Coronavirus Action Plan: What Should You Do

Originally Published : March 2, 2020

As the Coronavirus continues to spread, we stand ready to assist you, your business, and your employees during this fast-paced and potentially scary time.

Please read the information provided below and continue to check your inbox for additional updates from us as they become available.  WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, believed to have initially spread from animals to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is now airborne and spreading between people. Typically, respiratory viruses are most contagious when an individual is most symptomatic, but there have now been reports of the virus spreading when the affected individual does not show any symptoms. As of now, one (1) person has tested positive for Coronavirus in New York City.  Reported illnesses due to infection with novel coronavirus have ranged from mild to severe. Symptoms can include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

  • Develop an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan.
    • Let us help you prepare an Infections Disease Outbreak Response Plan that takes into account your business and its needs. No restaurant, bar, bakery, or cafe is the same; your Response Plan must reflect that reality. 
    • No hospitality business owner wants to be in a position where its employees inadvertently sicken your customers.  Prepare and plan now — with our help!
  • Maintain open lines of communication with staff. 
    • Identify a contact person (ideally within your HR team) that will be responsible for managing employee questions or concerns.
    • Place posters that encourage staying home when sickcough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
    • Educate your employees about the coronavirus, including its symptoms and risks, as well asl steps that should be taken to mitigate these dangers.
    • Ensure that employees know what to do if they are concerned that they or their colleagues are infected by the coronavirus.
    • Remind employees of your existing HR policies and procedures, including those related to sick leave and other absences from work.
    • Prevent employee overreaction and conflict in the workplace by ensuring that your supervisors maintain the strictest of confidentiality of an employee’s health status.  Further, remind your supervisors of the importance of adhering to anti-discrimination laws, and avoiding stereotyping based on race, ethnicity, and national origin.
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
    • The CDC recommends that individuals exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory illness should not report to work until they are free of fever (below 100.4° F) and have been free of related symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
  • Separate sick employees.
    • The CDC also recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work — or develop these symptoms over the course of the work day — should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately. 
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and general hygiene by all employees.
    • Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
    • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles in your workplace.
    • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning.
    • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
    • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
    • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly-used surfaces (e.g., door knobs, keyboards, remote controls, phones) can be wiped down by employees before each use.


  • Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences.
    • Due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness, employers should plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace.
    • Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism.
    • Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent.
  • Assess your essential functions and supply-chains.
    • Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
  • Prepare for social distancing.
    • Plan to minimize exposure between employees and also between employees and the public, if public health officials call for social distancing.
  • Gather important information and essential documents.
    • Contact your insurance agent to verify what type of business interruption insurance you have as it applies to the Coronovirus and/or a government imposted quarantine or closure of business. 
    • Verify what documents are necessary to file a business-interruption claim.
    • Ensure that all mission-critical documents are stored in a secure electronic location should you be unable to access your business location. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Lee Jacobs at [email protected] or Megan Shaw at [email protected], or either by telephone at (212) 219-1193, if you have any questions or concerns about how the Coronavirus and its impact on your business operations.

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