New York officials released new guidelines retail stores must follow when allowed to reopen from a COVID-19 shutdown, including customers wearing masks and standing 6-feet apart.

Below are guidelines essential and Phase 2 retail stores, as well as customers, must follow in order to reopen, according to New York State Forward:

Physical Distancing

  • Ensure 6 ft. distance between individuals, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance.
  • Reduce interpersonal contact and congregation through methods such as limiting workforce presence to only the employees necessary to conduct retail activities. The workforce and customer presence must be limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area set by the certificate of occupancy, inclusive of customers, who must maintain 6 ft. of space from others and, in all cases, wear an acceptable face covering.
  • Tightly confined spaces (e.g. elevators, small stock rooms, behind cash registers, narrow merchandise aisles) should be occupied by only one individual at a time, unless all individuals are wearing face coverings. If occupied by more than one person, keep occupancy under 50% of maximum capacity.
  • Post social distancing markers using tape or signs that denote 6 ft. of spacing in commonly used and other applicable areas (e.g. clock in/out stations, health screening stations, break rooms, cash registers, merchandise aisles).
  • Limit in-person gatherings (e.g. meetings) as much as possible and use tele- or video-conferencing whenever possible. If a meeting is necessary, it should be held in an open, well-ventilated space with appropriate social distancing among participants.
  • Establish designated areas for deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.
  • Ensure fitting rooms are equipped with appropriate cleaning/hygiene supplies for employee and customer use, including hand sanitizer.
  • Close amenities including self-serve bars and samplers.

Protective Equipment 

  • Employers must provide employees with an acceptable face covering at no-cost to the employee and have an adequate supply of coverings in case of replacement.
  • Acceptable face coverings include but are not limited to cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana) and surgical masks, unless the nature of the work requires stricter PPE (e.g. N95 respirator, face shield).
  • Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use and may not be shared.
  • Employers must train employees on how to put on, take off, clean and discard PPE, including face coverings.
  • At check out registers, employees must wear face coverings and employers must enact physical barriers such as plastic shield walls in areas where they would not affect air flow, heating, cooling, or ventilation.
  • Limit the sharing of objects (e.g. tools, registers, and vehicles) and discourage touching of shared surfaces; or, when in contact with shared objects or frequently touched areas, wear gloves (trade-appropriate or medical); or, sanitize or wash hands before and after contact.

Hygiene and Cleaning

  • Adhere to hygiene and sanitation requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) and maintain cleaning logs on site that document date, time, and scope of cleaning.
  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations on site, including handwashing with soap, water, and paper towels, as well as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible.
  • Provide and encourage employees to use cleaning/disinfecting supplies before and after use of shared and frequently touched surfaces, followed by hand hygiene
  • Ensure gloves are worn while handling any food products.
  • Sanitize hands before and after transferring a load (e.g. truckload) of merchandise.
  • Conduct regular cleaning and disinfection at least after every shift, daily, or more frequently as needed, and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of shared objects (e.g. registers) and surfaces, as well as high transit areas, such as payment devices, pickup areas, restrooms, common areas.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of the retail location, shared surfaces, and other areas, as well as equipment, should be performed using Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) products identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against COVID-19.
  • If cleaning or disinfection products or the act of cleaning and disinfecting causes safety hazards or degrades the material or machinery, personnel should have access to a hand hygiene station between use and/or be supplied with disposable gloves. Prohibit shared food and beverages (e.g. buffet-style meals).
  • Hand sanitizer must be placed throughout the store for use by employees and customers.

Communication

  • Affirm you have reviewed and understand the state-issued industry guidelines, and that you will implement them.
  • Post signage inside and outside of the retail location to remind personnel and customers to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Train all personnel on new protocols and frequently communicate safety guidelines. Establish a communication plan for employees, visitors, and clients with a consistent means to provide updated information.
  • If a worker, visitor, or customer who interacted at the business tests positive for COVID-19, employer must immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts, including notification of potential contacts, such as workers, visitors, and/or customers (if known) who entered the retail location dating back to 48 hours before the employee began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive, whichever is earlier, while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations.
  • Conspicuously post completed safety plans on site.

Screening

  • Employees who are sick must stay home or return home immediately, if they become sick at work.
  • Implement mandatory health screening assessment (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) before employees begin work each day and for essential visitors (but not customers), asking about (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days. Assessment responses must be reviewed every day and such review must be documented.
  • If a person has COVID-19 symptoms AND EITHER tests positive for COVID-19 OR did not receive a test, the individual may only return after completing at least 14 days of self-quarantine.
  • If a person does NOT have COVID-19 symptoms BUT tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may only return after completing at least 14 days of self-quarantine.
  • If a person has had close contact with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time AND is symptomatic, the individual should follow the above protocol for a positive case.
  • If a person has had close contact with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time AND is NOT symptomatic, the individual must complete a 14 day self-quarantine.
  • A person who screens positive for COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed to enter the location and should be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider for assessment and testing.
  • Screeners should be trained by employer identified individuals familiar with CDC, DOH, and OSHA protocols and wear appropriate employer-provided PPE, including, at a minimum, a face covering.
  • Designate a site safety monitor who will ensure compliance with the business's safety plan. Provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event of a positive case, with such cleaning to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. bathrooms, door knobs).