Order to be enforced beginning Sunday evening
On April 15, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine announced an order directing open “life-sustaining” businesses to take specific measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to critical workers and customers. The order directs open businesses in the state to establish protocols to maintain social distancing, including requiring employees and customers to wear masks and providing physical barriers between employees and customers. The order, which the Secretary announced will be enforced to the “full extent of the law,” takes effect on Sunday, April 19 at 8:00 pm.
The timing of the order was significant because, earlier in the day, the Senate passed two bills that are important steps toward opening some sections of the economy. Many of the provisions of Secretary Levine’s order were proposed as amendments, but were rejected by that Senate.
NFIB recommends that members with currently open businesses review the order carefully as there are many specific requirements. It is posted here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200415-SOH-worker-safety-order.pdf). Among the orders’ requirements:
- Employees must wear masks while at the work site. Masks must meet guidance from health authorities.
- Customers must wear masks while on the premises. The business must deny entry to customers not wearing masks, unless certain exceptions apply or the business offers pick-up or delivery instead. Nonessential visitors must be prohibited from entering the business.
- Business should only be conducted with the public by appointment if feasible, and if not, occupancy must be limited to no more than 50% of occupancy limitations. Signage must be placed to maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
- Carts and hand baskets must be wiped down before they are provided to a new customer.
- Businesses with multiple check-out lines must open only every other register, rotate to new registers every hour, and clean all previously open areas.
- Shields or barriers must be installed at checkout areas or other measures must be taken to ensure a distance of six feet between customers and checkout personnel.
- Businesses must have enough employees working to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing.
- A specific time must be provided at least once a week for high-risk and elderly customers to access any public-facing component of the business.
- Employers must stagger employee start and stop times when practical, provide sufficient space to have breaks and meals while maintaining social distancing, and limit the number of employees in common areas.
- Employees must have scheduled hand-washing breaks at least every hour.
- Meetings should be conducted virtually, and if this is impossible, they should be limited to no more than 10 employees at a time and maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet.
- Procedures must be communicated to employees in their native or preferred language.
- When a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 is found, businesses must screen all employees’ temperature before work and send anyone with a temperature home.
- Upon exposure at a business, certain additional requirements apply, including closure of the space for at least 24 hours, cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces, and notification of employees who may have been exposed.
Businesses that do not comply could face citations, fines, or license suspensions.