UPDATE ON NEW WORK SAFE ADDITIONS TO THE BE SMART, STAY SAFE ORDER
August 12th MEMO from Agency of Commerce & Community Development:
In the days and weeks to come we will work to restart Vermont’s economy in the wake of COVID-19. Understanding the need to restart the economy as soon as possible and improve our overall social wellbeing, we cannot allow for a resurgence of COVID-19 that would undermine or lose the important public health outcomes achieved to date. Our work to transition Vermont out from under the Stay Home order swiftly and responsibly will take just as much effort and goodwill as we have all expended in recent weeks. Working closely with the Health Department, the State Emergency Operations Center, and dedicated professionals across State government, we have developed, and will continue to refine, critical steps to ensure the health and safety of Vermonters and the continuity of our healthcare system.
As we move forward, businesses and employees must understand that how they work is essential to resuming and maintaining business operations. Preventing outbreaks and limiting the spread of COVID-19 is the only way to avoid future business and social disruption. The success of this phased restart will depend in large part on the ability of employers and employees to adhere to the public health, safety, and social distancing measures essential to limiting the spread of illness.
To that end, the following is required of all businesses currently operating and those re-started:
MANDATORY HEALTH & SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL BUSINESS, NON-PROFIT & GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
All businesses must follow Vermont Department of Health and CDC guidelines:
- Employees shall not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work or job site if sick or symptomatic (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell).
- Employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job. Businesses and non-profit or government entities shall ensure customers observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on location, to the extent possible.
- Limit the occupancy of designated common areas, such as break rooms and cafeterias, so that occupants maintain strict social distancing of no less than 6 feet per individual. The employer shall enforce the occupancy limit and require employees to wipe down their area after use or shall ensure cleaning of the common areas at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask.
- Businesses, non-profit and government entities may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a mask. This includes refusing service to those who are exempt from the mask mandate, however, the business shall provide an alternate way for those unable to wear a mask to access the business, such as offering curbside pick-up, delivery, or other innovative solutions.
- Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization is required frequently including before entering, and leaving, job sites.
- All common spaces (when open) and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned regularly and, when possible, prior to transfer from one person to another, in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Prior to the commencement of each work shift, all employees shall complete a health survey either in-person at the worksite or prior to arriving at the worksite. This screening survey shall require an employee to verify that he or she has no symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) before they enter the workplace. It is strongly recommended that a temperature check be conducted by the employee at home or a non-contact temperature check be conducted by the employer or the employee at the worksite. Employers may create systems that work best for their unique operations – but must be able to demonstrate, if asked by employees or state health officials, how the system ensures employees have been pre-screened for symptoms before they enter the workplace.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
- When working inside, open doors and windows to promote air flow to the greatest extent possible and limit the number of people occupying a single indoor space.
- No more than 3 people shall occupy one vehicle when conducting work. Mass transit, taxis, ridesharing, and public safety are exempt from this rule.
- No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are allowed on site and any worker(s) who have close contact for more than 15 minutes with a worker or any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days. See the Department of Health’s guidance on work place exposures.
- All operations shall designate a health officer on-site at every shift responsible for ensuring compliance with the Executive Order and the Addenda thereto and applicable ACCD Guidance. This person shall have the authority to stop or modify activities to ensure work conforms with the mandatory health and safety requirements.
- All businesses and non-profit and government entities shall encourage and facilitate telework among those employees with the capacity to work remotely when practical without impeding productivity. Employers shall accommodate the needs of high risk individuals, those workers who may have child care needs which cannot be met due to the closure of schools or child care facilities for reasons relating to COVID-19 and those individuals with concerns about personal health circumstances.
- All employees, including those already working (except healthcare workers, first responders, and others already trained in infection control, personal protection/universal precautions), must complete, and employers must document, a training on mandatory health and safety requirements as provided by VOSHA, or another training program that meets or exceeds the VOSHA-provided standard. Employers who need translations of the training have one week from the release of the translated training to complete this requirement.
- All businesses that have been closed for 7 or more days during the state of emergency must complete and keep on file a reopening and training plan (businesses with fewer than 10 employees at any physical location are not required to create such a plan, however, they must follow all other guidelines and employees must take the VOSHA training). VOSHA and the Agency of Commerce have provided a template at https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/business/restart. The plan must, at a minimum:
- Adopt a phased approach to reopening which provides sufficient opportunity to operate first in a low density and low contact environment before making the incremental changes needed to accommodate more moderate density activity while continuing to maintain health and safety.
- Update physical and administrative safety systems to accommodate COVID-19 VDH/CDC/VOSHA guidelines, health monitoring, including temperature checks, cleaning and sanitizing methods and physical distancing measures.
- Take appropriate measures to protect employees at greater risk of contact by virtue of their occupational role or setting.
- Businesses with fewer than 10 employees at any physical location are not required to create such a plan, however, they must follow all other health and safety guidelines above including taking VOSHA training.
