When we re-open society, we will need to make a lot of changes. The “new normal” will be anything but!
Restaurants are opening with distancing in mind. “Death or Glory”, a bar near me in Delray Beach, Florida, is using inflatable toys, shaped like space aliens and animals to fill seats between live customers. “The Inn at Little Washington”, in Washington, Virginia is seating mannequins at the table with patrons to limit human occupancy to 75% of capacity. Do not be surprised if plexiglass or curtains will separate the dining room tables.
The new normal will be a financial burden to the small business owner who has already been shut down for close to 90 days. Adding to that, some businesses may have fallen prey to the recent looting. The new normal will need a lot of additional funding through government, foundation and corporate grants, loans and incentives.
The New Work Environment
High-tech companies may continue having staff work from home as the new normal. Others may not recognize their office once they return. Employees may need to have their temperature checked as soon as they walk through the door. Staff may have to ride the elevator one person at a time. And no crowding in the lobby waiting for the elevator.
You may find painted footprints on the floor to follow as you traverse the office, probably with arrows indicating one-way traffic.
Meals will need to be delivered in single-serve packages. And restrooms will need to be single-stall only. No water cooler talk, and no central coffee pot; drinks will be delivered to your desk.
What if I want to continue working from home?
Employees only have a legal right to work from home if the local municipality has a stay- at- home order in place. If an order is no longer in effect, then there is no requirement for an employer to accommodate an employee and continue to permit the option of working from home.
An employer may demand as a prerequisite of employment that work can only be done at the office. That would legally prevent working from home. However, employees are entitled under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and emergency family medical leave (FFML).
If a worker has COVID-19 they make take up to 2 weeks of paid sick leave in order to self-quarantine under the terms of FFSL.
EFML provides for employees to take additional paid leave to care for a child, due to COVID-19. Both programs expire at the end of 2020.
Employers with less than 50 workers are exempt, and the program will only apply if the employer’s business is open and has employment for the COVID-19 employee. See www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave, for details.
Traveling will probably have a new set of rules. Frontier Airlines will be taking the temperature of customers and those with 100.4 degrees and higher will be denied boarding. Delta Airlines will require face masks to be donned starting at the check-in process and to be worn throughout the flight. The airline will no longer board first class passengers first. Flyers will now board from the back row first and the first row last. Loading from the rear to the front, minimizes time spent walking past rows of fellow passengers.
The commercial aviation industry is depending on both physical and technological solutions, to assure airport and airline safety. Physical changes will include ticketing desks that will be spaced further apart, rearranging the traditional passenger lines, and utilizing marked and directional flooring.
Technological changes will include laser-based technology to forewarn airport managers of violations of physical distancing etiquette. In addition, Crowd Vision, a British company that is an “automated passenger analytics and insights company” is in use at London Heathrow Airport. This company utilizes high-tech real-time passenger tracking. This technology is currently in use at the Miami, Florida airport on a small scale, experimental basis.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents will be wearing gloves and masks. Passengers will hold their own boarding pass and show it, not give it to the agent. All food products will need to be removed from carry-on luggage and scanned in a separate plastic bag. Flyers will be able to take up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer on board the aircraft, instead of the 3.4 ounces originally permitted. Pre-moistened wipes will be allowed onboard without restrictions.
Cruise lines are determined to re-open and have been diligently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Norwegian Cruise line (NCL) will be installing, “medical-grade air-filters, H13 HEPA, that removes 99.95%”. Customers can expect enhanced pre-embarkation health screening, with no touch measures. Increase sanitation protocols in partnership with the CDC’s, Vessel Sanitation Program, includes the use of Electrostatic Spray Technology.
The on-board medical facilities will be stocked with the latest testing kits and increased medical personnel. Online check in and staggered embarkation will assure improved social distancing. In addition, every NCL ship will staff a public health officer.
As Disney begins to open their theme parks, next month, expect new health and safety regulations. Reservations will be required, and there will be temperature screenings. Physical distancing will be regulated and enforced. Guests over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask. Cast members will also wear a mask.
The My Disney Experience app will inform the holder of their place in the virtual line, and there will be no need to wait in those long actual lines. Popular rides will have empty seats that will be blocked off to help with social distancing. The number of guests permitted in the parks will be capped. Restaurants will be reservation only and limited in number and no Disney characters joining your table. Hand sanitizing and wash stations will be placed all around the park.
The new normal consists of many changes to keep us all healthy if we abide.
If anything, good can be said to come out of COVID-19, it might be Disney with no lines. But remember, you cannot hug Mickey Mouse.