Publications

Checklist for Georgia Businesses Returning to Work During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

April 30, 2020Alerts

On April 20, 2020, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp detailed his plan to allow certain Georgia businesses to reopen beginning Friday, April 24, 2020. You can read Gov. Kemp’s address here. Fox Rothschild previously wrote about the scope of the governor’s plan, including whether your business is legally allowed to reopen, which is available here. Below, we address the following legal and practical considerations for businesses considering whether to reopen:

  1. Legal Requirements for Reopening Medical Businesses
  2. General Legal Requirements for Continuation of In-Person Critical Infrastructure Businesses
  3. General Legal Requirements for Certain Businesses Other Than “Critical Infrastructure”
  4. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Dine-In Services for Restaurants and Social Clubs
  5. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming In-Person Retail Businesses
  6. Specific Legal Requirements for Grocery Stores
  7. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Gyms and Fitness Centers
  8. Specific Legal Requirements for Barber Shops, Body Artists, Masseurs, et cetera
  9. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Movie Theaters
  10. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Bowling Alleys
  11. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Childcare Facilities

By Executive Order issued April 30, 2020, the following requirements will remain in place through June 12, 2020, unless the Public Health State of Emergency is extended by the governor.

 
  1. Legal Requirements for Reopening Medical Businesses
  • Review April 20, 2020 Executive Order to determine whether your business constitutes a “healthcare related practice or service,” available here.
  • Health care-related practices and services must begin treating patients as soon as practicable, and are not subject to Minimum Basic Operations restrictions.
  • Review and comply with CDC guidelines for health-care professionals prior to reopening, available here.
  • Review and comply with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines prior to reopening, which are available here.

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  1. General Legal Requirements for Continuation of In-Person Critical Infrastructure Businesses

The Executive Order issued April 23, 2020, available here, provides new requirements for the continued operation of in-person business for those organizations designated as “Critical Infrastructure.” Critical Infrastructure businesses “shall implement measures” to mitigate the exposure to and spread of COVID-19, and the Executive Order requires that those measures include the following “to the maximum extent practicable”:

  • Review the April 23, 2020 Executive Order to determine whether your business constitutes “Critical Infrastructure.”
  • Screen and evaluate workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath;
  • Require workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;
  • Enhance sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
  • Disinfect common surfaces regularly;
  • Require hand-washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
  • Prohibit gatherings of workers during working hours;
  • Permit workers to take breaks and lunch outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable;
  • Implement teleworking for all possible workers;
  • Implement staggered shifts for all possible workers;
  • Hold all meetings and conferences virtually, whenever possible;
  • Deliver intangible services remotely, whenever possible;
  • Discourage workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment;
  • Prohibit handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace;
  • If in use, open sales registers must be at least six (6) feet apart;
  • Point-of-sale equipment should be frequently cleaned and sanitized;
  • Place notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen; and
  • Suspend the use of Personal Identification Number (PIN) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies.

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  1. General Legal Requirements for Certain Businesses Other Than “Critical Infrastructure”

Notwithstanding the shelter-in-place order, all Georgia businesses other than Critical Infrastructure have been permitted to engage in Minimum Basic Operations throughout the public health crisis. The new development on April 24, 2020, is that Gov. Kemp defined certain categories of businesses who could resume “in-person” Minimum Basic Operations, including serving customers in person. The following is a checklist of general requirements for resuming in-person operations.

  • Review April 20, 2020 Executive Order, which is available here, or Fox Rothschild’s prior guidance, which is available here, to determine you are within the following categories of businesses that are specifically allowed to resume in-person “Minimum Basic Operations” on April 24, 2020:
    • Gyms and fitness centers
    • Bowling alleys
    • Body art studios and tattoo parlors
    • Barber shops, cosmetologists, estheticians, beauty salons, hair designers and nail artists
    • Licensed massage therapists
  • Enforce social distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on business’s property.
  • Assess physical facility and develop a plan to enforce six-foot social distancing requirements.
    • Gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden if it is not possible to maintain at least six (6) feet between all people.
    • Develop plan to queue customers outside the facility if necessary.
  • Increase physical space between workers and customers.
  • Provide disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment and tools.
  • Increase physical space between worksites to at least six (6) feet.
  • Develop plan to screen workers for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath;
  • Periodically review CDC guidance concerning symptoms of COVID-19, available here.
  • Draft and distribute policy requiring workers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 not to report to work and to seek medical attention;
  • Develop plan for workplace sanitation, including review of the CDC guidance available here.
  • Place signs requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business.
  • Develop plan for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker.
    • Assess which workers will receive PPE
    • Develop plan for distributing the PPE without contaminating it
    • Provide receptacle for disposal or cleaning of used PPE
    • The National Retail Federation recommends providing at least masks and gloves.
  • Prohibit gatherings of workers during working hours.
  • Permit workers to take breaks and meals outside, in their office or personal workspace or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable.
  • Implement teleworking for all possible workers.
  • Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers.
  • Hold all meetings and conferences virtually, wherever possible.
  • Develop plan to deliver intangible services remotely wherever possible.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.
  • Prohibit handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace.
  • Suspend the use of Personal Identification Number (PIN) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies.
  • Retailers and service providers should provide alternative points of sale outside of buildings, including curbside pickup or delivery of products and/or services (if permitted under Georgia law).

