April 29, 2021 - 3 min read
Protecting your customers, your employees and yourself
Precautions are still necessary, even as more people get vaccinated
With more people getting vaccinated every day, businesses that have been operating remotely or at partial capacity through the pandemic are developing return-to-work or reopening plans, aiming to make the transition as smooth as possible.
A thoughtful plan can keep employees, customers, and clients safe, while establishing foundational best practices that can mitigate further transmission should new COVID-19 variants arise. Here are some things to consider when preparing for in-person operations:
Address vaccine hesitancy
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is widespread and rooted in political and cultural beliefs, fear of side effects, distrust of the vaccine testing process, and widely available is information.
Employers can reassure their employee base about vaccine safety and efficacy by following the standards outlined in our Return to the Workplace guide:
Maintain consistent communication – regular communication can encourage an open dialogue with employees, boost morale, and help manage misinformation.
Share credible information and resources – stay current on developments and share helpful resources with employees such as our COVID member website, the California COVID website, and CDC COVID resources.
Enforce workplace rules – guidance for employees that have already returned to work should be readily available and closely enforced. The CDC updates their return-to-work
considerations and we regularly update our employer and broker resource center.
Even with more people getting vaccinated against COVID-19, transmission is still possible. Testing can prevent infections and transmission in the workplace.
If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider for next steps.
For COVID-19 tests provided or ordered by a healthcare provider, Blue Shield will cover diagnostic tests (PCR and antigen) at no out-of-pocket cost – whether or not a member has had symptoms or exposure to the virus. Learn more about testing coverage and exceptions on our dedicated COVID testing page.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, determine whether there is a need to inform fellow employees of their possible exposure but make sure you maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You may also want to consult with your legal advisors to assess other legal and compliance considerations.
Once tested, PCR results are typically received within 48 hours and antigen results are received in about 15 minutes. Antigen tests are typically cheaper and faster than PCR tests, but may show higher rates of false-negative results. While awaiting results, employees should self-quarantine until the results come in.
Continue social distancing and safety protocols
Consider staggering your employees’ return to in-person work, bringing the most critical functions back first while allowing flexibility for those who can continue remote work.
Enforce a mask policy for your workforce
Keep common areas (such as breakrooms) clean and sanitized.
Encourage customers and employees to stay at least 6 feet apart whenever possible.
Install barriers or partitions in areas where customers and employees tend to interact.
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