As Delaware operates in Phase 2 of its economic reopening, the following are general guidelines applicable to offices which are not otherwise subject to industry-specific guidance.  The following applies as of June 15, 2020, the date that Delaware began Phase 2 of its economic reopening, as more fully set forth in the Twenty-First Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware:

  • Employers must enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • Employers must exclude employees who (a) have been diagnosed with COVID-19, (b) are reasonably suspected to have COVID-19, or (c) have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, aches or muscle pain, chills or repeated shaking with chills. Such employees shall stay home and not come to work until they are until they are free of fever (100.4 °F or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants). These employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.  Daily health screenings of employees are strongly recommended before work (and mandated for high risk businesses).  Symptomatic employees must not physically return to work until cleared by a medical professional.
  • Employers must prohibit employees who have been told they must be isolated or quarantined from on-premises work until isolation or quarantine status is discontinued by the DPH.
  • Employers are encouraged to continue teleworking. Employees who have been working from home should continue working from home unless there is a substantive change to business operations in Phase 2 (e.g. a business was closed, but now it is open).
  • All surfaces touched by visitors, including doors, seating restrooms, and elevators must be disinfected using an EPA-approved disinfectant every 15 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Hand sanitizer must be used by employees at frequent intervals during any service, appointment or scheduled event, including at a minimum after contact with surfaces touched by others, after incidental contact with a visitor, and before preparing or distributing food or drink.
  • Employees must social distance from each other while working. This can be accomplished through spacing or moving workstations, staggering shifts or other means.
  • Businesses must make hand sanitizer or handwashing stations readily available for all employees, patrons, and visitors throughout the business’ location, including at each entry and exit at a minimum. Hand sanitizer must be composed of at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.
  • Businesses must stagger appointments or other scheduled gatherings and events to allow for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting according to CDC guidelines of any public spaces before the next appointment or other scheduled gathering or event begins.
  • Employers must post signs on stopping the spread of COVID-19, hand hygiene and wearing cloth face covering.

Additionally, owners of buildings used for commercial offices must adopt policies that, at a minimum, implement the following cleaning protocols:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely in accordance with CDC guidelines, particularly in spaces that are accessible to staff, customers, tenants, or other individuals, and ensure cleaning procedures following a known or potential exposure in a facility are in compliance with CDC recommendations.
  • Maintain cleaning procedures in all other areas of the facility.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of workers to perform the above protocols effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of occupants, visitors, and workers.

As offices reopen, they are required to be compliant with Federal, State and local safeguards for its employees, visitors and operations, and should be guided by requirements and recommendations, as applicable, specified by Delaware Executive Orders, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The above relate exclusively to professional and commercial offices operating in Delaware. As noted, there may be additional and different restrictions and requirements with respect to other industries permitted to be open at this time. While Governor Carney announced on June 25, 2020 that Phase 3 would be delayed in light of concerns about instances of noncompliance in Delaware and surging COVID-19 cases in other parts of the country, it is expected that when Delaware enters Phase 3, restrictions on businesses will be further relaxed. Requirements continue to evolve and we will continue to monitor Delaware’s economic reopening.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice.  For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.