On April 23, 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little issued criteria for reopening Idaho in stages to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 (coronavirus). The governor launched a new website, Idaho Rebounds – Our Path to Prosperity, which includes a specific section detailing the stages of reopening. As we recently reported, the governor’s Stay Home order was extended through April 30, 2020, but if specific criteria are met, the first stage of reopening will begin May 1. Here’s what you need to know:
Ongoing employer requirements: During all stages, employers must continue to maintain physical distancing, ensure adequate sanitation and hygiene, clean and disinfect the workplace frequently, consider personal protective equipment when possible, and implement processes for dealing with employees with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms. Special requirements, which aren’t addressed here, apply to certain employers such as senior living facilities and correctional institutions.
Criteria that must be met before advancing to any stage: In addition to the ongoing requirements for employers, the plan lays out specific criteria that will dictate whether Idaho can move to a subsequent stage. This includes a requirement to have a downward trend or very low numbers of COVID-19 illnesses and hospital admissions, and for the health care system to be able to treat all patients without operating in crisis mode.
Stage 1 (tentatively May 1 – May 15): Essential businesses can continue operating and many non-essential businesses (with some exceptions such as restaurant dining rooms, indoor gyms, hair salons, and movie theaters) may reopen if they comply with the same requirements that apply to essential businesses. All employers that are allowed to operate must establish protocols to ensure the safety of employees, vendors, or anyone else at the worksite. Among other steps outlined in the order, employers must maintain at least six feet of physical distance between people and provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene. To maintain the six-foot distance, you should encourage telework to the extent possible and stagger work hours. The state is still encouraging vulnerable individuals to self-quarantine during this stage, so you should identify how you’ll accommodate vulnerable individuals when telework isn’t possible. You should also minimize non-essential travel. You may require everyone in the workplace to wear face coverings (and in fact the state encourages this). For details, see the Stage 1 Protocols for Reopening. (Details on the remaining stages are still under development.)
Stage 2 (tentatively May 16 – May 29): Most employers can reopen, but the requirements in Stage 1 for all businesses that are allowed to operate must continue, meaning you must encourage telework, enforce physical distancing, ensure personal protections and sanitation are feasible, make accommodations for vulnerable individuals, and minimize non-essential travel.
Stage 3 (tentatively May 30 – June 12): All businesses besides large venues (e.g., movie theaters and sporting venues), bars, and nightclubs can continue operating, provided the requirements in Stages 1 and 2 are met. Non-essential travel may resume to locations that allow it and don’t have ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
Stage 4 (tentatively June 13 – June 26): All businesses are open and all worksites can be staffed as needed, but physical distancing, personal protections, sanitation, and accommodations for vulnerable employees must continue. Non-essential travel may resume to locations that allow it and don’t have ongoing transmission of COVID-19. Large venues, bars, and nightclubs can operate with limited capacity to maintain social distancing.
Tips For Employers: Refer to the governor’s web page on the stages for reopening for the latest information on Idaho’s rollout of normal activities. Questions? Contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.