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COVID-19 State Regulations for the Southern States

Emily Hartman /

[Updated 7/2/20]

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how their business will get back to work. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

We’ll keep this updated as much as we can, but double-check with the local governments to ensure you’ve got the latest information.

Alabama COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Alabama Responsibly Plan

Starting April 30, 2020 through May 15, 2020, Alabama is relaxing its previous restrictions by activating a Safer At Home Order, allowing individuals and employers to begin leaving their homes under certain precautions.

Public places and individuals must ensure social distancing of at least 6 feet and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Although greater detail is provided in the Order, employers should ensure that employees maintain 6 feet of social distance, hygiene, and sanitation practices consistent with CDC guidelines, encourage teleworking, and minimize travel. Retail stores should limit occupancy to 50% and maintain social distancing and sanitation requirements.

The government also issued a handy flyer for employers and individuals to quickly understand what has changed with the new Order and what has stayed in place.

Update 5/23/20: The State Health Office issued an amended Order. Effective May 22, 2020, entertainment businesses may begin to reopen, provided they adhere to health and safety requirements and operate at 50% normal capacity. Employees should wear face coverings when interacting with customers or guests. Athletic activities may also begin reopening on May 22, 2020. Child care facilities and camps may begin reopening on May 23, 2020. The Governor also posted a new Safer At Home Info Sheet to clarify what is open and when it will open.

Update 5/8/20: The State Health Officer issued an Order, effective May 11, 2020, allowing businesses to reopen that could maintain social distance and health and safety requirements. Retail businesses can reopen at 50% normal capacity. Industry-specific guidance can be found starting on page 2 of the Order.

Update: The Safer At Home Order was amended on May 8, 2020, to allow close-contact businesses like hair/nail salons and massage therapy businesses to reopen beginning May 11, 2020, provided they adhere to safety requirements.

Additional Resources

Safer At Home Flyer

Press Release

Safer At Home Order

Alabama Public Health

Alabama COVID-19 Related Emergency Actions of State Agencies

Stay-At-Home Order Changes to Safer At Home

Who: Alabama employers and employees

When: March 28, 2020 through May 15, 2020

What: The new Safer At Home Order continues to place limits on gatherings of more than 10 people and asks individuals and vulnerable populations to continue staying at home.

Businesses that are operating should read the Order, starting on page 3, for specific health and safety requirements for their employees and customers.

The Original Stay-At-Home Order

Governor Kay Ivey issued an Executive Order for all state residents to stay home unless for an essential activity, like shopping for household goods and food. The list of essential activities can be found here, starting on page 2. The Order provides further detail on what businesses are deemed essential and non-essential. The list of essential businesses and operations can be found here, starting on page 4.

Essential businesses and operations must:

  • Ensure that customers and employees maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between persons and avoid gatherings in groups of 10 persons or more.
  • Essential retailers must enforce an emergency maximum occupancy limit, which should make up no more than 50% of the fire marshal approved occupancy.

Other businesses have been asked to close, including entertainment venues and businesses that require close contact. The full list can be found here, starting on page 7.

How:

  • Review the Executive Order and determine if your business may need to close or could remain open under the new requirements.
  • Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

Final Statewide Order from the State Health Officer
Governor Ivey Issues Stay-At-Home Order

Alabama Department of Labor COVID-19 Resources

Alabama Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) News & Resources

Public Health Order Suspending Certain Gatherings

Unemployment Benefits

Who: Alabama employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020

What: The Alabama Department of Labor has expanded unemployment benefits to include employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19. Employees are eligible to file a claim if they are:

  • Placed under quarantine by a medical care provider or government agency;
  • Laid off or sent home without pay because of concerns about COVID-19;
  • Diagnosed with COVID-19; or are
  • Caring for an immediate family member diagnosed with COVID-19

The ability of a worker to be ready and able to work will be altered based on the above concerns. Claimants won’t have to look for work during this time, but they will need to ensure they can return to work following an illness or quarantine.

Employees who work from home or receive sick or vacation time off aren’t eligible for unemployment.

How:

  • Review your current business practices and update your unemployment policies to reflect this new policy.
  • As your business responds to the coronavirus, educate and inform your employees about all of their available options, as appropriate.

Additional Resource:

Alabama Department of Labor

Arkansas COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Beginning May 4, 2020, the state began reopening certain non-essential businesses, like gyms and fitness centers, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued Executive Order 20-20 to form the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force to draft industry-specific recommendations for reopening the state.

Although Arkansas doesn’t have any type of stay-at-home order in place, the Arkansas Department of Health has issued guidance that all state residents must wear a cloth mask.

Update: Executive Order 20-25 was issued providing guidance for businesses. For example, restaurants may begin dine-in services beginning May 11, 2020, and personal care services beginning May 6, 2020.

Additionally, Arkansas Ready for Business was launched with news and resources for businesses to navigate reopening.

Update 6/19/20: Several Executive Orders were released on June 15, 2020. Executive Order 20-33 protects businesses that stay open during COVID-19 from civil liability if an individual is exposed to the virus. Executive Order 20-34 authorizes all health care professionals to be able to diagnose, treat, or curing COVID-19. Executive Order 20-35 clarifies workers’ compensation to receive benefits during the COVID-19 public health emergency, if employee was exposed to COVID-19 during the course of work, establishing COVID-19 as an “occupational disease.”

Arkansas Ready for Business was released to help businesses navigate reopening. On June 15, 2020, The Department of Health issued several Directives for business limitations to begin Phase II of reopening as well as industry-specific guidance for businesses like casinos, gyms, personal care services, and more.

Additional Resources

Arkansas Ready for Business

Arkansas Directives

Arkansas Reopening Dates

Executive Order 20-20

Everyone Should Wear a Face Covering, Or Mask, In Public

Directive on Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations

Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 Guides & PPE

Arkansas Executive Orders

Florida COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Governor Ron DeSantis announced that beginning May 4, 2020, Florida would enter into Phase I of its reopening plan. The complete plan can be found here.

