The city has entered the first phase of its gradual reopening, which means that non-essential businesses can now legally operate in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak. To prevent another spike in infections, businesses will be operating in a limited capacity. So, while we can’t leisurely browse inside our favorite boutiques and record stores just yet, we can at least support our local shops again (rather than rely on ordering everything online).
Retailers are among the businesses given the green light to reopen for delivery, curbside and pickup service. Governor Cuomo issued guidelines for stores and shoppers to follow, as did New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Mind you, these are minimum requirements, so store owners and managers should feel free to add any additional precautions they deem appropriate.
The following are mandatory state guidelines for reopening.
—Retail workers must keep six feet away from coworkers. Employers are required to place signs or other markers around the store denoting six feet of space. Sometimes maintaining that distance is difficult in small spaces like stockrooms, narrow aisles and the area behind the cash register. In these instances, employees must wear masks when expected to work in close quarters with a customer or coworker. It’s also recommended that retailers post one-way arrows in aisles and set up physical barriers (e.g. plastic shields) when keeping six feet away isn’t feasible.
—Establish clearly marked designated areas for pickup and delivery. In the interest of avoiding unnecessary contact, shops are advised to “stagger customer arrivals by advising pickup time windows, and avoid direct handoffs.” It’s also a good idea to encourage customers to pay for orders ahead of time (or use touchless payment methods while curbside), and encourage them to wear the appropriate face coverings when picking up purchases.
—Limit in-person meetings and utilize video-meeting and conference-call tools. In-person meetings should be held in open, well-ventilated rooms where all participants can observe social distancing.
The following are the guidelines from the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection that “your employer must follow.”
—Have a safety plan posted for all employees. Post it somewhere where everyone can see it.
—Conduct employee health screenings daily. You should stay home if sick or go home if you become sick at work.
—Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations for personnel. This includes handwashing with soap, water, and paper towels, as well as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible.
—Regularly clean shared equipment. Also, frequently clean touched surfaces.
Other first-phase industries include construction, manufacturing and agriculture. Reopening guidelines for each of those industries can be found here.