FAQ on Coronavirus

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Only Curbside?
    • Per the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe order Businesses deemed critical to public health and safety (See a list of these critical businesses below) are urged to so to the extent possible within your business. If you can offer only curb-side then please do so. We strongly encourage you to offer this service. If it is not possible to offer only curbs-side, please see the next question.
  2. Can I let customers in my store?
    • It is strongly advised that you do not, but you can. If you are letting customers into your store, you may want to consider
      limiting the number of customers to ensure enough space between your employees and your customers
      offering curbside delivery or home delivery where possible
      offering a combination of both and/or other shopping options (delivery, etc.)
      Again, these are not required, only recommendations.
  3. Am I considered Essential/Critical?
    • Businesses that have been deemed critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security shall remain in operation. Those businesses include, but are not limited to:
      • Grocery stores
      • Convenience stores and gas stations
      • Retailers of essential items, animal feed and supplies,
      • Hardware stores
      • Vendors of technical, security, logistics, custodial and equipment repair and maintenance services necessary to support response to COVID-19
      • Food manufacturers
      • Banks
      • Post Office
      • And more. See the full list here starting on page 2 and continuing to page 3.
  4. The Governor's Stay Home order does not expressly designate delivery drivers, distributors, etc. as critical. Are they?
    • Yes. Food and beverage distributors are exempt/critical. Information on who is critical can be found here.
  5. Can delis and restaurants remain open?
    • Yes. As long as employees are practicing the CDC and VDH guidance (below) to ensure recommended social distancing. Customers can order food for take-out or delivery only. It is strongly advised that restaurants with drive-thrus work toward using drive-thrus only.
  6. Do employees, drivers, business owners, etc. need some form of documentation saying we're essential?
    • No. It is our understanding that national transportation companies are providing identification to drivers, but critical businesses and their employees are not required to carry documentation.
  7. Is the Governor going to ban the use of reusable bags?
    • We have asked the Governor to ban the use of reusable bags during this pandemic due to various requests from members as well as the public. We have not received confirmation that he will be doing so, but we will be sure to alert members if he does.
  8. Are businesses required to take action in response to COVID-19?
    • Yes, according to 29 U.S.C 654(a)(1) OSHA requires businesses to provide workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm” Several states prescribe additional work safety regulations. What specific actions satisfy the requirement, depend on the business operation, exposure risk, locations, employees etc.
    • As of 3/17/20 all bars and restaurants in Vermont are required to close to dine-in customers until April 6th at the earliest. Take-out and delivery orders are still allowed as of the time of writing.
    • Governor Scott has amended his declaration on 3/16/2020 to prohibit all non-essential mass gatherings to the lesser of fifty (50) people or fifty percent (50%) of the occupancy of a facility at the same time for social, recreational or entertainment activities, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, theater, bar, restaurant, gym or any other confined indoor or confined outdoor space.
  9. What if I am forced shut down my business due to COVID-19 impact? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
    • If you are forced to temporarily shut down business operations, your employees will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits, assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria, and have a return to work date that occurs before the 10-week maximum. Under this circumstance, unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.
  10. If an employee is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, how can business respond without violating privacy and safety laws?
    • A business cannot breach an employee’s medical privacy; however a business can inform employees of possible exposure without identifying the source and encourage them to head home and isolate themselves.
  11. If an employee is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 who should a business inform?
    • According to OSHA regulations, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when an employee is infected on the job. OSHA requires employers to record and report illnesses. A business should contact the local health department if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  12. If an employee is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, when can an employee return to work from isolation?
    • The CDC and OSHA recommend that an individual consult a healthcare professional prior to returning to work and resuming routine social practices. A business may require that an employee provide documentation from a healthcare professional as to the employees health status.
  13. What if I need to temporarily reduce my employees’ hours due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?
    • If you experience a slow-down in business, causing a reduction in available work hours for employees, your employees may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.

Agency of Commerce and Community Development: COVID-19 GUIDANCE for Businesses