Under Phase I, restaurants and retail stores may reopen at 25% occupancy limits, provided that 6 feet distances between people are maintained. Other non-essential businesses can reopen as long as they adhere to CDC and OSHA guidelines for sanitation, hygiene, and social distancing orders.

Counties may impose harsher restrictions; Miami-Dade, Browder, and Palm Beach counties will not be following the recent state order.

Update 6/4/20: Executive Order No. 20-139 was issued announcing the state’s move to Phase II, excepting Miami-Dade, Browder, and Palm Beach Counties which will need to follow county orders. Everyone is encouraged to socially distance. Business guidance is provided for several industries including restaurants and bars, entertainment businesses may open at 50% capacity and provided that health and safety requirements are followed. Personal care services may operate as long as they had adhere to the Department of Health guidelines. Additional information can be found in the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery presentation.

Update 5/28/20: Executive Order 20-130, expands Phase I to reopen youth activities.

Update: Under Executive Order 2020-120, beginning May 18, 2020, cosmetologists, barber shops, and salons may reopen as long as they adhere to safety measures.

Under Executive Order 2020-123, effective May 18, 2020, Florida has now fully entered Phase I of reopening. Restaurants may operate dine-in services at 50% capacity. Retail businesses, museums, and gyms/fitness centers may also operate at 50% capacity. All businesses must adhere to safety and social distancing requirements. Professional sports venues may reopen. A Full Phase 1 factsheet was released to easily reference what may now reopen. Governor DeSantis also released the state reopening plan: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

Additional Resources

New: FAQs for Phase II of Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step

Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery Presentation

Plan for Florida’s Recovery Website

Executive Order 2020-123

Executive Order 2020-120

Executive Order 2020-112

Full Phase 1 factsheet

Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery

Florida Health

Florida COVID-19 Resources

Florida Executive Orders

Face Covering Mandate

On June 20, 2020, the Florida Department Of Health issued a public health advisory recommending all residents and visitors wear face coverings wherever social distancing isn’t possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some individuals may be exempt from wearing masks if they meet certain conditions. Everyone is also reminded to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more.

Employees and customers in personal care service businesses were already mandated to wear face coverings effective on May 11, 2020 on executive order 20-120.

Additional Resources

Florida Department of Health Public Health Advisory

Florida FAQs Related to Barbershops and Cosmetology Salons

Safer-At-Home Order

Who: Florida employers and employees

When: April 3, 2020 through April 30, 2020 (Extended to May 4, 2020)

What: Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order to limit Florida residents’ interactions and movements outside their homes to only essential services or activities. This new order takes the place of any local orders.

The defined “essential services” list references the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce as well as the businesses and services named in a previous Florida Executive Order 20-89 and the Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 07-20. The overarching categories of essential infrastructure include:

  • Health care operations
  • Infrastructure, transportation, and marine services including services like utilities, marinas, fueling services, and telecommunications
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail including things like pharmacies and convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and building supplies
  • Services like trash and recycling, mail, delivery and shipping, laundromats, building cleaning and maintenance, child care, auto repair, warehouses and distribution, funeral homes, retail that sells teleworking supplies, legal and accounting services
  • Media
  • Financial institutions
  • Human services and shelters
  • Construction and skilled trade
  • Defense
  • Safety services like law enforcement, emergency response
  • Pet care
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive and vehicle operations including auto supply and repair stores, new and used automotive dealerships (social distancing must be used)
  • Hardware stores and trades including exterminators, fumigators, pool care, landscaping, and contractors
  • Educational institutions
  • Logistics
  • Senior Care
  • Child care

Essential activities include attending religious events, participating in outdoor activities (as long as social distancing rules used), and caring for and helping pets, loved ones, and friends.

Additionally, the Governor issued an Executive Order that anyone who has traveled from Louisiana or New York tri-state area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) quarantine themselves for 14 days from the time they enter Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever time period is shorter.

Another Executive Order from Governor DeSantis requires all vulnerable populations, specifically anyone with an underlying condition or who is over the age of 65, to stay at home.

How:

  • Determine if your business must close or whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Florida Health

Florida Public Health Advisory

Executive Order Number 20-80

Executive Order Number 20-83

Executive Order Number 20-91CISA Guidance

Georgia COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Starting April 24, 2020, non-essential businesses like dentists, optometrists, gyms, and hair salons, may begin to open provided they use all measures to reduce the exposure and spread of COVID-19 (outlined on page 2 of Executive Order 04.20.20.01) and adhere to Minimum Basic Operation requirements, starting on page 3 of the Executive Order. Executive Order 04.27.20.01 addresses theaters, bowling alleys, and restaurants. Update: Executive Order 05.12.20.02 provided additional guidance on safety requirements for restaurants, critical and non-critical infrastructure commerce and industry, gyms/fitness centers, tattoo parlors, theaters, and bowling alleys.

Update 6/15/20: Executive Order 06.11.20.01 Empowering a Healthy Georgia was issued and will take effect June 16, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Beginning June 16, 2020, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited unless social distancing requirements are met. Restaurants and theaters no longer have party maximums to sit together. Walk-ins are now acceptable at personal care services like hair and nail salons and barbershops.

In addition to Minimum Basic Operations and minimizing COVID-19 risk, businesses must:

  • Be sure to maintain social distancing requirements of at least 6 feet.
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.

Restaurants, theaters, and private social clubs can open on Monday, April 27, 2020, so long as they follow social distancing and sanitation requirements.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 04.20.20.01

Executive Order 04.23.20.02

Executive Order 04.27.20.01

Georgia Department of Health

Face Coverings and Masks

When: Starting April 27, 2020

What: The Governor released Executive Order 04.23.20.02 and Executive Order 04.13.20.02 which encourages residents to wear face coverings or masks when they leave homes.