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Dine-In Services for Restaurants and Social Clubs

Georgia restaurants and dining clubs are encouraged to review Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance concerning the appropriate use of PPE for restaurant employees, available here.

In addition, restaurants and social dining clubs — except for those located in hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — must take the following measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:

  • Review and comply with Executive Order issued April 23, 2020, available here.
  • Reconfigure seating. No restaurant can allow more than 10 patrons per 500 square feet of “public space.” “Public space” includes the square footage of waiting and bar areas, but does not include hallways, restrooms and spaces closed to patrons.
  • Screen and evaluate workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath;
  • Require workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention. Per existing U.S. FDA Food Code requirements, employees who are sick should remain home. If an employee becomes ill or presents signs of illness at work, the operator should identify the employee’s condition during a pre-work screening and send the employee home. Restaurants shall create, maintain and follow established policies regarding when employees who have become ill are permitted to return to work. An employee with known or suspected COVID-19 must follow CDC guidelines to self-isolate for at least seven (7) days after symptom onset and end isolation only after symptoms have improved and the employee has been fever-free and/or symptom-free for three (3) consecutive days without medication before returning to work;
  • Implement teleworking for all possible workers;
  • Implement staggered shifts for all possible workers;
  • Hold all meetings and conferences virtually, whenever possible;
  • Train all employees on the importance and expectation of increased frequency of hand-washing, the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, and provide clear instruction to avoid touching hands to face;
  • Require all employees to wear face coverings at all times. Such coverings shall be cleaned or replaced daily;
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment;
  • Where possible, stagger workstations to avoid employees standing adjacent to one another or next to each other. Where six (6) feet of separation is not possible, consider spacing options that include other mitigation efforts with increased frequency of cleaning and sanitizing surfaces;
  • Establish limits to reduce contact in employee breakrooms;
  • Prohibit handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace;
  • Enforce social distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on such entity’s leased or owned property;
  • Increase physical space between workers and patrons;
  • Limit contact between wait staff and patrons;
  • Discard all food items that are out of date;
  • Discontinue use of salad bars and buffets;
  • If providing a “grab-and-go” service, stock coolers to no more than minimum levels;
  • Ensure the Food Safety Manager certification of the person in charge is up-to-date and provide food handler training to refresh employees;
  • Thoroughly detail, clean and sanitize the entire facility prior to resuming dine-in services and continue to do so regularly, focusing such cleaning and sanitation on high contact areas that would be touched by employees and patrons;
  • Between diners, clean and sanitize table condiments, digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops and commonly touched areas and discard single-use items;
  • Use rolled silverware and eliminate table presets;
  • Remove items from self-service drink, condiment, utensil and tableware stations and have workers provide such items to patrons directly wherever practicable;
  • The use of disposable paper menus is strongly encouraged, which should be discarded after each patron use. Otherwise, businesses subject to this section shall clean and sanitize reusable menus between each use by a patron. Non-touch menus are also acceptable for use.
  • Clean and sanitize restrooms regularly, check restrooms based on the frequency of use and ensure an adequate supply of soap and paper towels at all times;
  • Implement procedures to increase cleaning and sanitizing frequency of surfaces in the back-of-house. Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants;
  • Check restrooms regularly and clean and sanitize based on frequency of use;
  • Update floor plans for common dining areas, redesigning seating arrangements to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation from seating to seating. Utilize physical barriers on booth seating when available;
  • Limit party size at tables to no more than six;
  • Where practical, consider a reservations-only business model or call-ahead seating;
  • Remind third-party delivery drivers and any suppliers of your internal distancing requirements;
  • Post signage on entrances that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted in the facility;
  • Where practicable, physical barriers such as partitions or Plexiglas at registers should be used;
  • Use technological solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction: mobile ordering, mobile access to menus to plan in advance, text on arrival for seating and contactless payment options;
  • Provide hand sanitizer for use by patrons, including contactless hand sanitizing stations when available;
  • Do not allow patrons to congregate in waiting areas or bar areas. Design a process to ensure patron separation while waiting to be seated that can include floor markings, outdoor distancing or waiting in cars;
  • If possible, designate and use a separate entrance and exit from the facility;
  • Mark ingress/egress to and from restrooms to establish paths that mitigate proximity for patrons and staff;
  • Where practicable, takeout and curbside pickup services should be prioritized over dine-in services; and
  • All restaurant or dining room playgrounds shall be closed.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming In-Person Retail Businesses

