Returning to the workplace after COVID-19: what you need to know

The COVID-19 pandemic brought some Charlotte business to a halt, while forcing others to change the way they operate – whether allowing employees to work from home, implementing safety and social distancing measures, or providing curbside and delivery-only services. 

North Carolina’s Governor Cooper recently released a three-phased plan for reopening the state, and plans allow phase 1 to begin Friday, May 8 at 5 pm

return to work covid-19

Phases of Reopening

Phase 1

  • Stay-at-home order remains in place
  • People can leave home for commercial activity 
  • Retailers and services will need to implement social distancing, cleaning and other protocols 
  • Gatherings limited to no more than 10 people 
  • Parks can open subject to gathering limits 
  • Face coverings recommended in public 
  • Restrictions remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living settings 
  • Encourage continued teleworking

Phase 2 

  • Stay-at-home order lifted, with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses that can follow strict safety protocols (reduced capacity)
  • Allow gathering at houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate living settings

Phase 3

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate care settings

What Business Owners Need to Know

As businesses prepare to reopen and to see the return of their workforce, there are some issues business owners need to be aware of and prepared for. 

First, business owners should implement policies regarding their employees’ return. These policies should include comprehensive hygiene and infection-control practices. Ensure that each employee understands what social distancing measures to take, has the proper equipment (masks, gloves) to wear as necessary, and knows that you have protocols in place for addressing potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Business owners also need to address the potential for a potential second wave of COVID-19 after reopening. Now that they are aware of what will happen with a stay-at-home order, businesses can better respond and work through it.

We recommend business owners take the time to review their business documents and tackle other big-picture items, as outlined in this blog. As employees begin working in the office again, continue their telework, or adopt a mixed-location situation, it’s critical to communicate that cybersecurity measures need to still be followed. Every employee should have a clear understanding of work expectations moving forward.

Our business law attorneys are here to help your business with any legal issue you may face, not only during COVID-19, but throughout the lifetime of your business. If you have legal questions, we can answer them through a free, 15-minute virtual legal consultation. Schedule your consultation today by visiting our website or calling 704-512-0606. If you would like to set up a longer consultation to ensure your business is ready for what comes next, you can schedule a consultation here.