Employees at restaurants and clubs must wear face coverings and ensure they are clean and replaced every day.

Shelter-In-Place Order

Who: Georgia businesses and employees

When: April 3, 2020 through April 13, 2020 (updated to April 30, 2020 under Executive Order 04.0820.02)

What: Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order to supersede all other local shelter-in-place orders and ordering all Georgia residents to stay home unless they must travel for Essential Services (like gathering food and supplies or seeking medical care), Critical Infrastructure, or to maintain Minimum Basic Operations at a business. Further details about essential activities can be found in the Executive Order, starting on page 3.

The Order uses the definition of Critical Infrastructure from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as those businesses that should remain open. It also includes other services like residential care, legal services, and some mental health and food services. Minimum Basic Operations are still allowed for those businesses that must close.

Minimum Basic Operations include supporting employees’ teleworking, maintaining inventory and the physical location’s sanitation and safety, and when work is done in outdoor spaces where employees do not come in close contact with other people.

Under this Order, employers can use CDC recommendations for checking employees for signs of COVID-19, as well as observing handwashing and social distancing guidance, to mitigate the exposure and spread of the disease.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework or maintain Minimum Basic Operations.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 04.08.20.02

Executive Order 04.02.20.01

Governor Kemp’s Statewide Shelter-In-Place FAQs

Georgia Department of Health

Emergency Unemployment Changes

Who: Georgia employers

When: Effective Immediately for the next 120 days or until the current rule changes or a new one proposed.

What:

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has closed to the public, but online access is available for unemployment and reemployment services. GDOL passed emergency rules for employers who file partial unemployment claims on behalf of their full-time employees:

  • All partial claims must be filed by employers online in the Employer Portal;
  • All employers must file partial claims bearing in mind any week the employee works less than full-time due to the partial or complete shutdown of the company because of a COVID-19 public health emergency; and
  • Any employer in violation of this rule must pay the Commissioner the full amount of benefits paid to the employee.

There are several scenarios when employers shouldn’t file a partial claim, including when employees:

  • Will be paid for a temporary layoff period (paid sick, paid vacation, etc.);
  • Were on previously scheduled leave before the layoff period (leave of absence or medical leave);
  • Are employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business;
  • Were employed in another state the last 18 months (employees can apply online themselves);
  • Were employed by the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months (employees can apply online themselves).

When submitting a claim, employers are reminded to:

  • Report the employee’s name, social security number, date of birth that matches with the Social Security Administration’s records.
  • Ensure there are 7 days between payment week ending dates.
  • Don’t submit claims until after the week end date on the claim.
  • Report vacation pay, holiday pay, earnings, etc. for the week it was earned and not the week it was paid.
  • Report any additional income that employees are receiving, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, or pay for weekend military reserve duty.

How:

  • Identify any employees that you may need to file the partial claim.
  • Gather all relevant information from the employee to file the partial claim, as well as the necessary employer information.
  • Be sure to follow the correct steps when logging into the Employer Portal.

Additional Resources

GDOL Rules

Employer Portal

Georgia Department of Labor

Kentucky COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Kentucky Healthy at Work

Governor Andy Beshear began slowly reopening the state on April 27, 2020 by restarting certain health care industry operations, like outpatient services and optometry.

Governor Beshear also issued 10 Rules for Reopening Businesses under the state initiative, Healthy At Work, which includes steps like teleworking where possible, phasing in onsite workers, temperature/health checks, and masks and PPE, among several others.

Phase I has several dates businesses should review as they plan for reopening, including May 11, May 20, and May 25.

Update 6/24/20: Guidance was issued regarding the additional requirements (on top of the minimum requirements) that restaurants and bars must meet. Additional guidance was issued allowing gatherings of up to 50 people starting June 29, 2020, provided they adhere to social distancing and meet additional health and safety requirements.

Update: Governor Beshear released guidance from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services detailing minimum requirements for all entities that are reopening or have remained open. Please see COVID-19 Directed Health Measures for state and county guidance.

Additional Resources

Kentucky Healthy At Work

Kentucky 10 Rules to Reopening

Kentucky Public Health

Kentucky Minimum Requirements for All Businesses

COVID-19 Directed Health Measures

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Kentucky businesses and employees

When: March 26, 2020

What: Governor Andy Beshear issued an Executive Order for all non-essential business workers to stay at home. Only “life-sustaining businesses” may remain open, including those businesses listed on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) list and other businesses like hardware stores and agricultural supplies and retailers. The full list of businesses can be found on the Executive Order, page 2.

Non-life sustaining businesses may use telework options for employees to maintain their Minimum Basic Operations, such as conducting inventory upkeep, physical maintenance and security, perform payroll, help employees telework, and any other related function.

The order also directs social distancing requirements for businesses, like mandating 6-foot distances between customers and workers and proper personal and workplace hygiene, and permitting teleworking. Further details about these requirements are found on the Executive Order, page 5.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-257

Kycovid19.ky.gov

Emergency Bill with Business Provisions

Who: Kentucky businesses and employees

When: March 30, 2020

What: SB 150 provides the following support to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Grants an additional 30 days to pay fees or follow normal requirements for licenses that expire before the state of emergency ends. Additionally, any licensing entities may waive any administrative or licensing fees during this time.

Unemployment insurance: The time period before unemployment benefits start has been waived and the base period has expanded to include additional employees who otherwise might not have qualified, like the self-insured and self-employed. SB 150 specifically states that it applies to employees whose hours have been reduced by “more than 10% and less than 60%.”

Telehealth: Healthcare providers may provide telehealth services provided unless specifically prohibited by federal or state law or state medical governing bodies.

How:

  • Review your current unemployment practices and update them according to the new requirements.
  • As you make employment decisions, be sure to provide the proper support and options to your employees.
  • Review any upcoming or past licenses and grants and determine if the administering agency or entity has provided any leniency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Be prepared to pay fees, file paperwork, or any other necessary requirements once the state of emergency lifts and regular operations resume.

