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Pennsylvania Health Secretary Issues Mandatory Measures for Businesses Permitted to Maintain In-Person Operations

EFFECTIVE 8:00 P.M., SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2020

On Thursday, April 16, 2020, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine issued an Order mandating certain mitigation measures and procedures applicable to all businesses that are currently permitted to operate.

The purpose of this Order, which becomes effective this coming Sunday, April 19, 2020 at 8:00 p.m., is to protect the health and safety of employees, customers and others who come upon the business premises and, more generally, to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus within the Commonwealth.  Because the threat of continued infection with the virus will remain, we believe that it is almost inevitable that these same procedures will be required of ALL businesses, even after the current shutdown order issued by Governor Wolf is relaxed or even withdrawn.  Accordingly, we believe that ALL employers, whether operating or not at this time, should have a clear understanding of the Health Secretary’s Order and that it is not too early to begin planning for compliance.

While somewhat lengthy, the Order itself is relatively straightforward and the required measures are, for the most part, consistent with the common sense rules to which we have all become accustomed.  In summary, the order mandates that employers:

  •  Implement and maintain cleaning protocols for all work sites.
  • Provide masks for all employees while at work, and access to soap and disinfecting materials, and provide scheduled handwashing breaks every hour.
  • Implement temperature screening before employees begin work.
  • Provide notice to employees in close contact with an employee who has become sick or exposed to the coronavirus, and implement special cleaning protocols for the employee’s work area.
  • Provide social distancing including six feet separation, staggered work schedules, and limit group meetings and gatherings in common areas.
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors and conduct business by “appointment-only” when possible.
  • Require visitors to wear masks and deny entry to those who refuse to do so.

One of the problems experienced by some of our clients who have been able to continue their operations is the apprehension and fear among employees, customers and others, surrounding this unprecedented crisis.

In the interest of sound business practices, customer relations and employee morale, we have  consistently advised that all recommended practices  with respect to safety, cleanliness, handwashing, masks, distancing,  and the prohibition  of non-essential visitors be implemented and enforced.  While some of the mandated practices set forth in the Health Secretary’s Order may result in some inconvenience, they are consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and with the overall goal of the protection of the health and safety of employees, customers, and the local community.

Do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns.  Attorneys from Stock and Leader’s Business and Employment Group are constantly monitoring the quickly evolving legal landscape and are ready to help you navigate through this unprecedented time.

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