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How to safely reopen your business

Welcoming customers as lockdowns ease — in all 50 states.

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Woman Holding Come in We're Open Sign

As states around the country begin opening up after the last few weeks of quarantine, many retailers could be on the verge of breathing a sigh of relief. However, conducting business is likely to look different, as governments are encouraging — and in some cases requiring — heightened safety precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Maintaining open communication with your employees about coronavirus concerns can help you adapt as a business owner and respond to their needs.

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When should I reopen my business?

It depends on your state and regional guidelines. After your local government gives the green light to business owners to reopen, it’s up to you as the owner to devise and implement a plan that considers the safety of your employees and customers.

The CDC recommends that businesses reopen only when they are “ready to protect employees at a higher risk for illness,” which means that precautions are in place and you’ve developed a system for monitoring employee symptoms. From a staffing perspective, keep in mind that you’ll need to be prepared to send sick employees home.

Resources from the CDC

Official guidelines can be a handy way of ensuring all your boxes are checked before and during the reopening process.

Here’s a roundup of helpful links:

How to safely reopen your business

State and local governments are setting their own policies for what is and isn’t required for a business to reopen. While states like New York require businesses to provide masks for its employees and patrons, others leave it up to each business owner. Likewise, the maximum occupancy for retail and restaurants differs among states.

Consider seven steps to shoring up a successful and safe reopening when lockdown restrictions ease.

1. Write out a reopening plan.

Carefully read the reopening guidance for your county or state and write out the steps necessary to meet them. Your local government or chamber of commerce website may provide plan templates and other tools to help.

Your state may require you to post a safe reopening plan at the entrance to your business. And you’ll likely need to post signage and policies for employee protection, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting.

2. Communicate with your customers.

It may be more difficult to maintain contact with your customers during lockdown, but technology can help you keep an ear to the ground. Many businesses are inviting interaction and feedback on private Facebook groups to gain a better understanding of customer needs and concerns. By talking directly with the public online, you can hear about what might keep them from returning to your business and explore ways to address those concerns together.

Consider other ways that technology can help. Depending on your business or industry, virtual appointments or televisits can help you meet your customers halfway, as does delivery or curbside pickup to limit in-person interaction. When it’s time for in-person interaction with customers, live chat or text messages can communicate what to expect and whether there’s anything you need them to do.

3. Take it one step at a time.

Under the circumstances, business-as-usual is anything. Local authorities are encouraging businesses to allow employees to work from home when possible. In states where only limited reopening is authorized, restaurants and businesses are limited to delivery and curbside pickup. And many businesses are reopening with limited hours to accommodate extra cleaning or other safety measures, further limiting staff capacity.

If you aren’t yet set up for contactless payments, many companies allow merchants to sign up and begin accepting mobile or online payments quickly. Contactless card readers not only make ordering online or by phone more efficient, but they’re also a safe option for in-person payments when you fully open your doors.

4. Rearrange your physical spaces.

Social distancing is a major part of state reopening plans, and you’ll need to think about how you’ll manage long lines and crowding to prevent confusion or discomfort among your employees and customers.

Your city or state may require you to install spacial markers to help customers stay at a safe distance or implement density restrictions designed to keep spaces from becoming crowded. If you run a storefront, that could include one-way traffic directions for narrow aisles. Physical barriers may also be required to protect your employees behind the counter.

5. Provide your staff with tools for protection.

The CDC recommends business owners to provide their employees with access to:

If you own a business where social distancing isn’t feasible, consider providing gear for specialized protection. For example, stylists at barber shops and beauty salons might use disposable paper capes, safety glasses or even face shields.

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Maintaining open communication with your employees about coronavirus concerns can help you adapt as a business owner and respond to their needs.

6. Screen staff for symptoms.

The CDC requires business owners to “actively encourage sick employees to stay home.”

To meet this requirement, many state and local governments are requiring that employers screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before a shift, which could include filling out a survey or taking a daily temperature. Nonessential businesses may be held to more stringent standards. For example, noncritical retailers in Colorado are required to conduct daily temperature checks and monitor symptoms for all employees.

7. Train your staff on safety.

Many businesses are hosting trainings for staff prior to reopening. Agendas include ironing out logistics for safely taking temperatures, wearing masks properly, hand-washing and cleaning protocols and tips to enforcing social distancing and other policies.

Weigh the benefits of taking on the liabilities of disinfecting and cleaning your business on your own — such as implementing fogging or disinfecting systems — or contracting out a professional cleaning company.

