As Florida waits for direction from state and local leaders regarding when and how we can open up again, businesses should set in motion specific strategies for getting back to work safely.
Once specific health milestones are reached, including a downward trend in new cases over a 14-day period, individual counties are expected to start reopening. The statewide Safer at Home order started April 3, and the governor is working hard to keep an eye on what the federal guidelines are and is encouraging local governments to follow suit. Local governments have the say on how quickly rules can be adjusted and changed.
What we know so far for Florida is that regions with fewer cases are expected to be able to reopen faster. Elective surgeries are expected to be able to resume after May 8. Schools will continue distance learning through the end of the school year. We also know that Florida’s reopening could be more difficult than other states due to hurricane season threats; our elderly population, since 21 percent of Floridians are 65 or older; our tourism-heavy economy; and, consequently, the hit to tourism-generated tax revenues for the state. The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force is comprised of top business leaders in our county and they are working toward methodical and safe reopening policies.
The City of Winter Park is providing emergency assistance in the amount of $1.9 million for community support, including:
- An emergency utility assistance program
- Electric fuel rate reduction
- Small Business Utility Assistance
- Residential food support
- Green Business Program
Top business leaders around the U.S. and the CDC have shared their expert advice on how to move forward. Their strategies include tips on physical safety as well as business planning:
- Cut costs wisely. Businesses are in survival mode now so costs must be reduced, but make sure you aren’t cutting your ability to generate revenue.
- Revisit your business model. Is it viable when you reopen? What needs to change? Can you pivot to a better revenue stream? This should include taking a close look at what you sell, how you are selling, how you are delivering, and to whom.
- Limiting customers inside your business to allow social distancing. Encourage scheduling, online transactions, and calling ahead. Tape or mark spaces on the floor at checkout lines to ensure 6-feet distances. Remind customers verbally and with signs to keep 6 feet apart while inside your business.
- Constantly sanitize surfaces.
- Practice good hygiene. No handshaking or physical contact. Encourage frequent handwashing by employees. Provide hand sanitizer at entrances.
- Wearing masks. Masks can help customers and employees feel safe and be safe. Businesses can offer them as freebies, for sale, or to be borrowed. Borrowed masks must be sanitized to be reused.
- Increase ventilation. Open windows and doors when possible.
- Moving desks and workstations to allow 6 feet of social distancing or establish rotating shifts. Sanitize workstations regularly.
- Reduce the sharing of work materials.
- Encourage employees to continue to use videoconferencing for meetings.
- Close cafeterias and other gathering places if possible. If not, sanitize these areas frequently. Consider providing boxed lunches instead.
- Require employees to stay home if they are sick. Ask them to report any contact with COVID-19 positive people and to self-quarantine.