Not following the New Hampshire COVID-19 Guidelines is essentially showing your lack of care for the safety of your employees, their families, friends, and your customers.
“They are just guidelines…it’s not like we have to follow them…right?” WRONG. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire continues to grow. Over the weekend we saw a day with more cases than we have seen since day one of the pandemic in our state with over 200 cases reported. State and US experts blame “COVID Fatigue” and indoor gathering as the weather gets colder. Most of us have woken to frost on the cars this weekend; the seasons have changed and the warm weather and ability to visit, dine, and do business outside is now behind us.
Many businesses have chosen to not follow the guidelines set by the state as they are not “mandatory”. We have seen restaurants with seats too close to each other, we see folks at the grocery store not wearing masks despite the sign when you walk in saying you have to wear one to enter, we have seen stores with crowded aisles, and unfortunately, we have seen members not following the guidelines. We have heard of complaints by customers regarding staff not wearing masks, meetings without social distancing, lack of follow through on suspected exposures, and the lack of screening employees as they enter for work.
Have you made the decision to not follow the guidelines? Has this so far worked for you? Is it business as usual? Are you just going to wait and see because this should all be over soon? Unfortunately, if this is the route you have chosen to take it leads to a dead end.
Not following the New Hampshire COVID-19 Guidelines is not the way to go; the ramifications of not following the guidelines is essentially showing your lack of care for the safety of your employees, their families, friends, and your customers. We have an obligation to do what is right; the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and the safety of everyone has to be priority #1.
But what is the worst that could happen?
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 they cannot work. Based on the positive test results even if they are asymptomatic, they cannot work for 14 days. If they are positive and are symptomatic, they cannot work until at least 10 days after their symptoms first started and have improved and been fever free without the use of fever reducing medications for at least 24 hours.
Is it as easy as sending them home?
No; if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 sending them home is the easy part. Next is looking at who they have had close contact with over a 24-hour period of time. The CDC defines close contact as 15 minutes within a 6-foot distance over the course of 24 hours. So, the exposure could be minutes at a time. Anyone who has had close contact with the person who tested positive cannot work. They must be sent home and need to self-quarantine for 14 days. This close contact could have occurred over a 5-minute chat at the water cooler, a 15-minute coffee break, a lunch break, or even a 2-minute stop at their desk to hand off paperwork that occurs throughout the day.
So how many people did that positive person have close contact with at work prior to their test? 1, 3, 10, 30 or more? What does this mean to the way you do business? Can you keep doing business as usual when all these employees have to go home for 14 days? Can you remain open during this time? Can some employees work remotely? Can your business survive this? These are all the questions that will be on your plate when an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
An ounce of prevention….
With the COVID-19 cases on the rise it is very possible that the guidelines become more than suggestions; they could become mandatory. Doing your part to help limit the spread of the virus is your job, your obligation, it is the right thing to do not only as a New Hampshire business owner but as a person with loved ones who are at risk, with elderly friends or family members, and as a human being.
Doing the right thing in this case is easy and we are here to help you through it. The NHADA Coronavirus Playbook was put together for our members to help you to adhere to the guidelines set by the State to keep your employees and customers safe and to keep you in “business as usual” mode by taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Have you gotten lax with the employee and customer screening?
- Start fresh today; screen all employees and customers before they start work or start shopping. Learn how to properly screen.
Are you sending employees out of New England for work purposes or have they vacationed outside of New England? Have you not told them they must self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to work?
- Start fresh today; adhere to the travel guidelines as laid out by the NH Division of Public Health Services and the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.
Has your employee come to work and told you they are pending COVID test results on themselves, a family member or a close contact? Have you told them they can continue to work pending the results?
- Start fresh; send that employee home while they await their results. Don’t put other employees and customers at risk by allowing that employee to stay at work.
Has an employee tested positive for COVID-19 and you allowed them to remain at work and just “keep their distance”?
- Start fresh; send them home and review who had had close contact with the employee who was positive and determine who has had close contact and send them home as well.
Have you decided masks aren’t mandatory?
- Start fresh; all employees should wear masks when in close contact with other employees and customers.
Have you decided safety precautions such as plexiglass shields at the counter, PPE for employees and customers, hand sanitizer stations, extra cleaning are all to expensive?
- Start fresh; add these safety measures to your workplace to keep employees and customers safe. The NHADA Store has everything that you'll need.
Have you been taking risks; having gatherings with larger numbers of people, have you entered a restaurant and thought it was too crowded but stayed anyway, have you attended a gathering where social distancing was not being adhered to but stayed anyway?
- Start fresh; lead by example! Your employees, your family, your friends all look to each other when making their own decisions on safety and precautions in regard to COVID-19 as well as what the experts are saying. Don’t be part of the reason someone’s family member or friend who is immunocompromised catches COVID-19, or part of the reason schools have to go to remote learning, or the reason your business has to close for 14 days or longer.
NHADA is here to help you through this challenging time. We have gotten tired and a bit lazy with the guidelines as the summer showed us some relief, some slowing of COVID-19; but the cold weather has us in the midst of a storm that is brewing. Let’s get prepared, let’s do our part for prevention of the spread, and let’s make the tough decisions in the difficult time that in the long run will have us all safe and well.