State-by-state list of businesses that can reopen

StateTypes of businesses that can reopenOfficial state guidelines
Alabama
  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Hair salons
  • Entertainment venues
  • Summer camps and educational institutions
  • Hospitals and nursing homes have restricted visitation
Learn more
Alaska
  • All businesses
  • All houses of worship and religious gatherings
  • All libraries and museums
  • All recreational and sports activities
  • Senior centers, prisons and institutions have limited visitation
Learn more
Arizona
  • Retail businesses
  • Hair salons and barber shops by appointment only
  • Dine-in at restaurants and coffee shops
  • Gyms, pools and spas
  • Movie theaters
  • Casinos
  • Shopping malls
  • Places of worship
Learn more
Arkansas
  • Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, massage therapy, body art and medical spa services
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Dine-in restaurant services
  • Some state parks
  • Outdoor gatherings — including parks and athletic fields
  • Indoor venues — including theaters, arenas, stadiums and auction houses
Learn more
California
  • Lower-risk businesses — including bookstores, clothing stores, florists, sporting good stores and outdoor museums
  • Places of worship and in-store retailers at limited capacity
  • In some counties — sports venues, gyms, dine-in restaruants, bars and nightclubs, salons and barbershops, movie theaters and concert venues
Learn more
Colorado
  • In-person dining at restaurants
  • Retail businesses
  • Personal care services
  • Elective medical, dental and veterinary procedures can resume
  • Offices can reopen at 50% capacity
  • Childcare facilities
  • Reservations at campgrounds in state parks
  • Private campsites
  • Children’s day camps and youth sports camps
  • Short-term rentals
  • Real estate showings
Learn more
Connecticut
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Offices
  • Social and recreational gatherings of 5 or fewer people
Learn more
Delaware
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Small retail stores and malls
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms
  • Barber shops, hair salons and tanning salons
  • Beaches, pools and parks
  • Casinos
Learn more
Florida
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Barber shops and salons
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Some beaches and state parks
  • Museums and libraries
  • Sports venues
  • Vacation rentals
  • Long-term care facilities
Learn more
Georgia
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars, nightclubs and private social clubs
  • Barber shops and salons
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bowling alleys
  • Body art studios
Learn more
Hawaii
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Shopping malls and retail stores
  • Personal services
  • Nonfood agriculture
  • Auto dealerships and car washes
  • Licensed childcare services
  • Pet grooming services
  • Observatories
  • Repair services
  • Select state parks
  • Indoor gathering places and exercise facilities
  • Museums and theaters
  • In-person summer school programs for high-need students
  • Library book curbside pickup
Learn more
IdahoStage 1

  • Places of worship
  • Daycares
  • Organized youth activities and day camps

Stage 2

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Salons
  • Indoor gyms
  • Recreational facilities
  • Fishing and hunting licenses, tags and permits resumed

Stage 3

  • Bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries
  • Outdoor pools, splash pads and waterparks
  • Movie theaters
  • Gatherings up to 50 people
Learn more
Illinois
  • Some bars and restaurants with outdoor dining only
  • Some retail stores
  • Some outdoor sports
  • Some barber shops, hair salons and tattoo parlors
  • Some gyms — but only for outdoor classes and personal training
  • Some childcare and summer programs
  • Some state parks
  • Gatherings of 10 people or fewer are allowed in some areas

Chicago won’t partially reopen until June 3rd.

