Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses Operating During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency
Requested to be posted by Anne Zarlenga, EMC
Last updated June 17, 2020
Life-Sustaining Business Frequently Asked Questions
What businesses may maintain in-person operations based on the Red, Yellow and Green Phases of Reopening?
The Governor’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania details a regional and industry-specific approach to reopening non-life-sustaining businesses. In counties that have been designated as in the Red Phase, only life-sustaining businesses, businesses that received exemptions to remain open, and industries including construction, vehicle sales and the real estate industry, were permitted to conduct certain in-person operations.
In counties in the Yellow or Green Phases, all businesses, except certain types of businesses identified below, are permitted to conduct in-person operations so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, available HERE. This document is referred to throughout this FAQ as the “Business Guidance.”
What categories of businesses must to continue to suspend in-person operations in counties in the Yellow Phase?
Under the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania, businesses in the following categories are required to continue to suspend in-person operations in counties in the Yellow Phase of reopening:
- — Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities and personal care services;
- — Entertainment; and
- — Indoor malls.
In the Yellow Phase, restaurants and bars may continue to provide curbside pickup, takeout and delivery, and outdoor dining, as provided in Guidance for Businesses in the Restaurant Industry Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of the Employees and the Public, available HERE. This document is referred to throughout this FAQ as the “Restaurant Guidance.”
What type of businesses are considered “indoor recreation,” “health and wellness facilities,” and “entertainment,” and must continue to suspend in-person operations in the Yellow Phase?
Indoor recreation includes bowling, arcades, racquetball and other indoor sports or training, go-kart and other racing, laser tag, pool halls, trampoline facilities, indoor mini golf, and other similar facilities.
Indoor recreation does not include outdoor activities like golf, boating, horse riding, tennis, archery or shooting, outdoor miniature golf, mountain biking, motorsports venues, go carts, rock climbing, disc golf, paintball, and other similar facilities that conduct operations outdoors. Businesses that operate these outdoor recreational activities may resume operations but may not operate indoor spaces for public or visitor use other than restrooms and ticketing and entry locations. Online ticketing and timed/staged entry are strongly encouraged to manage occupancy rates and physical distancing. These businesses must ensure that visitors practice social distancing and do not congregate at entry gates, kiosks, concession stands, or similar locations.
Health and wellness facilities include, but are not limited to, gyms, saunas, tattoo and piercing shops, tanning, spas, hair salons, nail salons, entities that provide massage therapy, and other similar facilities.
Entertainment includes, but is not limited to, casinos, theaters, concerts, museums, arboretums and botanical gardens, historical sites, amusement parks, waterparks, and zoos.
Indoor malls must remain closed until the county in which the mall is located is designated as being in the Green Phase. Only tenants with external entrances may open to customers (if they follow the business guidance) as well as pharmacy or health care tenants with either interior or external entrances. All mall tenants may offer curbside pickup, fulfilled outside of the mall interior, during the Yellow Phase, and are encouraged to do so in the Green Phase.
What occupancy limits are applicable to my business in the various phases of reopening?
Under the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania, and the Business Guidance, different occupancy limits apply to businesses based upon the nature of their business and the county in which they are located.
In the Red Phase of Reopening, only life-sustaining businesses may operate. In the Yellow Phase of Reopening, business that may open are subject to an overall occupancy limit of 50% of the occupancy stated on their occupancy permit.
Certain businesses, such as movie theaters, gyms, arcades, and others as described above, may not conduct any in person operations in the Yellow Phase of reopening. In the Green Phase of reopening, businesses that were permitted to operate in the Yellow Phase may increase their capacity to 75% of the total occupancy stated on their occupancy permit, while businesses that were not permitted to open in the Yellow Phase, such as movie theaters, gyms, arcades, and others described above, may operate at 50% of the total occupancy stated on their occupancy permit.
