Updated July 15, 2021
On June 30, 2021, Washington state lifted most restrictions on business occupancy and physical distancing requirements. There are some key points to keep in mind as your business or organization scales back or modifies COVID-19 operating procedures. Managing a workplace during COVID-19—and knowing how to plan for the potential for sick employees can seem daunting, but there are steps business owners and managers can take to keep your workforce, customers and community safer.
- Encourage and help employees to get vaccinated—see the following section for more on how you can help employees get their vaccination.
- Face covering use is still required for unvaccinated employees—see updated guidance.
- Follow current industry and activity specific guidance from the Washington State Governor’s Office.
- Prevent COVID-19 spread:
- Ask employees to stay home when sick (and do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick)
- Implement cleaning and sanitization measures and encourage mask use and good hand hygiene among unvaccinated employees
- For information about what changed when the state reopened on June 30, see this FAQ from the Washington State Department of Health.
Vaccination is the best way to get back to business. A vaccinated workforce is protected from COVID-19 and less likely to experience downtime. In some situations, a vaccinated workforce also means that masks will become less necessary at work. Learn more about current masking guidance.
Remind employees that getting vaccinated only takes about 30 minutes. Providing employees with time off to get vaccinated, and time to recover may help them to make the choice to get vaccinated. Employers who provide paid time off for employee vaccine and recovery leave may be eligible for tax credits under the American Rescue Plan passed in April 2021. Learn more
If you are interested in hosting a vaccination event for staff at your organization, contact Spokane Regional Health District at COVIDVaccine@srhd.org
Case Reporting and Investigation
It’s always possible that your workplace may experience a COVID-19 case. It is important that you report suspected cases to SRHD. According the governor’s Safe Start-Stay Healthy Proclamation 20-25.7 and guidance issued by the governor’s office, workplaces must notify the local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if they suspect COVID-19 is spreading in the workplace or if the workplace is aware of two or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
In addition, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) also requires that employees be notified in writing within one business day if someone they had close contact with tests positive for COVID-19 (without disclosing the person’s identity. COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more employees at workplaces or worksites with more than 50 employees must be reported to L&I within 24 hours.
Similarly, employers, according to the governor’s Safe Start-Stay Healthy Proclamation 20-25.7 and associated guidance, are required to cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19. Employers are also asked to cooperate with the implementation of infection control measures, such as isolation and quarantine and environmental cleaning, and comply with all public health authority orders and directives.
How to Contact Us or Report a Case
If you have questions about COVID-19 or need to report possible or confirmed cases, contact the SRHD Living Environment Program at email@example.com (preferable) or call 509.324.1560 ext. 4.
Return to Work Guidance
For employers and employees, knowing when it’s safe to return to work after having COVID-19 can be difficult. Spokane Regional Health District has developed guidance for non-healthcare personnel to help employers and employees make informed decisions about testing, quarantine or isolation, and when it’s appropriate to return to work.
This guidance includes three COVID-19 workplace scenarios for the following situations:
- An employee has tested positive, regardless of vaccination status.
- An employee suspects they may have COVID-19 or were exposed through close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. See the Contact Tracing FAQ to learn more about close contacts.
- An employee has been exposed to an immediate household member with COVID-19.
This document also provides information about return to work practices and work restrictions and provides an overview of a time-based strategy for determining when an employee can return to work. Spokane Regional Health District does not recommend a test-based strategy (requiring two negative tests at least 24 hours apart) for returning to work after COVID-19 infection.