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Vermont Forward Plan: Business Operations

Vermont Forward | A Webinar on Guidance and Reopening

ACCD hosted a webinar to answer questions about the Vermont Forward Plan as it relates to business operations, events, and cross state travel. Find the webinar recording and slides.

As part of the Vermont Forward plan, universal guidance will transition businesses from sector-specific mitigation measures to more broad mitigation measures across most sectors.

Businesses, Organizations, and Operators Move to Universal Guidance Based on Sector

The transition from sector specific guidance to Universal Guidance will happen in two phases. Sectors are broken into two groups, and the timing of the transition to Universal Guidance is based upon the group to which a sector belongs.

At this time, some sectors will retain individualized guidance and not move to Universal Guidance.

Universal Guidance

The following is guidance that all businesses, organizations, and operators must follow. Additional guidance may apply based on the sector.

  1. Stay home if sick. Organizations must have policies in place to remind employees to stay home if they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19. No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are allowed on site. Unvaccinated employees who have not had COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have had close contact for more than 15 minutes with any person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days or for 7 days prior to obtaining a COVID-19 test. See the Department of Health’s guidance for more information on work place exposures.
  2. Wear a mask. The State of Vermont currently has a mask mandate in place. All 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 if the employee works alone and does not interact with customers outside the workstation. Businesses, non-profit and government entities may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a mask. This includes refusing service to those who are exempt from the mask mandate, however, the business shall provide an alternate way for those unable to wear a mask to access the business, such as offering curbside pick-up, delivery, or other innovative solutions.
  3. Ensure six-foot spaces and uncrowded places. Employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job. Businesses and non-profit or government entities must ensure customers observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on location, to the extent possible. Employers are encouraged to use their best efforts to accommodate those workers who may have childcare needs which cannot be met due to the closure of schools or childcare facilities for reasons relating to COVID-19.
  4. Practice good hygiene. Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during the 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.
  5. Think before you travel. Follow the state’s travel guidance and educate your employees and customers about the state’s policies. Guests of lodging, campgrounds and other accommodations must complete a Certificate of Compliance.

The Universal Guidance listed here serves as a baseline. Any business, organization, or operator is free to take additional safety precautions for the health and safety of its employees and consumers.

Group B Work Safe Guidance

In addition to following the Universal Guidance, Group B sectors must adhere to the corresponding sector-specific Work Safe Guidance until May 1, 2021.


3.1: Manufacturing and Distribution

  • Manufacturing, construction, and distribution operations that ceased operations for more than seven days during the state of emergency may operate with as few employees as necessary to permit full operations.
  • Interior residential and commercial construction may occur in occupied structures.

Full list of Group B sectors


7.1: Restaurants, Catering, Food Service, Social Clubs and Bars

  • Signs must be prominently posted at all entrances stating that no-one with a fever, respiratory illness, or symptoms of COVID-19 (see VDH guidance for the current symptom list) is allowed on premise.
  • Occupancy & Seating
    • Restaurants, catering, food service, and bars may allow 50 percent of fire safety occupancy or 1 person per 100 square feet, with a maximum of 75 people indoors and 150 people outdoors or their maximum licensed seating capacity, whichever is less.
    • Seating must be available for all patrons and seating must allow for physical distancing of at least 6 feet between seated dining parties. No standing or mingling is allowed. Customers must be seated while consuming food or beverages.
    • Restaurants, catering, food service, social clubs and bars must cease service at 10:00pm each night.
  • Restaurants, bars and clubs may seat multiple households at the same table, but no more than six people can be seated at the same table.
    • Bar seating may only be open if a physical barrier, such as a piece of plexiglass, separates the patrons from bartenders and the drink preparation area. Patrons of different households must be at least six feet apart.
    • A counter area, such as a lunch counter or diner counter, may be open if there is at least six feet between customers and six feet between the customer and any waitstaff and no food or beverage production or storage occurs at the counter.
    • Reservations or call ahead seating is preferred. Reservations should be staggered to prevent congregating in waiting areas. Waiting areas must accommodate physical distancing.
  • Restaurants, bars and clubs must maintain an easily accessible, legible log of all employees, customers, members and guests and their contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by VDH. For the sake of clarity, this requirement applies to all employees and all guests in every party. All customers opting to dine-in must be logged. Take out customers who do not dine in the restaurant do not need to be logged.
  • Use of shared food service (buffet style) and self-serve utensils, plates or napkins, are prohibited. However, a staffed banquet style buffet may occur if serving lines can accommodate physical distancing.
  • Customers are required to wear face coverings when not eating.
  • Restrooms should be monitored and routinely cleaned and soap dispensers regularly filled. 
  • Disinfect all front-of-house surfaces including door handles, screens, phones, pens, keyboards; as well as tables, chairs and other areas of high hand contact frequently. 
  • Live entertainment that requires the rapid expulsion of air from an individual, including singing and playing certain musical instruments, has been linked to the spread of the virus and should be discouraged. Should an organization wish to host such activities, performers must be separated from the audience/attendees and each other by at least 6 feet. Use of a physical barrier between the performer and the audience is not a substitute for social distancing. The audience/attendees should be discouraged from singing along with a song leader or performer.

