Business and Workplaces

During Phase 3 of Virginia’s Plan for Reopening (Safer at Home), many businesses may operate with extra precautions in place to protect people from COVID-19 transmission. Please review Phase 3 Guidelines for All Business Sectors to review requirements and recommendations for businesses. Additional information about business operations during Phase 3 can be found here.

Essential retail businesses may remain open during their normal business hours. Such businesses are:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Questions about essential services can be directed to commerce.trade@governor.virginia.gov

On May 26, 2020, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 63. This order requires all employees of essential retail businesses to wear face coverings when working in customer-facing areas. The order also requires all patrons aged 10 and over to cover their nose and mouth while inside personal care and personal grooming businesses, brick and mortar retail businesses, food and beverage establishments, entertainment or recreation businesses, train stations, bus stations, intrastate public transportation, any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other (excluding places of residence), and state and local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services (excluding students in daycare centers or participating in in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education). This order provides exceptions for persons eating or drinking, persons exercising or using exercise equipment, any person who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance, any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible, when temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services, and persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. The restrictions in Executive Order 63 began at 12:00 AM, Friday, May 29, 2020 and shall remain in force until amended or rescinded.

On September 3, 2020, Governor Northam signed Third Amended Executive Order 67,  which outlines business restrictions during Phase 3. The amended order is effective immediately and shall remain in force until amended or rescinded.

Furthermore, on July 15th, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced the adoption of an emergency temporary standard for workplaces across the Commonwealth to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19, including standards related to personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications. A webpage devoted to the emergency temporary standard containing Outreach, Education and Training materials has been set up and is being populated with documents. FAQs for the standard can be found here.

On July 20, 2020, CDC updated guidance for ending isolation for persons with COVID-19 not in healthcare settings. The updated guidance is available here. Information on COVID-19 testing strategies in high-density critical infrastructure workplaces after a COVID-19 case is identified can be found here. Further information can be found on the VDH Businesses website and in CDC guidance to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace.

A guide evaluating non-critical infrastructure workers with COVID-19 symptoms or exposures can be found here.

On July 15, 2020, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted an Emergency   Temporary Standard (ETS) addressing occupational exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19. The ETS took effect on July 27th, 2020 and was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Emergency Temporary Standards for controlling COVID-19 can be found here.

FAQs regarding the ETS can be found here.

Training material for the ETS can be found here.

Workers who feel unsafe in their workplace can file a formal complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration here.

Contacts of a known COVID-19 case who are not experiencing symptoms should be quarantined at home until 14 days have passed since last contact with the COVID-19 case (or, if contact is ongoing, 14 days after the COVID-19 patient has been released from isolation, which may result in exclusion for up to 24 days)**, as long as the employee does not develop symptoms. If the employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, exclusion guidance for employees suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 should be followed. If the employee tests negative during the quarantine period, they must continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.

The new COVID-19 standard adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry requires all employers to establish a system for collecting information about employees (including contract and temporary employees as well as full-time) who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Employees need to follow the procedures established by the employer. Illness information is needed during the pandemic so measures can be put in place to prevent the spread of the disease. Employers must keep employee illness information confidential.

Yes. The new COVID-19 standard adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry requires all employers to report positive cases of COVID-19 to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The Emergency Temporary Standard also provides that “The employer shall notify the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry within 24 hours of the discovery of three (3) or more employees present at the place of employment within a 14-day period testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus during that 14-day time period.”

COVID-19 case reports must be filed through the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) online reporting portal.  By using this portal, these case reports will ensure VDH and DOLI reporting compliance. The new online reporting portal allows employers to submit up to 10 COVID-19 positive cases.

Per  Third Amended Executive Order 67, restaurants and beverage services may operate with extra precautions in place to protect people from COVID-19 transmission. A full list of requirements and recommendations for restaurant and beverage services can be found in the Phase 3 Guidelines for All Business Sectors (p. 8-11). FAQs for restaurants and beverage services can be found here. Further information can be found in the VDH Guidance for Food Establishments Regarding COVID-19.

A guide for evaluating non-critical infrastructure workers with COVID-19 symptoms or exposures can be found here.

Of note, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food or food shipped from affected regions.

Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines state that karaoke must remain closed. If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff.

Executive Order 63 states face coverings shall be required when patrons are outdoors at entertainment or recreation businesses if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.

In other outdoor settings where you are not able to maintain six feet of physical distancing between yourself and others, it is strongly recommended that you wear a face covering. You should strive at all times to maintain six feet of physical distancing from others outside of your household.

CDC recommends in their Guidance for Business Response that employers should not require either a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

CDC recommends in their Guidance for Business Response that employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

You can speak with your supervisor or human resources department about your concerns and related workplace policies. You can also read more about VDH’s recommendations for travelers and information available for International Travelers or Travelers.

Not at this time.  Feel free to check the VDH website, which is updated daily, or call 877-ASK-VDH3 if you have additional questions.

We have posted available print resources and highlights on the VDH website.

The Virginia Department of Health offers a playlist of 22 short videos on a number of topics on its homepage.

Our resources page includes information on additional topics of interest to individuals. I would direct you to encourage employees to familiarize themselves with our symptom checker called CovidCheck.

Finally, there is a section dedicated to Schools, Workplaces and Community Locations with specific resources and information depending on the type of situation. Under the Businesses section, the resources available include information on relative risk levels in business settings, setting specific resources and signage toolkits.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry also provides information and training for businesses. Information may be found here.

A guide for evaluating non-critical infrastructure workers with COVID-19 symptoms or exposures can be found here.

Page last reviewed: October 9, 2020