Due to events related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many local businesses in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been temporarily closed or required to change their business model in order to meet new state safety regulations. However, new guidelines unveiled by the federal and local governments have given many local businesses a glimmer of hope by allowing them to gradually resume business as usual in the coming months.
Reopening Rhode Island & Massachusetts
In Rhode Island, Phase One of reopening began on May 9th, allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen. However, social gatherings are still limited to 10 people, and masks, vigilant hand-washing, and increased sanitization schedules must be maintained. All activities must account for the strong social distancing guidelines of remaining at least 6 feet apart. Some restaurants have also been able to resume dine-in services only outdoors as long as they are following strict capacity limits and social distancing guidelines.
Phase Two will begin soon with more non-essential businesses reopening and more relaxed guidelines. Additional restaurants, retail stores, and close-contact businesses such as nail and hair salons may be able to reopen. Recreational activities will likely return with restrictions.
In Phase Three, social gatherings will be limited to 50 people. Offices, restaurants, larger retail stores, and other businesses will lift some of the tightest restrictions to allow more people in at a time but will need to operate under long term safety guidelines. Older adults (aged 65+) will no longer be strongly encouraged to stay at home but will need to exercise significant caution in public. Lastly, working from home will still be encouraged, but more people will be allowed back into the workplace.
As for Massachusetts, their plan to reopen is slightly different than Rhode Island’s.
Phase One in Massachusetts began May 18th, with manufacturing and construction businesses resuming normal operations. On May 25th, personal services, such as barbershops, hair salons, and pet grooming services will resume by appointment only. Exterior car washes will be permitted, and offices (with the exclusion of Boston) will be permitted to reopen but must be less than 25% of maximum occupancy. Work from home will continue to be strongly encouraged. Retail for remote services will resume, as well as curbside pickup options for many other stores. Beaches, parks, drive-in theatres, athletic fields, outdoor adventure activities, and most fishing, boating, and hunting reserves will resume with guidelines. On June 1st, some offices in Boston are to reopen, with guidelines and specific safety standards to follow. Facial coverings will be required in all public spaces.
Phase Two in Massachusetts will begin no earlier than June 8th and will include the reopening of retail businesses, restaurants, hotels, nail salons, and day spas with restrictions. Less urgent preventative health measures, like dentist offices, will reopen. Campgrounds, limited youth sports, playgrounds, and recreational day camps will also reopen with restrictions.
Phase Three will begin no earlier than June 29th and will include the reopening of gyms, bars, casinos, and museums. Youth sports games and tournaments will be permitted, with limited crowd space.
Phase Four will be the full resumption of normal activity. According to the governor, there is no expected date in mind for this phase yet. Large venues and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, and professional sports will be able to resume with guidelines.
How to Leverage Social & Traditional Media to Let Your Customers Know You’re Open
Now that your business has reopened, it is time to enforce state-mandated guidelines and learn to navigate your new business model. In the midst of this, you must also be alerting your customers of your reopening, perhaps via email newsletters, social media marketing, and updating the exterior signage of your business. It is also important to communicate the operational changes with customers since you’ve last closed doors, including the new safety guidelines in place and the health/sanitation measures being practiced by staff members. Updating your website’s homepage to reflect these new procedures and protocols are great ways of being consistent and displaying transparency during this time of crisis.
Best Practices for Social Distancing & Different Safety Precautions to Use
As mentioned before, it is important to keep up with frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer, especially after coming in contact with surfaces or handrails. Facial coverings in public places are now required in order to promote the overall safety of indoor spaces. To further aid social distancing, many large retail spaces have implemented “one-way” signs to better facilitate traffic and keep individuals 6 feet apart from one another at all times. Floor stickers outlining where to stand, countertop shields, capacity limitations, and sanitation schedules are all great ways of maintaining cleanliness and abiding by new state safety directives.
How to Keep Employees Safe When Serving the Public
There are a number of ways your business can provide support to your employees to ensure their safety is of utmost priority. Promote frequent handwashing and provide alcohol-based hand rubs with at least 60% alcohol content are great first steps for maintaining safety within the workplace. Encourage workers to stay home if they are feeling sick and require temperature checks for large retail stores before entering the workplace. Provide employees with protective masks, gloves, and countertop sneeze shields. Restrict the number of employees allowed in small offices of the workplace, such as personnel offices.
Contact PMC Media Group for COVID-19 assistance, including strategic planning to help you navigate your new normal. We can also assist you with digital and traditional communications to help inform the public of new business procedures, as well as safety collateral like branded masks and floor stickers. Call us today at 401-667-7777 to learn more about how we can help!