In addition to these general limitations, gatherings and events, such as meetings, weddings, catered events, concerts, conferences, fairs, festivals, sporting events, movie showings or theater performances, and similar events occurring within these businesses are subject to specific conditions during each phase of reopening. Specifically, facilities and venues must limit the total number of individuals gathering at one time for any discrete gathering or event within the facility or venue.
In the Red Phase of reopening, such gatherings for a planned or spontaneous event are limited to 10 individuals.
In the Yellow Phase of reopening, such gatherings for a planned or spontaneous event are limited to 25 individuals for each discrete gathering or event within the facility or venue. In no event may the total number of individuals in the entire facility exceed 50% of the facility’s total maximum occupancy at any time.
In the Green Phase of reopening, such gatherings for a planned or spontaneous event are limited to 250 individuals for each discrete gathering or event within the facility or venue. At businesses that were permitted to open in the Yellow Phase of reopening, in no event may the total number of individuals in the entire facility exceed 75% of the facility’s total maximum occupancy at any time. At businesses that were not permitted to open in the Yellow Phase of reopening, in no event may the total number of individuals in the entire facility exceed 50% of the facility’s total maximum occupancy at any time.
Please note, regardless of phase, all facilities and venues must still enforce social distancing requirements, which may limit occupancy below the attendance limits noted above.
What is an “event or gathering?”
An event or gathering is 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. Such temporary events are subject to the lesser of the building occupancy limit or per-person limit (10, 25, or 250 depending upon phase) as set out above.
Does the 10, 25, 250 occupancy limit include staff and employees?
Yes. Businesses should include staff and employees when considering their occupancy limit or crowd gathering size.
If a business is classified as non-life-sustaining, but has the ability to operate remotely, must the business close down?
All businesses in counties in the Yellow Phase of Reopening that have been operating remotely through individual telework of their employees, must continue to telework.
All businesses in counties in the Green Phase of Reopening that have been operating remotely through individual telework of their employees are strongly encouraged to continue to telework.
May professional sports teams resume in person activities?
Professional sports are defined as any sporting event at which the participants are paid by a league or team, or at which individuals or teams receive prizes or purse.
Professional sports teams may practice and play in the Yellow phase of reopening provided the team, the team’s governing body, or league, on behalf of the team, has a COVID-19 safety plan approved by Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). The plan must include, at minimum, a process for testing or screening for COVID, and monitoring all on-premises attendees. In the Yellow phase, no fans or spectators are allowed in or directly outside of the site or venue.
Professional sports organizations in the Green phase are permitted to practice or play on site with fewer than 250 people, provided they follow orders issued by the Secretary of Health and recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health or athletics-based organizations. The sports organization is not required to submit a safety plan for approval to DOH if fewer than 250 people are present on site or directly outside of the site.
Professional sports organization in the Green phase that want to play or practice with more than 250 people on site or directly outside of the site must submit a plan to DOH for approval. At this stage of reopening, the administration strongly discourages the attendance of spectators or fans in or directly outside of the site or venue.
Are religious institutions required to suspend to suspend in-person gatherings?
The Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s Non-Life Sustaining Business Closure Orders (as amended), the Governor’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania, and the Governor’s Stay at Home Order are not applicable to religious institutions. However, religious leaders are encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants. While not required for religious gatherings, religious institutions are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines available here.
I am a manufacturer that wishes to manufacturer goods to assist in confronting this pandemic. What should I do?
Please submit your information to the newly developed Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal. Questions about the Portal can be directed to RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov.
Common Questions About Masks
Must my employees and customers continue to wear masks in the Green Phase of Reopening?
Yes. According to the Governor’s Green Phase order businesses must continue to follow the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Directing Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Permitted to Maintain In-person Operations.
Regarding customers, the Order states, “require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods; however, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.”
Regarding employees, the Order states, “provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with Department of Health guidance.”
Does a disposable face shield suffice in lieu of a mask?
A disposable face shield would suffice in lieu of a mask. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with guidance on homemade masks found on the Department of Health’s website.