All retail businesses, including grocery stores, must implement the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as practicable:

  • Limit the number of patrons inside the store to 50% of fire capacity occupancy or eight (8) patrons per 1,000 square feet;
  • Encourage patrons to use hand sanitizer upon entering;
  • Encourage non-cash payments when possible;
  • Sanitize entrance and exit doors at least three times per day;
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to the employer;
  • Install protective screens or other mitigation measures where worker-patron interactions are likely; and
  • Provide additional hand sanitizer within the business.

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  1. Specific Recommendations for Grocery Stores

In additional to the measures described above, grocery stores shall implement additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which may include:

  • Schedule specific hours of operation for vulnerable populations to shop without other patrons;
  • Reduce store hours to allow for increased cleaning and sanitation while the store is closed;
  • Enact policies and procedures to encourage social distancing for patrons and employees. Measures may include:
    • Protective Plexiglas screens at service counters and at cash registers;
    • Decals on the floor or in aisles with messaging on social distancing;
    • Signs throughout the store giving visuals on social distancing;
    • Limit occupancy if store becomes too crowded;
    • Use one-way aisles;
    • Provide PPE as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
    • Encourage patrons to wear face coverings;
    • Utilize in-store messaging to educate and remind patrons and employees on recommended hygiene and social distancing;
    • Discontinue sampling or cooking stations;
    • Close self-serve salad bars and buffets;
    • Add additional staff to specifically oversee increased sanitation of grocery carts and other high-touch areas such as door handles, point of sales equipment, conveyor belts and other surfaces;
    • Check restrooms regularly, cleaning and sanitizing based on frequency of use, and ensuring adequate supply of soap and paper towels at all times;
    • Allow time for frequent hand-washing for employees, including cashiers, that interact directly with patrons;
    • Increase or add hand sanitizing stations around stores for patrons and employees; and
    • Secure third-party cleaning service to assist with the increased cleaning demands as needed.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming In-Person Gyms and Fitness Centers

In addition to the measures described for all retail businesses, gyms and fitness centers must implement additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which shall include the following, as practicable:

  • Place signage at any entrance to instruct patrons that they cannot enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, had symptoms of COVID-19 or had contact with a person that has or is suspected to have COVID-19;
  • Place signage at any entrance and throughout the facility to instruct patrons of the enhanced sanitation procedures, social distancing requirements, and other instructions and limitations, as applicable;
  • Screen patrons at entrance. Patrons exhibiting a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms shall not be permitted to enter;
  • Limit occupancy to enforce social distancing requirements and to prohibit gatherings;
  • Utilize contactless forms of patron check-in;
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations for patrons and encourage use;
  • Provide sanitation wipes at or near each piece of equipment and require users to wipe down the equipment before and after use;
  • Require workers to patrol patron areas to enforce the equipment wipe-down policy and conduct additional cleanings during times when equipment is not being used;
  • Limit use of cardio machines to every other machine to maintain acceptable social distancing between users;
  • Enforce social distancing and prohibit congregating between non-cohabitating patrons. Patrons should be encouraged to conduct their workout and exit the facility without unnecessary delay;
  • Halt the provision of group classes;
  • Halt the provision of in-facility child care services;
  • Close the following facilities and equipment within a gym or fitness center: pools, basketball courts and other group sport areas, hot-tubs, saunas, steam rooms and tanning beds;
  • Limit locker room use and avoid use if possible;
  • Require patrons to spray showers with a provided cleaning spray after use; and
  • Require workers to clean and sanitize bathrooms and locker rooms regularly throughout the opening hours in addition to the regular cleaning schedule.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Barber Shops, Body Artists, Masseurs, Etc.

