I am noticing changes in the world of commerce - it isn’t just the leaves that are changing in this COVID autumn.
Commerce is slowly opening up. Schools remain open despite predictions that it would be impossible for them to contain the virus. The Big Ten is going to play football after all. It looks like we continue to advance on a vaccination that may be safe and effective. Sports are becoming a regular part of our lives again, although they look different.
There is a bit of a feeling of optimism, I think. As if we are more resilient than we thought we were, and that we really can get through this together. I still hate wearing a mask. But I wear it! And so do the folks around me.
It is interesting. There seems to be an understanding among reasonable people, whether Republican or Democrat, Blue or Red, Black or White. We’ll do what seems right to keep ourselves safe and our brothers and sisters safe, too. We expect you to do the same. But no need to go overboard. The sky is not falling; it’s just gray right now.
It would be helpful if more N95 masks were available. Masks really do seem to work well in controlling the virus. I think they are why Connecticut has been in good shape for most of the summer. And I really think we could get a stranglehold on this SOB if at-home test kits were a reality and we could test ourselves daily just to make sure we aren’t infecting our neighbors.
We still need help from the government too. The FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Relief Act) turned out to be a remarkable piece of legislation from a completely dysfunctional Congress. It actually helped keep folks alive and it put money in their pockets. Truly amazing.
But as we get COVID fatigue entering our third season of the virus with an eye on a potentially forbidding winter, administration of the FFCRA is becoming trickier, and employers are getting a bit lax in protecting workers.
Last week I got a call from a group that I represent complaining that the employer suddenly came in and removed the plastic barriers from an office space that was separating workers. No explanation was forthcoming. The plastic just got removed one day.
Those types of strategies do not enhance workplace morale. I said from Day One that employers needed to include employees in decision making when personal health was an issue. The fact is that employees want their businesses to stay open so that they can keep collecting a paycheck, but they need to feel safe when they go to work. Including employees in the conversation is vital in this regard.
There are a few more new things that employers and employees should know. First, Governor Lamont updated the travel restriction requirement so that effective on Friday, the 18th, employees who travel to a restricted state may avoid quarantining by obtaining a negative COVID test either immediately before returning to the state or immediately after returning to the state. More can be found at Executive Order 9C.
The EEOC has put out guidance that employers can ask employees about their reasons for being absent from work without running afoul of ADA mandates. Again this is temporary during the COVID pandemic, but it is useful to maintain safety and allow employees to believe in the integrity of the safety measures being implemented at the workplace.