Small businesses around the country are starting to reopen, in line with loosened COVID-19 restrictions and a collective step toward normalcy. However, the pandemic is still very much ongoing, and business owners are encouraged (and often required by law) to maintain certain precautions to minimize the spread of the disease, including social distancing.
Adhering to requirements and recommendations for social distancing is the right move for your business. Not only will it help you stay operational and keep you, your employees, and your customers safe, it will also improve and protect your reputation—and help you reinforce your business as a pillar of the local community.
That said, you may be confused about which steps are the most important to take for your business and your customers to keep up with social distancing rules.
We spoke with David Finkel, CEO of Maui Mastermind, on how small businesses are implementing social distancing while reopening to customers during COVID-19.
Looking for more tips? Here are some key ways you can prepare for social distancing at your small business.
Prepare for new social distancing rules at your small business
The standard recommendation for social distancing is that people should be at least six feet apart from one another. You can improve your adherence to this policy by implementing some simple solutions at your business.
Understand your local laws
First, make sure you understand the laws in your state and in your city when it comes to implementing social distancing practices upon reopening. Each state has slightly different requirements and recommendations for business owners. For example, in Ohio, a statewide stay-at-home order is still in place, but certain businesses are permitted to reopen throughout May. In New York, only certain state regions have reopened as of May 15, 2020, with further phases rolling out every two weeks.
These roll out phases in each state come with their own requirements for social distancing, so be sure to check your state’s local laws and regulations.
Use clear signage and markings
Many customers are going to want to avoid close contact with others while at your business as states begin the process of reopening. Create signage and clear markings to direct customers where to go to help them create social distance. Help them know where to stand if they are in line by using tape on the floor that indicates six feet of distance. Use arrows to tell your customers which way they can go up and down your aisles. Block off some tables or areas with clear signs to help customers keep a safe social distance from each other. That way, you’re alleviating any anxiety on the part of your customers and helping to keep them safe while they’re dining or shopping at your business.
Prevent large crowds and gatherings
You can use solutions for social distancing to prevent large crowds from gathering. Try using partitions. Remove some tables, or separate tables and chairs. Relocate some seating or shopping areas to an outside area to prevent crowding within your business. Consider creating a socially distanced line for people to enter the bathroom. Increased distance between typically crowded areas can help prevent customers from gathering too close together.
Encourage the use of facial masks
Even with social distancing, one of the best ways to inhibit the transmission of infectious diseases like COVID-19 is the use of facial masks. Effective masks, when used appropriately, are capable of preventing you from inhaling droplets that carry the virus. They’re also important for preventing you from exhaling those same droplets if you are currently infected. Ensuring your staff and customers wear masks as consistently as possible is a good way to defend against the spread of the virus.
Keep things clean with good hygiene
While incorporating good social distancing measures at your business, also assure your customers that the spaces they are entering are clean. Practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly and regularly, telling employees to wash their hands, and wiping down all surfaces that people come in contact with at your business. And, let your customers know about your strict cleanliness guidelines. Use clear signage on doors and in bathrooms indicating when things were last cleaned or outlining your cleaning procedures to make your customers feel comfortable about being safe inside of your business.
Keeping a small business open and profitable during the pandemic is an unprecedented challenge, which is why initiatives like #OpenWeStand exist. Head to OpenWeStand’s Resources page for more information on social distancing, reopening guidelines, and other key information small business owners can use to get through these difficult times.