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Pandemic State of Emergency FAQs for Businesses

Governor Scott’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order requires businesses and non-profits that are not critical to the public health and safety, as well as economic and national security, to suspend in-person business operations through the duration of the Executive Order.

In late-April, the Governor announced his intention to gradually allow businesses to reopen through a phased Work Safe approach. As additional guidance is released, this page will be updated.

PHASED RESTART WORK SAFE GUIDANCE

Businesses and organizations must follow the Agency’s Work Safe Guidance while operating during the State of Emergency. If after reading the Work Safe Guidance Memo or the Frequently Asked Questions found here or on the Department of Health website, businesses may submit additional questions through the below “request additional guidance” function.

Sector-Specific Guidance Request Additional Guidance

Compliance with the pandemic-related guidance is mandatory per a series of Executive Orders issued by Governor Scott during the State of the Emergency.  If members of the public have concerns about violations of the Executive Order, the Department of Public Safety has created a reporting mechanism to gather information about those complaints.

REPORT NON-COMPLIANCE COMPLAINT

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are there any precautions my business needs to take if we continue in-person operations?
  2. Does my business need to write a reopening plan and training plan?
  3. Does the re-opening process (or any operational changes made as a result of COVID-19) affect the need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
  4. Does my business need to hire a new health safety officer?
  5. Where can my employees attain the required safety training?
  6. Do I need to require my employees to wear masks?
  7. If I am unable to wear a cloth face covering due to work, health or environmental conditions, may I wear another mouth and nose covering such as a face shield?
  8. May an employee with symptoms potentially related to receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine come to work if they do not pass the required health screening?
  9. Do I need to take my employees’ temperature at the start of each shift?
  10. What if my business does not allow for strict social distancing?
  11. Where can I find the latest COVID-19 testing guidance for employers?
  12. What do I do if a customer or employee has COVID-19?
  13. When can employees with COVID-19 return to work?
  14. When can a person return to work if they have a symptom or multiple symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea)?
  15. Can I travel to and from Vermont?
  16. Is my private rental property (Airbnb, etc.) considered to be a lodging establishment under the Executive Order?
  17. If an employee goes on vacation and Vermont guidance requires that employee to quarantine upon return from the vacation, does their employer need to provide sick time?
  18. Can performance venues still hold events?
  19. Can organizations, towns or businesses have outdoor holiday events (including, but not limited to tree lightings, menorah lightings, breakfast with santa, holiday parades, solstice parties)?
  20. Do towns need to suspend in-person select board meetings?
  21. Can an organization still host a retail focused event?
  22. Can clubs and social groups continue to meet in-person?
  23. Can organizations offer indoor or outdoor lessons for activities such as: yoga, skiing, gymnastics, dance, swimming, horseback riding?
  24. Can a person continue to participate in gymnastics and other indoor sports?
  25. Can private sports academies continue to offer practices and competitions?
  26. Can religious organizations still host gatherings for worship?
  27. Can realtors still show houses and apartments?
  28. Are businesses that require entry into people’s homes (house cleaning, home renovation, etc.) still allowed to operate?
  29. Are day trips to NH (or NY, MA) to go to the grocery store still allowed, and can people eat at restaurants in the other state if they follow that state’s guidelines?
  30. Does a business that operates a bar but also has other purposes need to close?
  31. Is carpooling allowed? What about public transportation?

Are there any precautions my business needs to take if we continue in-person operations?

All businesses, whether essential or not, must abide by the following health and safety guidance included in the Phased Work Safe Guidance:

All businesses must follow Vermont Department of Health and CDC guidelines:

  • Employees shall not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work or job site if sick or symptomatic (with fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath).
  • Employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job. Businesses and non-profit or government entities shall ensure customers observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on location, to the extent possible.
  • Limit the occupancy of designated common areas, such as break rooms and cafeterias, so that occupants maintain strict social distancing of no less than 6 feet per individual. The employer shall enforce the occupancy limit and require employees to wipe down their area after use or shall ensure cleaning of the common areas at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask. Businesses and non-profit and government entities may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a mask.
  • Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization is required frequently including before entering, and leaving, job sites.
  • All common spaces (when open) and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned regularly and, when possible, prior to transfer from one person to another, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Prior to the commencement of each work shift, all employees shall complete a health survey either in-person at the worksite or prior to arriving at the worksite. This screening survey shall require an employee to verify that he or she has no symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) before they enter the workplace.  It is strongly recommended that a temperature check be conducted by the employee at home or a non-contact temperature check be conducted by the employer or the employee at the worksite. Employers may create systems that work best for their unique operations – but must be able to demonstrate, if asked by employees or state health officials, how the system ensures employees have been pre-screened for symptoms before they enter the workplace.
  • Signs must be posted at all entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • When working inside, open doors and windows to promote air flow to the greatest extent possible and limit the number of people occupying a single indoor space.
  • No more than 3 people shall occupy one vehicle when conducting work. Mass transit, taxis, ridesharing, and public safety are exempt from this rule.
  • No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are allowed on site and any worker(s) who have contact with a worker or any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days.
  • All operations shall designate a health officer on-site at every shift responsible for ensuring compliance with the Executive Order and the Addenda thereto and applicable ACCD Guidance. This person shall have the authority to stop or modify activities to ensure work conforms with the mandatory health and safety requirements.
  • All businesses and non-profit and government entities shall encourage and facilitate telework among those employees with the capacity to work remotely when practical without impeding productivity. Employers shall accommodate the needs of high risk individuals, those workers who may have child care needs which cannot be met due to the closure of schools or child care facilities for reasons relating to COVID-19 and those individuals with concerns about personal health circumstances.
  • All employees, including those already working (except healthcare workers, first responders, and others already trained in infection control, personal protection/universal precautions), must complete, and employers must document, a training on mandatory health and safety requirements as provided by VOSHA, or another training program that meets or exceeds the VOSHA-provided standard by May 4, 2020, or before returning to operations. Employers who need translations of the training materials have one week from the time the materials are made available.

For all mass transit CUSTOMERS/ RIDERS (in addition to the mandatory requirement for operators and staff) face coverings are mandatory on public transit conveyances and in stations and terminals, effective May 4, 2020.

Full list of FAQs


Does my business need to write a reopening plan and training plan?

The Work Smart and Stay Safe initiative requires businesses that closed for 7 days or more to adopt or create a sector-specific reopening and training plan before reopening. The Governor’s Economic Mitigation and Recovery Restart Vermont Action Team is working to make model plans available. Businesses may adopt one of these plans or create their own using a Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) / Project WorkSAFE template. When your plan is complete, you are required to keep it on file and present it upon request by VOSHA or any of your employees. You can learn more on the Restart Vermont page.

Full list of FAQs


Does the re-opening process (or any operational changes made as a result of COVID-19) affect the need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

No. The health and safety guidance provided by ACCD does not negate any obligations as outlined by the ADA. Refer to A Primer for Small Business for additional information.

Full list of FAQs


Does my business need to hire a new health safety officer?

All operations shall designate a health officer on-site at every shift responsible for ensuring compliance with the Executive Order. This person shall have the authority to stop or modify activities to ensure work conforms with the mandatory health and safety requirements. Whenever a group of employees is working together, one of those employees should have this authority. Businesses may wish to provide additional training to designated individuals but are not required to have any specific certification.

Full list of FAQs


Where can my employees attain the required safety training?

The Vermont Occupational and Health Administration offers a free online training course. Some business associations also provide their own trainings that comply with the training. Your business can also provide its own training if it includes the same content. Businesses should keep records that document that employees have taken the training. The VOSHA online training allows participants to print off a certificate. Businesses that were closed during the state of emergency for 7 days or more, and who have 10 or more employees, must consult the Restart Vermont webpage for additional training requirements at https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/business/restart.

Full list of FAQs


Do I need to require my employees to wear masks?

Yes. Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask. Customers, vendors and visitors are also required to wear face coverings where 6 feet of space between people is not possible (effective August 1, 2020). Refer to our mask guidance for details and resources.

In rare circumstances where an employee is physically unable to wear a mask, the employer should require a note from a doctor explaining their need for an accommodation, and the employer should implement other measures to protect the workplace and the employee.