Additional Resources

SB 150

Kcc.ky.gov

All Non-Life Sustaining In-Person Retail Suspended

Who: Kentucky employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020 until the state of emergency ends or the order is ended by law

What: Governor Andy Beshear issued an Executive Order that all “in-person retail businesses that aren’t life-sustaining” must be closed.

Certain life-sustaining businesses can remain open but must abide by all government hygiene and health guidelines. These businesses include:

  • Grocery stores and liquor stores;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Automotive parts, repairs, and tire stores, as well as vehicle rental stores;
  • Gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Banks and financial service institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Supply stores for buildings, gardens, and supply dealers;
  • Warehouse clubs and supercenters;
  • Pet and pet supply stores.

Although the Executive Order does not list gun stores as a life-sustaining business, it makes clear that the state will not interfere with the legal sale of firearms during this time.

Businesses that must close:

  • Automobile and other vehicle dealers (dealers can continue providing parts, repairs, and service as noted above, but their showrooms must close);
  • Department, cosmetics, beauty supply, perfume, clothing, shoes, jewelry, luggage and other leather goods stores, used merchandise stores;
  • Optical goods stores;
  • Other health and personal health care stores;
  • Sporting goods stores;
  • Music and musical instruments;
  • Book stores;
  • Electronics and appliance stores;
  • Florists;
  • Office supplies, stationery and gift stores.

However, businesses that are deemed non-life sustaining can receive online and telephone orders so long as they can arrange local delivery or curbside pickup.

How:

Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.

When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules. If you’re considering layoffs or furloughs, bear in mind the WARN Act.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Executive Order

Louisiana COVID-19 State Regulations

Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana

Update 6/24/20: As of June 22, 2020, Governor Bel Edwards announced that the state will remain in Phase II for an additional 28 days, maintaining occupancy limits and all other restrictions from Phase II.

Update 6/5/20: Proclamation 74 JBE 2020 was released to coincide with the Phase II opening press release (mentioned below in our update from 6/4/20).

Update 6/4/20: Beginning on June 5, 2020, Louisiana will move to Phase II of reopening for at least 21 days. In Phase II, religious services and businesses like, gyms, hair salons/personal care, bars/breweries, museums, and events, will be able to open at 50% capacity. Louisiana continues to strongly recommend that businesses offer temperature checks before people enter and posting the symptoms of COVID-19 outside with a request that symptomatic individuals not enter. See the press release for additional businesses that can reopen.

Starting May 15, 2020, the state will enter Phase One of the Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana, which aligns with the White House COVID-19 Reopening America plan. Certain non-essential businesses like casinos, gyms, museums, hair/nail salons may reopen at 25% capacity and as long as they adhere to safety and social distancing requirements (see page 15 of the Roadmap).

All businesses must require employees that interact with the public wear a face mask. Everyone is encouraged to wear cloth face coverings.

Additional Resources

New: Let Us Help You Reopen Safely

Proclamation Number 58 JBE 2020 for Phase I Reopening

Governors Proclamation Number 52 JBE 2020 Extension

Can This Business Open?

Guidance for Restaurants

Louisiana Proclamations

Louisiana Department of Health

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Louisiana employers and employees

When: March 23, 2020 until April 30, 2020 (Extended to May 15, 2020, see Proclamation 52-JBE-2020 for further details and for some business reopening specifications)

What:

Governor John Bel Edwards issued an Executive Proclamation (41-JBE-2020) requiring all state residents to stay in their homes. The Proclamation also closes all state government offices and certain non-essential businesses. Employees for non-essential businesses will still be allowed to work from home or to perform critical business activities such as payroll, maintenance, and cleaning.

Non-essential businesses include:

  • Public amusement locations like carnivals, amusement parks, zoos, arcades, playgrounds, theaters, etc.;
  • Personal care businesses like barbers, hail and nail salons, spas, tattoos parlors, etc.;
  • Shopping malls;
  • Casinos, movie theaters, bars, gyms, bowling alleys (from a previous state order).

Essential businesses may stay open. The Proclamation does not expressly define what businesses are essential but references the March 19, 2020, Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum for guidance. Thereafter, the Governor published guidance that identified additional categories of businesses exempt from the stay-at-home order. These include:

  • Health care workers and caregivers;
  • Social service workers;
  • Pharmacy employees;
  • Grocery store and food and beverage products employees;
  • Farmworkers;
  • Restaurants offering carry out and delivery;
  • Electricity and utility industry employees;
  • Critical manufacturing like medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals;
  • Petroleum, Natural, and Propane gas employees;
  • Transportation and logistics employees;
  • Communications and information technology workers;
  • Essential infrastructure like food production, distribution and sales, housing construction, construction engineers, building management and operations, airport operations, utility operations related to water, sewer, and gas, electrical generation, distribution, production of raw materials for electricity, distribution centers, oil and biofuel refining, public transportation, ports, cybersecurity, flood control, solid waste and recycling, telecommunications;
  • Charitable organizations;
  • Critical trades like HVAC, painting, plumbers, electricians, cleaning, security, moving services, and exterminators;
  • Hardware and supply stores;
  • Business operations supplies like computers, office supplies, household appliances;
  • Residential facilities;
  • Manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains for critical industries like pharmaceuticals, technology, biotechnology, health care, chemicals, sanitization, waste pickup, agriculture, transportation, food and beverage, steel and steel products, construction, communications, national defense; and
  • Hotels and motels.

Businesses that were not designated as “essential,” but were not explicitly prohibited from opening can remain open but must reduce operations only to essential staff while using proper social distancing practices and minimizing public contact. These businesses must also never allow 10 or more people to congregate in the same place. Please see the resources below for more details regarding what businesses are considered “essential.”

Businesses must require any employees or owners interacting with the public, must wear masks or face coverings (page 3 of Proclamation 52-JBE-2020).

