COVID-19 precautions for every Colorado business owner this winter
Tips for keeping your business open and safe
It is well known that brick and mortar businesses in Denver have struggled since the Coronavirus pandemic started in early 2020.
To successfully recover, businesses should make adjustments in order to adapt to the nature of running a business during a pandemic and proactively work to prevent any COVID related claims, disputes, or litigation.
COVID-19 Brick and Mortar Business Regulations
Governor Polis’ office released a statement declaring that now nearly 1 in 49 Coloradans in Colorado are contagious with COVID-19.
In lieu of the recent rise, public venues are limited depending on the venue’s square footage size and the current county’s dial level.
Currently, the Denver area is under a Level Red public health order, which remains in effect until the week of December 18th. During this time, restaurants and liquor stores are instructed to temporarily close their indoor dining, retail stores are limited to 50 percent occupancy, and other offices are limited to 10 percent occupancy.
The City of Denver is permitted to issue citations with penalties carrying up to a $999 fine or 300 days in jail for a violation of these public health orders. Colorado created a dial system to help communities gauge their COVID-19 status.
However, check with your local county, as some counties are requiring stricter mandates than the state COVID dial to better protect their residents.
If there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in your workplace, either among your employees or customers, you must notify and cooperate with your local public health agency. It is advised that you create a contact list of everyone that visited your business so if there is a positive case, past guests and all employees can be properly informed within the limitations of confidentiality protocols.
Make Your COVID-19 Precautions Transparent
With cases on the rise, keeping your business open and safe during these times requires implementing serious precautions to protect both your employees and your customers.
Making your business’s COVID-19 precautions transparent will put your employees and customers on notice of your business’s expectations and provide clear instructions on how they can keep everyone safe while visiting your business. Your customers will want to know you have precautions in place, and sharing your plan will make them feel more comfortable in your establishment.
Your precautions should instruct your employees on the importance of enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing. They should also receive directions on frequent hand washing and how to thoroughly sanitize all high-touch areas. Include a plan in case someone in your business does get sick. Encourage sick individuals and anyone they were in contact with to stay home. That also means having a plan in case you need to operate on a significantly reduced workforce.
Operating Your In-Person Business
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to protect your workforce and your customers. Screen employees and customers before they enter your business with appropriate steps such as taking their temperature and asking if they, or someone they have been in contact with, is exhibiting any COVID symptoms. Practicing proactive measures can help prevent sickness or limit the spread of the virus.
Masks Are Mandatory
It is mandatory that both employees and customers wear masks. Per Colorado state order, businesses must require everyone to wear a mask. If your employees are not properly equipped, provide them with any needed personal protective equipment, and offer complimentary masks to any customer who enters your store or facility without one.
Keep People Socially Distant
Enforce that individuals maintain a six-foot distance between each other. Limiting the number of customers in a facility and restructuring the physical layout will help maintain the proper social distance. Colorado discourages group gatherings and has specific limits for spaces based on the percentage of capacity, so remember to also take into account the number of employees in your space.
Proper ventilation prevents this airborne virus from spreading. Colorado businesses are not required to make the necessary changes to ensure proper ventilation, but if your business is able to accommodate such changes, it is advisable.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Your place of employment may have a lot of people and likely has specific locations with a lot of high traffic. Clean and disinfect all surfaces and frequently touched materials and items often. Start by cleaning visibly dirty areas first with soap and water before disinfecting with EPA-approved disinfectant.
Require your employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Encourage everyone to avoid touching their eyes, mouths, or faces. Require sick employees to stay home and away from the workplace so that they do not spread this infectious disease.
Provide Compassionate Customer Service
The COVID-19 pandemic has created some desperate times resulting in a “consumers’ market.” The best approach to staying afloat in these times is to exhibit exceptional customer service. Service-providers can protect themselves and their business by practicing compassionate customer service.
This means being flexible with your business plan and willing to postpone, reschedule, or cancel appointments. It is also a good practice to provide curb-side services or to provide a doorstep delivery service to limit indoor contact. Also, consider creating special store hours for more vulnerable populations who are at a higher risk of severe illness.
The Business Lawyer is a Key Player in this Process
Some businesses have been forced to close due to the pandemic, while others are trying every conceivable option to keep their doors open and their sales consistent. In either case, planning ahead is critical. A business lawyer with the skills and knowledge to help you with these business needs will ensure that you carefully manage your COVID risk while focusing on your business concerns and needs. There might be changes that need to be made to your business’ agreements, leases, and contracts to avoid the potential for litigation and better protect your business interests. A Colorado business attorney can provide key advice on how to keep your business open during COVID times this winter.
Aaron Atkinson and Doug Griess of Hackstaff & Snow, LLC, are top Denver business attorneys with expertise spanning various industries. Specializing in business law, litigation, intellectual property, tax law, and dispute resolution, Aaron Atkinson and Doug Griess offer an in-depth understanding and knowledge of general corporate rules and regulations and are a trusted resource for business owners throughout Colorado.