“In the presence of others” means if there are other people around the employee, or if the employee is likely to interact with others, such as people coming into an office, interacting with customers, or when working outdoors in a public place.

Full list of FAQs


If I am unable to wear a cloth face covering due to work, health or environmental conditions, may I wear another mouth and nose covering such as a face shield?

People who have trouble breathing can wear a light-weight bandanna or cloth covering tied to be open at the bottom, or a face shield. Face shields are generally not recommended because they are more for health care settings to protect the person wearing it from droplets getting into their eyes. Face masks or coverings, like a cloth face mask or bandanna, do a better job than face shields of keeping droplets in. However, if your work environment or health does not allow you to wear a cloth face mask, wearing a face shield is better than having no barrier on your nose and mouth.

Outdoor workers who are doing strenuous work that causes heavy breathing are not required to wear a face mask or covering when it is hot outside. Workers should keep masks with them and wear them when they are not exerting themselves (for example talking, resting, or interacting with other co-workers or people). It is important that workers keep a 6-foot distance from others whenever possible, especially when they are not wearing a mask.

Face shields should extend below the chin, to the ears on both sides, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece. Clean them regularly – especially if condensation or droplets are visible on the inside of the shield – handle them like face masks or coverings when putting them on or removing them.

Full list of FAQs


May an employee with symptoms potentially related to receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine come to work if they do not pass the required health screening?

No. There are some signs and symptoms that could be attributable to receipt of the COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection or another infection like influenza (Source: Post Vaccine Considerations for Healthcare Personnel | CDC). These include fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle aches. Employees experiencing these symptoms, regardless of vaccination history, should not attend work and consult with their health care provider to determine if symptoms are attributable to the vaccine or to infection. If symptoms are determined to be associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, an employee may return to work if they feel well enough to do so.

Full list of FAQs


Do I need to take my employees’ temperature at the start of each shift?

Temperature checks are highly recommended and should be a part of the required health check before or when an employee arrives at the workplace. Prior to the commencement of each work shift, all employees shall complete a health survey either in-person at the worksite or prior to arriving at the worksite. This screening survey shall require an employee to verify that he or she has no symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) before they enter the workplace. It is strongly recommended that a temperature check be conducted by the employee at home or a non-contact temperature check be conducted by the employer or the employee at the worksite. Employers may create systems that work best for their unique operations – but must be able to demonstrate, if asked by employees or state health officials, how the system ensures employees have been pre-screened for symptoms before they enter the workplace.

Full list of FAQs


What if my business does not allow for strict social distancing?

All businesses must change processes and work environments to meet the strict social distancing requirements included in the phased restart Work Safe guidance. In instances where non-critical businesses are unable to comply with the strict 6-foot social distancing requirement, they may not be able to open at this time — even under the Phased Work Safe Guidance. Critical businesses unable to meet the requirement must implement other protective measures, such as separating work stations with physical barriers, in an effort to protect their workers.

Full list of FAQs


Where can I find the latest COVID-19 testing guidance for employers?

Periodically visit the Department of Health’s website for the latest guidance, including information about employees safely returning to work and when employee testing is appropriate.

Full list of FAQs


What do I do if a customer or employee has COVID-19?

Working together with the Department of Health is the best way to lessen the risks and contain the spread of COVID-19. If someone was exposed to COVID-19 at your business, a team of infectious disease experts will work closely with you and make recommendations to keep your customers and employees safe. In most cases, when appropriate steps are taken quickly, there is no need to shut down your business.

Here's what you need to do:

  • If an employee or customer tells you that they have tested positive for COVID-19, have them call the Department of Health at 802-863-7240. Find out what you need to do if an employee tests positive.
  • If you are contacted by the Department of Health because a risk has been identified at your business, the team will walk you through the next steps.
  • If you believe your establishment has been exposed to COVID-19, please call the Department of Health at 802-863-7240.

You can learn more about the steps the Department of Health takes to quickly respond when someone tests positive. Visit the Department of Health’s website to get more information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace.

Full list of FAQs


When can employees with COVID-19 return to work?

