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Helping small businesses consider reopening safely or staying closed during COVID-19

There are no easy answers when it comes to reopening during COVID-19. Depending on your type of small business and the severity of the spread in your community, you may have completely different options and considerations than other businesses. 

When it comes to deciding on reopening during COVID-19, there are no easy answers — just good questions. To help you decide if your small business is ready to reopen, and if so, what you need to get prepared, consider the following questions. 

Can I protect my employees?

First and foremost, you need to determine if opening will put your team at risk. Consider what you need to keep your employees safe from contracting the virus from each other or customers. 

  • Can I provide enough personal protective gear and supplies (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, hand-washing stations, disinfectant, etc.) for my employees? 
  • Can I perform health checks on my employees, such as taking their temperature, when they come to work?
  • Can I encourage my employees to stay home when they’re feeling sick or when someone in their household is feeling sick? 
  • Can I add extra protection for vulnerable employees who are more at risk for COVID-19? 

We spoke to Danny Shields, VP, Industry Relations at Avetta, an #OpenWeStand partner, on ways to reopen your business safely during COVID-19:

Related: Government assistance resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

Can I protect my customers? 

Next, if customers are coming into your business, it’s your responsibility to protect them from contracting the virus from your employees and other customers. Determine if you can keep them safe.

  • Can I limit the number of customers who are inside my business at any given time? 
  • Can I offer reservations or appointments to limit the number of customers that arrive?
  • Can I use floor marketings or barriers to keep customers far away from each other?
  • Can I properly clean and sanitize all of the items customers use during service (tableware, menus, touchscreens, chairs, etc.)? 

Can I alter my business space to protect customers and staff? 

As you consider reopening during COVID-19, think about the physical space that both your employees and customers use. Consider what you need to do to adjust or configure the space to be safe for everyone who enters it. 

  • Can I set up distance between employees and other employees, employees and customers, and customers and other customers? 
  • Can I improve the ventilation system or air circulation in my building? 
  • Can I serve guests outdoors? 
  • Can I create a plan to regularly clean and disinfect all common areas or surfaces that both employees and customers touch throughout the day (tables, countertops, lightswitches, faucets, toilets, touch screens, etc.)?
  • Do I have signage that clearly states the new guidelines for employees and customers?  
  • Do I have a plan if customers and staff aren’t following the new guidelines?

Related: U.S. state and local resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

Do I have options if I remain closed? 

Depending on the answers to these questions, you might find that staying closed during COVID-19 is a better option for your business. If you don’t think you can safely reopen, consider what you can do to continue to serve your customers while keeping your doors closed. 

For ideas on how to keep your business running without opening your doors, check out: 8 ways to generate revenue if your business doors are shut.

Find more resources for reopening during COVID-19 

Trying to decide if reopening during COVID-19 is the right thing for your small business isn’t an easy decision. Use these questions to guide your process, and then refer to the CDC’s Reopening Guidelines to assess the safety standards of your plan.  

To get more feedback, advice, and resources about guiding your small business through COVID-19 business disruption and the reopening process, please visit OpenWeStand.org.