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Guidelines Released for Businesses Opening on Friday

Personal service businesses and some healthcare and healthcare related businesses have been given the go ahead from Governor Brian Kemp to re-open for business this week in an Executive Order on April 20, 2020. 

     Governor Kemp announced the Executive Order to re-open on Friday, April 24, 2020, "all medical practices, dental practices, orthodontics practices, optometry practices, physical therapists, ambulatory surgical centers, physicians performing elective surgeries, healthcare institutions, medical facilities, and any and all other healthcare-related services and practices that have elected to cease operations because of the spread of COVID -19" following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Medicare and Medicaid guidelines, and other operational guidelines in the 4-20-20 Executive Order as well as critical infrastructure guidelines from the 4-02-20 Executive Order.  

     In addition "all gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios...estheticians...hair designers... and persons licensed to practice massage therapy" can begin "minimum basic operations" on Friday, April 24 as well. 

    According to the Executive Order of April 20, 2020, the Department of Public Health is in charge of seeing that the guidelines set out in the order are met. The Order states:

     "It is Further Ordered:  That pursuant to Code Sections 31-2A-4(9) and 38-3-51(d)(1), because this public health emergency due to the spread of this novel coronavirus, COVID-19. is a "grave emergenc[y] of more than local peril," the Department of Public Health is authorized "to employ whatever means may be at its disposal to overcome [this] emergenc[y]," included, but not limited to, overriding the orders of county boards of health, health districts, and their officers, directors, and employees to enforce uniformity in the State's response to novel coronavirus, COVID-19."

     Ultimately it is everyone's responsibility to make sure guidelines are being followed. It has never been practical, or even an option, for any government entity to be able to monitor all businesses at all times they are open. Keeping that in mind, here are the twenty guidelines the state is having businesses that are open to public observe. 

1. Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, or shortness of breath;

2. Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;

3. Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;

4. Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;

5. Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;

6. Prohibiting gatherings of workers during working hours;

7. Permitting workers to take breaks and meals outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable;

8. Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;

9. Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;

10. Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, wherever possible;

11. Delivering intangible services remotely wherever possible;

12. Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;

13. Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace;

14. Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen;

15. Suspending the use of Personal Identification Number (“PIN”) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies;

16. Enforcing social distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on such entity’s leased or owned property;

17. For retailers and service providers, providing for alternative points of sale outside of buildings, including curbside pickup or delivery of products and/or services if an alternative point of sale is permitted under Georgia law;

18. Increasing physical space between workers and customers;

19. Providing disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment, and tools;

20. Increasing physical space between workers’ worksites to at least six (6) feet.

     A link to a Q & A from Governor Kemp's Office regarding the re-opening of businesses can be found on the Dade County, Georgia website at http://dadecounty-ga.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=65 under the box, "Opening Up America Again". 

     Additionally, the Governor's office released "top level" salon and spa guidelines from the Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers that go beyond the minimum OSHA requirements listed above.  Some of those guidelines are: 

Temperature Checks: Salons should consider use of a touchless infrared thermometer to check the temperature of employees each day and of each client who enters the salon/shop.

Screening Questions: Ask each client entering the shop the following questions - Have you had a cough? Have you had a fever? Have you been around anyone exhibiting these symptoms within the past 14 days? Are you living with anyone who is sick or quarantined?

Limit People In Shops/Salons: Salons/shops should consider seeing clients by appointment only. Salons/shops should consider telephonic or online scheduling. Limit the number of persons in the waiting area of the salon/shop. It is recommended that clients wait outside the salon/shop in their vehicle until the cosmetologist or barber is ready to serve them. It is recommended that persons not being serviced in the salon/shop wait outside the salon/shop.

Maintain Social Distancing: Spacing between persons in the salon should be at least six feet at all times. Salons/shops should consider additional spacing between booths, divider shields, and/or alternate work schedules.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Best Practices: Salon/shop employees will be required to wear masks at all times. Salons may want to consider providing masks to clients. Clients should wear face masks to the extent possible while receiving services. Salons/shops should also make use of face shields, gloves, disposable or re-washable capes, smocks, neck strips, etc. These items should be disinfected or disposed of between each client. Employees should should arrive at the salon/shop showered and wearing clean clothing and change clothes before leaving the salon/shop each day. Hand washing with soap and warm water, for a minimum of 20 seconds will be required by employees between every client service.

Disinfection: All salons/shops should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to reopening. Disinfect all surfaces, tools, and linens, even if they were cleaned before the salon/shop was closed. Salons/shops should maintain regular disinfection of all tools, shampoo bowls, pedicure bowls, workstations, treatment rooms, and restrooms. Additionally, salons/shops should remove all unnecessary items (magazines, newspapers, service menus, and any other unnecessary paper products/decor) from reception areas and ensure that these areas and regularly touched surfaces are consistently wiped down, disinfected, and that hand sanitizer is readily available to clients and staff. Avoiding the exchange of cash can help in preventing the spread of the virus, but if this is unavoidable, be sure to wash and sanitize hands well after each transaction. The use of credit/debit transactions is preferred, using touch/swipe/no signature technology.

Administration: Employees who are sick will be expected to stay home. Salon/shop owners/managers should provide training, educational materials, and reinforcement on proper sanitation, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, use of PPE, and other protective behaviors. Ensure break rooms are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and not used for congregating by employees. Be flexible with work schedules/salon hours to reduce the number of people (employees and clients) in salons/shops at all times in order to maintain social distancing.

     A full list of the "top level" guidelines can be found on the Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers site at https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/16.

     For information on reporting a violation of guidelines, citizens can go to https://gov.georgia.gov/contact-us/constituent-services.