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PA Department of Health Issues New Order

April 16, 2020

By Robert J. Waine, Esquire

On April 15, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a new order regarding new safety measures for businesses that are permitted to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, other than health care providers.  This new Order took effect immediately and is enforceable as of April 19, 2020, at 8:00 p.m.  The Order establishes new social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols that are in addition to previously established protocols.  The new Order requires businesses to, among other things:

  • Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • Establish protocols to be followed upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or a confirmed case of COVID-19, including: closing off the area visited by the person; identifying the employees that were in close contact with the person; and implement temperature screening before an employee enters the business before the start of each shift.
  • Stagger work start and stop times for employees to prevent gathering of large groups entering or leaving the premises.
  • Provide sufficient space so employees can practice social distancing while on break or at meals.
  • Limit the number of persons in employee common areas (locker rooms, break rooms, conference rooms, etc.) at any one time so social distancing can be maintained.
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually; in person meetings are limited to 10 employees and social distancing must be maintained.
  • Provide employees access to regular handwashing, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • Provide masks for employees to wear while at work.
  • Ensure that the facility has sufficient number of personnel to control access, maintain order and enforce social distancing.
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business.
  • Ensure that all employees are made aware of the required procedures.

In addition to the above requirements, there are additional requirements for businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area, including:

  • Where feasible, businesses should conduct business with the public by appointment only, and where not feasible, businesses must limit occupancy to no greater than 50% of the number stated on the certificate of occupancy.
  • Alter hours so the business has sufficient time to clean or restock.
  • Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers.
  • Encourage use of on-line ordering by providing delivery or pick-up options.
  • Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once a week.
  • Require all customers to wear a mask while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks.
  • Scheduling handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.

The above is a summary of the new Pennsylvania Order, and is not a comprehensive statement of all the requirements for an authorized business to maintain in-person operations.  If you conduct such a business and you need help implementing these new guidelines, or need any help navigating these difficult times, the attorneys at Rothman Gordon are ready to help.  Please contact us online or call (412) 338-1100.

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