Communities everywhere began to reopen. After months of adhering to stay-at-home restrictions implemented in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, businesses were allowed to reopen if they followed certain guidelines.
Reopening a business after months of closures or limited operations is uncharted territory for many small business owners. In recognition of the anxiety some small business owners may feel about reopening, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce offers the following tips to ensure the transition back to business is safe and smooth.
• Start before opening your doors. Though economies in many parts of the globe are reopening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending that people adhere to social distancing guidelines when leaving their homes.
Business owners can help consumers follow those rules by preparing their offices and establishments for life in the age of social distancing. The CDC recommends that people maintain distances of at least six feet between one another while out in public, so business owners can mark every six feet in their stores near checkout lines and cash registers to make it easier for customers to shop and stay socially distant at the same time. Offices preparing to welcome employees back can create more distance between work stations.
• Get creative with scheduling. Offices can establish days when certain workers come into the office while others work remotely and vice versa. This allows employees to get out of the house and do some work in the office while making social distancing in an office setting that much easier.
• Make a plan to monitor employees’ health. The health of employees is a big concern for small business owners on the cusp of reopening their facilities to consumers and workers. The COC advises business owners to create employee wellness plans to monitor the health of their employees.
COC recommendations include:
- provide personal protective equipment (PPE) or face coverings for all employees
- institute daily temperature checks to enter a workplace
- encourage employees to self-report any symptoms via daily symptom surveys
• Implement safety measures that govern the handling of physical items. Reopening is a team effort that requires cooperation between consumers and businesses. Each group can do their part by recognizing the need to change how physical items are handled. Cashless payments at registers can minimize the risk of virus transmission. However, businesses must recognize that some consumers may not have access to credit or debit cards, and it may be necessary to develop a contingency plan to accommodate such customers.
• Communicate plans clearly. The COC notes the importance of clearly communicating a strategy to customers and employees so each understands their role in mitigating COVID-related risks. Reiterate messages in-store and through transactional touchpoints and be ready to adapt the strategy as the situation changes.
Reopening is a tall task for small business owners. But it’s a challenge they can confront together with their staffs and customers working in concert.
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