What do workplaces need to know about the Opening Up America Again Plan?

The Opening Up America Again plan is a three-step plan to help businesses open back up again while still minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19. It was developed using the advice of public health experts and is designed to help state and local officials decide how they can help get people back to work. The program is not setup to give specific step by step guidance for each company, but rather provide overarching strategies that state and local agencies can use to make their rules and regulations.

Three Phases of Reopening 

The three phases will give various categories of people advice on what they should be doing. Employers at phase one, for example, are encouraged to continue letting people work from home where possible. Many workplaces such as gyms, large venues, and others can start to open up, but only with extreme caution. This primarily consists of strict social distancing and use of face masks. Some employers such as schools and bars need to remain closed.

At stage two telework is still encouraged as long as it is possible while still completing essential business operations. For businesses that do open back up for work, common areas should either be closed off or reorganized to discourage groups of people from gathering together. Employers should, if possible, create areas in the workplace for those who are more vulnerable or those who take care of the vulnerable. These areas can be isolated and follow even stricter social distancing and cleaning requirements.

Phase three is when all types of businesses can open, but it does not mean that there is no precaution needed. For example, large venues where many people gather (theaters, sit-down dining, certain manufacturing & warehousing, etc) can open as long as they follow limited physical distancing protocols. Following proven sanitization strategies is also necessary for these types of businesses, and encouraged for all employers.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the entire Coronavirus reopening process is going to remain somewhat fluid. If a particular area is in phase three, but then experiences a significant uptick in confirmed infections, they may move back down to phase two. In addition, as the medical and scientific communities learn more about this virus and how it spreads, changes are likely to be made to these phases. Keeping up to date with the latest information from the CDC or OSHA about COVID-19 is critical for all employers.


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