Full list of Group B sectors


7.2: Hair Salons and Barber Shops

  • Operations are limited to 25% (twenty-five percent) of approved fire safety occupancy; or 1 customer per 200 square feet; or 10 total customers and staff combined, whichever is greater.
  • Additionally, operators should separate customers in chairs, to achieve physical distancing of 6 feet for any activity that will occur for more than a few moments (e.g. a retail transaction).
  • To the greatest extent possible, operations shall be by appointment only with specified time periods for each client. No walk-In appointments or at home visits (house calls) are allowed.
  • Operations may serve only Vermont residents or others who have completed the prescribed quarantine.
  • For retail sales, curbside pickup is preferred; no testing/demonstration of products is allowed; and cashless/touch-less transactions are strongly preferred.
  • Businesses and organizations shall maintain an easily accessible, legible log of all employees, customers, members and guests and their contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by VDH. For the sake of clarity, this requirement applies to all employees and all guests in every party.

Full list of Group B sectors


8.1: Close Contact Business (Gyms, Fitness Centers, Spas, Nail Salons, etc.)

  • Operations are limited to 25% (twenty-five percent) of approved fire safety occupancy; or 1 customer per 200 square feet, with a maximum of no more than 75 indoors and 150 outdoors.
  • Operators shall separate customers to maintain physical distancing of 6 feet for any activity that will occur for more than a few moments (e.g. a retail transaction).
  • To the greatest extent possible, operations shall be by appointment only with specified time periods for each client. No walk-In appointments are allowed.
  • Operations may serve only Vermont residents or others in compliance with the State of Vermont’s travel guidance.
  • Locker rooms, waiting areas, and other common areas shall be restricted to occupancy limits noted above.
  • Structured fitness activities/personal instructional services/lessons (such as art, music, personal training, academic) may occur within the maximum occupancy limits mentioned above at a commercial location or residence. This includes group lessons and classes as long as physical distancing can be strictly adhered to and interaction between households is eliminated.
  • Fitness centers, gyms, studios and similar facilities should encourage individuals to wear cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth even when participating in strenuous physical activity.
  • Businesses and organizations shall maintain an easily accessible, legible log of all employees, customers, members and guests and their contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by VDH. For the sake of clarity, this requirement applies to all employees and all guests in every party.

Full list of Group B sectors


8.3: Indoor Arts, Culture and Entertainment

  • Libraries, galleries, museums, theaters, bowling alleys, science centers, and other indoor arts, culture and entertainment organizations may allow 50 percent of fire occupancy or 1 person per 100 square feet, up to a maximum consistent with the state’s maximum gathering size.
  • Businesses and organizations must reduce interactions between guests – such as establishing directional flow in a gallery.
  • Concert venues, theaters, and those putting on shows shall ensure all guests have an assigned seat and are either seated or standing at their seat location.
  • No dancing on a communal dance floor / standing area is allowed.
  • Cashless/touch-less transactions are strongly preferred.
  • Curbside pickup remains the preferred method of operation. When possible, organizations should take steps to schedule or stage customer visits, such as waiting in cars or outside, to ensure lower contact operations.
  • Organizations should close or remove high touch entertainment features, including arcades and playgrounds.
  • Businesses and organizations must maintain an easily accessible, legible log of all employees, customers, members and guests and their contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by VDH. For the sake of clarity, this requirement applies to all employees and all guests in every party.
  • Live entertainment that requires the rapid expulsion of air from an individual, including singing and playing certain musical instruments, has been linked to the spread of the virus and should be discouraged. Should an organization wish to host such activities, performers must be separated from the audience/attendees and each other by at least 6 feet. Use of a physical barrier between the performer and the audience is not a substitute for social distancing. The audience/attendees should be discouraged from singing along with a song leader or performer.

