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Re-Opening an Office

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close their offices and telework to the best of their capabilities. However, with Governor Cooper’s announcement that North Carolina will enter Phase 1 on Friday May 8 at 5 PM, most businesses will be allowed to return to their offices beginning Monday May 11. Businesses being allowed to open is a great step for the State of North Carolina, but safety remains the first and foremost priority.

When businesses re-open, they will undoubtedly look much different than they did prior to this pandemic. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has provided guidance on required steps that must be taken by businesses. There are three (3) required signs to be posted: (1) a reminder for people to stay 6 feet apart; (2) a request that people who are symptomatic not enter; and (3) Reduced Emergency Maximum Occupancy. Occupancy is limited to no more than 50% of stated fire code capacity. Moreover, it is required that employers perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas, make hand sanitizer available, and make disinfecting wipes/spray available for shared items. Lastly, in terms of dealing with employees, businesses must have a plan to isolate employees with symptoms, screen employees daily for symptoms, and educate employees on preventing the spread of COVID-19

NCDHHS has also outlined recommended steps for businesses that re-open. A sample of these recommendations include: (1) having employees wear cloth face coverings; (2) promote telework and limit meetings to no more than 10 people; (3) clearly mark 6 feet of spacing in lines and other areas where people congregate and enforce those limitations. For the full list of NCDHHS recommendations (as well as the previously mentioned requirements), please visit https://files.nc.gov/ncdhhs/Checklist-for-Businesses-Phase-1-English.docx.

On a national level, here is a link to CDC guidelines for re-opening of the following businesses: Child Care Programs; Schools and Day Camps; Employers with Vulnerable Workers; Restaurants and Bars; Mass Transit Administrators; and Communities of Faith; https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/6935-CDC-opening guidelines/e1a8802d0d76b3eb43a8/optimized/full.pdf#page=1.

As businesses prepare to re-open, our team at Hannah Sheridan & Cochran, LLP wish everyone safety and good health.

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