Kent County
Back to Work

Safety guidelines, best practices, and resources for reopening Kent County businesses.

Employee Health Screening

Report employee illnesses and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Thank you to our collaborators

Kent County Health Department        MSU College of Human Medicine         Spectrum Health         City of Grand Rapids         Meijer


Guidelines & Best Practices

This set of guidelines and best practices is offered to aid in a lower risk, thoughtful reopening. Our goal is to help employers open businesses in a way that best protects employees and customers from exposure to COVID-19 and helps prevent the spread of the virus.

In order to implement these guidelines and best practices, it is important that businesses maintain adequate supplies of essential items such as soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, face masks, etc. for their employees and customers. Companies should strive to keep a minimum of a 15-day supply of these essential items at all times.

Questions? Call the Kent County Health Department at (616) 326-0606 or email

Preparing Your Space for Reopening

Before reopening, you should sanitize your place of business to limit the spread of germs to your employees and customers. Keep this process limited to as few people as possible.

  • Disinfect your business before anyone returns to work. Sanitize and disinfect all areas, giving special attention to tools, workstations and equipment, restrooms, food service areas, common surface areas, phones, computers and other electronics.
  • Replace HVAC air filters or clean/disinfect existing filters. Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
  • Put tight controls in place on who enters and exits the site during the cleaning shutdown. Limit the number of workers in the building during this time.
  • Your business should be 100% disinfected prior to anyone returning to work (other than those assisting with the disinfection process).

Communicating with Your Team

Communication during this time is incredibly important. As you prepare to reopen, share information with your employees about your plans to implement rigorous cleaning and safety protocols. If you are participating in the Kent County Back to Work Health Check program, make sure to communicate details with employees.

Remain available to and transparent with your employees. Have conversations with them about their concerns. Some employees may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Your team’s health is of the utmost importance, so loop employees in on your COVID-19 strategy for reopening.

  • Provide education and training materials in an easy to understand format and in the appropriate language and literacy level for all employees. This may include fact sheets and posters.
  • Develop other flexible policies for scheduling and telework (if feasible) and create leave policies to allow employees to stay home to care for sick family members or care for children if schools and childcare facilities are closed.
  • Strongly encourage sick employees to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisal, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.
  • Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19. Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks. Please see Cleaning & Disinfecting and PPE sections for details.
  • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about their plans. Discuss the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies.
  • Plan to implement practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees if social distancing is currently recommended by the State of Michigan or the Kent County Health Department. Actively encourage flexible work arrangements such as teleworking or staggered shifts.

Coping with Stress

Coping with the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak may be difficult for some people. Encourage employees to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.

Beyond that, provide resources to help your employees manage the stress – being mindful of your employee’s mental health will make them, your business and your community stronger. Make sure employees are aware of mental health services your company provides. Encourage mindfulness, meditation and other healthy activities for your team. If an employee asks for help regarding their mental health, suggest that they reach out to their healthcare provider.

If an employee is experiencing severe mental health issues or expresses suicidal thoughts, resources are available. Contact Network180 at (616) 336-3909, Forest View Psychiatric Hospital at (800) 949-8439, Pine Rest at (800) 678-5500 or (616) 455-9200 or the confidential National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Am I legally required to notify my entire workforce if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
Each business should consult with their legal counsel or human resources on whether to disclose to other employees that a co-worker (or a visitor to the office) has tested positive for COVID-19, without disclosing the identity of the affected employee.

Keeping the Workplace Safe

Practice good hygiene
Stop handshaking & avoid touching face
Don’t share food
Use Video Conferencing
adjust/postpone large gatherings
stay home if you or a family member is sick
limit business travel
Limit Cash Handling
remind staff of hand washing
use booking system to stagger customers
sanitize high traffic areas
Hold Meetings in open spaces
Use Online Transactions
Communicate COVID-19 plan with staff
Practice Social Distancing

Employee + Customer Protection

This section provides general employee protection protocols as well as specific measures for retailers and other businesses that serve customers on-site.

