be sick but have no symptoms. See the CDC Face Covering guidance for information about how to properly wear face coverings, who should wear them, how to make and clean them.
- Implement Safeguards for The Ongoing Monitoring of Employees
Before reopening, you should implement safeguards for the ongoing monitoring of employees to help assure that those who are sick do not infect those who are not. Employers should build a culture of trust with their employees who may fear taking off time or losing their jobs if they or a family member they provide care for are sick. Safeguards include:
- Encouraging employees who are sick to stay home;
- Monitoring absenteeism and having flexible time off policies;
- Establishing routine, daily employee health checks (e.g. temperature monitoring);
- Creating and testing emergency communication methods for employees;
- Establishing communication with state and local health authorities;
- Having an action plan if a staff member gets COVID-19.
If someone at your workplace does become positive for COVID-19, you should follow the CDC guidance in the section called “Take action if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection “. Actions include:
- Separating and sending employees home to isolate if they are sick, or to quarantine if they have been exposed to persons positive with COVID-19, according to NJDOH guidance.
- Identify and inform all individuals who worked in close proximity (within six feet) of a sick employee for a prolonged period of time (10 minutes or more). Remember, be sure to maintain the sick employee’s confidentiality per HIPPA privacy laws.
- Clean and disinfect areas where the sick employee spent time according to CDC recommendations.
- Prepare Your Physical Workspace for Reopening
The final step before you reopen your doors involves preparing your physical workspace for the reentry of workers, customers, guests, and other visitors. This will include implementing the upcoming Executive Orders and NJDOH guidance when they become available.
In the meantime, the CDC has released guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes. You should review this guidance when implementing cleaning procedures at your facilities.
For outdoor areas, you may maintain existing cleaning practices, since according to the CDC, viruses are killed more quickly by warmer temperatures and sunlight.
For indoor areas, the CDC recommends normal, routine cleaning for areas that have been unoccupied within the last seven days. For indoor areas that have been occupied with in the last seven days, the CDC recommends that frequently touched surfaces and objects made of hard and non-porous materials (glass, metal, or plastic) be cleaned and disinfected more frequently. Frequently touched surfaces and objects made of soft and porous materials, such as carpet, rugs, or material in seating areas, should be thoroughly cleaned or laundered. If possible, the CDC recommends considering removing soft and porous materials in high traffic areas. Surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched should be cleaned on a routine basis.
- Maintain Safeguards and Awareness
Keep in mind, your work is not completed once you open your doors and welcome back your workers and others. The CDC recommends that you should maintain routine cleaning and disinfection procedures after reopening to reduce the potential for exposure. Finally, you should continue to monitor COVID-19 in your area, and if necessary, be prepared to close your facilities quickly if another outbreak occurs.
Keeping up with New Guidance
As new guidance is released, we will be updating our website with links to the information, so please check back often at Salem County NJ Department of Health and Human Services.
Finally be sure to visit the New Jersey Department of Health website for COVID-19: Information for Businesses where specific guidance and requirements for reopening may be found.
Businesses wishing to have outdoor dining will have to follow requirements set forth in the following Executive Order and Executive Directive from Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health. As well as the retail food codes found in:
- N.J.A.C. 8:24 Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments – please see https://www.state.nj.us/health/ceohs/documents/food-drug-safety/chapter24_effective_1207.pdf
- xecutive Directive ED 20-014 – please see https://www.state.nj.us/health/legal/covid19/6-3-20_ExecutiveDirectiveNo20-014_OutdoorDining.pdf
- Executive Order 150 – please see https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-150.pdf
Keeping up with New Guidance
Over the next few weeks, there will be specific guidance and rules which will need to be put in place before reopening. Please check the following websites frequently for guidance specific to your operation or activity.
- Governors Executive Orders – https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/approved/eo_archive.html
- NJDOH Executive Directives – https://www.state.nj.us/health/legal/covid19/
- Division of New Jersey State Police /Office of Emergency Management Administrative Orders – https://nj.gov/governor/news/ao/approved/ao_archive.shtml
- Finally be sure to visit the New Jersey Department of Health website for COVID-19: Information for Businesses where specific guidance and requirements for reopening may be found.