Restaurants and coffee shops may remain open if they are conducting only carry out or delivery service. Proclamation 52-JBE-2020 states (page 3) that outdoor dining is acceptable only at 25% occupancy.

How:

Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.

When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Proclamation Order 41-JBE-2020

Governor’s Statewide Order

Louisiana Response to Coronavirus

Louisiana Office of the Governor Coronavirus Information

CISA Memorandum

Mississippi COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Starting April 27, 2020, most Mississippi retail businesses may reopen at 50% capacity provided they adhere to social distancing and sanitation protocols. Businesses like salons, gyms, and other personal care services should remain closed for the time being, except for minimum operations. Further details can be found in Governor Steve Bullock’s Executive Order No. 1478.

This order is in effect until May 11, 2020, unless otherwise changed. Update: This date has been extended to May 25, 2020. See Executive Order 1480 for more details.

Update 6/4/20: Safe Return FAQs were released to clarify general questions as well as inquiries about business operations and industry-specific guidance.

Update 6/1/20: Executive Order No. 1492 Safe Return Order was issued and effective on June 1, 2020 through June 15, 2020. Under this order, movie theaters, museums, ballparks, and libraries may begin to reopen with health and safety requirements for employees and customers. See page 5 of the Order for further details for indoor recreation/amusement businesses. All businesses and nonprofits may begin to reopen, provided they all make good faith efforts to comply with the Mississippi Department of Health and CDC requirements.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 1480

Executive Order No. 1477

Mississippi Safer At Home FAQs

Mississippi Department of Health

Mississippi Executive Orders

Shelter-In-Place Order

Who: Mississippi employers and employees

When: April 3, 2020 to April 20, 2020 (Update: Extended to April 27, 2020, see Executive Order 1473)

What:

Update: Along with the date extension, Governor Tate Reeves eased restrictions on certain non-essential retail businesses to provide curbside, delivery, or drive thru sales. See further details in Executive Order 1473.

Because of the need for additional measures to disrupt the spread of COVID-19, Governor Tate Reeves issued an Executive Order declaring a statewide shelter-in-place for all residents.

The guidelines state that residents must:

  • Stay home, except for approved activities listed in the Executive Order.
  • Stop all Non-Essential Businesses activities, except for maintaining minimum operations like payroll, security, and benefits, and also ensuring employees can telework.
  • Cancel or reschedule all social events, whether formal or informal, of more than 10 people.
  • Only leave the house to perform essential activities like caring for a vulnerable person, getting food and supplies, engaging in outdoor recreation, engaging in Essential Travel, or working for an Essential Business. When outside the house, one must maintain social distancing requirements by staying at least 6 feet apart from other people and avoid groups of more than 10 people.

Additionally, all evictions have been suspended, but residents are responsible for their mortgages and rents. Also, restaurants and bars may only be open for drive-thru, carry out, and delivery services.

Essential Businesses categories include the following (the full list can be found here):

  • Government functions like public safety and emergency responders, courts, military;
  • Health care operations;
  • Infrastructure like utilities, fuel and transmission, suppliers and distributors, supply chain companies, telecommunications, electronic security and life safety, communications sales and customer support, cybersecurity services, automotive repair and sales, transportation, public water and wastewater, hazardous waste disposal, lodging services;
  • Manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, chemical products, telecommunications products, automotive production and suppliers, energy, steel and steel products, engine oils, mining;
  • Agriculture and farm operations;
  • Essential retail like grocery stores, hardware stores, building materials;
  • Essential services like trash collection, mail, shipping and delivery services, home repair, automotive sales and repair, warehouse and distribution, laundry services;
  • Media;
  • Education institutions;
  • Financial institutions;
  • Professional services like legal and accounting;
  • Social and human services for vulnerable population;
  • Construction and related services;
  • Essential services for maintaining safety and sanitation for businesses and residential locations;
  • Defense;
  • Essential services like logistics, technology, child care, waste disposal;
  • Religious;
  • Workers and industries that fall under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum; and
  • Other categories that may be identified by the Mississippi Department of Health, Emergency Management Agency or another state agency.

How:

  • Determine if your business must close or whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Preparing to Shelter In Place

Mississippi Department of Health

Executive Order No. 1466

CISA Memorandum

North Carolina COVID-19 State Regulations

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Update 5/22/20: Under Executive Order No. 141 and beginning May 22, 2020, North Carolina will enter Phase II of reopening. Phase II will last at least through June 26, 2020, and allows businesses to operate at 50% customer capacity and restaurants may begin limited inside dining. There are further industry-specific details in the Executive Order.

The governor issued the staying ahead of the curve reopening plan that consists of 3 phases to start easing restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and travel. Phase 1 is effective on May 8, 2020 on the modified stay at home order 138. See the executive order 138 page 6 and the North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Plan for specific details. All businesses recommend employers wear cloth face coverings. North Carolina residents are encouraged to wear cloth face coverings out in public.

Additional Resources

North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Plan

North Carolina Staying Ahead of the Curve Website

What’s new in Phase One?

Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 138

Frequently Asked Questions on Cloth Face Coverings

Business Guidance

North Carolina Executive Orders

Business Operations Restricted

Who: North Carolina employers and employees

When: March 27, 2020

What: Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order 121 with key actions to combat the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Stay at home or place of residence order.
  • All COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations are directed, to the maximum extent possible, to direct employees to work from home or telework.
  • Essential Retail Businesses may continue to operate.
  • Mass gatherings of more than 10 people in a single room or single space are prohibited and certain businesses should stop operations
  • Schools are closed through May 15, 2020.

The executive order references “Essential Businesses” as those defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency:

  • Health care and public health;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, emergency responders;
  • Food and agriculture;
  • Energy;
  • Water and wastewater;
  • Transportation and logistics, including automotive repair and automotive maintenance facilities;
  • Public works;
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions;
  • Critical manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supply chains, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing;
  • Hazardous materials;
  • Financial Services;
  • Chemical; and
  • Defense industries.

