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May 18, 2020

COVID-19: Eligible Connecticut Businesses to Open May 20

Starting May 20, the following types of businesses are permitted to reopen in Connecticut: restaurants (outdoor only, no bar areas), retail, office environments, and museums and zoos (outdoor only).

The state has released detailed rules that eligible businesses must follow to reopen. Prior to opening, businesses must self-certify their compliance with the rules online. Separate informational packets have been published for each industry containing industry-specific rules for reopening. Businesses should thoroughly review the rules specific to their industry prior to reopening and self-certifying.

There are a number of rules and directives that are universally applicable to all reopening businesses. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Businesses can only reopen at 50-percent capacity.
  • Employers must share the state’s reopening rules with their employees and appoint a “program administrator” to see that the rules are followed.
  • The state requires employers to implement a free training program on safety protocols for employees during normal work hours. Weekly “refreshers” must be provided to employees.
  • Businesses must perform a thorough cleaning prior to reopening and must also develop a “cleaning plan” that incorporates the state’s guidelines.
  • Employees are required, in most cases, to wear personal protection equipment (PPE) (i.e., face masks or an equivalent) while at work, to be made available by the employer. An exception is provided if wearing a face mask or an equivalent would be contrary to the employee’s health and safety due to a medical condition. Businesses should check their industry-specific rules to determine if and when employees may be permitted to remove PPE. The use of gloves is optional in most cases, but required in some circumstances, such as restaurant employees who are serving tables. If gloves are used, they must be changed between customers.
  • Employers are required to establish discrete work zones, where possible, to ensure adequate distance between employees and customers.
  • The state is requiring businesses to limit the use of shared equipment, to the extent possible, and to use touchless amenities where possible.
  • Businesses must require employees to wash their hands frequently and must routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
  • Businesses are required to post social distancing markers encouraging employees and customers to remain six feet apart where possible.
  • Non-essential amenities must be closed or removed.
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available at the business’s entrance and common areas.
  • Employers must ask returning employees to confirm they haven’t experienced COVID-19-related symptoms and to continue monitoring for symptoms. If an employee is sick, they must stay home. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must inform their employer and follow state testing and contact tracing protocols.
  • Finally, employers are required to post signage outlining these rules and including the hotline number for employees or customers to call to report violations. Employers are advised they may not retaliate against employees for raising concerns about COVID-19-related safety or health conditions.

The rules provide the strictest measures at this initial reopening phase and are expected to be eased gradually as the situation stabilizes.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Dan Elliott, partner, at delliott@barclaydamon.com or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. Please contact Yvonne Hennessey, COVID-19 Response Team leader, at yhennessey@barclaydamon.com or any member of the COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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