To know when it is safe for an employee to return to work, refer to the following two strategies:

  1. For people who have symptoms, use the symptom-based strategy. Exclude from work until:
    • fever has resolved for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms (like cough or shortness of breath) have improved; and
    • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  2. For people who do not have symptoms, use the time-based strategy. Exclude from work until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test if they have not developed symptoms. If they develop symptoms, then use the symptom-based strategy outlined above.

Neither a negative test for COVID-19 nor a letter from the Department of Health should be required to return to work.

For additional information, refer to the Department of Health’s “What Do I do if my employee tests positive for COVID-19?” document.

Full list of FAQs


When can a person return to work if they have a symptom or multiple symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea)?

If a person is sick with any symptoms of COVID-19:

  1. Talk with your health care provider to determine if:
    1. your symptoms are due to COVID-19 or some other reason
    2. you should or should not go to public places or work
  2. If COVID-19 is suspected, your health care provider can refer you for testing. Stay home while you are waiting for your test results. If you test positive, a Health Department contact tracer will reach out to walk you through what to do next. You will be advised to stay home from work and other activities until:
    • fever has resolved for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms (like cough or shortness of breath) have improved; and
    • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  3. If you are sick due to something other than COVID-19, you should stay out of work until:
    • you have been without fever for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications (if you had a fever); and
    • any other symptoms have resolved or are improving.

Full list of FAQs


Can I travel to and from Vermont?

Refer to the Cross State Travel Information page for details about leisure and essential travel.

Full list of FAQs


Is my private rental property (Airbnb, etc.) considered to be a lodging establishment under the Executive Order?

Yes, any commercial transaction providing accommodations is considered lodging. Short term rental owners, such as property owners using Airbnb, must also comply with this order. See the sector-specific guidance for Lodging for detailed of permitted lodging under the Executive Order.

Full list of FAQs


If an employee goes on vacation and Vermont guidance requires that employee to quarantine upon return from the vacation, does their employer need to provide sick time?

No.

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act required covered employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons, including quarantine when mandated by state orders, plus an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 2/3 pay for employees needing to care for a child due to a school or child care provider closure.

These requirements expired on December 31, 2020:

  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act (2021) did not extend the requirement that employers make paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave available to employees.
  • However, it did extend the tax credit available to employers for payments made to employees as paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave through March 31, 2021.

Thus, employers may voluntarily elect to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to employees and will receive tax credits for doing so through March 31, 2021. There is no legal requirement that they do so.

Any paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave taken by employees up to December 31, 2020, must still be paid by employers despite the expiration of the FFCRA.

Full list of FAQs


Can performance venues still hold events?

Yes, venues should operate in accordance with section 8.3 of the Work Safe Memo (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-be-smart-stay-safe-order#indoor-arts-culture-and-entertainment).

Full list of FAQs


Can organizations, towns or businesses have outdoor holiday events (including, but not limited to tree lightings, menorah lightings, breakfast with santa, holiday parades, solstice parties)?

No. Organized events meant to draw crowds or that would encourage interaction between households should not occur under Addendum 8. These events are prohibited under section a of Addendum 8: “Attendance at all public and private social, recreational and entertainment gatherings, indoor and outdoor, including large social gatherings incidental to ceremonies, holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations, shall be limited to participation with only members of a single household.”

Full list of FAQs


Do towns need to suspend in-person select board meetings?

Yes, whenever a meeting could occur remotely, it should. In the rare instance where an in-person meeting is required to conduce town business, it may occur. However, efforts shall be made to facilitate remote participation.

Full list of FAQs


Can an organization still host a retail focused event?

Yes, in accordance with Section 5.1 of the Work Safe Memo (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-be-smart-stay-safe-order#retail-operations).

Full list of FAQs


Can clubs and social groups continue to meet in-person?

