As COVID Restrictions Ease, “Fully Reopen” May Not Mean Business As Usual
With COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations decreasing, states are slowly loosening restrictions on businesses. For example, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced plans to fully reopen by May 19th with some constraints remaining in place, including mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing. All three states have announced significant capacity rollbacks for indoor and outdoor activities. The capacity rollbacks in these states will affect many businesses as operational needs will increase in the coming months.
What operational challenges should employers anticipate as they fully reopen?
Employers, particularly those who have allowed their employees to work remotely for the duration of the pandemic, can expect to face some resistance from employees as they begin to require those employees to return to the office. Some employees may be protected by local, state, or federal law, depending on the reason for their refusal to return, and others may be entitled to leave and/or certain accommodations.
As such, employers need to be strategic in application of their reversion to ‘pre-pandemic’ operations. In addition to ensuring that the workplace is compliant with CDC and OSHA guidelines, employers may need to utilize the interactive process and analyze each situation on a case by case basis to ensure that they meet compliance obligations. Employers should coordinate their operational approach in such a way as to ensure continuity of business while mitigating the risk of potential operational issues.