If a customer refuses to wear a mask must they be turned away or be refused service?
Yes, except that if a business provides medication, medical supplies, or food, that business must offer another means for the customer to purchase goods if the customer is unable to wear a mask. Those means could include home delivery or contactless curbside pick-up.
Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.
If the customer is refused service, and if the business is not able to provide a mask, the business should consider providing information on mask making, distributing “how to” flyers, or sharing information about where masks can be purchased. Additionally, businesses should advise the customer that masks are required; tell the customer that only those who cannot wear a mask due to a medical conditions may enter the premises without a mask; and advise the customer that almost any face covering would be acceptable. If a customer is belligerent or aggressive, there is no expectation that an employee should force a customer to comply or put themselves in a dangerous situation.
How do businesses avoid confrontation with customers who do not wear a mask?
Businesses should consider how they would deal with a customer who may attempt to enter the business without a shirt or shoes, and may wish to react similarly. Businesses should consider giving customers resources on how to make their own mask or provide a mask.
Additionally, businesses should advise customers that masks are required while in the business; tell the customer that only persons who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition do not have to comply with the requirement to wear a mask; and advise the customer that almost any face covering would be acceptable. If a customer is belligerent or aggressive, employees need not force a customer to comply and should not put themselves in a dangerous situation.
As a manager, how do I handle an employee that refuses to wear a mask? Does the masking requirement mean I can refuse them entry?
All employees, with the exception of those with a medical condition or in the case of safety issues or while sequestered alone in a room, must wear a mask in the workplace. The administration does not dictate to employers how they should manage their workforce if employees refuse to comply with the requirement to wear a mask.
Are masks required for operations where it would be unsafe to keep masks in place, or if an employee says they have anxiety and any mouth, nose covering can lead to panic attacks or other medical conditions?
Employees must wear masks unless the mask impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition that impedes the wearing of a mask, or if wearing a mask would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
Does someone working in a personal office need a mask at all times?
Employees isolated in their personal office space, which is not shared with any other colleagues, do not need to wear a mask. However, when the employee leaves their individual office or has invited a colleague into their office, they must wear a mask. Additionally, one cannot wear a mask while eating or drinking. At those times, social distancing techniques should be applied.
If social distancing can be maintained, can there be an exemption to the mandatory mask requirement?
No. Employees must wear masks unless the mask impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition that impedes the wearing of a mask, or if wearing a mask would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
Are masks required while driving for work?
If the person is driving alone throughout the trip, no mask is needed in the vehicle, however, should they need to travel through a toll-booth or other drive thru they should be wearing a mask.
Does the masking requirement apply to workers who are outdoors, and who engage in heavy physical activity, such as employee of solid waste companies and landscapers?
Yes. However, an employee does not need to wear a mask if it impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
Is it acceptable for workers to remove cloth face coverings when high temperatures and humidity may create unsafe conditions for operations?
Yes. An employee does not need to wear a mask if it impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task, including during hot and humid conditions.
Face shields should be considered as an acceptable alternative to face masks when high temperatures and humidity create unsafe conditions. Additionally, social distancing measures should be enforced when conditions are unsafe for wearing a mask and/or face shield. Employers should utilize discretion when determining unsafe conditions.
How should businesses comply while awaiting delivery of masks?
Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with guidance on homemade masks found on the Department of Health’s website
Must transit operators, bus drivers or others who operate vehicles wear masks?
Yes. However, an employee does not need to wear a mask if it impedes their vision, if they have a medical condition that precludes the wearing of a mask, or if wearing a mask would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
Who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the masking requirement at a specific workplace?
The administration does not dictate the employer’s business structure. The employer is responsible for taking the necessary steps to implement the masking requirement for employees. State enforcement agencies have been directed to begin enforcement with additional education for and warnings to non-compliant businesses, before moving progressively to more significant enforcement steps if warranted.
Does the Commonwealth require a particular type of mask?
No. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with the Department of Health’s guidance, available HERE. Customers may utilize masks obtained or made in accordance with the Department’s guidance. Scarves, bandanas, or other face covering will also suffice in place of a mask.
Are there recommendations on where employers can purchase masks for employees?
Employers do not need to purchase masks from any specific vendor, but are required to provide masks to employees to wear during business hours. Homemade masks and masks owned by employees are allowable. The Department of Health has published guidance on how to make cloth masks. Additionally, the Department of Community and Economic Development has created a Business-2-Business Directory, which identifies potential vendors of masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), available HERE.
Do banks and financial institutions need to comply with the masking requirement if there are associated security concerns with face coverings?
Yes. Bank employees should wear masks at all times. Customers can be asked to remove their masks to reveal their face and then recover their face after the bank employee has identified the customer. This should take place within a minimum distance of six feet.
The commonwealth’s masking requirement differs from the CDC guidance on masking, which requires masking only when employees cannot maintain social distancing?
The Governor and Secretary of Health have chosen to employ safety measures beyond the CDC. Employees must wear masks at all times except when isolated from others in a private space or when it adversely affects their health.
Is there any plan to get information about safety requirements to employees so they can ask their employer to take the necessary steps to protect them?
Businesses are required to make employees and customers aware of the guidance provided by the Commonwealth to keep people at their establishment safe. In addition, businesses are required to publicly acknowledge their responsibility to conduct their operations to ensure the health.
Businesses must print, sign, and post the “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer on their premises. The flyer is located on the Resources for COVID-19 webpage. Businesses must post the signed flyer in employee common space and, if the business serves the public, the business must also post the flyer near the business’s public entrance(s) in prominent location(s).
Is there a code enforcement hotline for employees to call?
No. Complaints will only be taken online. A webform for employees to submit complaints is available on the Department’s website.
Is there a waiver process or exceptions to the Governor and Secretary of Health’s orders and guidance to promote worker and business safety?
The Governor and Secretary of Health’s orders and guidance apply to all businesses that remain open and already includes limited exceptions related to medical conditions and to occupational safety. There is no process to provide waivers or exceptions.
Common Questions About Keeping Workers and Customers Safe
What should I do to keep employees safe?
All businesses in all industries and sectors of the economy (including non-profit entities) in the Commonwealth s, are required to strictly adhere to the requirements of the Guidance for Businesses Guidance, available here, unless they are otherwise more stringently regulated under separate industry-specific guidance.
When an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, what type of cleaning is required?
Facilities must clean and disinfect all spaces, especially commonly used rooms and shared electronic equipment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established guidance on appropriate cleaning. Businesses should also refer to the Secretary’s April 6, 2020 Order Directing Building Safety Measures available HERE
When an employee has tested positive for COVID 19 how long must a business wait before proceeding to disinfect the workspace?
All businesses are ordered to wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
Often employees notify management of their pending or confirmed COIVD-19 case several days after they have been in the office or business, in such a case does a business still need to do additional cleaning?
According to the CDC, if more than 7 days have passed since the person who is sick visited the business or facility, enhanced cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. However, the business should continue routine cleaning. If the person who is sick was onsite at the business or facility within 7 days, then the work site should be cleaned and disinfected.
Retail stores with multiple check out lanes are required to limit use to every other register and rotate registers and clean hourly. If a business adheres to the social distancing and best practices contained in the Business Guidance, can it open additional registers?
All businesses are strongly encouraged to take as many precautions as possible to ensure employee safety. Disease transmission between employees is likely when working closely together. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides similar recommendations for or businesses in regard to social distancing, including the “every other register” recommendation. However, if all other public health practices have been implemented, including limiting in-person shopping, limiting the number of customers to reduce crowding, installing shields or barriers, performing regular cleaning and designating a specific shopping time for high risk individuals, then a business may consider opening checkout lanes that are next to each other.
