The White House announces a three-phase plan to reopen America and get people back to work


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Let’s check out this three-phase plan and see what it means for your business.


Before I explain the White House plan, I want to remind you that today at Noon EDT on Zoom, we’re going to test your COVID-19 HR knowledge in a game of JEOPARDY!

(Actually, JEOPARDY! is a trademark of Jeopardy Productions, Inc. So, technically, we can’t play JEOPARDY!)

So, we’ll be playing Factile, “an online Jeopardy-style quiz game.” I have three contestants lined up, but plenty of room for you to play along in the “studio audience.”

Click here to attend.

The three-phase plan.

Yesterday, President Trump announced a set of guidelines to assist state and local officials in reopening their economies (and your businesses). I’m going to describe these three phases below. But, before I do, know this: I’m not blogging today to be political. If you like this plan, fine. If you don’t like this plan, fine. But, please keep your political views to yourself.


Before getting to Phase One, the White House recommends that states and localities satisfy specific criteria set forth below.


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Meanwhile, businesses should begin to prepare for Phases 1-3 by developing and implementing appropriate policies, following Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:

  • Social distancing and protective equipment
  • Temperature checks
  • Sanitation
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
  • Business travel

Additionally, throughout the three phases, businesses must monitor employees for indicative symptoms and not allow symptomatic people to return to the office until cleared by a medical provider. Furthermore, you’ll need to develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following an employee COVID+ test.

It is not clear yet whether the government intends to support businesses with either access to tests or suggestions on how to implement workforce contact tracing. Remember, this plan is less than a day old.

Phase One

During Phase One, the government wants businesses to continue to encourage telework, whenever possible and feasible with business operations. But, when employees do return to the office, it should be in phases with closed common areas or strict social distancing protocols. The White House also suggests minimizing non-essential travel while adhering to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.

Finally, and pay attention here, consider special accommodations for elderly individuals and those with serious underlying health conditions. Those include high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised, such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.

(We may need to have an ADEA/ADA Factile game, amirite?)

There is also some specific guidance for particular industries. For example, schools, daycares, and camps should remain closed—ditto for bars. Hospital and senior living facility visitors will continue to be persona non grata. However, larger venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols. And you can hit the gym if the facility adheres to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.

Phase Two

In Phase Two, telework remains the preferred method of working. And, in the office, either common areas should stay closed, or you can employ moderate social distancing protocols. Keep accommodating vulnerable workers. But, the travel restrictions are gone.

As for specific industries, hospital and senior living facility visitors remain SOL. But, schools, daycares, and camps can reopen. The rules for gyms stay the same, but larger venues may have moderate physical distancing protocols.

And, wait for it, you can get an adult beverage at your favorite local water hole, provided that the bar operates with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate. You’ve earned it.

Phase Three

The final step is Phase Three. If all goes well, all the restrictions listed above are gone and it is back to business as usual. (Although, for me, that means teleworking. Just without the four kids at home. Woo hoo!)

Plus, we can visit hospitals and senior living facilities, go to larger venues under limited physical distancing protocols, and workout as normal — two plates on each side for me — (with standard sanitation protocols). The bars will get more crowded with increased standing room occupancy, where applicable.

That’s what we know for now. You can view the entire plan here.

And I’ll see you at noon EDT for “an online Jeopardy-style quiz game” on Zoom.


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