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Chamber Chat: COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan

As part of the reopening all businesses are required to have a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan in place and readily shared with employees along with being available to the public when requested.

The plans are broken down into levels of risk of exposure to COVID-19 if present in the community. Since a large part of the population can be asymptomatic, meaning showing now signs of being infected, it’s important that we keep our guard up since the virus has not gone completely away.

The categories of plans range from low, medium, high and very high risk. Most businesses will fall into the low and medium risk category depending on the interaction with the public. Businesses that fall under the high to very high-risk category are those where employees are in very close contact with the public or have potential to come in contact with an infected person.

So, looking at the low and medium risk plans what is expected? The Small Business Association of Michigan has posted an online guide and resources to get businesses back to work safely.

One of the most important steps businesses need to take is keeping the virus out of the workplace. Businesses will need to do a daily health screening for COVID-19 on employees which needs to be documented. It will require employees be up-front and honest with their health and employers need to be flexible with the potential of extended sick time.

Workplace sanitizing will become a constant activity for businesses. Touch points such as doors, light switches and work stations should be wiped down with an approved cleaner multiple times per day. Employees (as well as the general public) need to keep washing their hands and use hand sanitizer when needed. In the short-term, business should encourage cashless transactions to eliminate cross contamination.

The six feet of separation is really an important component to reducing the spread of disease. Not only COVID-19 but all types of sickness. Businesses need to keep employees and customers spaced apart. The use of signage and visual indicators on the floor to help direct flow within the business is required. It won’t be perfectly six feet at all times, but needs to minimize close proximity.

When distancing is unable to take place, physical barriers need to be installed to prevent transmission. These can be acrylic glass panels where close interaction takes place like checkouts. The use of non-medical grade face masks to cover the mouth and nose should continue to be use in indoor public spaces. Think of a face mask as a muffler for your exhaust. Masks don’t prevent you from catching the virus but helps reduce how far your breath can travel when you exhale, sneeze or cough.

If you are a business starting to reopen feel free to reach out to us. The best way to contact the GINCC currently is via email at ginccdirector@gmail.com or call 906-486-1111. Our office will be reopened to the public on June 8 with limited staffing Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Hendrickson is the executive director of the GINCC. He currently resides in Negaunee with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Sierra. He enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and hunting along with family time.

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