Learn more
Indiana
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores and malls
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms, fitness centers and community sports facilities and pools
  • Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors
  • Public libraries
  • Beaches
  • Campgrounds, youth camps and daycares
  • State parks
  • Social gatherings of up to 100 people
Learn more
Iowa
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Fitness centers
  • Retail stores and malls
  • Places of worship
  • Barber shops, salons, tattoo parlors, tanning salons and massage services
  • Medical spas
  • Libraries
  • Race tracks
  • Move theaters, zoos, aquariums and museums
  • State parks
  • Wedding reception venues
  • School-sponsored learning and activities
Learn more
Kansas
  • Some restaurants
  • Some childcare facilities
  • Some personal service businesses
  • Some fitness centers and health clubs
  • Some indoor leisure spaces and community centers
  • Some libraries
  • Some casinos
  • Some organized sports facilities
  • No gatherings of more than 15 people are recommended
Learn more
Kentucky
  • Restaurants
  • Fitness centers and aquatic centers
  • Places of worship
  • Movie theaters and bowling alleys
  • Auctions
  • Auto and dirt bike racetracks
  • Fishing tournaments
  • Kentucky State Park lodges
Learn more
Louisiana
  • Restaurants
  • Bars and breweries with food permits
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Shopping malls
  • Places of worship
  • Barber shops, hair salons and nail salons
  • Casinos and theaters
  • Racetracks — without spectators
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums
Learn more
Maine
  • Outdoor and indoor dining in some areas
  • Barber shops and hair salons
  • Retail stores
  • Lodging
  • Day camps
  • State park campgrounds
  • Community sports
Learn more
Maryland
  • Outdoor dining at restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Houses of worship
  • Outdoor recreation — including small group sports, fishing, hunting and exercising at state parks
  • Outdoor pools
  • Youth day camps
  • Drive-in movie theaters
Learn more
Massachusetts
  • Takeout at restaurants
  • Libraries and retail stores with curbside pickup
  • Places of worship
  • Barber shops
  • Outdoor recreation — including golf, fishing, hunting and exercising in parks
  • Drive-in movie theaters
Learn more
Michigan
  • Takeout at restaurants and bars — or dine-in services in some areas
  • Retail shopping by appointment only
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Social gatherings limited to 10 people
Learn more
Minnesota
  • Restaurants and bars with outdoor dining
  • Retail stores and malls
  • Barber shops, cosmetology services and tattoo parlors
  • Houses of worship
  • Pools and outdoor recreation
Learn more
Mississippi
  • All businesses
  • All restaurants and bars
  • All barber shops, cosmetology services and tattoo parlors
  • All gyms
  • All libraries, museums and movie theaters
  • Summer school, outdoor recreation and large venues can reopen with restrictions
  • Gatherings are limited to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors — or 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors with social distancing
Learn more
Missouri
  • Dine-in services at restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters, stadiums, festivals and outdoor recreation
  • Summer school
Learn more
Montana
  • Restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries
  • Main street and retail businesses
  • Gyms, indoor group fitness classes, pools and hot tubs
  • Places of worship
  • Schools have the option to reopen
  • Casinos, theaters and museums
  • Concert halls and bowling alleys
  • Childcare facilities
  • Gatherings limited to maximum of 50 people
Learn more
NebraskaIn all of the state

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Gyms
  • Houses of worship
  • Social gatherings limited to 25 people

In most of the state

  • Bars
  • Stadiums and large venues
  • Libraries and movie theaters
  • Low-contact sports leagues can begin practice
Learn more
NevadaPhase 1

  • Dine-in restaurant service at 50% capacity
  • Retail stores can offer curbside pick up or reopen at 50% capacity
  • Open air malls
  • Cannabis dispensaries can offer curbside pick up or reopen upon approval
  • Drive-in services at places of worship
  • Golf, pickleball and tennis

Phase 2

  • Bar areas in restaurants can reopen
  • Bars and taverns
  • Gyms and fitness facilities
  • Salons and other cosmetology businesses
  • Places of worship with no more than 50 people
  • Massage services, body art and piercing establishments
  • State offices
  • Aquatic facilities, swimming pools and water parks
  • Museums, art galleries, zoos and aquariums
  • Indoor venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys and malls
  • Sporting events, concerts and theater performances with no live audience
  • Youth sports and recreation will be allowed later in Phase 2
  • Casinos are set to reopen on June 4th
  • Private gathering limits increase to 50 people
Learn more
New Hampshire
  • Outdoor dining at restaurants
  • Retails stores
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms and beaches
  • Barber shops, tattoo parlors and other cosmetology services
  • Drive-in movie theaters
  • Golf courses
  • State parks and campgrounds
  • Summer camps may reopen June 22
Learn more
New Jersey
  • Restaurants and nonessential businesses for curbside pickup
  • Car dealerships and bike shops
  • Outdoor recreational businesses — including golf ranges, tennis clubs and community gardens
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people
Learn more
New Mexico
  • Dine-in services at restaurants — with bar and counter seating prohibited
  • Retail stores
  • Gyms — with no group fitness classes
  • Nail salons, barber shops, massage services and tattoo parlors
  • Houses of worship
  • Phased reopening of state parks
  • Indoor malls — with food courts closed
  • Drive-in theaters
  • Hotels
  • Partial reopening of the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division
Learn more
New York
  • Retail stores for pickup in all regions but NYC
  • In-store retail and barber shops in some regions
  • Outdoor recreation, state beaches and drive-in movie theaters with social distancing measures
Learn more
North Carolina
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Stadiums, pools, parks and summer camps
  • Social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
Learn more
North Dakota
  • Dine-in services at restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms and parks
  • Movie theaters, sports arenas, concert halls and other large entertainment venues
  • Summer schools
  • Social gatherings limited to 250 people
Learn more
Ohio
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores
  • Gyms and low-contact sports
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Most outdoor recreations — including beaches and campgrounds
  • Places of worship
Learn more
Oklahoma
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores
  • Gyms
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Outdoor recreation and concerts
  • Festivals and summer camps
  • Places of worship
  • Movie theaters and sporting venues
Learn more
Oregon
  • Dine-in services at restaurants and bars
  • Retail businesses
  • Personal care services, like salons and gyms
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Banks and credit unions
  • Gas stations
  • Child care
  • Summer school
  • Camps and youth programs
  • Inland state parks, outdoor recreation facilities and ski areas
  • Non-urgent medical and veterinary procedures
Learn more
PennsylvaniaOpen statewide

