Ever since March, to mask or not to mask, has been a hotly debated topic nationwide.
Initially, both federal and state officials, indicated that masks would not prevent the spread of coronavirus. Later, both federal and state officials indicated that masks could slow the spread of coronavirus.
These mixed messages have created a great division in our society and heated debates on the issue.
Due to last week's “alarming rate” of positive corona tests in Utah, Utah Governor Herbert took a stand late Sunday night when he announced Executive Order 2020-74 mandating statewide mask wearing beginning at 1pm the following day, as well as, other actions that would allegedly slow the spread.
Failure to comply could result in $10,000 per occurrence fines and having your business license taken away.
I've also heard that some are looking into prosecuting noncompliance as a crime. Wow . . . as if $10,000 per occurrence fines and losing your business license wasn't enough to get your attention . . . . the possibility of going to jail should do it.
Yesterday, I went to breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants and noticed they weren't in compliance with the Governor's most recent executive order. By the time I left at noon, nothing had changed. I worry that their employees or patrons could complain and they'll get hit with a $10,000 fine or lose their business license . . . afterall, it only takes one whistleblower or complaint. Out of concern for businesses needing information I offer the following:
HOW CAN I COMPLY?
(1) Don't give up - making best efforts can go a long way with regulators.
(2) Know what requirements apply to your business
To help businesses, the state has provided:
- Executive Order 2020-74
- A brief 1 page summary
- zip file of business signs, and
- An event management template.
I appreciate the state's efforts to help businesses comply and recommend you check out their resources. However, as they say, the devil is in the details. So, make sure to review the definitions, they're extremely important in understanding who certain requirements apply to and the meaning of terms, e.g., face mask, business, household, event host, social gathering, etc.
(3) Know the dozen face mask exceptions for when people can remove the mask, which include for example:
- While actively eating or drinking;
- While the sole occupant of a room, cubicle or similar enclosure;
- When communicating with a deaf or hard of hearing individual if: a. communication cannot be achieved through other means; and 2. the speaker wears a face shield or uses alternative protections such as a plexiglass barrier;
- While obtaining or providing a service that requires the temporary removal of the face mask, e.g., dental services or speech therapy services;
- While sleeping;
- While exercising or engaging in athletic training while: 1. outdoors; or 2. indoors and maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from any other individual from a separate household;
- While swimming or on duty as a lifeguard; and the list goes on and on.
(4) Know the few exemptions for when people are not required to wear a mask.
- A child under three years old;
- an individual who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face mask without assistance;
- an individual with a medical conditions, mental health condition, or intellectual or developmental disability, that prevents the individual from wearing a face mask; and
- an individual who is incarcerated.
(5) Create a defensible position of compliance to Section 2(c) of the Executive Order by:
(a) Requiring each employee and contractor to wear a face mask while at work;
(b) Requiring each patron that enters your premises to wear a face mask, including ingress or egress;
(c) Requiring at least 6 feet of physical distance, including ingress or egress between each:
(1) Separate Household group at a business other than a bar or restaurant; or
(2) Separate party at a bar or restaurant; and
(d) Post conspicuous signage at each entrance to the business that:
(1) Lists COVID-19 symptoms;
(2) Asks employees and customers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home; and
(3) Provides notice of face mask and physical distancing requirements.
NOTE: If you are an on-premise licensee of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, then do not sell, offer to sell, or furnish liquor or beer after 10:00pm.
(6) Keep up with the changes.
Some businesses have taken proactive steps by engaging in best practices without being mandated to do so. However, even those businesses may need to make some adjustments. Below is an example of one business I went to a few weeks ago. I was so impressed with their proactive efforts, I had to take some pics.
(a) At the customer entrance - post signs similar to these:
Masks are required to enter.
Ask them not to enter and to go home if they have been sick.
NOTE: Make sure to also post a list of COVID-19 Symptoms at both entrances for customers, as well as, employees. Also, post a sign that 6 Foot Distance is required.
(b) On the door:
Above and beyond, right? I think this was an employee only entrance - truly showing they care about employee safety.
(c) Just inside the door:
Upon entry, provide courtesy face masks and sanitizer. Its part of the cost of doing business nowadays - and costs a lot less than a fine or loss of business license.
(d) Throughout the location:
On the floor, placed at least 6 Feet Apart "PLEASE STAND HERE" notices.
(e) At checkout and between employees:
Employees have plexiglass shields - not just between the employee and the customer, but between each other as well.
From talking with the employee, he was excited to share they made them in their own shop. They were seriously impressive. I noticed that the employees could still see each other and communicate. They seemed happy to be at work.
(f) Offer advance order and payment online to reduce interaction.
Advance ordering online could be picked up just inside the door and notice the bottle of hand sanitizer nearby.
(g) Go the EXTRA MILE - Check out the plexiglass on the bench on their property.
(h) Evaluate other risks - they closed the employee only gym.
I know it's a drag... and you want to continue offering such a benefit to employees, but to reduce risks to your business closing the employee gym for now is a best practice.