- For all mass transit CUSTOMERS/ RIDERS (in addition to the mandatory requirement for operators and staff) face coverings are mandatory on public transit conveyances and in stations and terminals. Private charter buses and large multi-passenger vans should only be used if density is reduced to allow for social distancing. This includes reducing capacity to 50 percent, leaving every other seat empty, and every other row open. Cloth face coverings must be worn. K-12 school transportation services shall follow guidance included in the Agency of Education’s Strong and Healthy Start guidance.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS FOR ALL BUSINESS, NON-PROFIT AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
- Use of shared workspaces, desks, offices, etc. is discouraged to the maximum extent practicable.
- Face-to-face staff meetings should be limited, and physical distancing must be observed.
- Consider staggered work shifts, break times, etc. and expanding hours to reduce number of individuals working together and reduce contact with members of the public.
- To the extent possible, provide access to hand washing and/or hand sanitizer for vendors, and customers.
- Limit staff travel between multiple sites.
- Ensure a safe process to receive supplies and deliveries.
- Consider accommodations for employees at higher risk from COVID-19 infection (as currently defined by the CDC) to work remotely or have a job tasks that minimize public interaction.
BUSINESS CUSTOMER & GENERAL PUBLIC MASK USE
As of Saturday, August 1, 2020, Vermonters and visitors are required to wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth any time they are in public spaces, indoors or outdoors, where they come in contact with others from outside their households, especially in congregate settings, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.
Masks or cloth facial coverings are not required when someone is engaged in strenuous exercise or activity, for anyone under the age of 2, any child or adult with a medical or developmental issue or challenge that is complicated or irritated by a facial covering, anyone with difficulty breathing or as further set forth in guidance issued by VDH. A person who declines to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a medical or developmental issue, or difficulty breathing, shall not be required to produce documentation, or other evidence, verifying the condition.
Businesses and non-profit and government entities shall implement measures notifying customers or clients of the requirement to wear masks or facial coverings, which may include, but shall not be limited to, posting signage stating that masks or cloth facial coverings are required and denial of entry or service to customers or clients who decline to wear masks or facial coverings.
For the text of the order establishing the mask requirement, read the Executive Order.
CROSS STATE TRAVEL
Vermonters may travel outside of Vermont to counties across the Northeast including New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia that have a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (less than 400 cases per million) and return without quarantining if they do so in a personal vehicle (including private air travel). Similarly, residents of other states who live in counties across the Northeast including New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia that have a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (less than 400 cases per million) may enter the state for leisure travel without quarantining under specific conditions laid out below.
The State of Vermont has determined that any county with less than 400 active cases of COVID-19 per one million residents meets this criteria. The Agency will publish an updated map and list each Friday by 5 p.m. at accd.vermont.gov identifying quarantine and non-quarantine counties throughout the Northeastern United States. Vermonters must remember to follow any travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for the states they plan to visit.
Residents from a non-quarantine county may travel to Vermont without quarantine restrictions if they travel directly to Vermont in their personal vehicle. This includes overnight travel, commuting for work, leisure visits and recreation. Travelers are encouraged to register with Sara Alert upon arrival to Vermont to get two weeks of daily reminders to check for common symptoms of COVID-19. Travelers must remember to follow any travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in their home upon return.
Travelers, including Vermonters, that visit or are from a quarantine county must still quarantine for 14-days upon entrance into Vermont or quarantine for at least seven days upon entrance into Vermont and receive a negative COVID-19 test.
Authorized Work Exemption: The State of Vermont currently allows those traveling to or from Vermont for authorized work, whether they are a Vermonter or a non-resident traveler, to enter Vermont without quarantining when:
- Traveling to conduct authorized work; and
- If the individual has not been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, has not experienced COVID-19-like symptoms in the past 24 hours including a fever a fever above 100.4 F, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache or new loss of taste or smell
Travelers may complete either: (i) a 14-day quarantine; or (ii) a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test – in their home state and enter Vermont without further quarantine restrictions if they drive directly from their home via their personal vehicle.
Travelers may complete either: (i) a 14-day quarantine; or (ii) a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test – in a Vermont lodging establishment regardless of destination origin or manner of travel (travelers must stay in their quarantine location for the duration of quarantine other than to travel to and from a test site).
People traveling for essential purposes, including work, do not need to quarantine. Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, or to perform work for businesses that are currently allowed to operate. The current State of Emergency requires employers to use remote work and telework whenever possible to avoid unnecessary work travel. Businesses and employees must only travel for work related trips when absolutely necessary. Individuals engaged in a daily commute to and from their job are expressly exempt from the need to quarantine by Executive Order.
Please review the travel FAQ.
Operations deemed “essential” may continue to operate under pre-existing guidance with the addition of the mandatory health and safety requirements above.
To safely reopen certain operations impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and not defined as essential, Governor Scott has directed the Agency of Commerce – in consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety – to authorize, subject to mandatory health and safety requirements listed above and additional sector specific guidance, the following Stay Home, Stay Safe Sector Specific Guidance.