Full list of Group B sectors


13.1: Meetings of Public Bodies

  • During the State of Emergency, organizations should conduct regular meetings remotely such as regular select board meetings and school board meetings whenever possible to prevent prolonged interactions between households.
  • When necessary, leadership from an organization may convene in a single space to conduct a meeting if social distancing between individuals wearing cloth face coverings can occur. However, the organization should promote remote public participation.
  • Should a municipality decide to hold an in-person meeting (“floor vote”), the following guidance must be followed:
    • Cloth face coverings over the mouth and nose shall be required for all individuals and officials attending.
    • Municipalities shall make spare face masks available in the event a participant fails to bring a mask.
    • Building capacity shall be restricted to 50 percent fire safety occupancy or 1 person per 100 square feet, whichever ensures social distancing between households.
    • All participants must be seated and socially distanced from each other or from each household by at least 6 feet.
    • All officials, employees and attendees must complete a health screening before entering the public meeting space. Posting signage and asking people to conduct the screening themselves is acceptable.
    • Citizens choosing to speak during a town meeting should be directed to an area that affords at least 6 feet of social distancing between the speaker and other individuals. Whenever possible, individuals should leave their masks on when speaking.
    • Municipalities shall maintain an easily accessible, legible log of all employees, officials, and attendees and their contact information, including name, address, phone number and email address for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by VDH.
    • Only warned articles shall be voted on at such meetings. Discussion of other business should be deferred to another time and venue when pandemic restrictions are not in place.
    • No ancillary services shall be available, including but not limited to potluck meals, bake sales, scout sales, and staffed informational “tabling” operations before, during or after a meeting occurs.
    • Municipalities must distribute information to potential meeting attendees about the guidelines, including capacity reductions, cloth face covering requirements, and multi-household socialization restrictions before the event.
  • Municipalities that depend on access to schools shall consult the Agency of Education’s guidance on using school property for meetings.

Full list of Group B sectors

Specialized Guidance

At this time, the following will retain specialized guidance and not move to Universal Guidance.


8.2: Overnight Summer Camps and Limited Residential Summer College Programming

Guidance for overnight summer camps and limited residential summer college programming for Summer 2021 is currently under development. Any camps and limited residential programs must operate in accordance with Health Guidance for Childcare Programs, Summer Programs and Afterschool Programs in the interim.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


9.1 Sports/Organized Sports Including Youth Leagues, Adult Leagues, Practices, Games, and Tournaments

Guidance for sports and organized sports, including organized youth leagues and school-based sports programs is segmented into separate phases. For full details, please read the entire recreational sports and organized sports guidance.

Additional direction on school-sponsored winter sports programs, applicable to both public and independent schools, has been published by the Agency of Education at: https://education.vermont.gov/documents/aoe-anr-winter-sports-programs-for-the-2020-21-school-year

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


10.1: Occupancy Limits for Event Venues (Weddings, Funerals, Parties, Concerts, Large Sporting Events)

Please review the full Vermont Forward plan's Event and Gathering Guidance for changes that take effect starting on May 1, 2021.

All event venues; arts, culture, and entertainment venues; restaurants; bars; and clubs serving the public shall suspend public or private social, recreational and entertainment gatherings, indoor and outdoor, including large social gatherings incidental to ceremonies, holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations, unless all participants are from the same household.

Venues may continue to host religious ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other essential gatherings - but should not host the incidental receptions and parties that are often affiliated with these gatherings.

Venues shall suspend all events that encourage households to socialize, such as parties. However, they may continue to host retail events (such as craft fairs and ski swaps). Entertainment events at venues must comply with section 8.3 (Indoor Arts, Culture and Entertainment).

