COVID-19: CDC's guidelines to help organisations reopen

CDC compiles new guidelines to help organisations reopen after coronavirus lockdown

Representative photo (Credit: Reuters)

Businesses should close break rooms. Restaurants should consider disposable menus and plates. Schools should have students eat lunch in their classrooms.

These are some of the recommendations offered in new federal plans designed to help restaurants, schools, churches and businesses safely reopen as states look to gradually lift their coronavirus restrictions.

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The draft guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been sent to Washington but still could be revised before the Trump administration unveils it to the public. The recommendations were obtained from a federal official who was not authorized to release them publicly.

The CDC put together so-called “decision trees” for at least seven types of organizations: schools, camps, childcare centers, religious facilities, mass transit systems, workplaces, and bars/restaurants.

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White House officials previously released a three-phase reopening plan for the nation that mentioned schools and other organizations that come back online at different points. But it hadn't previously offered more specific how-to guidelines for each kind of entity.

The new guidance still amounts to little more than advice. State and local officials will be the ones to adopt and enforce them. Some state and local governments have already put rules in place for businesses that are operating.

For example, Michigan requires businesses to limit how many customers can be in a store at one time.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said that each business that wants to reopen will have to submit a plan to the state on how to do that.

The new guidance could give state officials cover if their requirements for businesses are challenged in the courts, said Lindsay Wiley, an American University public health law expert.

“It allows the state to say 'well the CDC said to do it this way,' and the judge then is very happy to say 'well yes you consulted CDC and that's the appropriate body,' and then uphold the restrictions and say they're appropriately evidence based."