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My business is reopening....what do I need to do?

Posted by Katherine L. Taylor, Attorney | Aug 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

 

Bars/Restaurants

Beginning May 29, the state of Maryland began allowing restaurants to reopen, provided that they only seat patrons outside at tables holding up to six people; all tables must be at least six feet away from each other. Customers must wear masks when not dining, and employees must wear masks at all times. Governor Hogan allowed for indoor seating to resume June 12, with the same seating guidelines. Indoor spaces are limited to 50% of their normal maximum seating capacity.

Best Practices for Reopening (MD government):
This resource from the state government gives instructions for what reopening should look like. This includes what new logistics managers should plan for, what employees should be trained on, social distancing measures that restaurants must now enforce and guidelines for cleanliness and communication.

Checklist for Reopening (ecolab):
This is an exhaustive resource, with specific instructions for a wide variety of restaurant-related concerns. Instructions include information about ensuring employee safety, cleaning and maintaining various areas of the restaurant, and resuming operations. This list is thorough enough to provide specific guidelines for how to clean numerous specific items such as chairs and ice machines.

COVID-19 Food Safety (MD Department of Health):
This guide answers common questions about food safety and restaurant safety. It provides instructions in the case of an employee potentially having COVID-19 or testing positive, as well as instructions for safe food storage and transportation. There are also explanations of various potential concerns regarding outdoor dining, such as determining what situations qualify as “outdoor.”

Reopening Guide (National Restaurant Association):
This guide provides a summary of suggested practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread in restaurants. Some of the suggestions are already common practice, such as asking that sick employees not come into work, and ensuring that all staff regularly and thoroughly wash their hands. The guide also includes instructions for regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, adjusting services like salad bars and buffets to meet state guidelines, monitoring employee health and enforcing social distancing guidelines.

Chiropractor

The Department of Homeland Security declared Chiropractors to be essential workers. In Maryland, Governor Hogan's executive orders did not require chiropractic offices to close; patients deemed to have a justifiable need for chiropractic care who made an appointment were allowed to see their practitioner. While during the lockdown, offices were encouraged to have all employees telework who could reasonably do so, offices can now begin to bring those employees back to work, under certain conditions.

Reopening and Reigniting Your Practice (NYSCA):
Although this guide is from New York state, nearly all of it is applicable to all Chiropractic offices. It offers instructions for a number of aspects of the reopening process, including avoiding the spread of COVID-19 at your office, screening patients, adjusting operations to minimize risk, and communicating with patients.

Guide to Reopening Your Practice (NCMIC):
This is a thorough reopening guide from the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Corporation. It includes advice about managing the business and financial aspect of reopening and operating at a limited capacity, as well as practical instructions for ensuring safety in a practice, and important context. There is also a helpful checklist to ensure that offices are prepared for numerous different aspects of the reopening process.

Selections from CDC Guidelines (Maryland Chiropractic Association):
This resource highlights specific instructions from the CDC's coronavirus guidelines that are relevant to chiropractic practices. It includes suggestions for how to minimize potential exposure to the virus through distancing, screening, isolation, and hygiene practices. It also gives information about different forms of personal protective equipment (PPE), what they offer, and how and when they should be worn.

Commercial Real Estate

Recovery Readiness (Cushman & Wakefield):
This thorough set of resources is divided into six sections, focusing on impact on the economy, workplace, investments, commerce, industries, and sustainability. Each section has a written report, a webinar available to replay, and a series of articles on specific areas.

Getting Back to Work: Preparing Buildings for Re-Entry Amid COVID-19 (BOMA):
This resource from the Building Owners and Managers Association explains the necessary steps and best practices to reopen commercial buildings. It explains the steps for planning and preparing to reopen, ensuring that the building is a safe operating environment, and protecting workers and tenants.

Dentist

In Maryland, dentists qualified as essential services, although they had to halt elective procedures under the stay-at-home order. As part of the reopening, dental practices have been allowed to resume elective procedures since May 6. Dentistry faces some safety risks that other industries do not, as the coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets from the mouth.

Guidance for Dental Settings (CDC):
These thorough instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are specific to the dentistry field and cover nearly every area of operation. There are guidelines for maximizing distances at offices, screening patients, sterilizing surfaces and equipment, and protecting staff. There are also instructions for what to do when a patient may have COVID-19.

Interim Guide on Returning to Work (ADHA):
These instructions from the American Dental Hygienists' Association are based on the CDC guidelines (see above), but provide some additional information. There are specific instructions about types of personal protective equipment (PPE), when patients should not be treated, and necessary accommodations to reduce disease spread. The ADHA also includes a patient screening questionnaire that offices can use.

Re-Emerging Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD):
These instructions, from the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, are specific for practices that treat children. They provide guidance for preparing offices to reopen, issues to consider involving management and treatment, and issues specific to treating children. There are also links to other specific resources.

