On Friday, April 24, 2020, Governor Phil Scott issued Addendum 11 to his initial Executive Order, which declared a state of emergency in Vermont because of COVID-19. Addendum 11 incorporates guidance (https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-stay-home-stay-safe-order) from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (“ACCD”) issued in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health (“VDH”) and the Department of Public Safety/Vermont Emergency Management (“DPS/VEM”).
Addendum 11 builds on Addendum 10, which announced Governor Scott’s plan to reopen Vermont’s economy though a “phased approach.” It also expands mandatory health and safety requirements, and establishes new mandatory training and reporting requirements.
Phase 2: A Gradual Reopening of Certain Sectors of Vermont’s Economy
The business practices authorized in “Phase 1” remain acceptable during “Phase 2.” Beginning Monday, April 27, 2020, unless otherwise stated below, the following business practices are permitted, so long as mandatory health and safety, training, and reporting requirements are observed.
- Outdoor businesses: Those who work exclusively or largely outdoors (such as civil engineers, site work, exterior construction, skilled trade, public works, energy and utility work, mining, forestry, environmental monitoring, landscaping, painting, tree work, park maintenance, recreational maintenance, and delivery work) may operate with crews of 5 or fewer persons per location/job.
- Interior construction: Indoor construction may occur in uninhabited structures with 5 or fewer workers at a time, and adhering to social distancing standards.
- Manufacturing and distribution: Manufacturing and distribution operations may resume if (i) they are low-density; (ii) there are 5 or fewer employees per location; and (iii) employees are able to maintain six feet apart at all times. “Any location” is defined as any address, regardless of partitions, separation of workspace, or different function.
- Outdoor retail: Outdoor retail operations, such as garden centers and greenhouses, may allow in-person shopping if (i) there are 10 or fewer persons – including customers and staff – present at any one time; (ii) there is no more than one customer per 200 square feet; and (iii) the business prevents customer congregation by, for example, having customers wait in their cars until it is permissible for them to shop.
- Libraries: Libraries may use curbside pick-up in accordance with Department of Libraries’ guidance. All orders must occur on the phone or online. Only the minimum number of employees necessary to support pick-up and delivery services are permitted.
- Farmers’ markets: Farmers’ markets may reopen with “limited in-person operations” on May 1, 2020, so long as they comply with ACCD guidance, mandatory health and safety requirements, and so long as the applicable municipality approves the reopening. A farmers’ market authorized to reopen must (i) alter business practices to eliminate crowds and reduce contact between vendors and customers by functioning primarily as a food distribution system; (ii) use a “pre-order, local food pick-up model” to the extent possible; (iii) comply with additional Agency of Agriculture and Food Markets’ guidance; (iv) adhere to municipal ordinances, regulations, and permitting requirements; and (v) use only the minimum number of employees necessary to support pick-up and delivery services.
Employees who reside in another State and work in Vermont may travel to Vermont for work provided that: (1) their employer adopts the mandatory health and safety requirements described in Addenda 10 and 11, and the related ACCD guidance; (2) the employer trains all employees, and reports that training to the State, according to the VOSHA requirements; (3) the employer complies with other limitations on the number of workers/type of work that can be done, as outlined in Addenda 10 and 11, and the related ACCD guidance; and (4) the employees commute directly to and from work each day. , Out-of-state construction crews and property management/landscaping crews are not included in this revised guidance. Those employees must continue to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to Vermont.
To the extent possible, businesses must continue to support work from home and telecommuting. Businesses are encouraged to continue strategies, procedures, and practices to maximize their telephone and online presence, telephone and web-based service delivery, orders, and curbside pick-up and delivery.
Mandatory Health and Safety Requirements
All businesses must follow VDH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidelines. Beginning Friday, April 24, 2020, businesses operating during the state of emergency must:
- Designate an on-site health officer for each shift. The health officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with the mandatory health and safety requirements. The health officer must have the authority to stop and modify activities to ensure such compliance.
- Provide and document that all employees complete mandatory training on health and safety requirements provided by the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“VOSHA”), or another such program that meets or exceeds the VOSHA standards. This requirement is discussed in greater detail below. It does not apply to healthcare workers, first responders, or others already trained in infection control, personal protection, and universal precautions.
- To the extent feasible, “pre-screen” or “survey” employees prior to each shift by checking their temperatures and determining whether they have symptoms of respiratory illness (e., fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath).
- Prevent an employee from attending work if they have come into contact with a COVID-positive employee or other person. The employee must quarantine for 14 days.
- Post signs at every entrance clearly indicating that no person may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness (e., fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath).
- Provide good air circulation to any indoor workspace where three or more employees are working. The ACCD recommends opening doors and windows to increase air flow, and limiting the number of people occupying a single indoor space.
- Prevent all employee congregations. All common areas, such as break rooms and cafeterias, must be closed. Bathrooms may remain open.
- Prevent employees from reporting to work or remaining at work if they are sick or symptomatic (e., with fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath).
- Require that employees remain at least 6 feet apart from others while on the job, and instruct employees that they should refrain from touching their faces.
- Require that employees wear non-medical cloth face-coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. Retail cashiers may forego a cloth face-covering in lieu of a translucent shield or “sneeze guard.”
- Provide employees with easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during the duration of work.
- Require employees to wash or sanitize their hands before entering and leaving the job site.
- Clean and disinfect all workplace common spaces and equipment (including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces, doors, tools, other equipment, and vehicles) at the beginning, middle, and end of each shift, and prior to transfer from one person to another.
- Prevent 3 or more people from occupy any one vehicle when conducting work.
Customers, and the public in general, should wear cloth face-coverings when they are interacting with others from outside their households.
Mandatory Training and Reporting Requirements
By May 4, 2020, all employers must provide and document employee training on standard operating procedures developed by VOSHA in consultation with VDH. Employers also must provide employees with a written copy of the VOSHA standards. State inspectors will ensure businesses have the information needed to comply with the training requirements. The VOSHA training (https://labor.vermont.gov/document/protecting-safety-and-health-workers-vosha) and certificate use to report completion of the training (https://labor.vermont.gov/sites/labor/files/doc_library/Certificate%20template_FILLABLE_0.pdf) are now available.
At a minimum, the training program and written procedures must address:
- The signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- An explanation of how COVID-19 is spread.
- Appropriate social distancing.
- Personal hygiene practices, including those set forth in Addendum 11 and ACCD guidance.
- The types, proper use, limitations, location, handling, decontamination, removal, and disposal of personal protective equipment (“PPE”).
An employer may provide a different training program so long as it meets or exceeds VOSHA’s minimum requirements.
Please contact Heather Hammond (firstname.lastname@example.org) at
Gravel & Shea PC if you have questions or would like assistance.