Following the nationwide rush to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued decision trees for businesses to follow in deciding when to reopen and a brochure with detailed guidance for reducing the risk of infection in the workplace. Much of the information in these new CDC publications is similar to what the CDC has been advising for weeks—encourage proper hygiene, require social distancing, clean touch surfaces, and send home sick workers—but the decision trees and brochure tailor the guidance to specific industries and offers more details and examples for employers looking to reopen.
The CDC released the six decision-tree guides on May 14. These decision trees direct businesses to evaluate state and local orders, health and safety plans, and to provide ongoing monitoring before reopening. There are separate decision trees for schools, child care providers, camps, restaurants and bars, mass transit, and a more general decision tree for other workplaces.
A few days later, the CDC followed up with a 60-page brochure, Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again, addressing contact tracing, surveillance, and infection control and providing guidance and criteria for government officials in implementing a phased reopening. Appendix F is geared toward businesses, offering “a menu of safety measures, from which establishments may choose those that make sense for them in the context of their operations and local community” and government directives. Like the decision trees, Appendix F includes specific guidance for child care providers, schools, camps, mass transit, and restaurants and bars. It also includes guidance for employers with “workers at high risk,”i.e., those over age 65 or with underlying medical conditions. The CDC encourages workers at high risk to self-identify and employers to avoid unnecessary medical inquiries. When a worker does self-identify, the CDC advises that employers “take particular care to reduce [their] risk of exposure” while complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
These competing obligations can be difficult for businesses to balance. If your business needs assistance in understanding worker protections and ADA and ADEA compliance or other issues in reopening, Vandeventer Black LLP’s labor and employment law team is available to assist.