Temperature checks on deck: Reopening guidelines usher in new normal
Whether employers and customers will adapt to reopening guidelines and whether businesses can be profitable under the rules will be key to the revival of the Illinois economy.
You’re familiar, perhaps, with those signs in restaurants and bars: “No shoes. No shirt. No service.” Add this one for the COVID-19 pandemic era as Illinois and Chicago start to phase in reopening plans: A fever keeps you out, too.
Temperature checks, staggered operating hours and eliminating many amenities taken for granted — from water fountains to dropping in anytime at the health club — are what Illinoisans could be dealing with in the coming days. Could be, because so far, the state does not have an enforcement mechanism in place.
For at least 10 industries in Illinois, guidelines for the “new normal” arrived Sunday when the state released a series of detailed reopening procedures to kick in as soon as Friday.
Whether employers and customers will adapt and whether businesses can be profitable under the new rules will be key to the revival of the Illinois economy.
Gov. J. B. Pritzker at his Tuesday briefing called the provisions “minimum expectations moving forward.” Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday issued guidelines tailored to Chicago and aligned with the state.
Maintaining six feet of social distancing at all times, using face coverings, frequent hand washing or sanitizing remain key to curbing the pandemic. To do this in a workplace will require extensive — and perhaps expensive — reconfiguring.
Here’s what’s ahead for owners, workers and customers:
Employees in a variety of business will be encouraged to take temperature checks when they arrive at the workplace. Employers will be asked to provide infrared, thermal or touchless thermometers. Under the broad state guidelines, that covers people working in plants; offices; retail stores; health clubs; personal care places, such as hair and nail salons and barbershops; outdoor recreation facilities; day camps; and restaurants.
Vendors and other non-customer visitors will also be asked to undergo a temperature check.
Customers will have different expectations than employees when it comes to temperature taking.
The guidelines suggest customer temperature checks before being allowed into health clubs; outdoor restaurants; hair and nail salons; barbershops and day camps. At day camps, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F will be asked to leave.
Can a business survive when it’s usual capacity shrinks?
Fitness centers, retailers, barbershops and hair and nail salons are being asked to operate at no more than 50% of occupancy at any given time or five people per 1000 sq. feet.
Offices are being asked to have a maximum occupancy of 50%. Indoor facilities at day camps should operate 50% of capacity.
Restaurant outdoor dining tables will have to be a minimum of six feet apart.
To mitigate for the loss of customer traffic — and to make a return to the workplace more safe — the guidelines call for staggering shift start and end times or extending operating hours to spread out customer traffic.
Plants and offices
Manufacturers and office employers are being asked to move workstations and desks to allow for the six feet of social distancing between employees or to install impermeable barriers. “If practical,” employees should not be facing each other.
Elevator capacity will have to be limited to allow for social distancing.
Workers should not not share tools and equipment.
If meetings are needed, they should be capped at 10 people.
Operators will have to be vigilant, down to supervising young campers using hand sanitizer.
Groups will be limited to 10 campers, with two adults per group and 30-feet between groups. Each group should have its own colors to make distancing enforcement easier.
The guidelines call for no mixing of campers or staffers between groups and if possible, keeping kids from the same family in the same group.
So long . . .
Besides water fountains, the new normal is a future without seating in food courts; testers at cosmetic counters; saunas, steam rooms and child care at the health club.
Restaurants have a multitude of rules for a COVID-19-free sanitary operation. Once outdoor dining starts, the guidelines call for no salt and pepper shakers, straws, or condiments on the table; no self service beverage stations; no buffets or salad bars.
Live music is permitted, with social distancing and this guideline:“Performers should wear face coverings where possible and the use of barriers between singers and customers and employees during the performance is strongly encouraged.”
Health clubs present particular challenges because they are high touch high proximity operations. No more dropping in. At a “minimum, there should be “reservations only.”
Besides the temperature check, the guidelines suggest members arrive in workout clothes. Members will be asked to keep face masks on while working out to sanitize equipment before and after use and to maintain 10 feet of distance during exercise.
And that’s your new normal.
Our “Chicago’s New Normal” series explores how COVID-19 will reshape our city.