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Frequently Asked Questions

If employees have been exposed but are not showing symptoms, should I allow them to work?

Employees may have been exposed if they are a “close contact” of someone who has been infected, which is defined as being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time:

– Potentially exposed employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and follow CDC recommended steps.
– Potentially exposed employees who do not have symptoms should remain at home or in a comparable setting and practice social distancing for 14 days.
– All other employees should self-monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.

How do I keep employees who interact with customers safe?

To keep your employees safe, you should:

– Consider options to increase physical space between employees and customers such as opening a drive- through, erecting partitions, and marking floors to guide spacing at least six feet apart.
– At least once a day clean and disinfect surfaces frequently touched by multiple people. This includes door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets.
– Consider assigning a person to rotate throughout the workplace to clean and disinfect surfaces.
– Consider scheduling handwashing breaks so employees can wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
– Consider scheduling a relief person to give cashiers and service desk workers an opportunity to wash their hands.

For more information, see CDC General Business FAQs.

How can I help protect employees who may be at higher risk for severe illness?

Have conversations with employees if they express concerns. Some people may be at higher risk of severe illness. This includes older adults (65 years and older) and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions. By using strategies that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, you will help protect all employees, including those at higher risk. These strategies include:

– Implementing telework and other social distancing practices
– Actively encouraging employees to stay home when sick
– Promoting handwashing
– Providing supplies and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces

In workplaces where it’s not possible to eliminate face-to-face contact (such as retail), consider assigning higher risk employees work tasks that allow them to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, if feasible.

Employers should not require employees to provide a note from their healthcare provider when they are sick and instead allow them to inform their supervisors or employee health services when they have conditions that put them at higher risk for diseases.

I don’t provide paid sick leave to my employees. What should I do?

Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees may want to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

Should I cancel my meetings and conferences?

Carefully consider whether travel is necessary, and use videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings. Employers should consider canceling, adjusting, or postponing large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person. Follow CDC guidance for events and mass gatherings. When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces, and space chairs at least 6 feet apart. Encourage staff and attendees to stay home if sick.

If I shut down my facility as a result of a COVID-19 case or outbreak, what is the recommended way to clean and disinfect, and what is the appropriate timeframe to resume operations?

The CDC recommends the following:

– Follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection.
– Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
– Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
– Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas including offices, bathrooms, and common areas, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
– Clean dirty surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection.
– Next, disinfect surfaces using products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and that are appropriate for the surface.
– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method, contact time, and required PPE.

Please check back frequently to see new and updated resources. For more information, please refer to CDC guidance on COVID-19.

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