Reopening Guidelines for Virginia Employers Following COVID-19

As Virginia starts to ease public health restrictions amid COVID-19, businesses in the process of reopening will be confronted with new challenges. Specifically, employers will have to develop and implement appropriate policies in accordance with various federal, state and local regulations geared towards mitigating the spread of the virus.

While each business’s strategy will be unique depending on the business type and the industry, we hope you can use the below steps as a starting point as you navigate this “new normal.” We also encourage insurance carriers to share the below suggestions with their employers as the economy gradually reopens.

1.)  Stay up to date on guidelines provided by federal, state, and local agencies.

2).  Develop a concrete preparedness and response plan.

      • According to OSHA, most workers will likely experience low or medium exposure risk levels at their place of employment.
      • In preparing a plan to reopen, the CDC advises that businesses should set the following goals:
            • Reduce transmission among employees;
            • Maintain healthy business operations; and
            • Maintain healthy work environment.
      • Plans should address (for example):
            • The level of risk associated with various workers, worksites, and job duties.
            • The need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely and other exposure-reducing measures.
            • Policies related to sick leave or other paid time off as well as telecommuting or work from home arrangements.
            • Procedure for prompt identification and isolation of sick people if appropriate.

3.) Consider confidentiality and privacy.

      • Employee health information is confidential, unless it is required to be disclosed by law.
      • Store health information separately and securely.
      • Current regulations allow employers to take employee temperatures and record pertinent health information. These practices should be performed in a manner that protects employee privacy and adheres to social distancing requirements.

4.) Implement infection prevention measures.

      • Encourage employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate.
      • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing.
      • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
      • Encourage teleworking.

* Note: Employers should make clear that this work-from-home arrangement is a temporary, and emergency arrangement that has arisen in light of the COVID-19 crisis and the government’s response thereto. It will come to an end when the crisis does.

      • Consider ways of reducing the number of employees present at the workplace. Possible options include staggered shifts, alternating teams, and/or continued telework.
      • Advise employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
      • Make clear that employees must report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
      • Maintain regular housekeeping practices.
      • Post signage in workplace requesting that individuals with symptoms not enter workplace.
      • Place hand sanitizers in work environment for use by employees and guests.
      • Consider long-term changes to practices and procedures, including (for example):
          • Reducing the use of porous materials used for seating.
          • Leaving doors open to reduce touching by multiple people.
          • Opening windows to improve ventilation.
          • Removing objects/clutter in your common area.

5.) Communicate.

      • The best way to mitigate liability is by clearly and consistently informing employees about your policies and procedures.
      • Ensure that all policies and procedures are in writing and distributed to all employees.
      • Make sure that employees know who to contact with questions.

6.) Maintain and revise your plan.

      • Be flexible. Continue to update your plan based on updated guidance and your current circumstances.
      • Communicate evolving changes in a timely, transparent manner.


It is important to keep in mind that reopening will be jurisdiction-specific, subject to compliance with all state and local regulations as well as any industry-specific requirements. Employers should not rely on any of the above suggestions in contravention of any applicable requirement concerning reopening. Ford Richardson remains committed to providing essential information during this unprecedented crisis. Please contact us at (804) 220-6113 with any questions.

Should you have any questions about the issues discussed here or other legal issues, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Ford Richardson.

Ford Richardson is a full-service law firm with headquarters located in Richmond’s financial district and satellite offices in Southwest Virginia, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Our commitment to our clients is simple: offer top-tier clear legal solutions that allow our clients to excel in their business.

We are privileged to give back to our community and believe it is our responsibility to do so. Our attorneys and support staff serve as leaders and volunteers to a wide array of civic and charitable organizations.

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