“Essential Retail Businesses” are electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology; lawn and garden equipment retailers; book stores that sell educational material; beer, wine, and liquor stores’ retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores; retail located within healthcare facilities; and pet and feed stores.

To the extent possible, all COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations (including Essential Retail Business) shall maintain the Social Distancing Requirements, which is to maintain 6 feet distancing from other individuals, washing hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.

The limit on mass gatherings doesn’t apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers. It also does not include any COVID-19 Essential Business or Operation as defined in the Executive Order.

Businesses that are not “Essential Businesses and Operations” are required to cease all activities and reduce to Minimum Basic Operations. Minimum Basic Operations include the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or related functions. Note that the businesses that were ordered closed by Executive Orders 118 and 120, the latter noted below, shall remain closed.

In Executive Order 120, Governor Roy Cooper ordered entertainment facilities without any retail or food services, as well as personal care businesses, to close on March 25, 2020. Examples of these entertainment facilities include bingo parlors, bowling alleys, indoor exercise facilitates, health clubs, pools, performance venues, movie theaters, skating rinks, spas, and gaming facilities. Examples of personal care businesses include barber shops, beauty salons, hair salons, nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors.

How:

Review your current telework and leave policies and procedures to help accommodate employees’ childcare needs.

Determine if your business is impacted by these restrictions and if you need to plan a response to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 120

Executive Order No. 121

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Materials and Resources

COVID-19 Response in North Carolina

Unemployment Claims

Who: North Carolina employers and employees

When: March 18, 2020 until the State of Emergency ends

What: Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order with two main actions: restrict the operations of restaurants and bars and expand the availability of unemployment benefits for workers affected by COVID-19. The latter is what will be discussed here.

Unemployment Expansion

Under the Order, the state Department of Commerce has the authority to ensure that workers who, as a result of COVID-19, are unemployed, have reduced hours, or are prevented from working due to a medical condition caused by COVID-19 are eligible for maximum unemployment benefits permitted by federal law.

Employers’ accounts won’t be charged for benefits paid to COVID-19 related claims.

Using quarantine and isolation orders as control methods, the Department can interpret flexibly or waive, as appropriate, the following:

  • The 1-week waiting period for benefits;
  • The ability to work and available to work requirements;
  • The actively seeking work requirements; and
  • The “lack of work” requirement

The Order delays all in-person contact usually required for unemployment benefits. It also allows applications and weekly certifications to be filed remotely, via phone or internet.

How:

Consult with your legal counsel as you make decisions regarding employment.

As you make employment changes, provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resource

Executive Order 118

Oklahoma COVID-19 State Regulations

Open Up and Recover Safely Plan

Beginning April 24, 2020, Oklahoma began its 3-phased approach to reopening, with retail businesses, state parks, and grocery stores may open.

Beginning May 1, 2020, businesses like gyms, personal care services, and religious worship may reopen, provided safety requirements are met. The goal to start Phase II is May 15, 2020.

Check for complete details, including industry-specific guidance and safety requirements, with the Open Up and Recover Safely plan and website.

Additional Resources

Executive Department Fifth Amended Executive Order 2020-13

Oklahoma Open Up and Recover Safely Plan (pdf)

Oklahoma Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) Plan (website)

Oklahoma Executive Orders

Safer-At-Home Order

Who: Oklahoma employers and employees

When: March 25, 2020 through April 30, 2020 (Updated: Extended to May 6, 2020, please see amended Executive Order)

What: Governor Kevin Stitt ordered all people over the age of 65 and people with compromised immune systems to stay home and has banned any gatherings of more than 10 people. All medical providers shall postpone all elective surgeries. Additionally, all non-essential businesses in 19 counties with COVID-19 cases must close.

The executive order references “Essential Businesses” as those defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency:

  • Health care and public health;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, emergency responders;
  • Food and agriculture;
  • Energy;
  • Water and wastewater;
  • Transportation and logistics, including automotive repair and automotive maintenance facilities;
  • Public works;
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions;
  • Critical manufacturing like pharmaceuticals, medical supply chains, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing;
  • Hazardous materials;
  • Financial Services;
  • Chemical; and
  • Defense industries.

Additionally, all bars and salons in those 19 counties are closed, while restaurants may only provide carry out and delivery options and all bars are closed. A list of affected counties can be found here.

How:

  • Assess your business is considered essential and if you need to send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

Executive Orders

Executive Orders 2020-13

Executive Order 2020-07

Oklahoma Department of Health

South Carolina COVID-19 State Regulations

Accelerate South Carolina

Update 6/24/20: Executive Order 2020-40 was issued on June 11, 2020 declaring the state of emergency, limiting gatherings of 50 or more people, and modifying the non-essential business closures, like retail stores with limited occupancy and bowling alleys.

Update 6/5/20: Accelerate SC Final Report and Recommendations was released.

Update: Executive Order 2020-36 was issued to allow businesses like fitness centers/gyms, personal care services to reopen starting on May 18, 2020.

Starting April 20, 2020, Governor Henry McMaster began allowing retail businesses, like bookshops and clothing stores, to reopen as long as they adhered to social distancing, sanitation, and 20% occupancy (or 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less) restrictions. Executive Order 2020-28 outlines details about which employers may open and what guidelines they should adhere to, starting on page 5.

Additional Resources

New: Accelerate South Carolina

Executive Order 2020-28

Executive Order 2020-18

South Carolina Department of Health

South Carolina Executive Orders

Temporary Outdoor Seating Guidelines

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: South Carolina employers and employees

When: April 7, 2020 until the state of emergency is lifted

What: Governor Henry McCaster issued an Executive Order to mandate all state residents to stay home unless they are conducting essential activities like visiting/caring for family or buying groceries. Update: On May 3, 2020, he issued Executive Order 2020-31 to amend the Stay-At-Home Order, allowing restaurants to open for outdoor dining.

Essential businesses and Critical Infrastructure Operations can remain open.  They include those named on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum as well as employees who operate commercial vehicles that transport essential products, livestock, poultry, crops, and people employed by airlines.

Non-essential businesses that are named in the Executive Order, starting on page 7, must close to public access.

All retail stores not directly named in the order that decides to remain open must limit occupancy to 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, or 20% of the business’s occupancy limit (declared by the fire marshal), whichever number is less. Stores must enforce social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet apart and adhere to federal sanitation guidelines.

How:

  • Assess your business is considered essential and if you need to send employees home to telework.
  • Determine your occupancy limits and how your business should comply and enforce the limit.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-31

South Carolina Department of Health

Executive Order 2020-17

South Carolina Department of Commerce Form

Executive Order 2020-21

South Carolina Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Tennessee COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Update 6/2/20: Executive Order No. 38 was issued and includes guidance for returning to work and monitoring employees for symptoms. Everyone is encouraged to wear face masks, including cloth face coverings, in public. There is additional guidance for restaurants and bars.

Update: The Tennessee Pledge Guidelines have been releaed, providing employers and employees with guidelines by industry.

Titled the Tennessee Pledge, Governor Bill Lee announced the state’s reopening guidance and best practices. Although the Stay at Home Order is set to expire on April 30, 2020, on April 27, 2020, certain businesses like restaurants and retail stores can reopen to a 50% occupancy; employees should wear cloth face covering and follow distancing, hygiene, and sanitation guidelines. Note that this announcement does not necessarily apply to all counties in Tennessee, including those with the largest cities in the state.

Social gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned. Employers may return to work as long as they continue to follow the Health Guidelines and Economic Recovery Guidelines outlined on page 4 of Executive Order No. 30 and support employees teleworking.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 30

Tennessee Pledge

Press Release: Gov. Lee Issues Guidelines for Restaurants, Retail Stores to Reopen

COVID-19 Bulletin #24 – April 23, 2020

Safer-At-Home Order

Who: Tennessee businesses and employees

When: Effective March 30, 2020 through April 30, 2020

What: Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 22 and Executive Order No. 23 mandating state residents stay home, unless for an essential activity or service, like buying household/food items and caring for family members or themselves. The full list of essential activities can be found on the Executive Order, starting on page 4. All social gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less (this was issued in Executive Order No. 17).

Essential businesses may remain open. The list of essential businesses aligns with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum and includes organizations like critical infrastructure, healthcare, and manufacturing. The list can also be found in Attachment A to Executive Order No. 22.

The order also includes additional guidance for employers including:

  • Essential businesses should follow all health guidelines from the CDC to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Non-essential businesses must close to public or employee access.
  • Employers can’t require or allow employees to work if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Governor’s Executive Order No. 27 extends the date of the stay-at-home and social distancing order through April 30, 2020.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Tennessee Executive Orders

Tennessee Office of the Governor Coronavirus Resources

Tennessee Economic Recovery

Tennessee Department of Health

Texas COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Texans Helping Texans Plan

Update 7/2/20: Executive Order GA-28 was issued in response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Under this Order, bars are ordered to shut down if they receive more than 51% receipts for sales of alcohol and can offer delivery or take out. As of June 29,2020, restaurants can have up to 50% of their total capacity. Outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must approved by local government. Rafting and tubing are ordered to close.

Update 6/29/20: Governor Abbott announced a temporary pause on reopening efforts throughout the state. Of note, businesses that are open under the previous phases can keep operating at the same occupancy levels, as long as they meet the health and safety protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Residents should wear a mask, wash their hands, and practice social distancing.

Update 6/24/20: Executive Order GA-26 was amended to authorize mayors and judges to issue restrictions on outdoor gatherings of 100 people.

Update: Beginning June 3, 2020, Texas will enter Phase III of its reopening. All businesses may open at 50% of total capacity. There are no limits for certain organizations like those considered essential by the Department of Homeland Security, a day care provider, or youth camp. If businesses like nail/hair salons or other personal care services can maintain 6-foot social distancing requirements, the 50% total capacity doesn’t apply. Executive Order GA-26 has further details.

Update: As part of Amended Executive Order GA-23 and Executive Order GA-23, restaurants, massage services, child care centers, bars, zoos, aquariums, youth day camps, bowling alleys, and certain professional sports (without spectators) may begin reopening with safety measures in place. Additionally in the amended executive order No. GA-23, water parks, driver education, adult recreational sports, and food court dining in malls may reopen with safety measures in place.

Update: Beginning May 18, 2020, Texas has announced it is entering Phase II of its reopening plan. Under Executive Order 20-23, additional businesses will be phased in throughout the month. For example, bars can begin reopening on May 22, 2020, and child care centers on May 18, 2020. Businesses should review industry checklists provided by the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-16 to begin Texas’ phased reopening starting on April 24, 2020. The complete Texans Helping Texans Plan can be found here. Executive Order GA-18 was released on April 27, 2020 to replace Executive Order GA-16 to further expand reopening services in Texas to limit the number of people inside a business or establishment, like a restaurant, mall, or museum, to 25% occupancy.

As long as it complies with the Texas Department of State Health Services’ requirements, non-essential retail businesses may open for “retail-to-go,” so that products or services can be picked up, delivered by mail, or delivered to a customer’s home.

Please review local and county orders; there are several counties and cities like Dallas, Bexar, and Travis issuing their own orders about employees requiring face coverings.

Additional Resources

Amended Executive Order GA-23

Executive Order GA-23 (Phase 2 Expanded Reopening)

Executive Order GA-21

Executive Order GA-15

Executive Order GA-16

Executive Order GA-17

COVID-19: Guidance for Employers, Employees, and Customers of Reopened Retail Services

Texans Helping Texans Plan

NEW: Texas Minimum Recommended Health Protocols

Essential Services and Activities

Who: Texas employers, employees, and residents

When: April 2, 2020 through April 30, 2020

What: Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order advising Texans to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people outside their households. The Order specifies that residents should restrict their activities to obtaining or providing essential services. Essential services are defined as those listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, plus religious services conducted in houses of worship. You may request that your business be designated as essential by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Residents shall follow all federal guidelines for social distancing and sanitation. All workers should provide services remotely when possible. Schools will remain closed to in-person attendance until May 4, 2020.

