Rules for entering a grocery store with Social Distancing during COVID-19

A Small Business Guide to Safe Start Washington

In Washington State, we are following Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the new Safe Start phased steps to COVID-19 recovery.  What does this mean for you and your business?   You can find the Safe Start Plan here.  Or, read on for a guide.

The Essentials

  • There are 4 phases in the governor’s plan for a Safe Start to COVID-19 recovery
  • Phase 1 is the most stringent, while phase 4 is the last phase before all restrictions are lifted
  • Each phase will last at least 3 weeks
  • The governor currently has the entire state in Phase 1, but each county in Washington State can move through the phases independently by applying for a variance
  • Transition to the next phase is based on an eligibility threshold of COVID-19 disease activity and specific criteria of
    • Healthcare system readiness
    • Testing capacity and availability
    • Case and contact investigations
    • Ability to protect high risk populations
  • Counties must apply for a variance to move into a new phase, even if all eligibility thresholds and criteria are met, or wait for the governor to move the entire State into the next phase
  • The governor’s office has a map with up to date information on the phase and eligibility of each Washington County here

What are the Requirements?

In All Phases, Individuals should continue to:

  • Engage in physical distancing, staying at least six feet away from other people
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public places when not eating or drinking (cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance)
  • Stay home if sick
  • Avoid others who are sick
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water (use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

In All Phases, Employers are required to:

  • Maintain the six-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons. Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
  • Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
  • Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors and patrons. Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
  • Identify personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards. Provide the necessary PPE and supplies to employees.
  • Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee. Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness. This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
  • Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
  • On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
  • Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Proclamation 20-25, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Coronavirus Prevention Under Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.
  • Challenge Seattle and the Washington Roundtable have developed a business checklist which is a great starting point for businesses as they prepare for a Safe Start.  Our shared goal is to establish clear requirements that everyone can understand and apply — employers, workers and customers.

Businesses are also expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry.  Those industry-specific guides can be found here.

Phase 1:

  • No gatherings
  • Essential businesses open
  • Existing construction that meets agreed upon criteria
  • Landscaping
  • Auto/RV/Boat/ORV sales
  • Retail (curb-side pick-up orders only)
  • Car washes
  • Pet walkers

Phase 2:

  • Gather with no more than 5 people outside your household per week
  • Remaining manufacturing
  • Additional construction phases
  • In-home/domestic services (nannies, housecleaning, etc.)
  • Retail (in-store purchases allowed with restrictions)
  • Real estate
  • Professional services/o‑ce-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • Hair and nail salons/barbers
  • Pet grooming
  • Restaurants <50% capacity table size no larger than 5

Phase 3:

  • Allow gatherings with no more than 50 people
  • Restaurants/taverns <75% capacity/ table size no larger than 10
  • Bar areas in restaurant/taverns at <25% capacity
  • Movie theaters at <50% capacity
  • Customer-facing government services (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • All other business activities not yet listed except for nightclubs and events with greater than 50 people
  • Outdoor group recreational sports activities (5–50 people)
  • Recreational facilities at <50% capacity (gyms, public pools, etc.)
  • Professional sports without audience participation (horseracing, baseball, etc.

Phase 4:

  • Nightclubs
  • Concert venues
  • Large sporting events
  • Resume unrestricted staffing of worksites, but continue to practice physical distancing and good hygiene

What comes next?

Now that you have some idea when your business may reopen or partially reopen, it’s time to figure out how to do it.  You can view the US Chamber of Commerce’s Guide to Reopening Your Business.

Supplies:

The City of Seattle launched an online marketplace for purchasing face coverings in bulk: Seattle Protects.  Stock up to be ready to supply them to your employees.

These Seattle Distilleries are offering hand sanitizer.  Or contact a distillery in your area to see if they are doing the same.

Business Impact NW is here to help with business coaches and classes.  Sign up here, or browse our class calendar for new webinars and Q&A sessions.  We will be there with the small business community through this crisis and recovery.  Stay safe.

About the author

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Greta Stough
Director of Development and Communications at

Greta Stough is the Director of Development and Communications at Business Impact NW. She has a passion for sharing the work we do here in compelling ways. Prior to joining Business Impact NW, Greta operated her own consulting business, The Cabra Group, for over a decade, focusing on nonprofit development, community planning, grants and fundraising. Prior to that she was the Director of Development for the Suquamish Tribe. She has an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College. She did graduate work in Planning at NYU, living for five years in Brooklyn and enjoying diverse food, culture, and music. Greta enjoys hiking, cooking for her family, classic film, and playing with her English Cocker Spaniel, Scooter.

Posted in Blog, Small Biz Tips

Greta Stough View posts by Greta Stough

Greta Stough is the Director of Development and Communications at Business Impact NW. She has a passion for sharing the work we do here in compelling ways. Prior to joining Business Impact NW, Greta operated her own consulting business, The Cabra Group, for over a decade, focusing on nonprofit development, community planning, grants and fundraising. Prior to that she was the Director of Development for the Suquamish Tribe. She has an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College. She did graduate work in Planning at NYU, living for five years in Brooklyn and enjoying diverse food, culture, and music. Greta enjoys hiking, cooking for her family, classic film, and playing with her English Cocker Spaniel, Scooter.
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