COVID-19 Guidelines (MSDA):
This frequently updated resource from the Maryland State Dental Association compiles numerous different items. Included are state orders regarding COVID-19 and general messages from MSDA leadership. There are links to numerous different resources for dentistry practices regarding reopening and safety. There are also resources to purchase PPE, which can be hard to find due to increased demand.

Dance Studio

Maryland Best Practices for Fitness Centers:
This guide from the state government gives step-by-step instructions for fitness centers to prepare to reopen and ensure they are operating safely. While it does not specifically mention dance studios, the instructions are broad, and are generally applicable to dance studios.

Return to Dancing and Training Considerations (Dance USA):
These guidelines from Dance USA, a national nonprofit that promotes professional dance, apply federal public health instructions to dance studios. They describe what each phase of the reopening process means for studios and how they should function in each, instruct how to maintain social distancing in each portion of the dance studio, and provide other considerations for reducing disease spread.

COVID-19 FAQs for Dancers and Dance Companies (Dance USA):
In addition to being useful for those managing dance studios, this information could be provided to dancers in order to minimize the spread of coronavirus at the studio. It includes basic information about COVID-19 and how to reduce risk, as well as special considerations for dancers while taking precautions such as wearing masks. There are also instructions about conducting health screenings and sanitizing equipment.

Fitness Center

Fitness centers are one of the higher-risk areas for coronavirus, as it is spread through respiratory droplets, which are expelled in larger quantities when breathing heavily. Further, some people find it harder to exercise while wearing a mask.

Maryland Best Practices for Fitness Centers:
This guide from the state government gives step-by-step instructions for fitness centers to prepare to reopen and ensure they are operating safely. The steps provided will help you minimize the risk to your staff and customers. The instructions are left broad, so not all businesses will need to make the same adjustments in order to comply with them.

18 Safety Considerations for Your Health Club Reopening (IHRSA):
This is a list of things to consider when creating your reopening plan. Each business's plan will be slightly different in order to meet their specific needs, but a plan should address every aspect of operation to ensure it is as safe as possible. This list focuses on specific questions that fitness centers must address within the areas of social distancing, sanitation, staff safety, and daily operations.

COVID-19 Industry Guidelines: Fitness Facilities (CDPH):
These guidelines from the California Department of Public Health give specific instructions for numerous aspects of fitness center safety. There are instructions for ensuring physical distancing between patrons at all times, minimizing the risk of disease transmission through equipment and infrastructure, and screening and employee instructions. There are also additional instructions for locker rooms and communal showers, and for pools.

Fitness Sector Rules for June 17th Reopening (Reopen Connecticut):
While the dates for reopening in this resource are specific to Connecticut, the rules it provides are extremely helpful for ensuring safe operation. There are instructions for altering different types of equipment and workout areas, such as basketball courts, free weights, and locker rooms, as well as for minimizing risk in team sports and group activities.

General Office

COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings (CDC):
These guidelines from the CDC instruct employers on how to minimize the spread of coronavirus in offices once they reopen. They include instructions on altering layout, increasing physical distancing, and limiting the number of people in the building at a time. There is also specific information about hygiene and sanitation, and links to other resources for more information.

Reopening: Guidance for General Office Settings (AIHA):
This source, from the American Industrial Hygiene Association, gives specific information about altering layout, workflow, and physical environment in order to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the office. There are also instructions about employee training and screening, and communicating with employees to ensure everyone adheres to best practices for safety.

Safety Standards and Checklists: Office Spaces (MDPH):
This thorough list from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health instructs employers on how to comply with Massachusetts reopening instructions in office spaces. While not all states have exactly the same requirements, many of the instructions given are similar, and all are good suggestions to maximize safety.

Law Office

Guidance on Re-Opening Law Firms (NYSBA):
While this guide is tailored specifically to New York State's reopening timeline, it still provides helpful instructions on preparing to reopen your firm's office. It gives suggestions on how to improve distancing between employees, make sure staff knows and uses proper behavior for minimizing disease risk, and how to alter business practices to better prioritize safety.

Reopening Your Practice (ISBA):
This pamphlet from the Indiana State Bar Association gives general step-by-step instructions for each main aspect of the reopening process. These instructions will help you make your office as safe as it can possibly be, although you will still need to make specific decisions based on the nature of your particular office.

Guidance and Best Practices for Reopening Law Firms (NJSBA):
This resource offers instructions in a number of areas, as well as specific suggestions about ways to increase physical distancing between staff, improve hygiene and sanitation, and other ways to make your office safer.

Reopening Your Law Firm Office (CLA):
This page breaks the reopening process down into eight steps, from “designate a transition team” to “use physical distancing guidelines.” Each step also includes directions for how to coordinate and prepare, such as communicating with landlords and other tenants to ensure safe protocols in elevators.

