On May 27, 2020, the Governor of the State of São Paulo, Brazil unveiled the details for reopening the state. The plan, called Conscious Restart, divides the state into 17 areas. Each area can enter into a new reopening phase every 15 days, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and the area's hospital/ICU capacity. Each phase allows certain industries or sectors to restart operations with restrictions, which will be relaxed at each phase. The phases are marked in colors, from red (most restricted) to blue ("controlled normal").
Starting June 1, 2020, several areas will enter Phase 2 (orange), including the City of São Paulo (but not the adjacent municipalities), as per the chart below:
Under Phase 2 (orange), in addition to essential businesses and non-essential manufacturers that are already allowed to operate, real estate agencies, car dealers, offices, retail and shopping malls can begin operations with restrictions. Each municipality may issue decrees establishing additional or specific restrictions.
In fact, the mayor of the City of São Paulo issued a new decree on May 29, 2020, extending the quarantine for non-essential businesses until June 15, 2020, and determining that the reopening of any segment of the economy will depend on the government's authorization after it analyzes and approves specific reopening plans submitted by associations representing each specific economic sector. Businesses that reopened in breach of the decree, the São Paulo State Plan, and/or the sectorial protocols will be subject to penalties.
Employers that will start operating are recommended to adopt and follow the protocols issued by the state government. Essential businesses already operating should check whether they are following all guidelines and implement any needed adjustments.
The state government has created detailed protocols that are now available online at the state government website. There is one main set of protocols, covering in some detail five main topics: Social Distancing, Personal Hygiene, Cleaning and Sanitation of Areas, Communication, and Monitoring of Health Conditions. There are also protocols for the following sectors to be used in addition to the main protocols: Agribusiness, Real Estate, Auto Industry, Bars & Restaurants, Retail, Event and Art Industries, Infrastructure, Logistics & Distribution, Hotels, Health, Tech & Telecom, Textile, Tourism, Beauty, and Gyms.
According to the government, the protocols were created with input from businesses, unions, and health agents, which should give employers some security that if they implement the measures they will be in compliance. However, employers should consult knowledgeable counsel to ensure compliance to avoid future individual and/or collective claims.
One topic that many multinationals have been worried about was whether they could or should take employees' temperature, as there was no affirmative guidelines. The main protocols now provide that it is recommended to take employees' and clients' temperature at the entrance of the establishment, restrict their entrance if they show a temperature of over 37.5°C / 99.5°F, and direct them to seek medical assistance.
Another covered topic is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The protocols recommend that employers require and/or make available the necessary PPE for each type of activity, in addition to those that are mandatory, such as the use of a mask or face covering, especially for those who will clean trash, serve meals, take employees' and clients' temperature, and perform other medical activities.
The protocols are generally similar to those issued in the United States and other countries. Employers should review their return-to-work policies/practices in light of the new protocols.
Originally published May 29, 2020, updated on June 1, 2020
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