The state Order supersedes local Orders when such Orders restrict essential services allowed by the state Order, or prohibits gatherings allowed by the state Order.

How:

  • Determine if your business is defined as essential. Request guidance as needed.
  • Arrange for employees to work remotely whenever possible.
  • Ensure that you are following the federal social distancing and sanitation guidelines at your place of business, to protect employees and customers.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. GA-14

List of Essential Services, and Request for Designation as Such

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0

Virginia COVID-19 State Regulations

Forward Virginia Reopening Plan

Beginning May 15, 2020, Virginia will start Phase I of its 3-phased reopening plan, Forward Virginia. Each phase may last from 2 to 4 weeks. As part of the reopening plan, the current Stay-At-Home Order will be replaced with a Safer At Home Order.

Update 6/24/20: Governor Northam announced that Phase III will begin on July 1, 2020 and released Phase III guidelines for all business sectors to adhere to. On June 18, the Governor released an outline of what Phase III will look like in a press release.

Update 6/4/20: Virginia will begin Phase II on June 5, 2020, allowing businesses like fitness centers, farmers markets, retail, and more to reopen under industry-specific requirements for social distancing, hygiene, and sanitation. See Executive Order 3rd Amended No. 61 and Safer At Home: Phase Two Guidelines For All Business Sectors. See Executive Order 2nd Amended No. 61 for the expansion of activities at public beaches and racetracks.

Update 5/29/20: Executive Order No. 63 requires face masks for all employees of essential retail business employees. State residents are also required to wear face masks in public.

Update 5/20/20: The Forward Virginia Reopening Plan was updated to include additional information on what Phase I and Phase II look like for businesses.

Update 5/18/20: Under Executive Order EO-62, Northern Virginia counties won’t begin Phase I until May 28, 2020. Be sure to check your local orders to ensure your business is in compliance with all regulations.

Phase I will continue to require social distancing, teleworking, and limited gatherings of less than 10 people, and provide the recommendation that everyone in public wear face coverings. For businesses, Phase I will include developing and enforcing policies to keep employees and customers separate, allowing for handwashing breaks, and limited capacity for gyms, restaurants, and retail stores.

Update: See additional guidance in the Phase I Guidelines for All Business Sectors and Forward Virginia Guidelines.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 61

Forward Virginia Guidelines

Safer At Home: Phase I Guidelines for All Business Sectors

Amended Number 53 (2020) Executive Order

Forward Virginia

Virginia Department of Health

Virginia Executive Orders

Business and Gathering Restrictions

Who: Virginia employers, employees, and residents

When: March 24, 2020 through April 23, 2020 (Updated to May 8, 2020, through an extension of Executive Order No. 53)

What:

Governor Ralph Northam issued an Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more individuals, closing K–12 schools for the remainder of the 2019–2020 school year, closing recreational and entertainment businesses, limiting patronage at certain retail establishments, and closing dining areas in food and beverage establishments. Delivery and take-out food and beverages from these restaurants are still available.

Childcare facilities may remain open within previously stated guidelines. Families that can keep their children at home are asked to do so.

Essential retail businesses may remain open during normal business hours. Those businesses are:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers, automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Brick-and-mortar businesses not listed above may remain open if they are able to limit in-person patrons to no more than 10 at a time and maintain proper social distancing of six feet. If you cannot meet those requirements, you must close the business. If your business provides professional services, arrange for employees to work from home if at all possible. If telework is not possible, these businesses should maintain social distancing recommendations and enhanced sanitizing practices.

Other services that are considered essential and may remain open are:

  • Health care and medical services;
  • Essential services for low-income residents;
  • Media operations;
  • Law enforcement; and
  • Government operations.

How:

  • Determine if your business is defined as essential and may remain open during normal business hours.
  • Arrange for employees to work from home whenever possible. If telework is not possible, create policies to the ensure safety of all employees reporting to work, including but not limited to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitization practices, and limiting physical touch with customers and other employees.
  • If your business is not essential, and it is not a recreational or entertainment business, develop a strategy for adhering to the requirement for no more than 10 patrons at a time in your establishment, while adhering to social distancing recommendations.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 53 (2020)

Frequently Asked Questions (re: Executive Order 53)

Coronavirus VOSH Hazard Alert

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

West Virginia COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

West Virginia will begin a 6-week phased approach to reopening starting on April 30, 2020. Called “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback,” the plan will begin easing restrictions each Monday. Businesses are encouraged but not required to reopen.

Businesses will want to focus on the start of Week 2, starting May 4, where reopening may occur as long as social distancing, sanitation, and face covering requirements are met. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees could reopen, but businesses with larger numbers should await further guidance (see the recent guidance and The Comeback plan for small businesses and restaurants).

Update: 6/9/20: Starting June 8, 2020, all remaining sports facilities may reopen as well as additional low-contact youth sports, youth athletics and band summer camps, and little league. Beginning June 10, 2020, private campgrounds and state-run campgrounds may begin reopening to out-of-state guests. Movie theaters and casinos may begin reopening.

Update 6/4/20: Executive Order No. 41-20 was issued to reopen businesses like pools, spas/message services, indoor amusement, zoos, and bars under proper social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Update 5/18/20: Executive Order 37-20 was issued allowing recreation centers, fitness centers, gyms, and recreational activites to reopen/resume beginning May 18, 2020.

Additional Resources

New: West Virginia Press Releases and Executive Orders

West Virginia Strong – The Comeback

West Virginia Strong – The Comeback Guide

Public Health Standard Emergency Rule

West Virginia Department of Health

Executive Order 32-20

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