PPE & Masks
  • Employees should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when possible. Please see PPE section for specific guidelines.
  • In retail operations customers should use face coverings while in public. Keep in mind that not everyone is able to use a face covering, and those persons should not be turned away.
Social Distancing
  • Practice social distancing, maintaining six feet between co-workers.
  • In retail operations, all persons in the store should maintain a distance of at least six feet between each other. Sales registers should be at least six feet apart.
  • Stores with higher traffic should mark spaces 6 feet apart at the sales registers and outside the entrance to the store.
  • A sign should be posted at the store entry(s) that individuals who have a fever, cough or any sign of sickness should not enter.
Employee Health & Hygiene
  • Employees should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth – do NOT shake hands.
  • Employees who have a fever or are otherwise exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed to work. 
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to the employer.
  • Provide a place to wash hands or alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Train workers in proper hygiene practices.

At Retail Operations

  • Limit cash handling.
  • Encourage customers to use credit/debit cards, tap to pay, Venmo, PayPal or another form of contact-less payment.
  • Sanitize point of sale equipment after each use, including pens.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes at register locations.
  • Employees, at a minimum, should use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol concentration between customer interactions.

All Operations

  • Regularly sanitize any high-traffic areas, such as doorknobs, counters, etc.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes throughout the building.
  • When possible, keep all non-essential doors open to reduce the need for direct contact.
  • Comply with all other orders and guidance issued by public health officials.

Cleaning + Disinfecting



It is very important to clean surfaces using soap and water prior to disinfecting. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. High touch surfaces include: tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.


Use Effective disinfectants

We recommend use of EPA-registered household disinfectant. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend:

  • Keeping surface wet for designated period of time (see product label).
  • Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use.

Water-diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface.

  • Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection, and ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection.
  • Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Leave solution on the surface for at least 1 minute. 

Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.

Soft Surfaces

For soft surfaces such as carpeted floors, rugs, upholstery and drapes:

  • Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.
  • Launder items (if possible) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant if laundering isn’t possible.

For electronics, such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls and ATMs:

  • Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting.
  • If no guidance is available, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.

For clothing, towels, linens and other items:

  • Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from a person who is sick.
  • Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
  • Remove gloves and wash hands right away.

How long does the novel coronavirus last on surfaces?

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment includes protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or infection and to prevent spread of possible infection from the wearer to others. PPE used to help prevent the spread of coronavirus may include masks, face shields, gowns and gloves. Businesses should strive to keep a minimum quantity of a 15-day supply of appropriate PPE on hand.

The State of Michigan and The Right Place have resources to assist Michigan businesses on where to procure the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needed to reopen their facilities. Learn More

Is your company looking for PPE? Please check the websites below for local and statewide resources

Who Should Wear Masks?

All individuals who work indoors within 6 feet of other workers or who interact with clients/customers must wear a non-medical grade face covering if medically able. Additionally, it is recommended that individuals who work outdoors within 6 feet of other workers or members of the public also wear a non-medical grade mask.

Who Should Wear Gloves?

  • Those performing disinfection of common surfaces.
  • Employees handling trash.
  • Employees handling food.

Who Should Wear Face Shields?

Face shields are commonly used in healthcare and manufacturing. They can provide extra protection for those who must work within three feet of another person due to their job requirements. They are not necessary unless you work in healthcare/manufacturing, but they can help.

PLEASE NOTE: Gloves put employees at higher risk of exposure and are not recommended for general protective use for the following reasons:

  • The COVID-19 virus does not harm your hands, so gloves provide no protection, and touching your face with contaminated hands, whether gloved or not, poses a significant risk of infection.
  • Gloves often create a false sense of security for the individuals wearing them. People are more likely to touch contaminated surfaces because they feel the gloves protect them from the virus, when in reality they do not.
  • When wearing gloves, people are less inclined to wash their hands; this is counterproductive and puts others at higher risk. We want people to wash their hands because it is a strong defense against the virus.
  • Proper removal of gloves takes training. If contaminated gloves are not removed properly, employees are exposed to greater risk.

Stay Prepared

  • Confirm operation has an adequate supply of soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, paper towels and tissues. A 15-day supply of these products is the best practice. 
  • Confirm stock of PPE. The State of Michigan and The Right Place have resources to assist Michigan businesses on where to procure the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needed to reopen their facilities. Learn More
  • Have touchless thermometers on-site for employee health screenings. Please see the Health Screening Tool section for more information. 

Please review our website for answers to  common questions. If you cannot find the information
you need, please call 888-535-6136 or submit a question.