Small Business Preparation for Reopening After COVID-19

What to do to keep everyone safe in a small business?

The pandemic has changed the way all businesses operate, that much is true. But small businesses specifically need to be aware of how to manage the new protocols and practices, in order to keep their employees and customers safe from COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a serious respiratory illness that is highly contagious and can be passed from one person to another person with contact or exposure to contaminated surfaces or infected people. The virus is spread easily between groups of people. The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, and include:

•    Fever or chills
•    Cough
•    Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
•    Fatigue
•    Muscle or body aches
•    Headache
•    New loss of taste or smell
•    Sore throat
•    Congestion or runny nose
•    Nausea or vomiting
•    Diarrhea

A small business owner needs to be aware of these symptoms and educate the employees on staying home in self-quarantine if they do experience any of these symptoms themselves. This will prevent an employee coming into work sick and potentially infecting other employees or customers (or even vendors and suppliers) with the virus. It will also be a good idea for a small business owner to designate a workplace coordinator who will be responsible and accountable to the owner to stay on top of any workplace-related COVID-19 issues that will affect the business or the customers. Examples of these issues may be:

•    Deciding how to fill shifts when many workers call out sick at the same time
•    Deciding whether to use a temporary worker agency to replace sick workers
•    Making decisions on how to keep the business clean daily for the public
•    Determining the policy regarding wearing of masks by employees and the public
•    Deciding what to do with the food or product if a worker did have the virus and may have infected a product or food with the virus

The owner of a small business needs to consider revising policies and protocols for the business regarding new issues that will affect the employees after COVID-19 has occurred as a global pandemic. Some issues to consider are:

•    Leave for workers
•    Telework for workers
•    Employee compensation and wages
•    Procedures for workers calling in sick to work
•    Coming in late to work (when under staffed)
•    Supplier connections and networks affected by COVID-19 issues
•    Business continuity plans and insurance options
•    Business emergency communications plans
•    Social distancing rules with workers, the public and vendors

Anytime that an employee or worker becomes sick at work, that individual should be sent home at once. Then, the business may need to close temporarily to perform cleaning to remove any germs or bacteria that cold be COVID-19 related to protect all staff, workers and the public.

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