Gov. Phil Scott’s is expected to extend his State of Emergency order on Friday as well as outline in more detail what guidelines Vermont retailers must meet before they can open their doors to walk-in customers next week.
On Monday, Scott ordered the Agency of Commerce and the Department of Health to develop the guidelines which will include completion of a Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration training course.
Stephen Monahan, director of the Vermont Department of Labor workers’ compensation division, said the course includes guidance on social distancing, the proper use and limitations of personal protective equipment and the need to monitor employees for symptoms of COVID-19.
“The employer also should be doing a wellness check at the start of each shift to the extent possible and ask the employee questions about their fitness, whether they’re experiencing any of those things, and then observe that to see if the answers are truthful and they’re ready to go to work,”
Retail business owners will be required to post and enforce an occupancy limit of employees and customers — 25% of the normal fire safety limit, one customer per 200 square feet of floor space or a maximum of 10 people, whichever figure is highest. Monahan said they are also required to develop a COVID-19 re-opening plan and make sure employees know it.
“It’s a fundamental employer obligation,” he said. “The employee’s job is to follow all of those obligations.”
Employees are required to wear facial coverings and keep at least six feet away from anyone else. “The first employers that we dealt with were the essential employers,” VOSHA program manager Dan Whipple said.
“We helped them through the basics of the safety aspects of staying in business, whether or not they could stay in business, and whether or not they were essential, and that was kind of the start of things.”
By the time the public health crisis ends, the VOSHA course will likely take on a different form.
“The training is kind of a living document because we are evolving as we go forward in this whole odyssey of pandemic,” Whipple said.