Five major industries have unveiled guidelines for reopening as coronavirus restrictions start to lift, but the differing roadmaps highlight the challenges to keeping workers and customers safe in different parts of the economy.
Trade groups representing the restaurant, retail, travel, franchise and manufacturing industries recently published recommendations that have both similarities and differences with measures proposed by the White House coronavirus task force.
Implementation will undoubtedly prove challenging for business owners in all sectors.
The industries have called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish national safety guidelines, which were reportedly sidelined by the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the White House coronavirus task force has recommended that employers implement policies, in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations, that incorporate social distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature checks and increased sanitation procedures as part of a phased reopening.
Here is how five major industries are starting to reopen.
The National Restaurant Association is calling for establishments to reduce the number of customers seated at one time, ramp up cleaning and sanitizing, offer more disposable products including menus, provide PPE for workers and train staff to incorporate the new practices.
But to help offset some of those costs, the trade group is asking Congress for federal assistance. Specifically, it wants a relief fund to help individual restaurants with expenses, a refundable tax credit, and grants that can be used for sanitation equipment and safety compliance.
Restaurant workers are also turning to Congress. Last week they enlisted Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats face critical 72 hours The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package MORE (D-Mass.) to participate in an online rally to demand they are provided with adequate protections, including PPE and expanded paid sick leave policies for when establishments reopen.
For some restaurants, reopening has already taken on a new look.
In Washington state, restaurants are being asked to help with contact tracing as part of Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeDeSantis eyes ,000 bonus for unvaccinated police to relocate to Florida Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward Fired WSU football coach suing school over illegal termination MORE’s (D) plan to reopen. Restaurants will be able to open at 50 percent capacity if they follow certain criteria, which includes creating a daily log of customers, including contact information, for 30 days.
Major retailers have been adopting protocols they hope will lead to safe reopenings.
Macy’s, which started to reopen stores this month, has installed plexiglass at registers, added signs to remind shoppers of social distancing and reduced the number of fitting rooms.
Costco is requiring employees and shoppers to wear face coverings and limiting the number of people in the store at once.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has said PPE like face coverings or gloves should be used by employees and customers, but the group has also called on the government to provide a national guidance on health screenings and testing for COVID-19. CEO Matthew Shay stressed that point in a letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE last month, saying federally consistent guidelines are critical.
But Democrats and unions say retailers could be taking other critical steps on their own by expanding paid sick leave.
Fifty-five percent of workers at retail stores, grocery stores and in food service said they have no access to paid sick leave, according to a survey conducted by the University of California, Berkeley.
Some localities are passing emergency legislation to provide paid sick leave. The Oakland City Council passed a measure Tuesday to provide 80 hours of sick pay a year.
The NRF said stores should consider policies like paid time off, leaves of absence, complaint procedures, whistleblower protections and expense reimbursement for purchasing PPE.
U.S. Travel Association guidelines, which are supported by Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Cruise Lines International Association, called for employers to provide workers with PPE, in addition to limiting contact with customers, providing hand sanitizer, modifying business hours and requiring employees to not come to work if ill, even if they don’t provide paid sick leave.
The association also encouraged companies to redesign high-traffic public spaces, adopt touchless systems for ticketing, check-in and identification, as well as enhancing sanitation efforts and implementing health screening for employees.
Some key players have already announced their new guidelines.
American Airlines and JetBlue are among those who now require passengers to wear masks on flights. They’re also taking other precautions such as limiting available seats and handing out sanitizing wipes.
Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyTikTok, Snapchat executives to make Capitol Hill debuts The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) have called for a uniform standard and introduced legislation last week that would instruct the administration to develop guidelines specific to air travel, a move that the industry has supported.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) released guidance for businesses in sectors ranging from education services and fitness clubs to salons and senior care.
The White House, in its list of core preparedness responsibilities for states before they reopen, highlighted the need to protect the health and safety of those living and working in high-risk facilities, like senior care facilities. It also said gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitization protocol as part of a state’s phase one of reopening, a move that some states are gearing up for.
The IFA said companies should require PPE usage, and that the government should provide businesses with tax credits to cover the cost.
The group also recommended health screenings, changes to work and consumer spaces, contactless payments, staggered worker arrivals, distancing in break rooms, staggered shifts, disinfecting and the installation of plexiglass shields.
IFA argued for national standards to determine decreased occupancy, saying protocols in different states could lead to confusion for franchises that cross state lines.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has largely remained open during the pandemic, as its workers are deemed essential.
That has led to calls for increased PPE for workers. Some states, like Illinois, have since required employers to provide face coverings.
NAM has called for the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to publish guidance that clearly defines proper hygiene and sanitization practices for employers. The group also called for OSHA to specify when PPE usage is mandatory or voluntarily and the differences between face coverings and PPE.
NAM has asked for widely available testing and for companies to be allowed to pay tax-free bonuses to employees who work during the crisis.
With manufacturing companies making much of the PPE sought by workers in industries that are reopening, NAM has urged Congress and the administration to provide direct financial support and incentives to domestic manufacturers who retool production to support the nation’s additional PPE demands.