In addition to the measures described for all retail businesses, all body art studios, tattoo parlors, barber shops, cosmetologists, beauty salons, hair designers, nail artists and persons licensed to practice massage therapy must implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which shall include, as practicable:

  • Provide services by appointment only. Walk-in patrons will not be allowed;
  • Patrons should be required to sanitize their hands upon entering the facility and before any treatment;
  • Provide hand sanitizer or sanitization wipes to patrons upon arrival;
  • Post signs at the entrance and at eye level at each workstation stating that any patron who has symptoms of COVID-19 must reschedule their appointment;
  • Allow only one patron per service provider in the business at any one time;
  • Allow one parent to be within a facility if a minor child is receiving a haircut;
  • Require patrons to wait in their cars until their service provider is ready;
  • Stagger use of every other workstation or space workstations more than ten (10) feet apart, whichever option is practicable given the facility’s configuration;
  • Stagger work schedules so that no more than 50% of the normal number of employees providing services will be in the business at a time;
  • Require all employees to wear PPE as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
  • Sanitize all equipment, chairs and tables used by employees and patrons between each client visit;
  • Utilize disposable materials and supplies as much as practicable according to state rules and regulations; and
  • Train all employees on additional measures both verbally and in writing.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming In-Person Movie Theaters

In addition to the measures described for all retail businesses, all indoor movie theaters and cinemas must implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which shall include:

  • Each party of patrons must be seated at least six (6) feet apart.
  • No group seated together may number more than six (6) individuals;
  • At least one usher must be used in each theater room before and at some point during each showing to ensure that proper social distancing protocol is enforced;
  • Seats, armrests, handrails, doors, doorknobs and door handles in each theater must be thoroughly sanitized before and after each showing;
  • Tape must be applied to floors at ticket counters and concession stands to enforce proper social distancing protocol for patrons who are waiting in line;
  • Restrooms must be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and touchpoints must cleaned no less than once per hour;
  • Food service areas must adhere to the same guidelines set forth in the “Restaurants & Dining Services” section above;
  • Party rooms located at theaters may not host parties or gatherings; and
  • Playgrounds and arcade rooms must be closed.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming Bowling Alleys

In addition to the measures described for all retail businesses, all bowling alleys must implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which shall include:

  • Place signage at entrance and throughout the facility to instruct patrons of social distancing requirements and other instructions and limitations, as applicable;
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations for patrons throughout the facility;
  • Food service areas must adhere to the same guidelines set forth in the “Restaurants & Dining Services” section above;
  • Tape must be applied to floors at ticket counters and rental stations to enforce proper social distancing protocol for patrons who are waiting in line;
  • Remove items from all self-service bowling ball, bowling shoe and other bowling accessory stations and have workers provide such items to patrons directly;
  • Allow groups of six (6) patrons or less per lane;
  • Stagger use of lanes so that only every other lane or every third lane is in use to maintain proper Social Distancing between groups of patrons. Each party of patrons must be seated at least six (6) feet apart;
  • Scorekeeping machines, ball returns, tables, seats and other fixtures at each bowling lane must be thoroughly sanitized before and after each use;
  • Bowling balls and bowling shoes must be thoroughly sanitized before and after each use;
  • No parties or gatherings hosted in party rooms; and
  • Close playgrounds and arcade rooms, if any.

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  1. Specific Legal Requirements for Resuming In-Person Child Care Facilities

In addition to the measures described for all retail businesses, child care facilities must implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which shall include:

  • Screen and evaluate all children prior to them entering the classroom for signs of illness or exhibiting a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath;
  • Prohibit children from entering a classroom if they exhibit symptoms, including fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath;
  • Prohibit unnecessary visitors;
  • Provide meals in classrooms rather than in a congregated or communal setting;
  • Restrict families’ access to the front door of the facility or the door of their respective child’s classroom only;
  • Surfaces and objects that are frequently touched must be sanitized regularly, including, but not limited to, toys, games and objects or surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily;
  • Toys and games that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used;
  • Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves;
  • Machine-washable cloth toys should be used by one individual at a time or should not be used at all and should be laundered before being used by another child;
  • Toys used by a group of children must be washed and sanitized before they may be used by children in a different group or classroom;
  • Items that need to be cleaned should be set aside in a dish pan with soapy water or in a separate container marked for soiled toys;
  • Use only bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets and sleeping bags) that can be washed. Each child’s bedding must be kept separate and, to the extent practicable, should be stored in individually labeled bins, cubbies or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child, and any bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned weekly or before use by any other child; and
  • Workers should sign children in and out of the facility for families if a computer or keypad system inside the facility is used. If a tablet located outside the facility is used by families during drop-off and pickup, the tablet must be disinfected after each use. If a paper sign-in system is used for sign-in, writing utensils should be sanitized after each use if families are permitted to sign children in themselves.

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For more information about this workplace topic or alert, please contact Beau Howard in the firm's Atlanta office at 404.870.3763 or [email protected] or any member of Fox Rothschild’s national Labor & Employment Practice.