Reopening Requirements in Washington State – What You Need to Know

By July 1, 2020Uncategorized

Washington State has recently issued Phase 3 guidelines for business reopening after the spring closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you’re struggling with understanding the nuances of the various guidelines and how to implement them thoughtfully to protect your employees and constituents, you’re not alone. We’ve put together a list of the top three guidelines and an explanation of each to help you keep your employees and constituents healthy and safe.

Phase 3 Business Template

No two businesses are alike, and no two responses to the COVID-19 pandemic will be alike. To assist businesses and meet the needs of residents, state leaders have developed reopening guidelines that allow for flexibility in how individual organizations enact safety plans and respond to the thread of COVID-19.

Each business or entity operating in the state must develop a written safety plan with details on the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Organizations should complete the plan and file it with their County Public Health Department or state agency and keep a copy on premises. Also, keep in mind that there are specific guidelines for certain industries, so check the industry-specific guidelines for additional safety precautions (if warranted).

Facial Coverings Required

More businesses opening means more people going to and from work and enjoying the products and services that businesses have to offer. With more people out and about, individuals must take responsibility for themselves and others and wear a facial covering.

Cloth facial coverings are required to be worn by all workers and anyone near others. Facial coverings must cover the nose and mouth. The type of covering varies according to workers’ industries, proximity to others, and job.

There are a few exemptions. Individuals working alone need not wear a face covering, and people with certain disabilities may be exempt as well. For example, people who rely on nonverbal language cues such as the deaf or hard of hearing may be exempt. People with medical disabilities may also be exempt. Please see the Washington State guidelines for specific details on exemptions.

Paycheck Protection Program Expands

The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act provides loans to small businesses affected by the pandemic. Those businesses that can maintain workers on the payroll may qualify for loan forgiveness.

The PPP added $12 million to Washington State’s economy so far, and the fund includes $100 million. If your small business is struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, now’s the time to apply for a loan from this program. An amendment to the original act reduced the payroll spending requirement from 75% to 60%, so it’s worth investigating again, even if you did not qualify for it before.

For more details or to complete an application, visit the Small Business Administration.

Getting Back to Business – Safely

Although updates about the pandemic may have slowed in the media, the virus remains a threat to all until either a cure or vaccine is found. Organizations that can continue allowing workers to telecommute should do so to enable more people to voluntarily self-isolate and maintain social distancing.

For those who cannot allow workers to remain at home, the state guidelines and safety plan are a good first step to helping everyone stay healthy and protect the vulnerable.

If you need any guidance or assistance during these times, Welter Consulting is here for you. We can be reached by phone (206-605-3113) or through our website.