Employees are required to be sent home immediately if they become sick during the work day if exposed to a person who was a probable or confirmed case, and also requires the cleaning and disinfecting of the surfaces in that employee’s workspace. Must I wait to disinfect the workspace?
All businesses are required to wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
Can a life-sustaining business use a third-party vendor or third-party service for cleaning?
Yes, businesses can use an established or new vendor to comply with cleaning requirements.
If a facility is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can’t comply because it cannot open up doors and windows in a clean room environment, what should it do?
The business should follow FDA regulations and should consider the safety of its facility and employees while complying while making the best decision possible.
Does an entire facility need to be shut down in order to do appropriate cleaning?
No. Businesses with a campus of multiple facilities or a building with multiple offices only need to close and clean the area of the building where an individual with a suspected or confirmed positive case of COVID-19 has worked. However, businesses should be mindful of bathrooms, breakrooms, building lobbies and other frequently visited areas.
Who is responsible for cleaning costs incurred in order to maintain compliance with the cleaning requirements of the Business Guidance and Department of Health Orders?
Businesses are responsible to ensure that all facilities are cleaned. Please note that leases or other similar agreements may provide that cleaning be conducted by a landlord or other service.
If a business is open to the public, are they required to provide public restrooms?
Yes. The International Plumbing Code requires public toilet facilities be provided for customers, unless all customer transactions are takeout or pickup and drop-off. There has been no suspension of this requirement.
Common Questions about Social Distancing in the Workplace
Are building security desks required to have shields or barriers to separate guard staff?
Shields or barriers are not required at security desks, however, businesses should consider how much interaction their security staff have with customers or employees. If security staff have significant interactions, the Department of Health recommends the installation of a barrier.
If a company is staggering breaks, but not staggering shift start/stop times, would they then be required to implement those as well?
Employers should take all possible steps to encourage social distancing, including staggering shift start/stop times, as well as staggering breaks.
What are the social distancing guidelines for elevator usage?
Businesses should use their best judgment based on the square footage of the elevator. The Department recommends that business allow as few people as possible while also discouraging crowds gathering while waiting for the elevator.
Common Questions About Temperature Screenings
Businesses are required to check the temperature of employees upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. Can these temperature checks be done by employees at home through self-screening?
Businesses are required to check the temperature of employees upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, the Department of Health recommends that employers check the temperature and or symptoms of all employees at the beginning of each shift, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth with high positive case numbers. This can be done in several ways:
If thermometers can be procured:
- — Employers may take their employees’ temperatures on site utilizing best practices.
- — Employees may self-screen taking their temperature at home with business-provided thermometers or their own personal thermometer.
If thermometers cannot be procured:
- — Employers may ask their employees to conduct a questionnaire-based screening at the worksite utilizing the Department approved screening tool or equivalent.
- — Employees may self-screen by conducting a questionnaire-based screening at their home utilizing the Department approved screening tool or equivalent.
If utilizing self-screening, businesses must also establish a policy for employees to report their temperature or symptoms to the employer on a daily basis. This policy should include a provision that would not allow employees with symptoms to come onto the worksite.
Additionally, businesses should consider paid leave policies that incentivize workers to stay home when reporting symptoms, including a temperature of 100.4 F or higher. This would alleviate the potential of employees lying to avoid losing pay, or potentially losing jobs.
Daily self-screening is encouraged even if the employee is not scheduled to enter the worksite. For example, if an employee is off for the weekend, performing a self -screening is not required but a matter of good public health.
Where should temperature screenings take place?
It is best to do screenings as close to the door of a facility or outside, if possible.
Businesses should consider taking the temperature of employees in their car as they enter parking lots/garages or inside of a building lobby. If taking temperatures inside, remember to clean high touch surfaces frequently.
Are employers required to conduct temperature screening of employees who do not physically enter a building?
Employers are not required to screen employees who are working from home or have no contact with other employees, but it is recommended.
Is a building owner or management company required to take the temperatures of tenants?
