How to Safely Reopen Your Business After COVID-19Article published on May 20, 2020
In the two months since the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic-level crisis, a historic 97% of the US population has fallen under stay-at-home orders, and businesses across the nation have closed their doors.
A recent study by Womply analyzed credit card processing data to estimate the closure rates for each industry. Some industries within food and beverage worked quickly to move services online and create curbside pickup operations, allowing them to keep closure rates below 50%. Other industries however, like health and beauty, saw a staggering 87% closure rate.
At the start of May, all of this began to change and business-restrictions began to lift in more than a dozen states. While this comes as a relief for many, it carries with it inherent anxieties as well, for business owners and patrons alike. Recent polls indicate that 78% of Americans are still very concerned about Corona infection, for instance.
Here are a few simple steps businesses can take to safely reopen amid COVID concerns
Enforce social distancing with signage and floor stickers
The “distance” aspect of “social-distancing” has evolved throughout the Corona pandemic, but the CDC is currently setting the recommended distance at 6 feet. Since many reopening guidelines require adhering to these CDC social distancing recommendations, this means businesses are responsible for keeping employees and patrons 6 feet apart.
This may be a challenge, but not necessarily a new one. Many businesses are leaning on products like floor signs, stanchion sign attachments and floor stickers to help them enforce social distancing within their walls.
Floor stickers are especially effective as they can be measured for exact 6 foot distances to offer clear, visual makers where customers can safely stand while waiting in line. While traditional signage and messaging is important, it’s also important to minimize user error however possible. This floor decal method for checkout line spacing is one of the most effective ways to do this.
Enforce customer and employee mask requirements
Just as the CDC recommends social distancing, it’s also recommending cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Corporations large and small have taken this recommendation seriously, requiring all customers wear a mask within their walls. American Airlines for instance began requiring masks for its customers on May 11th and companies like Disney are beginning to consider this as well.
With mask requirements becoming more common, the public is becoming more attuned, watching for indicators everywhere they go. The best thing you can do to help facilitate your customers is to clearly indicate any mask requirements right away, at each of your entrances. This is where visitors expect to see regulations posted, so you and your business should be prepared to meet this expectation with messaging that’s clear, but polite.
Continue this messaging throughout your store or facility with floor stands, or make use of existing stanchions with stanchion-topper signs. If possible, consider offering masks to those who’ve come unprepared.
Supply ample hand sanitizer with hygiene stations
Some have misunderstood gloves as equally important to masks, but the CDC attempts to clarify that gloves are only useful for specific tasks like cleaning or caring for the sick.
In its glove guidelines, the CDC states “Wearing gloves outside of these instances (for example, when using a shopping cart or using an ATM) will not necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19 and may still lead to the spread of germs.” Instead, the CDC recommends, “regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.”
As a business owner, you can help minimize the spread of COVID-19 by making sure hand sanitizer is available throughout your store or business. While it’s helpful to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at checkout, consider also using free-standing hand sanitizer stands dispersed throughout the store.
The CDC recommends specific instructions for disinfecting your environment. As you reopen your business, consider enhancing your morning and evening clean-up routines to include disinfection, paying attention to all exposed surfaces such as shopping carts, display cases, door knobs, etc.
Expect this to add a significant amount of time to your ordinary cleaning routine, as it should be a multi-step process. Specifically, the CDC recommends wiping surfaces down with simple soap and water first, and then using an EPA-approved disinfectant.
The EPA provides specific guidelines for optimal disinfection in an infographic here.
Check CDC guidelines daily
While this guide gives you a good start to safely opening your store or business, make sure to check the CDC’s resources directly for the most current guidelines. The CDC has a number of useful resources for community wellness as well as best practices and considerations for specific businesses types.