For those businesses that are fortunate enough to be operating during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, and for those businesses that will be opening in the near future, the Commonwealth has issued updated guidance regarding the conduct of in-person operations.

A full copy of that guidance can be found here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200504-COVID-19-Business-Guidance.pdf.

The guidance makes clear that businesses that can operate remotely must continue to do so until the stay at home and business closure orders are fully lifted. Businesses whose employees must work on-site must adhere to the requirements of the newly issued guidance and any orders previously issued by the Department of Health.

Of note in the guidance is a requirement that businesses establish and implement a plan in the event a business is exposed to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. That plan must include a means of securing and decontaminating affected areas, identifying employees who were in close contact with the person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 and taking appropriate actions, taking the temperature of employees before they enter the business and sending home those who have a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, informing symptomatic employees to stay home, and advising ill employees to follow CDC recommendations. The guidance reaffirms that businesses are required to provide masks for their employees to wear at all times, limit the number of people in common areas, conduct meetings and trainings virtually, discourage non-essential visitors and, of course, appropriately cleaning the worksite and making sure employees have access to hand sanitizers. As indicated in a previous update, the guidance requires that businesses that serve the public follow stricter measures. If businesses require assistance locating masks or other necessary supplies, they are urged to visit Pennsylvania’s DCEP website where a business to business interchange is set up to assist.

Businesses conducting in-person operations are required to make their employees aware of this guidance. To that end, businesses are required to print, sign and post a COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses flyer in an employee common space, and businesses that serve the public must also post the flyer near the public entrance.

A copy of the flyer can be found here: https://www.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Reopening-Businesses-Flyer-8-5×11-1.pdf.

Importantly, the flyer requires that businesses designate an individual as its “Pandemic Safety Officer” and provide the Safety Officer’s contact information.

In addition to following the aforementioned safety procedures and posting the required flyer, businesses that are now open or will soon be open are going to be confronted with a variety of employment issues, including employees that cannot return to work or perhaps simply do not want to return. These situations will implicate the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act, Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Law, and other employment laws. Should you have questions about any of these matters you can contact Ethan R. O’Shea at eoshea@hrmml.com.