  • Golf courses
  • Fishing trips
  • Private campgrounds

Varies by county

  • Some dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Some gyms
  • Some barber shops
  • Some entertainment venues — including movie theaters and malls
Learn more
Rhode Island
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Retail businesses and malls
  • Houses of worship
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Gyms
  • State parks and beaches
  • Social gatherings limited to 15 people
  • Youth sports and summer camps are set to resume June 29th
Learn more
South Carolina
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Gyms
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Entertainment venues — including museums, zoos and amusement parks
  • Youth and adult sports leagues can begin practice, with competitions starting June 15th
Learn more
South Dakota
  • Most restaurants
  • Most retail centers
  • Most houses of worship
  • Most barber shops
  • Most entertainment venues

However, some counties have issued their own orders closing nonessential businesses.

Learn more
Tennessee
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Places of worship
  • Retail businesses
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services by appointment only
  • Large entertainment venues — including movie theaters, amusement parks and museums
Learn more
Texas
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Places of worship
  • Retail businesses
  • Cosmetology services and barber shops
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters, museums and libraries
  • Summer camps
  • Educational institutions can start summer classes
  • Practices for recreational sports — with competitions starting June 15th
Learn more
Utah
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Malls and retail stores
  • Personal care services
  • Gyms and swimming pools
  • State parks
  • Youth and club team sports
  • Driver’s education classes
  • Elective health procedures
  • Private social interactions of 20 or 50 people depending on phase
Learn more
Vermont
  • Outdoor dining at restaurants
  • Retail businesses
  • Places of worship
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services by appointment only
  • Gyms
  • Curbside checkout at libraries
  • Farmers markets
  • Theaters
  • Outdoor recreation — including parks and golf course
  • Social gatherings limited to 25 people
  • Residential summer camps can reopen June 7th
Learn more
Virginia
  • Restaurants
  • Retail businesses
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Houses of worship
  • Beaches and parks
  • Exercise facilities can offer outdoor services
  • Campgrounds are open for reservations
  • No public or private gatherings of more than 10 people
Learn more
WashingtonPhase 1

  • Retail stores can offer curbside pickup
  • Landscaping companies
  • Pet walkers
  • Low-risk existing construction projects
  • Fishing, hunting and golfing with safety precautions
  • Day use of state parks and state public lands
  • Host up to 100 people for outdoor religious services
  • Car and boat dealerships
  • Low-risk higher education and critical workforce training work
  • Car washes after meeting specific criteria

Phase 2

  • Dine-in restaurants and taverns
  • Personal care and professional services
  • Fitness and training operations
  • Fitness activities with limited groups
  • Host up to 25% of their capacity or 50 individuals for in-door religious services
  • Outdoor recreation activities can resume in line with guidance — including guided ATVs, paddle sports, horseback riding, tennis, guided fishing, go-carting, motocross and participant-only motorsports
  • Additional golf activities
  • Professional photography services
  • Pet grooming
  • Elective health services
  • In-person real estate operations
  • New construction work
Learn more
Washington, DC
  • Restaurants with outdoor seating
  • Retail businesses for curbside pickup or delivery
  • Barber shops and hair salons by appointment only
  • Parks and dog parks
  • Golf courses, tennis courts, and track and fields
  • Gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people
Learn more
West Virginia
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Places of worship
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services
  • Gyms
  • Retail stores and malls
  • Outdoor recreation and pools
  • Museums and drive-in theaters
  • Movie theaters and casinos are set to reopen on June 5th
  • Low-contact youth sports are set to resume June 8th
Learn more
Wisconsin
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retails businesses
  • Places of worship
  • Gyms
  • Barber shops and cosmetology services

However, some counties have created their own guidelines on business reopenings.

Learn more
Wyoming
  • Restaurants with limited capacity
  • Gyms
  • Personal care services — including barber shops and hair salons
  • Gyms can reopen locker rooms, personal training and group classes at limited capacity
  • Childcare and home daycare centers
  • Movie theaters and performance venues with limited capacity
  • Phased reopening of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
  • Devil’s Tower National Monument reopened with limited services
  • Elective surgeries at hospitals and health care providers
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people
Learn more

Bottom line

The key to reopening your business in a post-lockdown world is developing a plan that meets local guidelines and enlisting the help of your employees to help your business stick to it. Arming your staff and customers with safety information and protective gear is necessary, and reaching out to the public early through social media or other technology can help you answer concerns and foster collaboration before you reopen your doors.

Learn more about keeping your business running in our coronavirus business guides, including tips to converting your storefront to the Internet and borrowing to stay afloat.

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