Employer Requirements for All Safe Start Phases

06 May 2020

The new Safe Start Washington plan outlines a four-phase approach for gradually reopening businesses and facilities statewide. It is crucial to maintain some level of community interventions to suppress the spread of COVID-19 throughout all phases of recovery until there is an effective vaccine, effective treatment, or herd immunity. Each phase, while allowing for additional services to open and return to full capacity, is grounded in the following required practices for all employers.

Requirements for All Employers in All Phases

  • Maintain the 6-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons.
    • Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
  • Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
  • Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors, and patrons.
    • Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
  • Identify and provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards.
  • Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee.
    • Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness.
    • This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
  • Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
  • On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
  • Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Proclamation 20-25, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Coronavirus Prevention Under Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.


Businesses are also expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry, such as those that have been established for construction.

More information about Washington's Safe Start Phased Approach to reopening the state can be found here. Challenge Seattle and the Washington Roundtable have also developed a business checklist to help businesses as they prepare to reopen.

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