Safely Bringing Our Economy Back
As Pennsylvania businesses have gradually re-opened in the COVID-19 pandemic era, the PA Chamber continues our work to ensure that employers have access to the most up-to-date regulatory information, useful resources and best practices to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for their employees and customers. The information below will help business leaders continue their operations with confidence.
Ensuring a Safe & Healthy Workplace
On May 13, 2021, the PA Department of Health announced that the state will follow updated CDC-issued guidelines regarding mask wearing in indoor and outdoor settings. Per the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. These relaxed guidelines only apply to those who are fully vaccinated. The Wolf administration announced on May 27 that the state’s masking order will be lifted on June 28 or when 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults get their second vaccine does, whichever comes first.
Maintaining a safe, clean environment for your employees and customers is the best way to ensure your doors can stay open. Below are guidelines from trusted resources so you can be certain you’re doing all you can to combat the spread of COVID-19:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Wolf Administration Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public; along with FAQs for Businesses Operating During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency.
- Cleaning and disinfection guidelines from the EPA and CDC.
To help employees and customers feel safe, heed these tried and true best practices:
- Regularly communicate the steps your business is taking to keep employees and customers safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Promote social distancing, mask-wearing and hand hygiene.
- Limit the number of customers in the facility to ensure appropriate distancing; offer curbside delivery instead of in-store pick-up; add plastic barriers/shields at registers.
- Provide supports for staff to ensure their mental and emotional well-being – including the implementation of employee wellness programs or staff emergency leave or funds.
- Establish and share protocols for when an employee or someone they are in close contact with has been exposed to COVID-19, as outlined in this guidance document from the PA Department of Health.
Updated Wolf Administration Workplace Orders
As of May 17, 2021, event and gathering maximum occupancy limits have been increased to 50 percent for indoor events and gatherings and 75 percent for outdoor events and gatherings.
- According to an administration press release, an event or gathering is defined as “a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes, that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days. For example, events and gatherings include fairs, festivals, concerts or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses, such as shows or performances within amusement parks, individual showings of movies on a single screen/auditorium within a multiplex, business meetings or conferences, or each party or reception within a multiroom venue.”
The update will not prevent municipalities, school districts, restaurants and venues from continuing and implementing stricter mitigation efforts.
Additionally, OSHA is directing employers to refer, for now, to CDC guidelines for workplace policies related to employees, but has indicated its intention to update their guidance, which had previously called for employees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
Visit the Wolf Administration’s COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses page for further details.
- For many businesses, general safety rules are still in place. While some employers are no longer requiring masks for those who are fully vaccinated, other employers have determined that until vaccination rates are high enough and the spread of the virus is minimal, they will continue to require employees and patrons to wear a mask when they enter the business, stay six feet apart, and follow all the general health and safety rules as before. We are urging communities statewide to abide by individual businesses’ decisions on this matter.
- All businesses can be open. All in-person businesses may operate at 75 percent occupancy, except where noted. Businesses must follow all the worker and building safety requirements for employers. All businesses are strongly encouraged to conduct their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking of their employees.
There are still restrictions for businesses that work with the public. You must limit occupancy if your business is in one of the following categories:
- Restaurants may open indoor dining, up to 50% occupancy or up to 75% occupancy with self-certification. Bar service is permitted for seated patrons.
- Night clubs may open, up to 50% occupancy.
- Indoor recreation can have up to 75% occupancy, and fitness facilities should continue to prioritize outdoor fitness activities (including gyms, indoor malls, bowling, arcades, indoor sports, go-kart, pool halls, and similar facilities)
- Health and wellness can have up to 75% occupancy, and providing service by appointment only is highly recommended (this applies to spas, barbershops, hair and nail salons, saunas, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and other personal care service businesses)
- Entertainment may have up to 75% occupancy (like casinos, theaters, zoos, museums, historical sites, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues). Any events within these venues, such as individual performances, screenings, shows, showtimes, lectures, etc., must abide by the 25% occupancy limit for indoor events and 50% occupancy limit for outdoor events.
EFFECTIVE MONDAY, MAY 31, ALL COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS RELATED TO GATHERINGS, RESTAURANTS AND OTHER BUSINESSES WILL BE LIFTED.
In addition, the masking order has been lifted for fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians; it will remain in place for those who are unvaccinated until 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
Offer Flexibility in Addressing Real-World Challenges
Childcare: The closure of childcare centers and schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges for employers working to get their facilities up and running and their employees back to the jobsite. Site capacity limits; staff personal protective equipment needs; financial concerns for childcare centers; higher safety and cleanliness standards than ever before; and an exodus of parents from the workforce (particularly women and women of color) are among the many childcare-related topics that need to be addressed as Pennsylvanians return to work. Business owners are encouraged to be as flexible as possible with their employees when working to address these challenges.
- A recent U.S. Chamber Foundation webinar explored this issue in depth.
- In February 2021, the PA Chamber joined business advocates nationwide in signing a coalition letter to Congressional leaders, urging them to invest significantly in the country’s childcare system in the FY21 Budget Reconciliation Bill.
General Guidelines & Resources for PA Businesses
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Special “Path Forward” Presentation with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield Dec. 2, 2020
Industry Specific Guidelines and Best Practices
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or medical advice; all information, content, and materials on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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