How to Keep Customers and Employees Safe During COVID-19

How can your business operate safely and successfully during the coronavirus pandemic? ECEDA provides guidelines for better business safety and surety.

Though we can likely all agree that we’re ready for the coronavirus to be a thing of the past, there’s also no denying that we are still fighting a significant battle against the pandemic. Even with cities, travel and schools slowly reopening, there are a growing number of concerns and safety measures that must be taken into account, contemplated and abided by to ensure the health of the public at large.

The same considerations must be contemplated by businesses both on the local and national level. In fact, since the onset of the pandemic, businesses deemed “essential” (such as grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and more) have had to operate in a way that has kept and continues to keep employees and customers safe. And with things slowly opening back up, additional businesses like clothing stores, nail salons, restaurants and other outlets are also now open.

In order to run smoothly and safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have compiled several recommendations for business owners and employees to follow. Find them below.

Monitor the Environment

Employers should measure all employees’ temperatures and assess any potential symptoms prior to them starting work once business resumes. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before any individual enters the facility. As long as an employee doesn’t have a fever or any visible symptoms, they should be allowed to resume work but should continue to self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s health program.

If an employee happens to become sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be properly disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and two days prior to symptoms should be compiled and effectively communicated. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.

Educate Employees

All employees and partners of your business should be educated on COVID-19, the current conditions of the pandemic in your local area and how to prevent the spread of the virus. Encourage frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available at your place of business, stock your business space with hand sanitizer frequently that contains at least 60 percent alcohol and encourage the use of that.

Educate employees on avoiding touching their eyes, nose, mouth and face; enforce covering mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing; practice social distancing at all times and discuss how to encourage customers to follow protocols; and make mask-wearing mandatory for all employees, partners and customers.

Social distancing is important – we can’t stress this enough. Establish and maintain a 6-foot radius between employees and any customers they have to come in contact with to reduce risk of virus transmission. Place signs or use other methods throughout your business that encourage social distancing by everyone who enters your establishment.

Keep Spaces Clean

When it comes to your business’ physical location, be sure to perform routine cleaning and disinfecting — especially of frequently touched surfaces such as counters, registers, door handles, workstations, countertops and doorknobs. If possible, clean surfaces between each individual customer.

In addition to hand sanitizer, provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use, and by customers, if possible. You might also want to provide both employees and customers with disposable gloves and disposable masks to use while in your establishment.

Customer Service Considerations

The goal is to create a safe space and place for your business, its employees and customers. Create and enact practices that encourage rapid service and reduce customer wait times. Consider pre-packaging goods to limit product handling both by employees and your partners. Limit customer handling, touching, smelling and sampling of products prior to purchase.

You’ll also want to adopt practices that encourage line management and reduce wait time for customers. Such practices will vary from business to business. Some businesses might encourage customers to wait outside in a socially distanced manner (through a queuing or text system, perhaps), that allow for customers to wait for their purchase away from a line of customers or in the relative safety of a car in a parking lot. Some businesses may use methods like tape on the floor to maintain a social distancing radius of six feet in places where customers line up.

In addition, it might benefit you to designate a “workplace coordinator” who is responsible for COVID-19 specifics in the workplace. This person might be deemed responsible for assessing worker risk to exposure and providing appropriate personal protective equipment. All in all, be sure to post current safety information for all employees and reminders on how to prevent exposure and spread of the virus.

The Elmore County Economic Development Authority wants nothing more than to help Elmore County businesses reopen successfully and safely during this time. Follow the above suggestions to keep your business, its employees and customers safe amid the pandemic. If you have additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to browse the various resources on the ECEDA website or contact us directly.