NH Issues Updated Universal Guidelines for Businesses to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Dear Clients and Friends,

The New Hampshire Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force issued updated Universal Guidelines last week that became effective immediately. The Universal Guidelines apply to all New Hampshire employers, organizations, and individual business operators to aid in preventing the spread of COVID-19.  While titled as “Guidelines,” the publication contains many mandatory protocols that all employers and employees must follow. The updated Universal Guidelines can be found here.

The updated Universal Guidelines were released without much notice or fanfare, and yet they contain many significant differences from the original Universal Guidelines released by the Task Force in May, and the previously updated guidelines released in June.  We urge you to review the updated Universal Guidelines carefully and modify your organization’s safety and health protocols and procedures accordingly.  Information in the updated Universal Guidelines includes:

  • Volunteers: The Guidelines now apply to volunteers as well as employees.
  • Screening Questions: Required daily screening questions for employees and volunteers have changed and now include questions about additional COVID-related symptoms and travel-related questions.
  • Online Screening: The required daily screening process now allows the use of an online screening process as an alternative to in-person screening.
  • Instructions for Ill or Exposed Employees: Employees and volunteers who become symptomatic or are exposed to COVID-19 must be instructed to go home and contact their healthcare provider to be tested and self-isolate.
  • Travel: Employees and volunteers who travel outside of the New England states, regardless of the mode of transportation, as well as those who travel internationally or by cruise ship, must be required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. You will want to determine whether your organization should make changes to time off request procedures as a result. Employers with fewer than 500 employees should consider the application of paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to these quarantine periods as the quarantine is imposed by a government order.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Employers must make alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, readily available to employees, volunteers, and customers/clients at entrances and exits to the employer’s facilities and throughout areas frequently visited by employees and/or customers/clients.
  • Restrooms: There is a new section in the Guidelines regarding restrooms and how to monitor them to ensure social distancing and regular cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning: Cleaning and disinfecting guidelines have been enhanced.
  • Safety Officer: The Guidelines require designating a Safety Officer who can monitor compliance with social distancing, face covering use, hand hygiene and other protective policies and respond to employee, volunteer, and customer concerns.
  • Masks: The Guidelines include detailed instructions on face coverings and masks in the workplace.
  • Workplace Flexibility: The Guidelines highlight the importance of being flexible to consider options for vulnerable employees while complying with EEOC guidance on avoiding discrimination which can be found here .
  • Healthcare Providers: There are specific exceptions and requirements for healthcare providers throughout the Guidelines.

In addition to the updated Universal Guidelines which all New Hampshire employers, businesses, and organizations must follow, the Task Force has issued certain industry-specific guidelines which can be found here.  Businesses and organizations must comply with both the updated Universal Guidelines and any applicable industry-specific guideline.

Finally, in a common refrain in these unfamiliar and changing times, the updated Universal Guidelines warn that they are subject to change and may be revised on a rolling basis.  We recommend that you check the Task Force’s website periodically for further updates and changes, and please also feel free to contact us at CLRM.

We hope this information is helpful to you and we hope that you and all those you care about remain safe and healthy.

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