Employers are responsible for taking the temperature or implementing a self-screen policy for their employees. The building owner is not required to screen tenants.
Does the requirement to conduct temperature screenings only apply after an employer is aware of a potential or actual exposure?
The requirement to conduct temperature screenings is only intended to address the circumstances after an employer becomes aware of a potential or actual exposure. However, the Department of Health recommends temperature screenings be conducted, at all times, however, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth with high positive case numbers.
Following an exposure “employees” are required to be screened. Does this mean that non-employees, such as contractors and delivery persons present at the location do not need to be screened?
Non-employees are not subject to temperature checks; these employees should have temperature checks or self-screening polices put in place by their own employer (self-employed individuals must self-screen and monitor). If, however, a contractor is physically present in a business as if he or she were an employee and has similar physical contact with employees as if he or she were an employee, the employer should temperature check that contractor.
An elevated temperature is just one symptom of COVID-19. Is an elevated temperature enough to send an employee home?
Yes, an elevated temperature should prompt sending the employee home. While an elevated temperature is just one symptom, employees should be monitoring for other symptoms as well and should be encouraged to stay home if exhibiting any of those symptoms.
If an employee tests positive in a leased facility, what requirements are there in terms of notifying other entities that may occupy leased space?
Tenants should notify the building owner that one of their employees has tested positive without sharing personal details. It is recommended that owners notify other tenants that someone within the building has tested positive without sharing personal details and should follow this protocol if one of their employees who works in the building tests positive. Building owners should ensure that common spaces within the building are cleaned according to guidelines.
If an employee tests positive in a leased facility, how does a business go about implementing temperature checks for staff that work in that leased facility, but do not work for the business (e.g. cleaning staff).
The employer is responsible for implementing temperature screenings or implementing self- screening policies of their employees. In the example, the employer of the cleaning staff is responsible for instituting a temperature screening policy. It is recommended that the employer notify the owner of the leased facility of the presence in the leased facility of an employee who tests positive.
Is a building owner or management company required to take the temperatures of tenants?
Employers are responsible for taking the temperature or implementing a self-screen policy for their employees. The building owner is not required to screen tenants.
If an employer discovers an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has come into the business, is the employer required to institute a temperature check for that person to return to work following their leave period or does it require temperature screenings of all employees following the first confirmed case?
Upon learning that the business has been exposed to a COVID-19 case, businesses should implement temperature screening or a self-screen policy for all employees who physically enter the worksite.
The Business Guidance provides guidelines for a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID19. What is considered “probable”?
A person is considered to have a probable case of COVID-19 if that person has symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath) and exposure to a high-risk situation, or if the person has a positive antibody test and either symptoms or high-risk exposure.
Do employees need to produce a doctor’s note to take leave or return to the office after being diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19?
The administration does not dictate the employer’s medical leave policy.
Is it required that a medical professional administer the temperature screenings?
Do businesses have the authority to issue temperature checks for customers/the general public at a facility?
Businesses that are concerned that testing customers would create legal issues should check with their legal counsel.
If someone arrives at work in one location and is temperature screened, then drives to another work facility, does the person have to temperature screen again?
Employers are not required to conduct temperature screenings in more the one location; however, the Department of Health recommends such temperature screenings and or symptom screens be conducted, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth with high positive case numbers.
If someone begins their workday in another state and drives into Pennsylvania, do they have to temperature check once they get to their work destination in Pennsylvania?
The temperature screening requirement applies at the employee’s starting workplace. If the person was temperature checked at their starting workplace they do not need to be rescreened; however, if they were not screened at their initial location, they should be screened upon commencing work in the Commonwealth.
Is the requirement to conduct temperature screening applicable to an entire facility/campus or can it be limited to specific at-risk buildings or sections of a building where a probable or confirmed case was identified?
