Minnesota Chamber Outlines ‘Best Practices’ for Getting Back to Business
An empty Nicollet Mall. Photo by David Bowman

Minnesota Chamber Outlines ‘Best Practices’ for Getting Back to Business

Group looks to strike balance between protecting employee health and the economy.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce released a detailed list of “best practices” for companies and employees to return to work safely.

“Minnesota businesses are eager to get back to work. We are ready to work with the Walz administration and the legislature to get our state back to full productivity and full employment as soon as reasonably possible,” said Doug Loon, president of the Minnesota Chamber, in a statement. “Business operations can and should return to a sustainable level without jeopardizing employees’ or customer safety. These guidelines were developed with that in mind and are applicable to most workplaces.”

The current stay-at-home order from Gov. Walz runs through May 4 and could be extended further. Bars, restaurants, hair salons, and many retailers are shuttered or trying to scrape by with curbside and delivery options for customers. Many office-based companies have most of their employees working from home. Yesterday, Walz said that businesses in the state are likely to be dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and modifying their business practices for as long as 18 months.

The return to “full employment” is likely to be a challenge. The latest numbers from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) show that the state has received 511,398 applications for unemployment insurance since March 16. Based on statistics for December 2019, those filings represent more than 17 percent of the state’s workforce.

To safely reopen, the Chamber suggests:

  • Creating training to review new safe-at-work requirements and guidelines for all employees
  • Offering work-from-home options for all employees who can perform duties remotely
  • Staggering shifts and start times to maximize distancing
  • Requesting health and travel assessments for vendors/contractors coming on-site
  • Conducting virtual sales calls
  • Limiting the number of customers in the facility to ensure appropriate distancing, along with visual markers on floors for six-foot distancing, per CDC guidance
  • Requiring a two-week quarantine for employees traveling more than 100 miles from facility
  • Conducting temperature or employee wellness checks at the start of shifts to ensure employees don’t exhibit Covid-19 symptoms

The full list of recommendations contains dozens of other guidelines for best practices for employers.

The Chamber also noted that increased access to Covid-19 testing is essential to bringing back businesses and the economy: “Businesses are eager to have access to testing that will help identify individuals who may be sick with the virus and those who may be immune. Acceleration of testing availability is critically important to restoring public confidence and reopening our economy.”