Emergency Measures for Washington Food, Beverage, and Other Businesses

Mar 20, 2020   Print PDF

By Krista Nelson Slosburg | Related Practice: Employment

Category: Covid-19

With COVID-19 now declared a global pandemic and a growing number of confirmed cases in the United States, local, state, and federal governments have issued a series of emergency measures that impact employers. Below we summarize the most recent developments and what every employer needs to know.

What Retail Operations are Allowed to Remain Open in Washington State?

Governor Inslee’s March 16, 2020 Proclamation prohibits the following business from remaining open to the public until March 31, 2020, unless the prohibition is extended beyond that date. Food and beverage business are allowed to remain open for take-out, delivery, and drive through.

Movie Theatres Bowling Alleys Art Galleries
Theatres Museums Nail Salons
Barbers Hair Salons Festivals
Tattoo Parlors Gyms and Fitness Centers  

Restaurants   Breweries  Bars
 Coffee Shops  Distilleries  Wine and Beer Tasting Venues

The following businesses may remain open, so long as they designate an employee or officer who sets and implements social distancing and sanitation measures established by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Washington State Department of Health.
 Grocery Stores  Convenience Stores  Businesses offering massage services
 Gas Stations  Hardware Stores  Businesses offering physical therapy
 Hotels and Motels  Pharmacies  Businesses offering acupuncture services

Advice for All Workplaces If Your Business is Still Open:

The CDC’s March 11, 2020 Recommendations for Seattle-King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties states that all workplaces should do the following. Businesses in other counties should consult local health authorities, CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, or seek legal counsel to determine the appropriate response.

  • Encourage staff to telework
  • Expand sick leave policies
  • Implement social distancing measures, which include:
    • Spacing workers at the worksite
    • Staggering work schedules
    • Decreasing social contacts in the workplace (limit in-person meetings)
    • All break areas must accommodate distancing with regular disinfection in all eating surfaces
  • Eliminate large work-related gatherings
  • Postpone non-essential work travel
  • Conduct regular health checks on arrival each day for staff and visitors, including temperature and respiratory symptom screenings
  • Implement extended telework arrangements when feasible
  • Ensure flexible leave policies for staff who need to stay home due to school or childcare dismissals and to encourage individuals to stay home if they are sick
  • Cancel work-sponsored conferences
If you remain open, we recommend that you provide access to hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes as much as possible. Also be sure to designate someone to enforce social distancing and sanitation measures.

It’s important to note that businesses that are part of essential critical infrastructure, including healthcare, food and agriculture, communications, and other industries may be able to continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for CDC workforce and customer protection guidance.

Employee Leave

In addition to whatever PTO and sick leave employees have available, employers with fewer than 500 employees will be entitled to an additional two weeks of paid leave, beginning April 2, 2020, for qualifying absences related to COVID-19. In addition, these employers will need to provide expanded FMLA leave for certain qualifying events. For more information, review our Families First Coronavirus Response Act summary.

Please contact Sarah Wixson, Aviva Kamm, or Krista Slosburg for up-to-date information or help developing your COVID-19 response plan.