Businesses with a campus of multiple facilities or a building with multiple offices only need to screen employees from the area of the building where an individual with a suspected or confirmed positive case of COVID-19 has worked. However, businesses should be mindful of bathrooms, breakrooms, building lobbies and other frequently visited areas. The Department of Health recommends temperature screenings be conducted, at all times, however, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth with high positive case numbers.
Please review the responses above for practices with respect to temperature screening at home.
Do all employees who work in a building need to have their temperatures checked even if they weren’t exposed to the suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?
Businesses within a large building of multiple offices only need to screen employees from the area of the building where an individual with a suspected or confirmed positive case of COVID- 19 has worked. For example, if the COVID positive person works on a single floor of a building only that floor would need to be screened.
However, businesses should be mindful of bathrooms, breakrooms, building lobbies and other frequently visited areas. The Department of Health recommends temperature screenings be conducted, at all times, however, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth with high positive case numbers.
Is there any specific guidance regarding the sourcing/procurement of thermometers?
No. Employers should use regular supply opportunities or visit DCED Business-2-Business portal.
Questions Relating to Applicability to Particular Sectors and Businesses
What restrictions apply to health care workers?
The Business Guidance does not apply to health care workers. The Department of Health has issued guidance for health care workers and health care settings through its Health Alert Network.
Do retailers need to designate specific shopping time for high-risk persons?
Businesses should take as many precautions as possible to ensure customer safety including special shopping hours at least once a week. However, if all other public health practices have been implemented, including limiting in person shopping, limiting the number of customers to reduce crowding, installing shields or barriers, performing regular cleaning and only opening every other register, then a business may consider if designated shopping times are necessary. Businesses should keep in mind that six feet is the recommended distance of separation. Infection is more likely to happen when customers and staff are in proximity.
Does the Business Guidance apply to airports and freight rail operators?
Airports are regulated by the FAA. Freight rail operators are regulated by the FRA. Airports and Freight rail operators should therefore follow guidance from those federal regulators.
Does the Business Guidance require transit riders to wear masks? What about riders participating in the Medical Assistance Transportation Program?
Transit riders should wear masks unless there is a medical reason that prevents them from wearing a mask, or unless they are unable to provide themselves with a mask or a suitable option (bandana, scarf, etc.) because of economic reasons. A transit company that is able to provide masks for its customers should make every attempt to do so.
Do these restrictions apply to local governments and courthouses?
Local political units were not required to suspend in-person operations, however, they are advised to curtail in-person operations to the extent practicable and to follow COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the Department of Health and CDC. Similarly, local political units are not required to follow the Business Guidance; however, they are advised to implement the protocols that it outlines to the extent practicable.
All decisions should appropriately balance public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions.
Do the provisions of the Business Guidance apply to state employees?
No, the Commonwealth is not a business that is directly covered by the Business Guidance; however, Governor Wolf has chosen to implement the practices outlined in the guidance as an example for other employers and employees in the Commonwealth.
Does the Business Guidance apply to businesses that are closed to the general public, and in compliance with all CDC Guidelines?
Yes. The Business Guidance requirements including wearing of masks are intended to benefit employees as well as the public.
Common Questions About Operation of Specific Businesses
Are childcare programs required to suspend in-person operations?
What types of service may retail food service businesses and restaurants offer in the Red, Yellow and Green Phases of Reopening?
Retail food service businesses, restaurants, and private event spaces and wedding venues with food service located in counties designated as being in the Red Phase are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales only and may not allow the service or consumption of food or beverages on the premises.
Retail food service businesses, restaurants, private event spaces and wedding venues with food service located in counties designated as being in the Yellow Phase are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales, as well as dine-in service in outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Restaurant Guidance, available HERE.
All retail food service businesses, including restaurants, private event spaces and wedding venues with food service, licensed clubs, and bars located in counties designated as being in the Green Phase are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas, so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Restaurant Guidance.
May notary and title services maintain in-person operations?
In counties that have been designated as being in the Yellow or Green Phase of Reopening, notary and title offices may conduct in-person operations as long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Business Guidance.