Live entertainment that requires the rapid expulsion of air from an individual, including singing and playing certain musical instruments, has been linked to the spread of the virus and should be discouraged. Should an organization wish to host such activities, performers must be separated from the audience/attendees and each other by at least 6 feet. Use of a physical barrier between the performer and the audience is not a substitute for social distancing. The audience/attendees should be discouraged from singing along with a song leader or performer.

When hosting allowable ceremonies or retail events, an organization may accommodate:

  • 50 percent of approved fire safety occupancy to the set maximum below; OR
  • One customer/person per 100 square feet of customer facing space to the set maximum below if no fire safety occupancy is established.
  • Operations may not exceed 75 total people for inside operations or events regardless of their fire safety occupancy or square footage calculation; AND
  • Operations may not exceed 150 people for outside operations or events regardless of their fire safety occupancy or square footage calculation. 
  • Staff and vendors are not counted in the maximum number.
  • Food service operations at events must comply with the Restaurant, Catering, Food Service, Bars and Clubs guidance.
  • Event organizers must maintain an easily accessible log of customers and their contact information for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required by the Health Department. This must include at least the name and phone number of every attendee, including staff.
  • **Outdoor service, events, and gatherings are strongly preferred.**
  • Special guidance for large outdoor venues (race tracks, baseball and football stadiums, fairgrounds, outdoor concert venues)
    • Large outdoor event venues that can usually accommodate more than 1,000 people may be able to exceed the 150 maximum limit by creating multiple distinct event locations that meet the event criteria.
    • These distinct event locations within the same event must be separated by a physical barrier (fencing, rope, etc.) and at least 25 feet.
    • Signage must be prominently posted prohibiting groups interacting with other groups.
    • These venues must ensure that the 150 people in each distinct event location do not interact with one-another by providing separate:
      • Parking areas
      • Concessions and vendors
      • Bathrooms
      • Entrances and exits
    • All events must be pre-ticketed, no walk-up customers are allowed.
    • Event venues must maintain guest lists by grouping and information about what vendors had contact with each grouping for 30 days to assist in contact tracing.
  • Special guidance for large indoor businesses (over 17,100 square feet)
    • Indoor businesses / spaces that exceed 17,100 feet, have 10’ ceilings or more, have no full walls interrupting the space, and have physical distancing plans in effect to prevent people from being within 6’ of each other, may have up to 150 people in the same space under the following conditions:
      • Capacity must remain below 50 percent fire occupancy.
      • The business / organization must break the group of 150 into separate units not to exceed 75.
      • The business must have a plan in place to ensure that no mixing between groupings occurs. For example, a bowling alley that measured 17,500 square feet could rope off half the lanes and have two separate groupings of 75 on each half of the lanes. Low-duration and low-contact interactions between groups (such as walking to a bathroom) is permitted if strict 6-foot physical distancing can be maintained.
      • The business must put systems in place to separate the groups, including clear signage and physical barriers such as ropes, prohibiting contact with people in other groupings.
      • Businesses must collect a name and phone number for all guests that includes the date and time the guest was in the space and maintain the logs for 30 days in the event of contact tracing.
  • An event venue (indoors or outdoors) may host multiple maximum groupings through the day if the groups do not interact with one another. For example – a craft fair could schedule multiple different groups of 150 (if outdoors) or 75 (if indoors) throughout the day to come to a show as long as they staggered the arrivals, ensured all members of a group departed before the second group entered, and followed event guidance. Vendors would not count as part of the group of 75/150.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


11.1: College and University Campus Learning

Colleges and universities retain individualized guidance found at the Mandatory Guidance for College and University Campus Learning document published on the ACCD Restart webpage.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


12.1: Ski Resorts

Ski resorts must continue to operate under the guidance issued on November 3, 2020 available at through the end of the 20/21 ski season: accd.vermont.gov/content/vermont-ski-resort-covid-19-winter-operations-guidance

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


Health Care

Follow the Department of Health’s Health Care guidance.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


Education

Follow the Agency of Education’s K-12 education guidance.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance


Childcare

Follow the Agency of Human Services childcare and afterschool guidance.

Full list of sectors with specialized guidance

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