Liquor Store

In Maryland, as with many states, Liquor Stores were deemed an essential business and allowed to remain open through the stay-at-home order. Stores that stayed open should have adjusted to allow for customers to remain socially distant while shopping, and stores just reopening now should do the same.

What Grocery and Food Retail Workers Need to Know (CDC):
These guidelines and suggestions from the CDC offer ways to help reduce the risk for employees and customers of food retail stores, a category which can include liquor stores. There are instructions for employees to maximize their own safety, such as regularly washing hands and wearing masks, and instructions for employers for how to protect their employees.

Maryland Executive Order Temporarily Allowing Delivery of Alcohol:
During the state-mandated closure, restaurants were allowed to stay open, but could not offer dine-in service. In order to better accommodate the increased reliance on delivery and carry-out dining, Governor Hogan issued an order temporarily allowing for businesses with proper permits to deliver alcoholic drinks.

Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments (FDA):
These guidelines from the FDA provide instructions and suggestions for food retail establishments to reopen and operate safely. There is a checklist for ensuring that the facility is set up to minimize risk to staff and customers by encouraging social distancing and maximizing air circulation.

Physician

Some physicians' offices stayed open during stay-at-home orders in order to offer essential services and access to COVID-19 testing. Many doctors switched to telehealth in order to offer non-emergency care.

COVID-19: A Physical Practice Guide to Reopening (AMA):
This resource offers relatively thorough instructions for repairing to reopen and ensuring that your practice is safe once it reopens. This source focuses less on ensuring physical distancing and more on general health and safety. There is also an example health screening script.

Frequently Asked Questions (MDH):
These FAQs from the Maryland Department of Health explain when in-person treatment is appropriate and provide instructions for telehealth care. There is also information about antibody testing, staffing, protection of immunocompromised patients, and treating COVID-19.

COVID-19 Medical Practice Reopening Checklist (MGMA):
This resource gives a brief overview of important considerations for reopening doctor's offices, and provides a link to a video presentation that is far more thorough. There is also a checklist for the reopening process.

Re-opening Facilities to Provide Non-Emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare (CMS):
These instructions, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, provide a guide for determining when and how to care for patients who do not have COVID-19, in a non-emergency setting.

Psychologist

Much like doctors, many psychologists have begun conducting services over phone and video chat. While practices slowly reopen, some may continue to offer telehealth services until the risk of disease is even lower.

When Is it OK to Resume In-Person Services? (APA):
This resource offers important issues to consider when deciding whether to resume in-person services, including the importance of in-person visits to patient health. It also offers suggestions to minimize risk to patients and staff.

Opening Your Practice During COVID-19:
This resource offers information about when and how to reopen practices for in-person services, taking into account patient response to telehealth, safety of staff and patients, and potential liability concerns. It also provides links to other resources that may be helpful.

Answers to Latest Questions About Providing Telehealth Services (APA):
These FAQs from the American Psychological Association explain the expectations, legal requirements, and best practices for telehealth services. They explain what is and is not allowed by Medicare (and other insurance providers), and address the potential ethical concerns regarding quality of care.

Retail

Safety Standards and Checklists: Retail Businesses (MDPH):
This resource lists the mandatory standards for reopening retail stores in Massachusetts as part of the state's Phase II, as well as other best practices. While the requirements are not applicable in all states or phases, they are still useful to consider. There are guidelines for social distancing, hygiene and sanitation, and employee safety, along with specific instructions for how to ensure that the standards are met.

COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Retail (CDPH):
This resource explains the process of reopening retail stores and the steps necessary to do so safely, beginning with setting up a reopening plan and training employees on new standards and expectations. It provides guidelines for employee health screenings and use of PPE, as well as sanitation to minimize health risk. There are also instructions on how to enforce physical distancing between patrons.

Guidelines for Reopening A Customer-Facing Business (MRA):
These guidelines from the Minnesota Retailers Association explain the state's specific requirements for reopening, and offer suggested best practices and resources for more information. Instructions include communication with employees and customers, hygiene and safety, and physical distancing.

Tutoring Company

During the pandemic, many tutoring services went online, conducting lessons over video calls and other technology. In fact, many parents signed students up for new tutoring, as distance learning at schools offered less instruction and content.

COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Youth, Student, and Child Care Programs (MDPH):
These guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Public Health are more general, covering all different types of student and child care programs, such as daycares, tutoring centers, and summer camps. They explain how to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus, with instructions on promoting physical distancing, health checks, and other measures.

K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs (CDC):
These CDC guidelines answer frequent questions for parents, teachers, and administrators about safety in various aspects of child care. There are instructions for different situations, based on the levels of community spread at a given time, and for students with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Engineering Company with Offices

See general office.

About the Author

Katherine L. Taylor, Attorney

Katherine founded Taylor Legal after serving for 10 years as Senior Assistant County Solicitor for Howard County Government, and 7 years as a commercial litigator at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, a premier law firm in Baltimore, Maryland.

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