Notaries may also provide services utilizing audio-visual technology as an alternative to in-person notarization as authorized by Senate Bill 841, signed by the Governor on April 20, 2020. Guidance on remote notarization is available HERE.
May car dealerships maintain in-person operations?
In counties that have been designated as being in the Yellow or Green Phase of Reopening, vehicle dealerships may conduct in-person operations as long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Business Guidance.
Motor vehicle dealers with a valid, current license from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers, and Salespersons are encouraged to participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Online Registration Program (OLRP), to limit in person contact.
May real estate businesses conduct in-person operations including showings, appraisals, inspections, final walk throughs and closings?
All businesses in the real estate industry, which includes real estate professionals, appraisers, notaries, title companies, settlement service providers, escrow officers, home inspectors, mortgage loan originators, processors, and underwriters, and other necessary office personnel including IT professionals, and back office staff necessary to maintain office operations, are permitted to conduct in-person operations so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the Business Guidance.
May I operate a Game of Skill in my business?
The commonwealth’s consistent position is that so-called Games of Skill are illegal gambling devices and not authorized anywhere in the commonwealth. Operation of these machines during the current health emergency encourages people to congregate unnecessarily and is prohibited under the Governor’s Order of March 19, 2020. Any business operating, servicing or otherwise maintaining a Game of Skill, is subject to enforcement which may include an order to suspend otherwise authorized in-person operations.
May in-person instruction be offered in Pennsylvania?
Effective July 1, 2020, schools in counties in the Yellow or Green Phases of reopening will be permitted to reopen for in-person instruction provided the schools adhere to Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance, available HERE.
In addition, the following workforce development training programs may resume statewide: nurse aid and direct care training programs; police academy, and other law enforcement training; emergency medical services (EMS) training; emergency medical technician (EMT) training; and fire training programs. Each program must be structured around ongoing social distancing, universal masking, and/or other public health guidance so as not to result in a spike of cases and new stay-at-home and closure orders.
Are public bathing places regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other community pools permitted to operate during the Governor’s phased reopening plan?
Public bathing places and other community pools are permitted to operate in counties in the Yellow and Green Phases of Reopening, provided they follow CDC guidance for aquatic venues as well as the Business Guidance.
I am a housing or commercial construction contractor. What must I do to work?
In all counties, construction is permitted as authorized by the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s April 20, 2020 amendments to their business closure orders and in strict compliance with the Administration’s Construction Guidance, available here.
In counties in the Yellow Phase of reopening, businesses in the construction industry must comply with limits on the number of employees who can be on site working in each phase of reopening. In counties in the Green Phase of reopening these limits no longer apply.
May I complete my customer’s construction project?
In all counties, construction is permitted as authorized by the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s April 20, 2020 amendments to their business closure orders and in strict compliance with the Administration’s construction guidance, available here.
Common Enforcement Questions
How will the Governor and Department of Health’s Orders and guidance be enforced? Will there be warnings before fines or other enforcement actions?
Restrictions upon certain business activities have been undertaken to control the spread of a communicable disease, COVID-19 as ordered by the Governor and the Secretary of Health. These Orders are enforceable through criminal penalties under the Disease Control and Prevention Law of 1955 and the Administrative Code of 1929.
While other criminal penalties in those laws, the Crimes Code and the Liquor Code, may apply, the following are the most directly applicable provisions for enforcement of the Orders: 71 P. S. § 1409 and 35 P.S. § 521.20(a).
We strive to ensure enforcement of the orders will be consistent throughout the Commonwealth. We also expect that any discipline for violation of the orders will be progressive discipline that begins with a warning to any suspected violator. Furthermore, enforcement should be prioritized to focus on businesses where people congregate.
How should municipalities and local governments exercise their enforcement authority in supporting the Governor’s order?
State and local officials should use best judgment in exercising their authorities and issuing implementation directives and guidance. All such decisions should appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions.