Updated: April 13, 2020
As the pandemic continues, we understand that there are many dimensions and variables for food and agriculture to consider including: (a) how to maintain one’s workforce; and (b) “when will this end?”. While we do not have an answer for the latter (just yet), there are things to plan for now, for the former as it is important to consider the health and safety of your workforce and business. In this, TAG continues to stress the importance of:
Utilizing Employee Wellness Checks
Maintain current prevention practices including wellness checks, handwashing, PPE, etc.
Following up on “close contacts” of anyone diagnosed (or with symptoms) of COVID-19
Start planning and thinking ahead to the next six (6) months
the Food Industry
Continuing COVID-19 Prevention Strategies for Business Survival.
Currently, food companies are balancing two competing realities: (a) increasing COVID-19 illnesses, which can lead to a shutdown and negative PR economic and reputational consequences; and (b) planning for societal reopening. Although there is already talk of a gradual reopening of non-essential businesses by early-May, food businesses that have been open throughout the pandemic, have been at the forefront in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.
Various business have had to close (even temporarily) because wellness checks, social distancing, and personal protection were not always in place or were insufficient. Not only does business closure significantly impact a companies’ finances, it also causes employees hardship and stress and can garner considerable negative press. A few shutdowns have even led to false media narratives of food shortages.
Although you may see more frequent communications from the White House and other sources about societal reopening, you and your business must continue to follow, maintain, and increase COVID-19 preventive measures advised by the CDC and TAG, including:
Conducting wellness checks upon employee (and vendor/essential visitor) arrival, and throughout the day (as feasible).
Reacting to all who are ill or have any symptoms and identifying those who have been in “close contact” with ill or symptomatic individuals for the 48 hours before symptoms showed. It is essential to send “close cntacts” home and ensure they maintain self-isolation/quarantine as applicable.
Maintaining six-feet social distancing at all times, wherever possible and/or providing masks or allowing home-made face coverings, particularly where distancing is not possible.
Ensuring employees are practicing good hygiene, regular handwashing, and avoiding face touching.
Over the next weeks, we will continue focusing on current business recommendations for the current environment; but, we will also be looking ahead to help businesses begin preparing and adjusting to whatever the new normal may bring. At this point, we would expect the societal shutdown to continue through April and into May, when we expect to begin to see a progressive opening through June and July – with the hope of NOT seeing a new spike in illness as those who’ve been sheltering gradually return to the world.
What will the first steps of reopening – and the next three months, six months, nine months – look like? What should they look like? TAG has started “gazing into its crystal ball” to help businesses prepare for and answer these questions. And just as it has always been, that “crystal ball” will be based on science, our food safety and public health expertise, and overall lessons learned.
Everyone should practice social distancing (more specifically, physical distancing), not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions) but also among healthy individuals so we may "flatten the curve".
Please feel free to use this free poster at your establishment. Please email us (email@example.com) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 13, 2020 (13:34 ET), there are over 1,880,000 cases (>117,000 deaths) worldwide.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focusing on the United States, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
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