As Connecticut's offices reopen, the most important consideration will be the health and safety of employees. Businesses must exercise caution throughout the reopening, ensuring strict adherence to the protocols listed here. Those businesses that are not able to meet the rules listed here by May 20, should delay opening until they are able to.
While these rules provide a way for offices to reopen in as safe a manner as possible, risks to employees cannot be fully mitigated. Employees who choose or are instructed to return to their offices during this time should be fully aware of potential risks. Individuals over the age of 65 or with other health conditions should not visit offices, but instead continue to stay home and stay safe.
Businesses should take these rules as the minimum baseline of precautions needed to protect public health in Connecticut. Individual businesses should take additional measures as recommended by industry guidelines or by common sense applied to their particular situation. We urge employees to stay vigilant and pay attention as to whether their offices are faithfully implementing these rules.
REOPEN RULES FOR OFFICES
For offices, employees are encouraged to continue to work from home where possible. Tenants should coordinate with building owners to ensure these rules are implemented effectively. Common areas shared between tenants are the responsibility of the landlord (e.g. lobbies, elevators, etc.), while individual tenant areas are the responsibility of the tenant (e.g. individual floors, kitchen areas, etc.).
These rules are intended to help offices safely get back to work. The information here can be supplemented with guidance from professional organizations and by other industry groups, some of which are listed below. These rules may be updated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Occupational Safety and HealthAdministration
WORK FROM HOME
Encourage employees to continue to work from home where possible, and put in appropriate measures to facilitate this where possible.
PLAN FOR REOPENING
Share these rules with your employees and inform them of any additional specific measures being taken in response to COVID-19.
Appoint a program administrator who is accountable for implementing these rules.
Stagger shift start/stop times and break times to minimize contact across employees
Maintain a log of employees on premise over time, to support contact tracing.
Limit visitors and service providers on-site; shipping and deliveries must be completed in designated areas.
The employer shall institute a training program and ensure employee participation in the program. Training shall be provided at no cost to the employee and during working hours. The training materials shall be presented in the language and at the literacy level of the employees. Employers shall continuously update staff on changes to these Sector Rules. The training shall include:
• Guidelines outlined in this document
• Protocols on how to clean and use cleaning products (including disinfectants) safely.
Additional guidance can be found here:
NOTE: If any on-site duties are subcontracted, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure subcontractors are also appropriately trained.
Estimate required personal protection for employees and begin procuring
Develop cleaning checklists that incorporate these rules. Ensure it is clear which employees are responsible for implementing the plans.
Complete a thorough cleaning of facility prior to reopening, including, but not limited to:
• Entrances/lobbies, bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, elevators, door handles/door knobs, shared equipment (e.g. printers, scanners, phones, vending machines), desks, chairs, computers, monitors.
Complete the self-certification on the DECD website to receive a Reopen CT badge. Once complete, businesses can choose to post the badge on-site and on social media to advertise adherence to CT rules and build customer confidence
Post clear signage that reinforces new policies, like:
• Social distancing protocols
• Cleaning and disinfection protocols
• Personal protection protocols (facemasks, gloves)
• Employees shall stay home if sick/experiencing symptoms
• Additional signage can be found here:
For facilities with central ventilation systems, increase ventilation rates and increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system where possible. For facilities where a central ventilation system is not used, window air conditioning units or unit ventilators should be adjusted to maximize fresh air intake into the system; blower fans should be set on low speed and pointed away from room occupants to the extent possible. Ceiling fans should be adjusted so that fins are rotating in a direction that draws air up toward the ceiling rather than down onto occupants. Window fans should be turned to exhaust air out of the window in the direction of the outdoors. Window fans that blow air into a room or free-standing fans that only serve to circulate existing air around a room should not be used.
SOCIAL DISTANCING MARKERS
Install visual social distancing markers to encourage employees to remain 6 ft apart (e.g. in the lobby, in workspaces).
Use partitions between employees where a 6ft distance cannot be maintained, where possible.
Ensure employees do not share equipment to the extent possible. If shared, clean after each use.
Rearrange space to maintain 6 ft of distance between employees and stagger the position of desks so employees can avoid sitting opposite each other. This may require keeping some desks empty and/or marking desks that should not be used.
DISCRETE WORK ZONES
Where possible, segment the workspace into discrete zones, prevent movement between zones, and close spaces where employees congregate (e.g. individuals stay on a single floor, or single part of the office).
Encourage social distancing while using elevators, by:
• Encouraging social distancing while individuals queue using visual markers.
• Using signage displaying healthy elevator use protocols, including passenger limits and safe distances in the carriage.
• Using elevator attendants to manage flow and discourage over-crowding.
• Using floor markers that establish distancing zones and describe where to stand.
• Encourage alternatives, such as stairs, where possible.
Install touchless appliances wherever possible, including:
• Paper towel, soap dispensers, water fountains.
• Doors: make doors no touch or have a door person during high volume times.
HOTLINE FOR VIOLATIONS
Post clear signage that includes the state hotline (211) for employees and customers to report potential violations of these rules
PERSONAL PROTECTION FOR EMPLOYEES
• Employees/practitioners are required to wear face shields or eye protection (e.g. goggle with side protection) and a facemask or other cloth face covering that completely covers the nose and mouth. Employees that cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition must provide documentation to their employer.
• Gloves optional; if used they must be changed between customers.
• Gloves and eye protection are required when using cleaning chemicals.
EMPLOYERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING PERSONAL PROTECTION TOTHEIR EMPLOYEES
• If businesses do not have adequate personal protection, they cannot open.
PERSONAL PROTECTION FOR CUSTOMERS
• Customers are required to bring and wear a facemask or cloth face covering that completely covers the nose and mouth.
• Businesses have the right to refuse service to an individual who is not wearing a mask.
Hand sanitizer shall be made available at entrance points and common areas, where possible.
Ensure employees wash their hands routinely (at minimum, between customers) using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
CLEANING OR DISINFECTING PRODUCTS, &/OR DISPOSABLE WIPES
Make available near commonly used surfaces, where possible like:
• Coffee machines
• Shared equipment (e.g. printers, scanners, phones, monitors)
Clean and disinfect frequently, and implement use of cleaning log for tracking. Clean multiple times a day and hourly during busy times.
• Recommend posting signage encouraging reduced capacity in bathrooms, and reminding individuals to wash their hands and wear a mask
• Consider placing a wastebasket outside of the bathroom
CLEANING & DISINFECTING
Businesses shall follow federal guidelines (CDC, EPA) on what specific products should be used and how:
• Use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 and that are appropriate for the surface. Prior to wiping the surface, allow the disinfectant to sit for the necessary contact time recommended by the manufacturer. Train staff on proper cleaning procedures to ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants.
• Disinfectants are irritants and sensitizers, and should be used cautiously. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects after each use.
• Clean and disinfect common areas, high transit areas, and frequently touched surfaces on an ongoing basis (at least daily) and more frequently if used more often. Clean and disinfect shared objects after each use. Examples include:
• Elevators, including panels and buttons
• Door handles/door knobs
• Shared equipment (e.g. printers, scanners, phones, vending machines)
• Desks and chairs
• Computers, monitors
• Coffee machines
DAILY HEALTH CHECK
Ask employees resuming on-premise work to confirm they have not experienced COVID-19 CDC-defined symptoms and to monitor their own symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, or any two of the following symptoms:
• Repeated shaking with chills
• Muscle pain
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell
Employees should stay home if sick.
IN THE EVENT OF A POSITIVE
Employees shall inform their employers, and follow state testing and contact tracing protocols. In addition:
• Employee should contact local public health to initiate contact tracing.
• Recommend 24-hour passive decontamination in the event of a positive case, and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.
• Recommend employer notify landlord of positive case within 24 hours; landlord to promptly disseminate relevant information to other tenants on the movement of the infected individual.
• Recommend landlord notification to tenants include link to CDC guidelines explainingwhat you should do if you suspect you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19
• Additional information can be accessed at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.htm
Employers may not retaliate against workers for raising concerns about COVID-19 related safety and health conditions.
• Additional information for the public sector can be accessed at www.connosha.com
• Additional information can be accessed at www.whistleblowers.gov
Employers shall adhere to federal guidance pertaining to paid leave for employees and provide this guidance to employees. Employers shall post the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Department of Labor poster. The poster can be accessed at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/posters
• Additional guidance can be accessed at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave