An Overview of COVID Regulations by State

photo of a food service delivery worker in a face mask, as per covid regulations in his state

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In this post, we cover COVID regulations by state. The rules and regulations aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic vary across the US. At times, this makes compliance a little confusing for business owners. The following guide offers a look at current COVID-19 regulations pertaining to face masks, social distancing, social gatherings, and dining. Keep in mind that regulations can always change in the coming days and weeks, which is why it’s important to remain up to date about the COVID-19 rules in your own state.

COVID Regulations by State: Mask Mandates

The current mask mandates differ from state to state. In states like Alabama, anyone over the age of 6 is required to wear a face mask indoors in public. This mask mandate is also in place for outdoor gatherings of at least 10 people. In states such as Georgia, masks are recommended but not required by law. In Hawaii, everyone who is inside a business or waiting in line needs to wear a face mask at all times. Other states, like Idaho, only require masks to be worn while in long term care facilities.

In Massachusetts, every person over the age of 5 is required to wear a face mask in any public place. This includes both indoor and outdoor areas. In states such as New York, businesses have the right to deny entry to any person who isn’t wearing a mask over their face. Keep in mind that there are certain states, such as South Dakota, that don’t have any kind of a mask mandate at all.

If a mask mandate has been set in your state, it’s good to remember that it’s not up to you or your business to enforce the law. Most states with mask mandates will allow stores to deny service to people who aren’t wearing a face mask, though.

Overview on Social Distancing and Social Gathering Guidelines

Nearly every state in the country requires people to follow social distancing guidelines and adhere to social gathering restrictions. In North Carolina, indoor groups are capped at 10 people, for example. Outdoor groups in the state are capped at exactly 50 people. When attending outdoor gatherings for business events, it’s important to note that social distancing of 6 feet must be followed by all who are present.

In the state of South Dakota, it is recommended that social distancing be practiced in all retail stores. However, this isn’t a hard requirement. Most companies that adhere to the guidelines place markers outside of their store entrances. These markers are designed to separate people who are waiting in line — by at least 6 feet. Many states also recommend that businesses limit the total number of customers in their stores.

Texas guidelines put in place by Governor Greg Abbott permit businesses in areas with low rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations to operate at a capacity of 75%. However, any business in an area with a high number must limit capacity to 50%. For nail salons and barbershops in Texas, work stations must be kept at least 6 feet apart.

While most states stand by heavy restrictions for indoor gatherings, some do have looser rules. For instance, Wyoming permits indoor gatherings of up to 50 people even if social distancing isn’t followed. Businesses that do enforce social distancing rules can hold indoor gatherings of up to 250 people.

COVID Regulations by State: Dining Restrictions

The majority of states set separate rules for public eating and dining. Keep in mind that these rules typically become more severe at times when COVID-19 cases are on the rise. If your area is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, the dining regulations may become stricter for the foreseeable future.

In Arkansas, restaurants are allowed to operate at a capacity of 66% for any outdoor and indoor space that they own. However, AR also has social distancing guidelines, as well as a mask mandate, all of which a restaurant will need to follow in order to operate at the limit. In California, restaurants are only allowed to offer outdoor dining at this time. Even when in outdoor spaces, everyone must wear a face mask unless they are eating. Breweries and bars in CA can also serve guests outdoors.

In Colorado, the dining rules are a bit more more complex. The state follows a color coded system that displays the level of risk in each county throughout the state. Restaurants in CO can operate at a capacity of 25% with as many as 50 patrons. However, any county with a “red” level of risk can only provide outdoor table service along with takeout and delivery service. In states such as Indiana, up to 50 people can eat inside a food service business at the same time. However, party size is limited to six people or less.

Why workforce management is important

COVID regulations vary by state, and all states have rules for the ongoing pandemic. While some of these rules don’t apply to businesses, most of them do. It’s important to note that these rules are changing on a continual basis, which is why management should stay on top of the latest trends before making any changes to business operations. An agile approach is a good one to have right now. We don’t know for sure what’s coming next, but we can take steps to ensure we’re ready for it.

In this climate with constantly shifting COVID restrictions, it’s important for businesses to have a flexible and efficient workforce management (WFM) system. Business owners need to be able to respond rapidly to changing rules and guidelines. To protect their customers and their employees, many businesses are also adopting standard health checks and temperature screening practices at the workplace. If you haven’t already started, you can too. It’s worth it, even if it’s not required by your state.

Fortunately, TimeForge makes it easy to track employee temperature. When a member of your staff attempts to clock in, they’re prompted to enter their temperature right then. If they’re out of the acceptable range for a healthy person, they’re asked to go or stay home. This ensures that employees who shouldn’t come in to work don’t come in to work, and it helps keep everyone safe.

Our software also features employee scheduling, attendance, and team communication tools, among others. These tools can help you stay on top of rapid changes, as well as help you ensure that every member of your team is in the loop. For example, our Manager mobile app makes it easy to contact employees by SMS text, phone call, or email — all with a single tap.

If you found this post useful, you may also like the these articles about COVID, as well: 

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