U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launches Tool Comparing State-By-State Reopening Guidelines for Employers, Highlights Significant Differences Across States and Industries

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - 7:30am

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today launched an interactive map with state-specific information to help business owners distill and navigate different state-based public health guidelines as they begin to reopen in communities across the nation. The state-by-state map contains critical information for American businesses in 29 states where governors have begun to reopen local economies. The Chamber will update the map as new guidelines and rules become available. 

“The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to American employers who are working hard to protect their employees and customers as they navigate a safe and sustainable return to business,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is absolutely critical for employers to have uniform guidelines that can be practically implemented as they move to reopen.”   

The process of states’ reopening will be gradual and vary from state to state depending on regional differences and the prevalence of COVID-19 cases. To illustrate the challenges that businesses face as they look to reopen, here are a few examples of how states are taking different approaches regarding public health and safety guidance.  

·        Health Screening. In many states employers are required or requested to conduct a health screening of employees. In some states this is to be done at the beginning of each shift, in others at the beginning and the end. In some states, this involves temperature checks, in others health questionnaires. And even the states that use questionnaires ask different questions and have different retention requirements.   

·        Social Distancing. While most states call for six feet of separation, some layer on other requirements including occupancy limits and limits on the size of gatherings. In other states, occupancy limits are broadly applied while in other states targets are set for restaurant and retail establishments. Percent occupancy also varies from a 25% limit to a more common 50% limit, to no strict limits at all.  

·        Protective Gear. In some states masks are suggested, in others they are required.  In some states the requirement only applies to employees in others it applies to customers as well.  

·        Childcare. Many states are reopening childcare facilities, but some impose strict caps on how many children are allowed and among those that do, the caps differ.   

·        Sector Specific. Some states are providing broad general guidance applicable to most businesses, but others provide detailed guidance for individual sectors such as gyms, personal service providers, movie theatres, and others. It isn’t just the details that differ, the existence of sector specific guidance differs widely.  

“As employers work diligently to implement these varying guidelines, it is imperative that they are also provided with a safe harbor on liability,” said Bradley. “How America reopens will be the result of incredible coordination between business and government, and this is just one of many steps the Chamber is taking to get American workers back to their jobs and the American economy back on track.”  

This new resource is a one-stop-shop for businesses as they navigate general guidance issued by states as well as sector-specific guidelines for retailers, restaurants and bars, childcare facilities and many other industries. It joins a growing list of resources available to American workers and business from the Chamber, including but not limited to several how-to guides for small businesses seeking federal relief and an international policy tracker. For a full list of available guides and resources, visit uschamber.com/coronavirus.  

Last week, the U.S. Chamber and Council of State Chambers sent a letter urging President Trump, governors, mayors, and county officials across the country to work together on consistent rules for a staged reopening of the American economy. Following a series of calls with more than 300 representatives from U.S. Chamber of Commerce member companies, the Chamber and Council of State Chambers asked for policymakers to refrain from converting public health and safety guidance into regulations, and to the extent possible issue guidance that is generally consistent across federal, state, and local governments.   

The U.S. Chamber, through its membership of companies of all sizes and across all sectors, as well as its network of state, local, and international chambers and associations, has an unmatched perspective on the common issues and challenges facing business owners from all corners of our nation. This diversity of viewpoints is a key voice in the ongoing national conversation about returning many Americans to the workplace and reigniting the American economy.