General Business FAQs
Healthy Business Operations
Q:
What is social distancing and how can my workplace do that?
A:
Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (at least 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. Strategies that businesses could use include:


  • Allowing flexible worksites (such as telework)

  • Allowing flexible work hours (such as staggered shifts)

  • Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite

  • Increasing physical space between employees and customers (such as a drive-through and partitions)

  • Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (such as postponing non-essential meetings or events)

  • Downsizing operations

  • Delivering services remotely (e.g., phone, video, or web)

  • Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery

Q:
I don't provide paid sick leave to my employees. What should I do?
A:
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.


Q:
Should I require employees to provide a doctor's notice or positive COVID-19 test result?
A:
Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider's note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation on time.
Q:
Should I cancel my meetings and conferences?
A:
Carefully consider whether travel is necessary, and use videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible for work-related meetings and gatherings. Employers should consider cancelling, adjusting, or postponing large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person.


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.


Cleaning and Disinfection in the Workplace
Q:
How do I clean and disinfect machinery or equipment?
A:
Current evidence, though still preliminary, suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


If the machinery or equipment in question is not accessible to employees or have not been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19, they will not present an exposure hazard.


If machinery or equipment are thought to be contaminated and can be cleaned, follow the cleaning and disinfection recommendations. First clean dirty surfaces with soap and water.


If machinery or equipment are thought to be contaminated and cannot be cleaned, they can be isolated. Isolate papers or any soft (porous) surfaces for a minimum of 24 hours before handling. After 24 hours, remove soft materials from the area and clean the hard (non-porous) surfaces per the cleaning and disinfection recommendations. Isolate hard (non-porous) surfaces that cannot be cleaned and disinfected for a minimum of 7 days before handling.


Q:
How can I safely use the cleaning chemical?
A:
Follow safe work practices when using cleaning chemicals:
  • Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used when you are cleaning and disinfecting. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed based on the setting and product you are using.

  • Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.

  • Make sure that employees know which cleaning chemicals must be diluted and how to correctly dilute the cleaners they are using.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method, and contact time.

Q:
In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, what can I do to decrease the spread of disease in my workplace?
A:
Employers can also:


  • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.

  • Provide soap and water in the workplace. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be chosen over hand sanitizer.

  • Place hand sanitizer in multiple locations to encourage good hand hygiene practices.

  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, the importance of hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette at the entrance to your workplace and in other work areas where employees are likely to see them.

  • Discourage handshaking

Q:
Should I adjust my ventilation system?
A:
The risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 through ventilation systems has not been studied but is likely low. Routine HVAC maintenance is recommended. Although it is never the first line of prevention, consider general ventilation adjustments in your workplace, such as increasing ventilation and increasing the amount of outdoor air used by the system. Maintain the indoor air temperature and humidity at comfortable levels for building occupants.
Q:
If I shut down my facility as a result of a COVID-19 case or outbreak, what is recommended way to clean and disinfect, and what is the appropriate timeframe to resume operations?
A:
  • Follow the guidance for cleaning and disinfection.

  • Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize the 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 before disinfection.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method, contact time, and required PPE.


Operations can resume as soon as the cleaning and disinfection are completed.


Critical Infrastructure
Q:
How do I know if my business is considered critical?
A:
The Department of Homeland Security developed a list of essential critical infrastructure workers to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety as well as economic and national security. State and local officials make the final determinations for their jurisdictions about critical infrastructure workers.
Q:
Should I allow critical infrastructure employees to work if they have been exposed but are not showing symptoms of COVID-19?
A:
Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency, for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. When continuous remote work is not possible, critical infrastructure businesses should use strategies to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, separating staff by off-setting shift hours or days and implementing social distancing. These steps can preserve and protect the workforce and allow operations to continue.


To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, It is advised that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. Critical infrastructure businesses should limit, to the extent possible, the reintegration of in-person workers who have experienced an exposure to COVID-19 but remain symptom-free in ways that best protect the health of the worker, their co-workers, and the general public.


An analysis of core job tasks and workforce availability at worksites can allow the employer to match core activities to other equally skilled and available in-person workers who have not been exposed to the virus. Critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed but remain symptom-free and must return to in-person work should adhere to the following practices before and during their work shift:


  • Pre-screen for symptoms
  • Monitor regularly for symptoms
  • Wear a face mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Clean and disinfect work spaces
  • Sick employees should be sent home and should not return to the workplace until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation.