COVID-19 has flipped everything we knew and cherished on its head, and like it or not there is no turning back.
Most area businesses have been closed for at least six weeks now and they are struggling mightily. A number have closed for good. Those that have stayed open — with very few exceptions — are limping along, hoping for the time when it is safe to open up for business again.
But even then things will be irrevocably different. That point was driven home in a draft document from Gov. Kate Brown’s office that was made public recently. Titled “Reopening Oregon,” the document remains a draft and could be changed. State officials have said they hope to hammer out the final version this week.
But the draft gives us an idea of what life will be like once the economy opens, and for the foreesable future. It’s not necessarily good, or bad, just different. Here are some highlights:
Consider keeping a record of name, contact information and date/time of visit for customers/visitors for purposes of contract tracing if needed. Businesses should inform customers/visitors of the reason the information is being collected and how the information will be used. Example language: This business is collecting basic information to share with public health in the event a COVID-19 case is identified associated with this business.
Consider regular health checks (e.g., temperature and respiratory symptom screening) or symptom self-report of employees, if job-related and consistent with business necessity. Consider health checks or self-report of visitors entering businesses.
- Ensure tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart to encourage social distancing of 6 feet between parties is maintained, including when customers approach or leave tables. If a business is unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance, it may operate only as pick up/to go service. This applies to both indoor and outdoor seating.
- Remove or restrict seating to meet the occupancy limit and to facilitate the requirement of at least 6 feet of physical distance between people not in the same party.
- Limit number of customers on premises at one time, with a maximum restaurant occupancy of 50% of normal capacity as long as physical distancing requirements can be maintained.
- Limit parties to 10 people or fewer who have chosen to congregate together. People in the same party seated at the same table do not have to be 6 feet apart.
- All on-site consumption of food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages must end by 10 p.m.
- Prohibit customer self-service operations, including buffets, salad bars, soda machines and growler refilling stations.
- Provide condiments, such as salt and pepper, ketchup, hot sauce and sugar, in single-service packets or from a single-service container.
- Prohibit counter and bar seating. This applies to all facilities including bars, breweries and tasting rooms. Counter and bar ordering is acceptable if the operation finds that this decreases worker exposure.
- Use menus that are single-use, cleanable between customers (laminated), online, or posted on a whiteboard or something similar to avoid multiple contact points.
- Prohibit use of karaoke machines, pool tables, and bowling at this time.
- Assign a designated greeter or host to manage customer flow and monitor distancing while waiting in line, ordering and during the entering and exiting process.
- Assign employees to monitor customer access to common areas such as a restroom to assure that customers do not congregate.
- Consider staging hand-washing facilities for customer use in and around the business.
- Strongly encourage all employees and customers to wear cloth face coverings. Customers do not need to wear face coverings while seated at the table.
There are also suggested rules for retail stores, including limiting customers so they can keep a 6-foot distance from each other, encouraging employees and customers to wear face masks and putting up glass or plastic barriers between cashiers and customers.
Might as well get used to it. This is our Brave New World.