As lockdown restrictions begin to ease around the country, businesses face a number of considerations as they think about potentially reopening. This page lays out a series of questions and thought starters to help you think through the most critical elements of this decision. The list below is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive and should not be used as a substitute for official reopening guidelines.
Before making any decisions or taking any action, start by consulting official CDC guidance as well as official city, county, and state government communications to determine when it is legal and officially advisable to reopen. The phases of reopening may vary based on your community and the type of business you operate. Make sure to review official guidance carefully to understand the reopening requirements and safeguards for your location and type of business.
Is it legal and safe to reopen your business?
Have you consulted official CDC and local government guidelines regularly?
CDC guidelines: Plan, Prepare and Respond - Businesses and Workplaces
Have you looked at reopening guidance and regulations from other government and local government entities?
Check your official state, county, and city government guidance to make sure that it is legal and safe to open in your community.
Once you have reviewed all relevant official CDC and local government guidance, you may want to consider the selection of thought starters below as you think through whether reopening is right for you and your business:
Will you have enough customers?
Are consumers moving around the community?
- See community mobility trends for regularly updated insights by state and industry
Are consumers spending on products/services in your industry?
- The Economic Tracker Tool offers insights on consumer spending by category.
Will consumers feel safe entering your business? What safeguards do you need to put in place to instill confidence in consumers so that they feel comfortable frequenting your business? Once implemented, how might you use in-store communication, email, and/or social media to communicate the precautions that you are taking so that customers are aware of these measures?
Will a sufficient number of customers be willing to visit and spend at your business? (Consider ways to connect with customers and sell products or support services online)
Are your employees comfortable returning to work?
Are a sufficient number of your employees able and willing to return to work?
- Is the necessary public and private infrastructure in place (for example, public transportation systems, schools, care-giving services, day cares)?
Have they reviewed CDC guidance for health and safety?
Have they reviewed official guidance on workers’ rights?
Have they participated in developing your business’ reopening plans to ensure optimal processes and measures can be put in place?
Are they comfortable working in the environment (including in accordance with official requirements like safe distancing measures)?
Is my store operationally prepared to open and operate within CDC and local government guidelines?
Have you considered and implemented any necessary physical modifications to provide a safe environment for customers and employees (for example, redesigning the store layout to support customer flow under safe distancing)?
Have you considered how to limit the number of people in your store?
- Are there ways to organize or stagger employee shifts so that fewer people are in the store at one time?
- If necessary, how might you control the number of customers in the store at one time?
- If you provide a service: Have you thought about how to minimize customer overlap through modified appointment scheduling?
Have all the necessary operational modifications been documented?
Have all the employees been trained on the new operational standards?
Are you financially ready to open?
- Speak to a financial advisor or accountant (see if pro-bono help is available)
Do you have sufficient access to your vendors and supplies?
Do you have the right amount of inventory to operate your business?
- Will you need to make any adjustments based on changes in demand?
- Are there conversations you can have with your vendors to increase payment and/or volume flexibility?
Will your vendors be able to provide you with the supplies you need to run your business at the expected levels?
Is your business prepared for the possibility of another government-mandated shutdown?
Do you have a coverage plan ready for employees in need of sick leave?
Do you have a contingency plan ready in case your supply chain gets interrupted? (For example, consider restricted shipping, availability of usual supplies, and so on.)
Do you have a financial resiliency plan prepared in case your brick and mortar location is forced to close and/or your supply chain, logistics, or shipping are interrupted?