The criteria to reopen a ‘lower-risk’ business

Maintenance crew member Berta Ortiz, sanitizes the door handles as the employees prepare for customers at Frontier Toyota in Valencia on Thursday, May 07, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

With additional businesses recently allowed to reopen under Los Angeles County’s new health order, officials have laid out protocol establishments must follow, including that they instruct customers to wear face masks to be served. 

On Wednesday, just two days before its previously announced May 15 expiration date of its “Safer at Home order,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced a new health officer order that allowed more “lower-risk” businesses to reopen. 

The amended order does not have an expiration date but will be modified over time to gradually ease lockdown restrictions. Gatherings of any size outside of one’s immediate household remain prohibited and residents should continue adhering to safety measures such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance from others. 

Businesses that can reopen under the new order

Ferrer announced two additional categories of “lower-risk” businesses that can now reopen so long as they meet the county’s safety criteria. 

Those categories include all retail shops that can provide curbside, outside and door-side pickup, or delivery services, as the order does not permit customers to shop in person. Businesses located within a shopping mall or center are excluded. 

Manufacturing, warehousing and logistics that supply to the lower-risk retailers fall under the second set of businesses able to reopen. Businesses announced to reopen on May 8, such as bookstores, florists and car dealerships, can also remain open. 

Others, such as gyms, theaters, bars and salons and barbershops remain closed under the amended directive. 

The criteria to reopen

Under the county’s five key areas to open, businesses are expected to explain why any measure that is not implemented is not applicable to the company. Here’s a list that includes some of the county’s requirements: 

Workplace policies to protect employees

  • Anyone who can conduct their work duties from home should be directed to do so, especially vulnerable staff. 
  • All employees must be told to stay home if they are sick. 
  • An employer should inform workers if one or more employees test positive for COVID-19 and should have a plan in place for the case(s) to self-isolate and for all those exposed to self-quarantine. 
  • Symptom checks are conducted before workers enter the workplace, such as checking for cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms. 
  • Workers are offered face coverings at no cost and must be worn at all times during the shift when in contact or likely to come in contact with others. Masks are not required when an employee is alone in an office or a walled cubicle. 
  • Workstations are separated by at least 6 feet. 
  • Distribution areas for curbside pickup, break rooms and restrooms must be disinfected frequently. 

Measures to ensure physical distancing

  • If the site-entry space permits, customers are directed to one of two lines at the door: one for pickup of preordered items, and one for on-site orders. 
  • For establishments that offer onsite ordering, customers must remain in their vehicles or return in 15 minutes to obtain orders. 
  • Customers may not enter the store for any reason. Employee restrooms are not available for customer use.

Measures for infection control 

  • Contactless payment systems are in place or, if not feasible, payment systems are sanitized regularly.
  • Customers are instructed that they must wear a face covering to receive service. Those with medical conditions that make use of a mask hazardous are exempted. 

Measures that communicate to the public

  • Menu of items available for purchase is available for customers as they arrive for onsite orders. 
  • A copy of the county’s protocol is posted at all public entrances of the business. 

Measures that ensure equitable access to critical services

  • Services critical to the customers have been prioritized. 
  • Transactions or services that can be offered remotely have been moved online. 

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