No, all clubs, including fraternal organizations, and social clubs must cease in-person operations if they meet the definition of 7 V.S.A Section 2 (7):

7 V.S.A. § 2(7): "Club" means an unincorporated association or a corporation authorized to do business in this State that has been in existence for at least two consecutive years prior to the date of application for a license under this title and owns, hires, or leases a building or space in a building that is suitable and adequate for the reasonable and comfortable use and accommodation of its members and their guests and contains suitable and adequate kitchen and dining room space and equipment implements and facilities. A bona fide unincorporated association or corporation whose officers and members consist solely of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a subordinate lodge or local chapter of any national fraternal order, that fulfills all requirements of section 229 of this title except that it has not been in existence for at least two years shall come within the terms of this definition six months after the completion of its organization.

Full list of FAQs


Can organizations offer indoor or outdoor lessons for activities such as: yoga, skiing, gymnastics, dance, swimming, horseback riding?

Yes, but private lessons or semi-private lessons with a single household are preferred. All organized sports that encourage people from separate households to mix must cease (this includes leagues, tournaments, and any organized multi-household groups). This distinction exists because the state has documented spread of COVID-19 at formal and informal league and tournament events. However, classes and lessons may continue under Section 8.1 of the Work Safe Memo (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-be-smart-stay-safe-order#indoor-arts-culture-and-entertainment).

Organizations holding such classes shall pay particular attention to the guidance that states “…as long as physical distancing can be strictly adhered to and interaction between households is eliminated.”

Full list of FAQs


Can a person continue to participate in gymnastics and other indoor sports?

Yes, however, participation in organized leagues, tournaments, and clubs should not occur during the duration of the Executive Order. A business must follow section 8.1 of the Work Safe Guidance (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-stay-home-stay-safe-order#close-contact-business)

Organizations must take care to ensure households are not mixing if people are using facilities to participate in indoor sports.

Full list of FAQs


Can private sports academies continue to offer practices and competitions?

Organized sports must only operate in accordance with Section 9.1 of the Work Safe Guidance. School-based sports shall follow guidance issued by the Agency of Education. The Agency has issued specific guidance for sports academies.

Full list of FAQs


Can religious organizations still host gatherings for worship?

Yes. However, remote services remain the preferred method of worship. Religious facilities and places of worship may resume operations subject to the mandatory health and safety guidance contained in the Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance and:

  • Outdoor, drive-in, and remote services remain the preferred method of operation.
  • Organizations may allow 50 percent of fire safety occupancy or 1 person per 100 square feet.
  • Physical distancing between household/family units should be observed.
  • Facial coverings are required.

All participants must practice physical distancing. We ask faith leaders to help members of their congregations understand the dangers of COVID-19 and educate congregants of current CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance. They must also keep contact tracing logs as outlined in Addendum 8.

Full list of FAQs


Can realtors still show houses and apartments?

Yes, real estate professionals, and the ancillary services, may continue in-person operations that are not able to be done remotely. Please follow the sector guidance available for the real estate sector here: https://accd.vermont.gov/content/stay-home-stay-safe-sector-specific-guidance#real-estate

Full list of FAQs


Are businesses that require entry into people’s homes (house cleaning, home renovation, etc.) still allowed to operate?

Yes, if they follow the Work Safe Guidance (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-stay-home-stay-safe-order#close-contact-business)

Full list of FAQs


Are day trips to NH (or NY, MA) to go to the grocery store still allowed, and can people eat at restaurants in the other state if they follow that state’s guidelines?

The state’s travel policy currently allows for essential travel without quarantining. Grocery shopping is essential. Eating at a restaurant is not essential. For a full list of essential travel, visit https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel.

Full list of FAQs


Does a business that operates a bar but also has other purposes need to close?

Addendum 8 requires all bars to close to the public (they may still offer take out). However, if a business operates multiple types of businesses (for instance, an entertainment venue that also has a bar) – it may continue to operate the entertainment function without the bar in compliance with section 8.3 of the Work Safe memo: https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-be-smart-stay-safe-order#indoor-arts-culture-and-entertainment

Full list of FAQs


Is carpooling allowed? What about public transportation?

Yes. Taxis, ride sharing services, buses, and other mass / public transit may continue to operate in accordance with the Work Safe Guidance. In addition, families may carpool when necessary for work, childcare or school. However, discretionary carpooling is discouraged. Find tips on how to safely carpool from the Department of Health.

Full list of FAQs

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